Page 468 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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450      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

               be channeling the late Supervisor Harvey Milk an awful lot....One
               of Milk’s old friends is tired of all the, shall we say, “got Milk?”
               talk. The other day in the Castro we ran into Cleve Jones, an old
               Milk comrade and founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt project,
               and asked him why everybody is trying to claim Milk. He said
               many members of Milk’s community died in the AIDS epidemic
               of the 1980s and ’90s and took their firsthand knowledge of the
               supervisor with them....a generation of gay men was pretty much
               wiped out and we lost a generation of stories....[Milk] was a normal
               guy in most respects,” Jones said. “He was not a genius and not a
               saint.” —Heather Knight and Rachel Gordon, “Milk’s Old Friend
               Tired of Claims to Legacy,” San Francisco Gate, Gay Pride Sunday,
               June 24, 2012

               Befriended by Anne Rice who cloaked herself as A. N. Roquelaure, and
            also wrote about S&M without being a known player, Preston figured that
            in the way Rice, and I, had a double career writing “literature” and “S&M
            literature,” so might he. Constructing a public-relations dark image with
            his vampyr eyes, sunken cheeks, and sullen personality, he cultivated in
            the 1980s a commercial air of mystery to pull power to himself by editing
            collections of grateful writers. Social networking was his magic. His real
            literary distinction lay in his anthologies. He knew how to make people feel
            grateful to him during the great hysteria of AIDS dying. He was not far
            from the A-List Satanic aspects of Rimbaud, Verlaine, and Mapplethorpe.
            Yet he was no Lestat. As if he were impersonating Rice’s characters, he tried
            to be bad, dangerous, and edgy. As a showman, he fueled his own artiste
            maudit cult by identifying himself with his own “Dark Lord.” The tag line
            on his cover for Tales from the Dark Lord tub-thumped the word erotic twice
            to build his audience: “The Master of Gay Erotic Literature Presents an
            Incendiary Collection of Erotic Stories That Explore the Full Spectrum of
            Gay Sexuality.”
               That advertising blurb was a challenging power-grab. Iconoclast Preston
            wanted to usurp what the iconic Larry Townsend was famous for all his life:
            “The Master of Gay Erotic Literature.” Preston, learning that Townsend
            was on the Blacklist, might have felt it was a career move to try to steal
            Townsend’s literary stardom. I knew Larry Townsend for years, and I wit-
            nessed Preston’s attempted coup. Townsend was not amused until Preston,
            realizing he might have gone too far, rolled over, and courted him. The
            dying younger author made an offer of endorsement that the older author
            could not refuse. Preston penned the introduction to the new edition of

              ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-14-2017
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