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Copyright Jack Fritscher, Ph.D. & Mark Hemry - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
GAY SAN FRANCISCO: EYEWITNESS DRUMMER
by Jack Fritscher
Chapter also available in PDF and Flip
I. Author’s Eyewitness Historical-Context Introduction written December 21, 1998
II. The feature article as published in Drummer 20, January 1978
III. Eyewitness Illustrations
I. Author’s Eyewitness Historical-Context Introduction written December 21, 1998
For introductory history to the “Astrologic” columns, confer “Astrologic: Capricorn” in Drummer 19.
I often coded playful and personal messages into each “Astrologic” to entertain the mob of us doing Drummer— some of us living together and others of us fucking together. In the way that venerable author Sam Steward saluted our friends, the leather priest Jim Kane and his partner, the pro-football player Ike Barnes, in “Babysitter” in Drummer 5 (March 1976), I often wrote “internal signatures” into the text and subtext of my Drummer articles and stories to acknowledge my pals.
“Bent, sick, and twisted” was a catch phrase on Castro Street in the 1970s. “Jaded Degenerate Man” referred to New Yorker Don Levine who was one of the first truly original Titanic 70s “characters” to emerge in the Castro and South of Market. He was a nightclub singer and friend of the cabaret pianist John Trowbridge whom David Sparrow and I photographed for the cover of Drummer 21 (March 1978). Levine was like Godot. Always in rehearsal for his show that never happened, the dramatic Don Levine, who never saw a Broadway musical he didn’t like, sold pot, and designed T-shirts emblazoned with his characterization of each and all of us: “Jaded Degenerate Man.” Although he was swept away with the 1980s and seemingly lost from history, Don Levine was the wag who first dubbed Harvey Milk “The Mayor of Castro Street.”
In the early 1970s, the Castro Café was the tidal pool of a group of us bohemian leather artists and writers on whom Don Levine pinned the donkey tail of the “gay Algonquin Club.” It was this group that evolved into the first salon around Drummer.
The legendary Castro Café was on the west side of Castro Street, two doors north of the corner of 18th and Castro, and next to the Star Pharmacy. The Castro Café was the 24-hour place to see and be seen between afternoons in the backroom of Ron Ernst’s Jaguar Bookstore and nights down on Folsom Street. Not until the Castro Café shuttered around 1975 did the Norse Cove across from the Castro Theater rise as the diner of choice. For a detailed narrative of how the 1970s Castro neighborhood grew from the Castro Café to the brunch culture inside Mena’s Norse Cove, see Some Dance to Remember: A Memoir-Novel of San Francisco 1970-1982, Reel 2, Scene 4.
Don Levine and I (a Gemini) shared a mutual concern: we looked so much like each other — virtual twins— that when we were not together, people could rarely tell us apart. It became such a cliche that we both answered to the other’s name just to add to the confusion. His Jewish name was “Don Levine,” but we joked that his Irish-Catholic name was “Lon Devine.” In the Ambush bar, a trick once warned us both to be great sex or we’d ruin each other’s reputation.
My “Astrologic” quip about “Any Pisces named David” referred to David Wycoff who was roommate and lover in a “two-year three-way affair” with David Sparrow and me during our ten-year marriage. David Sparrow and I photographed David Wycoff for this same Drummer 20, page 39. My reference to “a taxi driver — especially if he is strawberry — blond, mustachioed, and muscular” described David Wycoff who was all that. He was also hung a full nine uncut inches, and a San Francisco taxi driver who gave blow jobs with the meter running, and a sweet-tempered young man except for one occasion referenced in this column when he and David Sparrow had a two-way spat and David Sparrow kept finding nails in his motorcycle tires. (There was no proof it was David Wycoff and the incidents were quickly forgotten.)
In 1980, David Wycoff found his own true love, Brian Dalgleish. Then, without any warning from the astrological stars, the Titanic
70s party hit the iceberg of HIV.
After five years together as the best of lovers, Brian Dalgleish died on April 29, 1985, and David Wycoff lived only thirty more days, dying under care for dementia in the San Francisco Veteran’s Hospital on May 29, 1985.
David Sparrow and I chartered a boat and on a way-too-brilliant spring afternoon spread David Wycoff’s ashes on the waters of Paradise Cove near Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.
David Sparrow died seven years later on February 20, 1992.
He was born a Taurus on May 7, 1945, and my 1978 Taurus quips in “Astrologic” were meant for him.
My Capricorn swipe that “...there has never been a Capricorn of any importance” was meant as a barb of irony shot into gay culture’s Marxist dismissal of Christianity.
AQUARIUS S: (Jan. 21 - Feb. 18): Admit it, asshole. You are BST: Bent, Sick, and Twisted. You have an inventive mind, inclined to be into PROGRESSIVE S&M. You fear you’ve already gone too far sexually when in reality you’re only half as BST as 1978 will make you. By the end of the 70s, you will be a fully jaded, degenerate man. Sit on your own hand.
AQUARIUS M: (Jan. 21 - Feb. 18): Inclined to be careless in your choice of masters, you will make the same stupid mistakes repeatedly until finally you learn how to project mastery of yourself. THEN the Right S will pick up on you. Currently you say NO too much too often. Relax. You need to be severely whipped and permanently pierced. You’re old enough now to take possession of your body and give it away piece by piece.
PISCES S: (Feb. 19 - Mar. 20): Careful this winter of M’s who want to turn the tables on you. Secretly you desire to bottom out to a Satanic Warrior who will pin you to the mat. If you’re not seriously working out, get your physique act together. An event is about to occur requiring from you a very muscular response.
PISCES M: (Feb. 19 - Mar. 20): Any Pisces named DAVID had best be careful as the combination sign and name will this month earn you a very bad reputation among your immediate friends who find you quite possibly attack former lovers’ motorcycles with nails and do terrible things to small animals when alone in your apartment. You rarely ever get what you want, but you are about to get what you deserve.
ARIES S: (Mar. 21 - Apr. 19): Consider an affair with a taxi driver. Especially if he is strawberry blond, mustachioed, and muscular. Keep his meter running. You need another top man to play with, as your current bottom tricks are not fully satisfying you. Seek out mutual scenes.
ARIES M: (Mar. 21 - Apr. 19): You are the asshole type and might as well celebrate the fact that most guys hold you in contempt. You are quick-tempered, impatient after midnight, and always scornful of advice. You are not very nice. Men should piss on you.
TAURUS S: (Apr. 20 - May 20): You are bullish on yourself and, by god, you deserve it. [The gorgeous David Sparrow was a Taurus referenced here in the “S” and “M” entries for Taurus.] You are practical and persistent. Your bull-headed determination makes you cruise with specific purpose. M’s know you’ve got ATTITUDE.
TAURUS M: (Apr. 20 - May 20): Secretly, you’re a scat freak. And you think your friends don’t know that you eat your own bullshit.
GEMINI S: (May 21 - Jun. 20): You are a quick and intelligent thinker. Both of your heads are better than one. Men like you because you are bisexual (some of the time) and on the head of your cock they can taste p-u-s-s-y j-u-i-c-e. Before the winter is out, you may need H-E-L-P.
GEMINI M: (May 21 - Jun. 20): Uh-oh. You are too narcissistic these days. Stop jerking off alone in front of your mirror. It is a necessity for you to go to a bath for a heavy degradation trip. Find the ugliest dude you can and go down on him. If he rejects you, all the better. That could be your ultimate trip: to be rejected by a real scumbag.
CANCER S: (Jun. 21 - Jul. 22): Wrestling has sometimes been a spontaneous part of your sex scene. Add in more sports touches. Drop some of your heavy leather, and jock up your wardrobe. You will come on and get off differently if you advertise the true sexual athlete hidden in your real self.
CANCER M: (Jun. 21 - Jul. 22): You whine too much. Lower your voice a tone. Currently, other men think you’re a sucker. You procrastinate. That’s why you never make anything of yourself except a mess. No wonder most welfare recipients are Cancer people.
LEO S: (Jul. 23 - Aug. 22): You are the sunshine of several men’s lives. They’d like you to be even more of a bully. Add to your innate arrogance. M’s will adore you, and in any sports contest you’ll immediately establish psychological dominance.
LEO M: (Jul. 23 - Aug. 22): No trick should let you stay over night, unless you are in total bondage. After dark, you turn into a thief. Keep your hands off the downers you find in your host’s medicine cabinet. If he’s going to trick with a creep like you, he’ll need all the Valium he can get.
VIRGO S: (Aug. 23 - Sep. 22): This month make your clean act even cleaner. Shower twice a day at the Y. Avoid sex with others. Tempt them instead by standing under the shower spray with a hardon. If uncut, spread a long, lingering time pulling back your delicious foreskin and sudsing your cockhead. This month your game is Turn-On-And-Turn-Down.
VIRGO M: (Aug. 23 - Sep. 22): Your logic and hatred of disorder make you sickening to your friends. You are cold, unemotional, and often fall asleep while making love with your socks on. Virgo M’s make good bus drivers. You ought to try it.
LIBRA S: (Sep. 23 - Oct. 22): Practice your artistry by learning how to do prison-style tattooing with pins and India ink. Find a pierce-able M and decorate the space between his balls and his asshole. Who cares if he objects? He IS an object.
LIBRA M: (Sep. 23 - Oct. 22): If you haven’t, you should try hustling. You will be good at it. You should also be quick, as most Libras die of VD.
SCORPIO S: (Oct. 23 - Nov. 21): You are shrewd in business and in bed and cannot be trusted any farther than Bruce Jenner can toss a cow-pie discus. You have achieved the pinnacle of your late-night reputation because of your total lack of sexual ethics. Remember that most Scorpios are murdered and their passing is only back-page news. SCORPIO M: (Oct. 23 - Nov. 21): Consider joining the Trappists. They keep their mouths shut. You kiss and tell. So it’s either the monastery
or pursuit of an S who will sew your loose lips together.
SAGITTARIUS S: (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21): You are optimistic and enthusiastic. You need a reckless tendency to rely on luck since you lack the talent a true Top man needs to hit his mark. Most Sagittarians are dope fiends. You are no exception. When you are on Quaaludes, people laugh at you a great deal.
SAGITTARIUS M: (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21): Buy a stature of Saint Sebastian stuck full of arrows/eros. He is your patron this month as you will be besieged on all sides by the slings (good) and arrows (better) of outrageous (best) fortune-hunters. Be ready to suffer.
CAPRICORN S: (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19): Post-holiday let-down should not affect you, as you have Lent to look forward to. Improve your performance as a Top by denying yourself half the sex you’re used to having and spending your new-found time building up your latent athletic skill. M’s will worship your pumped-up forearms.
CAPRICORN M: (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19): You are afraid to take risks. You don’t do enough of anything. All you ever want is to lie back with a fist up your thankless butt. No wonder there has never been a Capricorn of any importance. Don’t stand still too long as you tend to take root and become a tree, unless — that is — you’re into dog piss.