Written September 17, 1977, this feature essay was published in Drummer 20, January 1978.
I. Author’s Eyewitness Historical-Context Introduction written April 2, 2006
II. The feature article as published in Drummer 20, January 1978
III. Eyewitness Illustrations
I. Author’s Eyewitness Historical-Context Introduction written April 2, 2006
Bullies, Gods, and Gay Bodies: Without Pecs You’re Dead!
Years before Tom Waddell, the Gay Olympics, and the Gay Games,
This 1977 “Jockstrap Declaration of Independence”
Framed and Reclaimed Sports, Gyms, and Balls for
Gay Men Self-Fashioning Their Masculine Gender Identity
This is the first magazine article written on gay sports, and the politicizing of gay sports. Written two years before Tom Waddell announced his idea for the Gay Olympics, this “Gay Sports” feature reclaimed for gay men the playing fields and locker rooms denied them in high school and college. Waddell, traveling the same path, found the article an encouraging assessment of the temper of the times. Many readers liked the article’s focus on black men (O. J. Simpson, Ken Norton), on the idea of sports as a metaphor of rethinking gay masculinity, and on the analysis of the politicizing of gay men.
As editor in chief of Drummer and as a theorist of queer culture, I have always tried to stay “on message” regarding the self-fashioning esteem of homomasculine men emerging from the deepest closets of the pre-Stonewall world.
Historically, clock, calendar, and circumstance have put me in a pro-active position to reflect homomasculine men’s lives in an immediate way in monthly magazines. Unlike books that take years to produce, magazines must be responsive monthly to new currents in culture; and magazine writing goes deeper than weekly gay papers.
In Drummer 99, page 5, and in Drummer 100, publisher Anthony DeBlase wrote that I was driving Drummer with a purpose: to celebrate and empower the most deeply closeted gay men, the masculine ones no one had ever considered might be lovers of other men. Patrick Califia, in one of his books, mentioned that “Fritscher is a prophet of homomasculinity.” Like the zealous Patrick, I am sometimes apostolic about forging new identities and making them available.
I meant this cover lead feature to stir up even more the awakening jock consciousness among gay men who in American pop culture had been historically denied the “jockstrap role” and instead assigned the “victim-magnet role of the sissy.”
Without any mention of campy cheerleaders, I interviewed, wrote, and produced this reflection of the “Gay Sports” movement as a key metaphor of emerging male-gender identity in Drummer where internal evidence shows that the keyword printed most frequently, particularly in the self-describing personals, is masculine (including masculinity).
In March of 1977, I coined the new word homomasculinity to clarify a newly visible “way of being” for men.
[Edited in October 5, 2007: For more on the use of language in Drummer, see the “Eyewitness Drummer” article: “Homomasculinity: Framing Keywords of Queer Popular Culture in Drummer Magazine” from the Queer Keywords Conference, “The(e)ories: Advanced Seminars for Queer Research,” University College Dublin, Ireland, April 15, 2005.] I may have invented the empowering word, but I did not invent the empowerment of homomasculinity itself which has long burned in the hearts of many homosexual men.
Like Adam in the Garden of Eden with his task of naming everything, queer pioneers immediately after Stonewall had much to name within the sex culture that till then dared not speak its name. Through the years, some men in the leather culture and in the bear culture, have taken my queer-theory word to heart. Long used in the alternative sex world, the word homomasculine went fully into the gaystream in The Advocate, August 20, 2002, on page 55, in the article “Daring to Be Bears” by Larry Flick, senior talent editor of Billboard magazine. On August 1, 2003, the conservative talking head Andrew Sullivan came out on Salon.com as a bear, one of the largest identity movements in homomasculinity. This linguistic evolution is a response to real life in which time and hormones change men’s bodies through the maturation of the male secondary sex characteristics that identify men as a gender.
Years before the Gay Olympics existed and before all the rainbow leagues of gay sports suited up, the term “Gay Sports” in Drummer served as code and metaphor for homomasculinity. With a light touch, this “Gay Sports” essay, written in 1977, analyzes the genesis of the archetypal homomasculine “Castro Street” look in grooming, clothing, and physique. Its antithetical stereotype, the “Castronaut” look of the “Castro Clone” sent up by the Village People, was humorously satirized in my “Gay Deteriorata,” Drummer 21 (March 1978) and in “Castro Street Blues:
1978 Style,” Drummer 24 (September 1978).
Homomasculinity has liberated masculine-identified gay men.
Homomasculinity is a way of being, as valid as being a traditional sissy, even though the politically correct misjudge that homomasculinity means macho or sexist, which it doesn’t.
Homomasculinity also recognizes homofemininity.
This aspect of the male paradigm does not tread on the female paradigm, nor on any paradigm in between.
Homomasculinity is often a personal choice within gender style as much as it is genetic destiny.
Many gay men do “their mother’s act.”
Other gay men act out the best of their fathers. See Some Dance to Remember, Reel Two, Chapter Six.
Neither “identity act” is better than the other, but one is less likely to make a man a target-victim.
Consider this theory: as long as homophobes feast on the idea that gay men are, or want to be women, they will abuse us the way they feel free to abuse women.
Homomasculinity threatens heteromasculinity way differently than does sissyhood.
Because of this horn-locking assertion of virility, men in straight sports and the military fear the queer who might outshine them man-to-man.
I shaped Drummer as an on-going “masculinist manifesto” to uncloset a repulsion-attraction demiurge in masculine-identified gay culture.
In what turned into a serious and sideways review of Drummer, Michael Bronski wrote of my Drummer writing collected into my 1984 book Corporal in Charge and Other Canonical Stories:
This anthology of Drummer features and fiction written by Fritscher is graphic, explicit...and unabashedly romantic in a truer sense than are most books [magazines] aimed at gay audiences....[This is a] collection of [Fritscher’s Drummer] pieces which deal with individual consciousness. Like Genet’s work, these [Drummer writings] are essentially masturbatory fantasies...about the actual fantasy of romance...and gay men love to read about romance.
— Michael Bronski, “S/M Fiction: Isn’t It Romantic,” Gay Community News, Boston, February 16, 1985, Volume 12, Number 30, pages 8-11
Some gay men — sissy, mid-range, and butch— have been, or have fantasized, they were somehow misunderstood or abused by their rugged blue-collar or white-collar fathers. They fairly or unfairly demonize their straight dads who, despite the anti-patriarchal poison of gay culture, were the very essence of the masculine erotic authority gay men advertised for specifically in Drummer personal ads.
I wanted to “out” that desire for the Platonic Ideal of masculinity so that gay men did not have to go against their personal gender identity as masculine men who prefer men masculine. The readers responded positively as Drummer tub-thumped for masculine-identified liberation of grown-up men who preferred each other rather than twinks, sissies, drags, or clones.
As editor in chief I made Drummer the first magazine to iconize mature men in each issue. In this article, besides O. J. Simpson and Ken Norton, erotic assessment was made of Ted Turner, Gordon Liddy, and Ken Stabler. What I did was different from Colt Studio romanticizing grown-up and hyper-groomed bodybuilder gods no one could touch; I lionized men edgy with reality who reflected the ages and looks of men seen as available on the street and in bars and baths.
I began with the concept “In Search of Older Men” and initiated it fully in Drummer 24 (October 1978) with my Mapplethorpe cover, my editorial, and the cover feature “An Interview with Porn Star Richard Locke: 37 & Hot.” This “mature man” angle on homomasculinity — which I spun out of my longtime analysis of the Marlboro Man advertising campaign — played so big in every issue that Drummer published three extra “special issues” titled Drummer Daddies.
The reason publisher Embry went for this thematic issue of “Gay Sports” was that in late 1975 he had commissioned some pictures from the popular photographer Joe Tiffenbach who, like other photographers at that moment, had not yet heard of Robert Mapplethorpe. Embry had a few left-over Tiffenbach images that he insisted I use.
Joe Tiffenbach had lensed his shoot in the desert outside Palm Springs, and several were published, for instance, in Drummer 6 (May 1976) to illustrate the serialized story, “Five in the Trainer’s Room,” by Scott Masters who was a frequent Drummer author also known as Ed Menerth aka Ed Franklin. Squeezing the nickels out of those photos was almost okay (See “Dune Body”), because I’d told John Embry when he hired me that I had lots of existing writing I could stick in Drummer and also that I did not mind backfilling with material to match photographs and writing already in the Drummer files.
In the mid-70s before “Gay Lib” became “Gay Politics,” gay men knew a freedom unparalleled before or since in the window between penicillin and HIV.
Bodies turned very muscular in gyms. Without pecs, you were dead. Steroids were, in fact, the most used drug in the 1970s.
Masculinizing steroids were the secret designer drug of choice. During the French Revolution (1789-1799), the ideal was “Liberty,
Equality, Brotherhood.” During the Enlightenment of the Gay Revolution (1970-1982), “Masculinity” was added as inalienable goal and Platonic Ideal; and it endures in the bear movement celebrating male secondary sex characteristics, in the quintessential images of gay porn, and in the heart’s desire personal classifieds of the gay press. The words masculine or masculinity are used six times in my purposely assertive 8,000-word article written for gay popular culture way back in 1977.
The minute steroids pumped up the testosterone, competition sports broke out. The gay male body changed and morphed into something new. Speed cut gay body fat to micro-percentages less than a long-distance runner. Gay T-shirts shrank three sizes too small. Body hair and moustaches bloomed with beards after the fashion of the nineteenth-century frontier of cowboys and gents. A fresh archetype of masculinity became instantly sexy even as its stereotype, the clone, became a joke. Homomasculine men left off dancing in discos and headed out to have fun in gyms and on the playing fields. Gay fitness was the rage that dragged aerobics out of the disco and led in 1981 to the gay-smart Jane Fonda’s fitness empire.
In the San Francisco sports scene, the San Francisco Police Department challenged the gay softball team which gave the SFPD team a run for its money. I shot some Super-8 color film at the 1978 game — not of the action, but of the players, particularly every gay man’s favorite hunk, the young and handsome Officer Walter Scott who was the son of former Police Chief Donald Scott. He had the same universal appeal and mystique as Mike Dayton, the bodybuilder and karate champion, whose father was a cop. Dayton from the East Bay appeared frequently around San Francisco with his strongman show, bending bars, escaping shirtless from handcuffs and restraints, and being hanged by the neck until parents complained. (See my feature “Mike Dayton: The Last Gladiator” in California Action Guide, November 1982, pages 9-14, San Francisco.)
Because of the Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott who wrote Ivanhoe and popularized kilts as review-proof menswear, the straight Walter Scott’s name was instantly memorable and stays so years later because of his cop look, his mustache, his arms, and his buoyant personality. In that same June 1978, he and his straight partner obliged me and Bob Cato by driving around in their police car in a way I directed so I could shoot some additional footage of them chasing Cato.
Little did any of us know then that the SFPD would be arresting Cato for real on Sunday, September 5, 1982, for driving his Dodge van into a cab carrying Broadway star Mary Martin, 68, and Oscar-winner Janet Gaynor, 75, and killing Martin’s press agent Ben Washer, 76, for which, at the insistence of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Cato went to prison.
Cops versus Gays:
“He Loves Me. He Loves Me Not”
How Softball Games Turned into the White Night Riot
In the background of my 1978 cops-gays softball film, of course, are the inevitable drag cheerleaders and their pom poms trying to get to “second base,” but the real back story was this. On that 1978 playing field, the SFPD cops and gay men met in detente as community equals who did not divide until the White Night Riots, May 21, 1979, when gays set twelve police cars on fire outside City Hall and the cops marched down Castro Street beating everyone in their path.
The White Night Riot occurred almost exactly ten years after the Stonewall Riot, June 28, 1969, and is described in Some Dance to Remember, Reel Three, Scene One.
(In my drag-driven story, alternative to Drummer, comic eyewitness details of the Stonewall Riot appear fictively in “Stonewall, June 27, 1969, 11PM,” Harrington Gay Men’s Fiction Quarterly, 2006, Volume 8, Issue 1.)
During the time I was editor in chief of Drummer, I was recruited by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department which led to my doing outreach with the SFPD. “Sensitivity training” meant my taking a dozen young recruits on an introductory evening tour of gay spots on Castro Street and on Folsom Street. I cut a deal with manager Tony Tavarossi and owner Jack Haines at the Slot to let me lead my troop through the hallways. That night Tony told every sex maniac checking in about the visit of young SFPD cops which, of course, escalated everyone’s exhibitionism.
The Slot hallways were like a night in the red-light district of Amsterdam. The door to nearly every room was left open on some intensely posed and in-progress S&M athletics. When my troop of young troopers reached the third floor, one of the recruits freaked out and hyperventilated all the way down the stairs as we helped him to the front door and set him down on the pavement. (I always wondered what became of him. Had he some pentecostal revelation of his own desire? Did he return the next night as a paying customer?)
Sports have always been a gay metaphor from ancient times to the present-day gym culture. The Greek word gymnos actually means naked. What could be more ideally gay than bodies moving naked? Read The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games by Tony Perrottet. In Drummer, the sports metaphor expressed itself in terms like “S&M games with players in a playroom” which was more rollerball and dangerous than the 1980s therapeutized “safe spaces” for urban aboriginals spanking their outraged inner child for politically correct Marxist gender issues.
The 1980s was a whole 180-degree spin away from the 1970s. Blame viruses, Marxists, and faux fags and imitation lesbos who weren’t really gay, and only acted gay, because they were actually straight men and straight women afraid of the opposite gender. Where else but in the inclusive gay press could kinky straight people run their ads in search of each other? Our GLBT crew are all empathetic travelers on Noah’s Arc where we have seen two of everything, but when a self-described “lesbian” seeks a “gay man” to fist her, that seems more like refracted heterosexuality than homosexuality. For all the power of Playboy and Penthouse, I’ve never seen either corporation’s magazines run “Classified Sex Personals” that were always the backbone of Drummer and of The Advocate whose “Pink Section” kept it alive during the 1970s.
“GLBT” is destined to become the alphabet soup of “GLBTETC” because anyone and everyone can hitch a ride on our momentum, and we never throw them under the bus.
Nevertheless, that’s the great element of “blank” in homosexuality and lesbianism: both are such open existential positions that they let any and all come into the tent whether they essentially belong there or not.
This existential irony has helped deconstruct pure homosexuality and pure lesbianism.
Unlike much of the gay press, I am not heterophobic nor anti-Catholic nor a gender separatist. However, I have the queer idee fixe that in all the years in which “Sandinistas in wheelchairs” are invited to lead the gay pride parade, “diversity politics” removes focus from the “same-sex principle of like seeks like” which is the only defining absolute for homosexuality. Does this change the focus, and rather much mandate and presume that all gays are leftists bound to accept any behavior and any character who attaches to the gay movement?
For this reason, when I set out to define the Titanic 70s culture in the Drummer novel, Some Dance to Remember, I mixed the sports metaphor into the sex games and brought in bodybuilding as the gayest sport of all because of its esthetic, philosophical, and theological implications. Body sculpting is about physical beauty as the base for spiritual beauty in the way Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote that “grace builds on nature.” There is not a tribe on earth that does not believe that the more perfect one’s body, the greater the capacity for grace, for love, for happiness, and for reproducing one’s DNA. Plato himself believed in the perfect statue as the perfect form of the perfect man or the perfect woman. Has anyone in Western Culture recently looked at its “main art image” of a handsome, muscular, thirtysomething blue-collar carpenter Christ hung sculpted on the cross like a Calvin Klein gymnast on Olympic rings? The absolutely essential “Gay Sports” plot line of Some Dance is about a bodybuilder and an average-body gay man whose esthetic, theological, and political quest pursues the perfect body the way the Hispanic Man of La Mancha pursues “The Impossible Dream” in his Ideal Woman. This is lust, but could this be Fascism? Well, yeah, it could be. Maybe. Maybe not. Is Schwarzenegger’s ideal body a Fascist expression learned from his Nazi father? Is the ideal Colt model Fascistic? Is the whole existence and popularity of Colt Studios, featured in early Drummer, Fascistic or the Platonic Ideal? Was the soon-to-be Colt model I shot for the cover of Drummer 25 Fascistic? Colt renamed him “Ed Dinakos” which I always thought was the clumsiest porn name in history, but when I shot him, his ethnic name was Michael Glassman. I further enjoined “the Fascist question” by putting a photograph of a statue of the boxer Primo Carnera— lensed by photographer George Mott at Mussolini’s Foro Italico — on the cover of the first edition of Some Dance to Remember.
In that novel-memoir, I made dramatically certain that the protagonist gets what’s coming to him, and that the antagonist gets what he deserves. That’s the point of art for art’s sake. I am not a moralist such as the politically correct would have artists be. In this case, as an artist who is a writer — which is different than simply being a writer, I wanted to do more than moralize and entertain. I wanted to outrage the self-satisfied status quo of the sissy-establishment with its gay agenda to program young gay hearts and minds through the endlessly effeminate gay press such as The Advocate or The Bay Area Reporter or a dozen other publications.
I want to alarm the reader and frighten the horses and stick needles into modern and post-modern homosexuality till it bleeds.
I want to whip the politically correct. I want to pinch the nipples of straight people who hang lasciviously around the edges of our homosexual shrines.
I want to drive the pretenders from the temple so that men can be with men again, and women can be with women again, without the politics of separatism or the religion of matriarchy using the playrooms of homosexuality to try to kill off patriarchy which is a heresy as bad as matriarchy.
I am not a masculinist. I am not a feminist.
I am not a separatist.
I am a humanist, because I think that the quintessence of homosexuality is to make one more human.
Politics usually makes people less human.
These are dangerous words, maybe, but if writing isn’t a thrill, then it’s just jerking off.
History buffs may note that my Drummer of the 1970s was very “West Coast” going “international.” After I exited Drummer on December 31, 1979, Drummer, like S&M itself in the 1980s experienced the pressure of East Coast sexual politics which changed face and direction.
Gay Liberation, for instance, became Gay Politics. And those are two different ways of being.
Sports ain’t just about jock straps, locker rooms, and sucking off the coach.
This kind of civil war, between the Left Coast and the Right Coast, was as bad as the civil war between Drummer and The Advocate, and between the gay Marxist left and the gay Log Cabin right. All these gay-civil-war battles of liberation hurt many artists and writers as much as the McCarthy Communist witch hunts in the 1950s hurt Hollywood writers. This is one of the reasons that the gay-civil-wars are one of the main themes in Some Dance to Remember, Reel 2, Scene Fifteen.
In 1990, Brian Pronger, aware of how for years I continued creating Drummer images for my erotic-athletic Palm Drive Video company, contacted me for some of my sports photographs. He had liked the pioneering “Gay Sports” idea of Drummer 20. His nonfiction book then in progress was The Arena of Masculinity: Sports, Homosexuality, and the Meaning of Sex. He published one of my quintessential Drummer photographs featuring the two “Gay Sports” boxers, Dan Dufort and Gino Deddino, from my video Gut Punchers which, shot July 26, 1987, was the first gut-punching video. It was reviewed in Drummer 115 (April 1988). I kept the gut-punching theme going in the videos Rough Night at the Jockstrap Gym; Larry Perry Raw: Naked Came the Stranger starring Mr. Drummer contestant Larry Perry; and My Nephew, My Lover starring Mike Jacob who touted himself as the German International Mr. Leather (IML) contestant.
To illustrate my “Gay Sports” essay I used the Joe Tiffenbach photographs; a wrestling drawing by Matt; a Mr. California physique contest photo cut to make the headless competitors anonymous; one still photo each from Rocky and The Longest Yard; one photograph of baseball player Ron Cey with fist rampant which I used again on the cover of my Man2Man Quarterly #2 (December 1980); two photographs by Bob Heffron of a water skier who looked as if he might be the Colt model Ledermeister aka Paul Gerrior; a cartoon of a track-and-field athlete in a kilt — the first kilt to appear in Drummer (See also my Highland Games’ photographs in “Men in Kilts,” Drummer 25, pages 92-93); two photographs of the newly “out” football player Dave Kopay; two photographs shot by my traveling companion Gene Weber of us doing some underwater fisting in the Caribbean; one wrestling photograph by Bob Mizer at AMG; two “boxing bag” and “boxing chair” photos with three wrestling photos by David Hurles featuring John Handley of the Manhattan Boxing and Wrestling Club shot at the private ring owned by Golden Gloves coach Greg Varney (with the byline wrongly attributed to Handley on page 84); and one photograph of the staff inside Tuffy’s gay sporting goods store at 597 Castro. The photograph on page 10 of the jockstrap-view of football quarterback Ken Stabler in Sports Illustrated is bylined as “David Hurles” whose name I sometimes used with Hurles’ permission when publisher Embry balked at my bylining all my input into Drummer. I designed and shot this jockstrap photograph in my own bed using the popular San Francisco muscleman, my pal, Paul Merar as my model.
Before Drummer, Sports Illustrated was one of the main sources of erotica for homosexuals in the way that National Geographic was used as porno by heterosexuals. In fact, I made Sports Illustrated, like the Marlboro Man campaign, one of the informing images that drove the ethos of Drummer. Sports Illustrated was often mentioned in Drummer.
My “Gay Jock Sports” article is a manifesto about how we gay men reacted to being politicized by the fundamentalist culture war started by Protestant Republicans. To quote the 1978 article: “Everyone is rethinking masculinity today.”
II. The feature essay as published in Drummer 20, January 1978
The Gay Sports Revival:
Should Only Straight Guys Have All This Fun?
Gay Jock Sports
Wrestling, Boxing, Rollerballing, Soaring,
Scuba, Bodybuilding, Dune Bodies, Films
He chews Redman tobacco, wears a railroad engineer’s cap at the helm, and often pisses over the side of Courageous, the 12-meter yacht he skippered to the America’s Cup crown. Before the America’s Cup races, he pep-talked his crewmen as if they were a football team, playing the theme song from Rocky to fire them up. His name is Reginald Edward Turner III, although he’s more often known as “Captain Outrageous.”
Ted Turner is a perfect 38 years old, a Georgia peach of a jock who stretched his RET initials to name his own WRET-TV station [which became his global super-station CNN] . He sees himself as Scarlett’s Rhett modernized. International yachtsman Turner owns Atlanta’s baseball and basketball franchises. He buys and sells pro-ball players like Big Macs. In a former existence, the dashingly handsome Turner no doubt owned a stable of gladiators. In this existence, he’s a macho, married, handsome, straight, millionaire jock.
Of all the current gladiator dreamjocks, Oakland Raiders’ quarterback Kenny Stabler is a man of a southern class more redneck than the aristocratic Turner. “My lifestyle,” Stabler confessed to Sports Illustrated, “is too rough— too much booze and babes and cigarettes to be a high-school coach.” Stabler is big, bearded, and so butch that after winning the Super Bowl, he described the Raiders’ locker room victory party as a great release: “Coach Madden was all red and grinning and the guys were hugging each other like a bunch of fruits.”
Twice-divorced Stabler now keeps Wickedly Wonderful Wanda so close that she emerges “like a bauble from the shadow of his armpit.” (Jock reporters, like Robert Jones, have a way with words to make your mouth water.) Always an athlete, Stabler, nicknamed “Snake,” was 6-3 and 185 before pro-ball weight training boosted his bulk to 215. “The stronger you are, the more muscle you got around those joints, the less likely you are to get hurt.”
Check out Sports Illustrated (9/19/77) to see Snake’s Wicked Wonderful Wanda, to see the shining Stabler shot in loving-color “beefcake” full-page and cover photos. “Ken Stabler is a man in motion,” SI’s Jones writes. “Furious, violent motion. Exultant motion.”
Motion just like a lubed hand.
No reflection on Stabler as a private person, but when a private person goes public and is openly touted as a sexual beast, the tempted reader who buys the magazine can stroke up whatever fantasy he wants. Stabler can take the energy as the compliment it is: his manly mana only encourages lust in the grandstand. What jock-groupie wouldn’t stir at Jones’ story that Stabler is so tough, that when he was at Alabama he topped his girlfriend by putting her in her place in the corner and fed her with a slingshot.
SHOULD ONLY STRAIGHT GUYS HAVE ALL THIS FUN?
Even the tall, dark, and handsome Gordon Liddy, the only man who took Watergate like a man, while in prison buffed himself up to a tight-lipped 190 pounds and was bench-pressing over 300 by the time he went home to his wife sans slingshot. Liddy’s dominant face suggests the look of the Castro Street type matured. Having achieved the character a man’s face takes on passing through his thirties, Liddy’s got the macho. He’s got the magic. He’s got the dark S&M look. He is so heavy, he offered himself for execution if his symbolic death would help clean up the Watergate mess. Instead, like most cons, he worked out what he had to work out through the channeled aggression of sports and the stoicism of cold showers.
JOCULARLY STRAPPED AND LATENT
Jock is British slang for penis. Jock with strap means athletic supporter. Jock in American slang means athlete, especially a college athlete. Edward Albee’s American Dream boy is a jock “who works out a little bit.” Tennessee Williams’ Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is an over-the-hill jock, terrified, remembering that with his football teammate Skipper, “Sometimes late at night on the road in our hotel room we’d reach across the space between the beds...” The American dream is the golden boy who blooms early in high school, makes all the teams, and graduates to date the college homecoming queen. The American nightmare is the beefy jock type who, ten years later, divorced from the homecoming queen, cruises singles bars, presses his beer can up against his dropping double knit chest, and admits to having “played a little ball in college.”
FUCKING: THE PRIMAL PUSH-UP
Charles Atlas made millions merchandising muscles to keep sand-kicking bullies from stealing away the heart of beach blanket Annettes. Atlas’ successor, Joe Weider, publisher of Muscle Builder, one of the world’s truly great catalogs of beefcake, peddles classic sex in ads with Arnold Schwarzetcetera [Schwarzenegger] touting protein powder while a bikini-girl hangs over his bionic shoulder with a National Lampoon-tang look on her face. Weider’s catalogs are wonderfully illustrated for one-handed reading late at night for anyone who gets off on a hyperbole of bodies.
Athletes have long endorsed products promising first of all a terrific body (Bruce Jenner for Wheaties), then a body with sex appeal (Joe Namath for you-name-it), then clothes with success appeal (Bob Griese for leisure suits from Sears), and finally the unstoppable Joe Willie [Namath] — in his classic pantyhose [ad]. Woody Allen summed the Jock Sell up in Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex in the sequence with the two jocks, stripped down to white towels and tan torsos at the locker-room mirror, endorsing the irresistible qualities of some sexy product on an athletic body. Naturally, they fall into each other’s hot embrace, as naturally as ballplayers pat ass, snap towels in the shower and talk chauvinist talk about broads and fags.
Athletics is attitude. Players spend as much time psyching as practicing. A jock is only as good as his body and his psyche. So when chased by jock-groupies of both sexes, players can get cynical or jaded. One baseball player recently claimed San Francisco was the worst place for a jock to try and get laid, because everybody in the Bay Area was either a hooker or a fag. Somehow, that should make it easier.
When the sport is as good as sex, as in Pumping Iron when Arnold rather truthfully states that a good muscle pump is as good as cuming, then the sport includes its own sexual end. Uniforms often exaggerate body parts with protective padding or expose the body for freedom of movement. I have Super-8 movie evidence I’ll be glad to show any man who himself is around 6’, 190, with 18” arms, that at more than one physique contest, my zoom lens has, by sheerest of accident, caught certain bodybuilders during their posing routines growing erect in their sheerest of posing briefs. That’s not only okay. That’s the point. Among other things that it is, sports is exhibitionism. And what’s the Ultimate Exhibit? The Body.
Schwarzenegger wasn’t booked in as an “exhibit” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for nothing [during the 1969 and 1970s Mr. Olympia Physique Contests]. He was booked to exploit his body. His acting career, going back to the Italian spear-and-sandal epics when he was billed as Arnold Strong, always was and always will be based on his delts and not his diction. He and other sports-to-movies jocks are like the tone-deaf dancer in A Chorus Line. She doesn’t need to sing. Her body itself has “men cuming in their pants.” Her pigtailed counterpart affirms the body as exhibit: tits and ass. The body is the one singular sensation, sensed in the athlete’s body and sensed in the sports fan’s head.
Every man wants an athletic body. Lots of men want athletes’ bodies. Back in the 1950s when Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch was America’s football idol, after one particularly rousing game, the fans streamed onto the field and literally tore Hirsch’s uniform off for souvenirs: jersey, cleats, socks, everything, pad by pad, strap by sweaty strap. Hirsch escaped in a shred of jock. He is also remembered for one of his three movie roles. The film, a 1955 classic, was Unchained. Its main title theme was “Unchained Melody.”
Norman Lear’s short-lived sit-com All That Glitters featured a professional baseball player turned actor exercising his naked chest while explaining to the camera, “Without pecs, you’re dead.”
WITHOUT PECS, YOU’RE DEAD?
Naked to the Greeks, who had a word for everything but poppers, is gymnos. Gymnastics, like all events in the original uncut Olympics, was movement performed naked. In the 1950s, Bonnie Prudden in Sports Illustrated went so far as to recommend that high-school boys attend gym class shirtless to spur competitive pride in their bodies. Nothing was said about quick-glance comparisons made later in the overheated and underventilated shower. Gays have no corner on that kind of looking. At that age, every boy looks to see how he compares. The only difference is that gay guys never stop looking. Comparison shoppers to the end, they remember. For instance, a former student manager [David Sparrow, my lover 1969-1979, and my partner in photography at Drummer 1977-1979] at Evansville, Indiana’s Rex Mundi High School fondly recalls watching their all-star straight jock head into the shower. To this day he can describe to the inch the sudsy vision of a cut Bob Griese, long before he became the Miami Dolphins’ star quarterback whose blondness contrasted so perfectly with the macho darkness of those two other drop-dead Dolphins, Jim Kiick and Larry Czonka, whom the sportswriters called “Butch and Sundance.” [See the cover of Sports Illustrated (August 7, 1972). Jim Kiick inspired the name of the character, Kick Sorensen, in Some Dance to Remember.]
OH MY, O. J. SIMPSON
Equally well remembered is O. J. Simpson working out at the gym at City College of San Francisco [1965-1966; corrected from UC Berkeley in the original]. O. J. Simpson long before he hurtled suitcases in TV ads for Hertz [Rent-a-Car], pleased more than one pair of adoring eyes while he minded his own business at USC [University of Southern California]. As only [Boyd McDonald’s] Straight to Hell # 32 magazine could juicily put it:
Before going to Stanford, I was working in Hollywood and going to USC part time. This was during O. J. Simpson’s last year at USC (1969-1970). Because I used to run, lift weights, swim and generally hang out at the gym, I met the straight O.
J. a number of times.
One afternoon I was in the weight room working on an exercise machine called a Universal Gym. The leg-press part is lowest to the floor and faces the south wall which is covered with mirrors. I was on this part of the machine when O. J. and a couple of his Black buddies came in to work out. They were bareassed except for bulging jockstraps. We exchanged nods and greetings and O. J. came over to work on the bench press section which was raised and to my left. Since I’d seen O. J. stripped to gym shorts several times before, I already knew he had a great bod: thick neck and arms, gigantic thighs, and beautiful dark reddish-brown skin. So this time I concentrated on the private parts. His jock pouch was filled out quite well, and because the bench press user has to spread his legs wide to the sides of the bench, he unknowingly gave me a fantastic panoramic view of his beautiful tight buns bulging out of the jock: dark, moist, curly-haired crack; fuzzy crotch; plus just a hint of asshole and a peek of one large thick nut sac. What a juicy mouth-watering straight stud. I wonder if the sports writers realize how appropriate his pro-nickname, “The Juice,” really is.
In this media-mad world, anybody can fantasize almost anything about anybody, and Simpson even way back then, minding his own business, was already larger than life.
Boxer Ken Norton infuriated Muhammed Ali by appearing in a tabloid wearing only a jockstrap. That strap covered a lot considering the package the classically built Norton displayed in Mandingo. In that Dino DeDemented [DeLaurentis] movie, plantation mistress Susannah York summons slave Norton to her bedroom. Norton wears only white cotton trousers held up by a drawstring. The camera shoots Norton’s broad-shouldered, sweaty, and lickable back. York, standing in front of Norton, faces the camera, but looks straight at Norton’s face. Her hand reaches up and pulls slowly, sensually, and long on the symbolic drawstring holding his light trousers against his beautiful dark skin.
Not one to be undone without being done, Norton stands stock still as his trousers slide slow down his naked buttocks. The camera tracks equally slow down his noble backside as the fair-skinned York sinks to her adoring knees down his frontside.
This is acting? She gets paid for this?
One Black moviegoer shouted out in the hypnotized theater silence: ‘HOLLEEE-WOOOOOOD!” And this perfect review was right on. Yet through it all Norton’s innate nobility and incredible body carried the scene with a dignity Ali long ago lost. Norton’s athletically disciplined body on exhibition, preserved for all time on film, is worth twice the admission price. Norton seems both to understand and be willing to share the vision of his naked body perfected by sports.
Hollywood has always trafficked in athletic bodies: Brando, Newman, Douglas, Voight, and Stallone boxed in On the Waterfront, Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Champion, The All-American Hero, and Rocky long after the humpy young John Garfield broke jaws and hearts in movies of the 1940s. Currently, Ryan O’Neal boxes for real, owns a piece of a boxer, and wants a boxing script for himself.
Wrestling was never better before or since it peaked in Ken Russell’s Women in Love, produced by Larry Kramer, when Alan Bates, who shows ass in nearly every movie he’s ever made, grapples sweaty and naked before a roaring fireplace with the very macho Oliver Reed.
Robert Redford’s body, looking good as Natalie Wood’s gay husband in Inside Daisy Clover, has been through a litany of athletics: leathered and shirtless dirt-biking in Little Fauss and Big Halsey; skiing in Downhill Racer; hiking and rafting in Jeremiah Johnson; running in Three Days of the Condor; and sailing in The Way We Were, in which he also out-wrestled Streisand frame-by-frame for face space.
Richard Harris, sailing in Mutiny on the Bounty, was stripped, tied to an iron grate, and flogged. That took care of his backside. The Native American athletics of tribal life in A Man Called Horse took care of his front side. The power warriors strung Harris up with wooden pegs through his pecs, hoisting him up for a test of his endurance. In the Sun Dance ritual, he becomes a “man” through his initiation in pain.
Appropriately, pain is the one word all athletes use in common. Training, like sex, can become an obsession. It feels so good it sometimes becomes compulsive-addictive. The body aches for a workout. The more miles a long-distance runner logs each day, the better his threshold of pain. No man races against any clock. All men race against themselves. The mind takes control of the body and the miles pile up. This running analogy fits all sports as well as it explains much gay sex, which is the Greatest Sport, and why so many gay men ground their sexuality in endurance of SM, fistfucking, and marathon fuck sessions.
This Sporting Life , made at the same time as The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner , was the jock movie that took care of Richard Harris’ face. Sporting Life featured nude bathing and brawling similar to David Storey’s Broadway rugby drama The Changing Room  where twenty men enter the set, strip, stretch, massage, horse around, head out to get bloodied up on the field, re-enter the locker room, doggedly strip off their muddy uniforms, shower, towel dry, and exit.
Rugby has its own rituals of communal baths and bawdy ballads. The rugby player is more than just a member of the team. He’s part of a more latent than blatant global fraternity that emphasizes bonhomie and plenty of beer-guzzling off the field. Rival teams usually share the same locker rooms and dip in the same team bath tub, communally, after their afternoon tussle in the mud. Every match ends with the “Third Half,” a booze-up contest of bawdy ballads, where usually one or more players break into the traditional Zulu Dance, a tipsy male striptease. Admits Michael Smith who boosts US rugby out of Chicago, “I work in stockbroking because I have to live. But if I could, I’d spend all my life in rugby.”
No wonder show biz types like to buy jock types. O’Neal has his fighter. Elton John has his football team. Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Peter Frampton, and Bill Graham recently bought up the Philadelphia franchise in the North American Soccer League.
Burt Reynolds, sprung from a Cosmo centerfold, played football in college and starred in two movies since: The Longest Yard and Semi-Tough with the really tough Kris Kristofferson. Paul Newman’s passion for real-life race-car driving was featured in Winning. Peter Firth in Equus played a boy who loves horses so much he hates them, and tortures them and himself (with a bloody bit tied tight into his own teeth) until “cured” by an incredible shrinking shrink.
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? And with puritan good reason. Horses in films are always symbols of passion. Equestrians always gallop toward passionate disaster: Christopher Jones’ stallion forbode sexual danger every time he fucked Ryan’s Daughter, Sarah Miles ; Brando’s Captain Penderton in Reflections in a Golden Eye  gets carried away by his gay passion on his wife Elizabeth Taylor’s horse. Throughout that film, in which Julie Harris cuts off her nipples with the garden shears, fetishist Robert Forster, the young Army private after whose privates Brando lusts, rides naked, wild, and free. The horse’s eye, the eye of passion, reflects life, love, lust, and Liz.
Gay horseback riding has long been established in a very low-profile Los Angeles riding club whose members project a very heavy Marlboro Man image. Farther north, riding with a posse of gay men through redwoods and down a Mendocino creek bed conjures a galloping sensuality of horse-sweat, creaking leather saddles, Levi’s-asses posting in a canter of foreplay, crotches pushed up against the horn, looks cast one man to another back at the corral, leather reins in gloved hands, uncinching the horse, carrying the saddle over the shoulder to the barn, currying down the horse, turning him out to graze, and heading toward the hayloft with the rider of choice. Such weekends are often arranged out of San Francisco. [The reference here is to a famous November 5-7, 1976 run to a dude ranch outside the village of Philo in Mendocino County, three hours north of San Francisco. It was organized by a certain Earl (surname deleted), M. D. who in the 1970s was, out of his Marina home office, the main healthcare provider to gay men frequenting Folsom Street baths and bars, and the Catacombs. His waiting room was always interesting because the other half of his clientele consisted of young Latinas. He was a wonderful medical realist and a leading “master of revels.” Another doctor, Richard Hamilton, M. D. who assisted me in writing my “Dr. Dick” for Drummer also appeared in the mid-1970s.]
Horseback riding, of course, is not all overt sexuality. Gay men, like other men, can get into a sport for itself. The triumphant [first] Gay Rodeo held in Reno in the fall of 1977 received national press coverage and helped establish a positive sports image of gay men as men competitively capable of traditional American manliness in its best sense. This is affirmative gay action. Many gay athletes coming out into sports in their twenties or thirties admit to fears of athletics when they were very young — fears of “pitching like a sissy.” A new liberated attitude now allows them to tackle whatever sport they like. People are learning that gay is not a synonym for effeminate. No more in sports than in bed is the ordinary gay man interested in “playing the passive female role.” In both arenas, gay men celebrate their masculinity.
Masculinity is what really lies behind the gay sports revival.
Previously, the obvious way to be gay, maybe the only way, say men who remember the unhappy days of the 1950s, was skirt-and-sweater camp-scream-outrage. Liberation has let real, traditional manliness out
of the locker and onto the field. Suddenly, the alternative to nelly stands on its own two Adidas.
It’s okay to be macho.
MOVIES AND GAY SPORTS
Movies stylized the gay subculture (and vice versa if you’ve ever been blown in Hollywood): from the mad-queen stereotype of a Bette Davis, who is her own best cliche, to the grooming of movie males on an increasingly macho scale — from the effete Valentino to the insipid Leslie Howard to the tough gangster-cowboy actors to the Ivy-League grooming of Troy/ Tab/Rock to the womanless romantic coupling of Newman and Redford, Voight and Hoffman, and Reynolds and Kristofferson. Movies have long taught gay men their attitudes. Movies came out of the hetero-marital closet at the closing line of Women in Love when wrestler Bates’ wife asks, “Aren’t I enough for you?” His answer prepared the way for Butch and Sundance. “No,” he answers. And the movie ends.
Semi-Tough’s Kristofferson says, “I figure the first year and a half of marriage is lust. After that, you just settle into a basic friendship.” The boys, like Brando in Streetcar, go back to bowling with the boys. Movies of the 1970s have taught America a new attitude toward male relationships, just like Hollywood musicals, dead as New York, New York, taught a whole generation of males how to be queens. Currently, thanks to Stallone, Hollywood’s second biggest trip is the Jock Movie. (The first is the horror-science-fiction movie.) And it is the Jock Movie that is teaching gay men the unqueenly other end of the masculinity spectrum: semi-tough macho.
Women might not like macho men. But men like macho men. Women often dislike very muscular men. So these hetero women make choices different from the gay preference. For instance, go to a straight gym. You’ll see straight men, married and single, who are out-and-out Straight Queens: mincing, prancing, camping in nelly voices; but, aha! Their sexual preference is women with whom they watch football, go four-wheeling, and skiing.
Then hit a gay gym. Sure, you’ll see some Muscle Queens pumping pecs they deep down wish were tits; but you’ll also see the heavy Muscle-Buddy trip. These guys look like stereotype straights: strong, silent, practiced movements, “spotting” each other on their heavy sets, into rag sweatshirts they work to get really soaked, eyes only for each other’s correct athletic form. Yet their sexual preference is each other.
How will Anita Bryant who reads people by stereotypes, ever figure out who’s doing what with whom? With the uncloseting of sports has come a new viable gay lifestyle, visible and suitable: the athletic, genuinely masculine gay male.
Movies and TV have opened to gay men the possibility of participating in sports they long thought closed to them, because they were, from grade school on, a little “shy” as Lily Tomlin would say, or “marching to a different Drummer” as Thoreau would say. Somewhere, with the debunking of all the Great American Myths, sports has finally lost its straight cherry, its false modesty, its phony purity, its stupid prudishness. No one anywhere any more believes an athlete tackles better, runs faster, serves more accurately because he is straight. Since Dave Kopay came out and Johnny Carson asked Joe Namath directly about the number of gay quarterbacks, American attitudes have necessarily changed.
The famous Washington Star article on rumors of gays in professional sports [December 10, 1975; the article by reporter Lynn Rosellini was an extrapolation that did not name names until Dave Kopay contacted the paper for a follow-up article], Kopay’s own dignified disclosure of his sexuality, and Anita’s Big Squeeze Play were the three best things to happen to the gay movement. Before this trinity converged, if a gay man came out, he came out. Point and period. What was he to discuss with good old mom and dad? Details of our midnight gymnastics? They needn’t hear all that about their best little boy in the whole world. Now, a man can discuss something after disclosure. Kopay and the Post gave us a topic: athletics. Bryant gave us politics, since she politicized us to the point where a man can say, “I’m gay and the implications of this constitutionally include you who are straight.” These people, for better or worse, have given us the material we need: being gay is more than sexual calisthenics energized by poppers.
HIGH ANXIETY: COLLEGE GYMS
At the university in the Midwest where I taught for years, I had various close encounters with a baseball star, an assistant freshman football coach, one gymnast, and innumerable ordinary jocks mutually cruised in the shower where students recruited the more tactful faculty. Wrestling late Saturday afternoons on the mats in the second-floor gym of the field house led more often than not back to my house.
At UC Berkeley, right now, not only is the library lav [toilet] a study in tangled Adidas, the maze of showers in the gym is highly active. Sunbathing is nude around the outdoor pool, and in the johns outside the Olympic gymnastics room and the weight room, the sex is subtle, free, and easy. At UC Berkeley, every man is issued regulation blue shorts and a jock. I’ve cruised there for years. In fact, my first workout, I hit the john and within three minutes, tanned bare feet padded in, turned, and curled all ten toes in the age-old signal for “lewd conduct” in a toilet stall. I pivoted my own foot slightly. Immediately, blue shorts and white jock dropped down over the tanned feet. His knees knelt to the floor and he slipped his thighs, knees first, tanned with mats of golden hair, under the partition. His cock followed, standing erect from a blond bush, hard, wet, and ready, with the foreskin stripped half-back. I stared in disbelief like some fucking tourist fisherman who catches a marlin in the first three minutes of his charter. Jocks, I knew, did IT but didn’t talk about it. Was this the Berkeley custom? When in Rome, do. I did. After all, Zorba the Greek said: “There is one mortal sin in life: when a woman calls a man to her bed and he will not come.” This athlete called me to the vaulting pole of his cock and I’m no mortal sinner. He was the first of many good sports that summer.
If gay men are anything, they are often insecure. Los Angeles psychologist Ralph Greerson believes that men generally deal with anxiety by compulsively facing it. “If they are afraid of violence, they may become addicted to football, play it, see it again and again.” When a man fears something, he counters the phobia by doing exactly what scares him. So years ago you got a “D” in Phys Ed, or got beaten up on the playground. So what! Fuck explanations of behavior.
On any playing field or any white-water raft, the reasons for being present are as many as the men involved. Fear. Fun. Fucking. Walk into a gym and shout, “What insecurity brings you here?” (You can also shout it in offices, busses, and churches.) Do jocks buff up with tremendous muscle motivated by the cliche of a four-inch cock? Then let’s hear it for four-inch cocks. As a coach told an embarrassed bareassed boy at Chicago’s Lawson Y: “Big cock, small cock. Yours gets hard, doesn’t it?” The kid nodded yes. “Then that settles that.”
Gays once were afraid to be anything but closeted or queenly. The hot David Sparrow, Drummer’s favorite freelance photographer, says about coming out: “When I was sixteen, I thought I was the only one like me in my home town. When I was nineteen, I discovered others. They were hard not to discover because they were so nelly and outrageous. I thought to be queer I had to affect a limp lifestyle. Then I moved to New York, found out I wasn’t queer but that I was gay, and that the Limp Style was only one of many ways to be gay. I turned in my ruby slippers for something I’d wanted all my life: boots, cleats, and Adidas.”
Now that gays are a political issue we are forced into community relations and we gladly play softball tournaments with the local San Francisco cops. Just as Blacks have gained greater acceptance through fronting Black athletes who were first of all heroes to their sport, so ordinary gays gain acceptance as sportsmen through upfront softball with teams fielded by the San Francisco police. When a sports team that “happens to be gay” beats a sports team that “happens to be straight,” the straights figure they were outclassed by some better jocks and they realign their opinion about the opponent “cocksuckers,” and they all go off to a gay bar for a victory beer ordering neither Coors nor screwdrivers. The game and its aftermath are a celebration of two varieties of ways to be masculine in America: straight macho and gay macho.
Everyone is rethinking masculinity today. Read Semi-Tough, Ball Four, The Boys of Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Front Runner, plus Mary Renault’s cock-and-bull-jumping novel The King Must Die where nude athletes do tricks in the arena. Best of all is Gary Shaw’s Meat on the Hoof, a straight non-fiction expose of college football and the battle of a player to get into the big leagues. (Dell publishes it.) Shaw wrote:
Probably the varsity’s most popular game was “Record Races.” Here they would strip several of us (football players) naked and divide us into two groups. Then, they would bring out our “toy”’ — an old 45-rpm record. They placed the toy between the cracks of our asses. We had to carry it from one end of the hall to the other without using our hands. We would then have to — again without using our hands — place it in our teammate’s ass. If he happened to drop it, his partner had to pick it up with his mouth, and put it back in place. These races were considered the highlight of the evening.
Not to imply anything about Shaw’s straight sexuality, but he adds:
It seems rather ludicrous now, but my best moments as a freshman Longhorn were spent at the same time every day, in the same toilet stall, and on the same john. Being able to lock that stall, and then sit and read a magazine in total privacy for thirty minutes each day, enabled me to survive that first year.
All sports until recently were heavy team sports: major equipment for ten to thirty guys, either seven feet tall or 250 pounds. Anything less than basketball, football, or baseball was sissy. Schools today emphasize individual sports a man can play his whole life. Tennis, once strictly for women and Latin males, has a whole new machismo. TV has internationalized sports, junking All-American Babe Ruth baseball, and going beyond seasonal football and basketball to include hockey, soccer, handball, racquetball, soaring, sky and scuba diving. To find the full variety read the bumper stickers. DIVERS DO IT DEEPER is one sticker that the accompanying photos taken off Grand Cayman Island by Gene Weber at an 80-foot depth gives a raised fist salute to.
Admittedly, the jockstrap boxer in Waiting for Mr. Goodbar was about as hot as DeNiro steeling himself to endure in Taxi Driver through hard workouts. But the ultimate jockstrap movie is Paul Newman’s Slapshot. Actor Michael Ontkean plays a hockey goalie who skates around the ice arena crowded with spectators cheering on an illegal ice-brawl. Ontkean breaks it up by stripping his hockey uniform piece by piece to the strains of “The Stripper,” getting down bare-assed to nothing but his skates, socks, and his chock-full-of-nuts jock. All in slow motion. It is a High Moment of cinema fetishism. Ontkean’s slow strip stops the disbelieving brawl, proving, if nothing else, that sex, especially in Ontkean’s overflowing cup, can stop violence.
GAY SPORTS: TUFFY
Peeled down the same way, Tuffy’s Sportswear on Castro in San Francisco caters to outfitting the gay jock from the jockstrap on out, layer by layer, out to whatever sports uniform is needed. Tuffy himself is behind the competition between San Francisco and Los Angeles for the First Annual California Cup in gay all-star football, basketball, and volleyball. Through Tuffy’s USA Club, whitewater rafting trips are currently coordinated by Larry Kratzer, a veteran tour guide of whitewater trips through northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah.
Tennis, racquetball, and squash are coached by Jim Stacy, athletic director for gay racquet sports. Stacy has instituted a challenge system for advanced, intermediate, and beginning players. Stacy is one of northern California’s top squash players. The caliber of coaching and play for tennis, racquetball, squash, and badminton is geared to provide the good gay athlete with quality competition while insuring adequate instruction for the beginning player.
Bodybuilding, sponsored by Tuffy’s USA, likewise looks to the interests of the beginner. Since most gay men belong to either a traditional weight gym or a Nautilus Fitness Center, this bodybuilding association addresses itself to the needs of gay pumpers wherever they work out. Utilizing the buddy system, advanced bodybuilders share their training tricks with men on the threshold of a properly bulked and defined physique. An openly gay physique contest is planned for the near future.
Tuffy’s interesting shop is located at 597 Castro in San Francisco. The USA Club phone is (415) 621-2128.
BAY AREA BOXING CLUB: GREG VARNEY
Greg Varney is a man who knows what he wants and how to organize what he gets. Native to the Bay Area, Greg has wrestled and boxed in a variety of cities, but chose San Francisco as the founding city for his Boxing and Fighting Club. The disarming Varney, who has the face of a Botticelli boxer, has plenty to say about sports and the gay men who play them.
“I started boxing when I was eight years old,” Greg tells me, “and I won a Golden Gloves title when I was seventeen. I’ve always loved boxing for itself. Those locker-room romances are porn-film fantasies. Not that boxers aren’t gay. Just that most male athletes at the mere mention of homosexuality really tighten up. I mean when I watch a bout I don’t go to see the bodies per se. I go to watch the technique. Secondarily, the bodies from light to heavyweight interest me.
“What turned me on sexually to boxing was once when I was thirteen I boxed naked with another kid for about thirty seconds. I tried not to think about that during my amateur career; but when I was twenty-four, I came out. Ever since then, my main purpose has been to open up boxing to gay men who never were aware that this sport could be available to them. For instance, my roommate, Mike Mooney, started boxing in May, 1976. When I started teaching him to box, I found he was really good and highly motivated. So I took him to my local gym and we started his amateur career. So far, he’s had two amateur bouts and is scheduled for his third. Something Mike always dreamed about doing, but thought he couldn’t, has happened— so far successfully.
“Meeting men such as Mike who like boxing and fighting doesn’t happen easily on the streets or in the bars. So I put ads in various gay publications and got a real flood of letters and calls. Right away I knew I had to weed out the phonies, and there were plenty— about 75 percent. A phony, I judged, was a guy more interested in jerking off looking at himself or me in our Everlast gear than he was in actual training or sparring. Sex is for-sure involved, but secondarily. With this premise, I started the Bay Area Boxing and Fight Club in 1976.
“Mike and I looked for the right place, both to live and to box. We finally found a super-big apartment with an attic space large enough to set up our regulation-size boxing ring. Our facilities now include different weight boxing gloves, headgear, and other protective boxing gear, heavy bags, speed bags, and a general workout area near the boxing ring itself. [Many photographs which David Hurles and I shot especially for this feature were staged in Varney-Mooney’s attic boxing ring which was a very private inner sanctum within the Drummer salon.]
“We offer private bouts, instruction and workouts, and a lot of times, we function as an outlet for guys who just like to roughhouse on the canvas with other guys. More formally, our instruction and sparring is aimed at the growing number of men who come regularly for workouts to learn boxing techniques. We also like wrestling, but tend to exclude it so as not to duplicate the trip of the various wrestling clubs.
“We also have a majority of members heavy into the leather-sweat-contest aspect of boxing. Some of the bouts have some special rules determined by the participants. Some guys like to box in full leather. Others spar nude. Some like body-punching fights, with no hitting of the head. Some dig wearing headgear and mouthpieces to box with full-body contact above the waist. The ‘contest’ boxers like to fight to submission for a prize. That kind of prize, claimed in the ring on the canvas, I leave to your imagination.
“Any man interested primarily in boxing and other contact fighting sports with other gay men can contact the Bay Area Boxing and Fight Club by writing 681 Ellis Street #111, San Francisco 94102. The club and gym phone is (415) 861-1006. Novices, intermediates, pros: we respect them all at their level.”
OLIVE-OIL WRESTLING: TERRIFIC TURKS
Each August in Gallipoli, Turkey, 500 male wrestlers pair off, slap their leather thighs, and clasp each other to rub the olive oil onto their naked torsos and into their leather breeches. The breeches are fit like American football pants from waist to mid-calf. They are made from 45 pieces of leather and 200 yards of cotton, cost $30, and last two years. They are soaked in water, sweat, and oil to soften the leather. Each wrestler, stripped to the waist, usually sporting a heavy dark moustache and a crewcut, lavishly coats his leather breeches and his torso, arms, head, and feet with olive oil. He knots tight his breeches’ waist cord, and the ritual, dating back to ancient Greek vases, begins.
Over the centuries, Turkish olive-oil wrestling has become more than a sport. It is a macho ritual woven from the stuff of young men’s wet dreams. Immensely popular as a tourist attraction today, Turkish wrestling peaked 100 years ago when Sultan Abdul Aziz, a massive athlete and himself a wrestler, under his own imperial blessing (and fetish), added the refinement of coating the marble floors of his palaces as well as the bodies of his wrestlers, with oil — a baroque, murderous, hardon touch.
Olive-oil wrestling has few rules. Anything goes in the free-for-all of 500 men, oiled, sweating in the sun, identified only by silver studs spelling out their names on the back waist of their leathers. There is much man-to-man macho chivalry and little shame in losing a match that goes on for hours and sometimes days. The only real shame is when a handsome young wrestler loses his leather breeches and is left standing oiled and naked in the sunswept field of brawling men. To him it’s shame. To a tourist it’s a prime Turkish Delight.
GAY WRESTLING: JOHN HANDLEY
Equally delightful is American gay wrestling. The Wrestling Club network now spans from California to Chicago to New York with the New York Wrestling Club somehow the most colorful because of its founding president and chief promoter, the dark-mustachioed John Handley, who, during an interview, will answer questions and lay out the NYWC future plans most fluidly, as he pretends to reach for his cup of coffee only to feint the disarmed interviewer into a half-nelson. No exaggeration. Handley is such a wrestling aficionado that an interviewer gets his best answers being drop-kicked across Handley’s NYWC wrestling mats. Meeting John is a bruise forever, and a joy, once you realize that for Liza life is a cabaret, and for John life is a basic body slam to the canvas.
Handley describes his wrestling style as mean. His favorite holds are the body scissors, head scissors, and hammerlock. His Dewar’s Profile quote: “I wrestle because I like beating the shit out of guys.”
No wonder the world is beating a path to this man’s door.
CRUISIN’ FOR A BRUISIN’
The New York Wrestling Club was created to afford civilized men a chance to get down and grapple. Its newsletter, membership roster, and social events foster the network of matches between athletes, gay and even straight, for whom wrestling is a prime interest. “Whatever else happens between the two men,” Handley says, “is their business.”
Handley twists my