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by Jack Fritscher

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Gender Identity in Drummer

A (Descriptive) Masculine Alternative

to the (Prescriptive) Sissy Stereotype

The Gender War and Homomasculinity

“Gay men are guardians of the masculine impulse. To have anonymous sex in a dark alleyway is to pay homage to the dream of male freedom. The unknown stranger is a wandering pagan god. The altar, as in pre-history, is anywhere you kneel.”

—Camille Paglia, Sex, Art, and Culture: Essays,

“Homosexuality at the Fin de Siecle,” p. 25, Vintage, 1992

During the Titanic 1970s before the iceberg of HIV, I kept on my home desk a copy of the shocking anti-leather feature article that gay journalist, Richard Goldstein, wrote for the Village Voice, July 7, 1975, when Drummer, first published June 20, was only seventeen days old.

I was acutely aware of the gay vanilla villains trashing leatherfolk in the separatist gender war of butch and femme. In fact, to bridge the empathy gap between genders, I wrote a reflexive novel on that very theme: Some Dance to Remember: A Memoir-Novel of San Francisco 1970-1982. At Drummer, there was a vivid consciousness that the onward marching bourgeois enemies of leather culture were dangerous propagandists ranging from the Village Voice to the anti-leather Advocate. Most villainously, the enemy, pathologizing leather behavior, was most often not straight. It was our Enemy Within. With the rise of separatist feminism—not humanist feminism—into the community of genuine same-sex homosexuality rolled the Trojan Horse of politically correct and prescriptive gay “terrorists” using masculine-identified gay men for target practice.

Their prejudicial presumption was that masculine gay men are somehow simply an intramural bully version of the intermural straight male oppressors who frightened them in high school, and, therefore, deserve to be marginalized in LGBT culture. Ain’t it a wonderful life? Every time gays disrespect each other another gay is burnt at the stake.

In the Voodoo Politics of gay apartheid, any and all gender separatists who think themselves superior activists are in truth hardly more than reactionaries whose separatism is the ugly social crime of segregation within the already divisively sorted alphabet soup of the LGBT community.

Masculinity, in short, was suspect—as if a good man was hard to find. In general, masculine gay men, having suffered as gay boys, embrace not the worst of straight male stereotypes, but the best of the Jungian male archetype balanced off the best of the Jungian female archetype. Homomasculinity for gay men, like homofemininity for lesbians, aims at the quintessential purity at the heart of the two gender norms that bookend the diversity of all other genders on the Kinsey scale. Noting such pecking order, the psychotherapist leatherman Guy Baldwin wrote in his “Ties That Bind” column in Drummer 127: “Social rules say that straight is better than gay. The rules also say that vanilla is better than kinky. So there is hiding. And a part of us is cut off from ourselves.”

Richard Goldstein, who had not yet heard of Drummer, titled his leather smear-campaign manifesto, “S&M: The Dark Side of Gay Liberation.” While his essay was interesting for his eyewitness reporting on the New York leather scene that I loved, his vanilla prejudices and Manhattitude spoiled his testimony. Trolling our bars to sample our culture, was he an immature sex tourist? Unsophisticated? Kidding? Was he dog-paddling in his own pool of “morality”? Was he swamped by the sudden popularity of S&M in liberated females, fashion, and films favored by leather players? Had he been unable to handle esthetically, intellectually, and morally the 1970s new wave of women directors featuring Nazi brutality and sexuality as in Liliana Cavani’s darkly romantic psychological film, The Night Porter (1974)? Or Lina Wertmueller’s dark Seven Beauties (1975)? Or even in Don Edmonds’ pop-cult classic, Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1974) that played to eager leather fans for two solid years at the Strand movie theater on Market Street? What was Goldstein really on about when, after he went slumming in gay bars like the Eagle, he condescendingly slandered gay S&M sex, art, and leather uniforms, by connecting our erotic disciplines to Nazi punishments?

His only insight into our folkways was a truth we all know, and one that was not original with Goldstein because it came out of the mouth of an unidentified leatherman he interviewed: “Sadism, if you really want to call it that, is really forcing someone to do what he is already eager to do. It has the same kind of feeling as a flood of tears in a movie—it’s a dramatic experience.”

He abridged the 1970s rise of “gay liberation for all” when he, as an aggressive gay separatist, trashed the ritual and emotional validity and personal choice of S&M, fisting, piss, and scat; hanky and key codes of left and right; leather-heritage bars like Keller’s, the Anvil, the Spike, and the Eagle’s Nest (the actual name of the bar that guys called “The Eagle”); leather-heritage stores like the Pleasure Chest and the Marquis de Suede; bike clubs like the Praetorians, Empire City, Wheels, Trash, and CYA (Up Your Ass); straight leather folk heroes like performance artist, Chris Burden, and leather sculptor, Nancy Grossman; and artists like Tom of Finland (Eons Gallery, Drummer 13), and especially my longtime crony and sometime collaborator, the Drummer artist, Rex, whom Goldstein labels a “Naziphile” for his book Mannespeilen (Les Pirates Associes, Paris, 1986). On page 41, Mannespielen featured the Rex drawing for the cover of my book, Leather Blues: A Novel of Leatherfolk (1984).

In his insular Manhattan trashing of our international leather art, Goldstein, had he rounded out his research, would have been confounded in his gay theory by the moxie and sophistication of one of the first and finest sources of mid-twentieth-century S&M photography, the iconic British discipline studio, Studio Royale, established in the early 1950s, and beloved by Tom of Finland (mentioned by Goldstein), and Tom’s friend, Alan Selby, founder of “Mr. S” leather fetish clothing. In Royale’s erotic catalog of esthetic images of S&M, each single-frame tableau was as perfect a moment as any “Perfect Moment” shot by Mapplethorpe. Partly printed on marvelously opaque onionskin paper, those pages, in the 1960s, arrived at my American home in plain envelopes from 110 Denbigh St., (near the bed-sit of Quentin Crisp), London S.W.1. Royale’s “story board” series of approximately fifteen frames each, featuring non-nude casts of ordinary guys with natural bodies and the authentic look of underpaid squaddies and bonafide guardsmen posing “gay for pay.” Making a fetish of non-nude manliness, its mix of uniform kit with corporal punishment hugely influenced my homomasculine concept of natural-born leathermen practicing S&M in Drummer.

Goldstein’s article was a valuable warning to me because he was the first East Coast enemy of the leather life my friends and I and Michel Foucault and the artist Rex, whom he ridiculed, were happily leading in San Francisco. Can you imagine what it was like to fist Foucault on Folsom Street? Goldstein’s politically-correct 1975 article created prejudice, and played to the prejudice of, Manhattan vanillarinas suspicious of leather culture, leather art, and leatherfolk. And, ultimately, against Drummer. By the end of the 1970s, prescriptively petulant New York gays, who had not even read the script of William Friedkin’s Cruising, demonstrated in the streets to stop the acclaimed director of The Boys in the Band from shooting his new leather-themed film on location in the Meatpacking District.

It was not just New Yorkers. Worldwide, the straight and gay bourgeoisie agreed intellectually and esthetically on their mutual distrust of the S&M jamboree they could not separate from real-life sex abuse, mental illness, and low-class violence. To each other about leatherfolk they said, “NOCD. Not our class, darling.” A few years later, San Francisco Focus Magazine (November 1985) railed against leatherfolk and prematurely announced “The Death of Leather.” Focus was the magazine of the politically correct San Francisco PBS television station, KQED, which was also responsible for the wretched anti-male and discriminatory documentary, The Castro (1997). Its seemingly politically correct producer-writer-director and propagandist, David L. Stein, deleted virtually any representation of the formative male presence in the roots of Castro Street which was effectively created in the 1970s by gay men, such as Harvey Milk, as a destination for any and all sex refugees still coming out in their own time across the country. He might better have tacked a specific feminist subtitle to his generic title which, by itself, The Castro, promised conceptually way more inclusion than he delivered in terms of representing the decades, genders, and populations he selected.

Because of the army of leather haters, including the self-named “Red Queen” of Castro, Arthur Evans, who made the biggest mistake of his intellectual life identifying leather with patriarchy (See Drummer 134, October 1989), I was thankful for the following magazines which I kept on file to guide my version of Drummer magazine.

Decades before search engines such as Google existed, especially during the first decade of gay liberation in the 1970s,writers doing research had to collect their own leather pop-culture archive of hard copies of authoritative publications for the kind of topics, themes, and fact-checking suitable for emerging gay journalism, gay studies, and GLBT archives.

FOR THE 1970S:


Look magazine (January 10, 1967)) in its Special Issue, “The American Man,” published Jack Star’s gay history, “The Sad ‘Gay’ Life of the Homosexual,” with a photograph by Douglas Jones, featuring a close-up face of a leatherman wearing a leather cap decorated with bike run pins reading “Badger Flats 1966”and “Recon Annual Run May 7.” As a note of my own archeology into our lost civilization, as well as a measure of how GLBT culture often fails to dig for its roots, this mention of this particular issue of Look is fairly much the first mention ever (that I know of) in any GLBT coverage of gay history. This seemed also the case of the once-and-oft forgotten feature, “Homosexuality in America,” Life magazine, June 26, 1964, which, after I first referenced it in Drummer in my feature obituary, “Artist Chuck Arnett,” Drummer 134 (October 1989), has since been cited endlessly as a commonplace fact, which, of course, is the reward for us pre-internet writers unearthing lost treasure for future researchers in what has become the gay history business.

Harper’s (July 1975), the same month as Goldstein published his screed, and the first month that the first issue of Drummer was on the newsstands, featured the cover story “Masculinity: Wraparound Presents 60 Points of View.” Perhaps this article was Harper’s penance for its hateful September, 1970, cover story, “Homo/Hetero: The Struggle for Sexual Identity,” written by Joseph Epstein, a straight anti-pop-culturist, who declared two months after Stonewall, “If I had the power to do so, I would wish homosexuality off the face of this earth.”

Time (September 8, 1975), two months after Goldstein and three months after Drummer 1, published the famously patriotic cover of Leonard Matlovich, “I Am a Homosexual: The Gay Drive for Acceptance.” The good-hearted HIV-positive Matlovich, cannibalized by fund-raising carnivores in the gay community demanding his time and money and publicity, was driven to an early grave at age forty-five in 1988.

Muscle Builder/Power (December/January 1976) published an editorial by Armand Tanny, “The Male: An Endangered Species.” The well-reasoned humanist Tanny argued for male emancipation from stereotypes in this popular international men’s health magazine published by Joe Weider who was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dr. Frankenstein. Indirectly connected to homomasculinity in Drummer, the magazine’s lead article featured bodybuilder Bob Birdsong who also made gay S&M erotic films in the 1960s and early 1970s with other bodybuilders such as Ken Sprague who was the Colt model “Dakota” and an early owner of Gold’s Gym. Dakota also made bisexual and gay homomasculine films with bodybuilder Jim Cassidy who was so frequently his co-star in gay movies that they were known in sniffy camp bars as the “Nelson Eddy and Jeannette McDonald of gay porn.” The bodybuilder Roger Callard, pictured by Tanny, appeared in nonsexual roles in several gay films. In the 1960s and 1970s, I bought many of the these 8mm and Super-8mm black-and-white and color films that influenced me greatly in fashioning the male archetypes of Drummer even while at that time we were all guessing which bodybuilders led double lives in gay cinema. Some of Weider’s bodybuilders also made nude solo films for the crisply brilliant Film Associates company which, as Chuck Renslow’s very homomasculine Kris Studio had been in the 1950s and 1960s, was the go-to studio to buy muscle films cast straighter than those shot by the openly gay Athletic Model Guild and Colt Studio.

High Times (August 1976) published Glenn O’Brien’s positive feature on the leather-culture explosion, “Piss, Leather, and Western Civilization.” For review comment, see early Drummer columnist Fred Halsted’s perfervid and quite surreal “Editorial,” Package 5 (December 1976) in which Halsted, whose ancestral roots were in the Caucasus, waxed on about the mystic qualities of piss, mushrooms, Aryan culture, and ritualistic spiritualism in leather sex, in terms of Joey Yale, Kenneth Anger, William Burroughs, and himself as a leather guru.

• Psychology Today (January 1977) published a special issue, “Masculinity,” based by diverse reporters on the responses of 28,000 readers of Psychology Today twisting in the wind blowing around concepts of liberated men, macho, and androgyny.

Time (April 13, 1979) published on its cover a pair each of male and female hands with the huge headline, “How Gay Is Gay? Homosexuality in America.” Having been accused that my Drummer was “not gay enough,” I wrote editorials for Drummer 25 and 26 about “Fucking with Authentic Men.” As if in confirmation of this endless sussing out of “measuring” homosexuality, photographer Mark I. Chester wrote in Drummer 138, pages 24-25, that his work was judged “too explicitly gay.”

Blueboy (October 1979) publisher Don Embinder, adding a consideration of leather into the vanilla Blueboy, featured Ian Young, whom I have long respected, writing his consideration, “What Is this Thing called S&M?” To his credit, John Embry in his publisher’s column in Drummer 9 (October 1979) took Blueboy publisher Don Embinder to task for misrepresenting leather and S&M in that issue.

The Advocate 238 (December 1979) showcased Pat (Patrick) Califia authoring “A Secret Side of Lesbian Sexuality” which connected to Drummer through Samois, the Society of Janus, and the Catacombs. I had already published the Samois hanky code in Drummer 31 (September 1979).

New York Magazine (June 25, 1979) published Philip Nobile’s exhilarating cover story, “The Meaning of Gay: an Interview with Dr. C. A. Tripp” just as homomasculinity exploded to the surface in Drummer. Author Tripp, who finished the recently deceased Kinsey’s work in The Homosexual Matrix stood four-square against born-again homophobes. Dripping with credentials, Nobile reinforced my archetype of homomasculinity in Drummer when he wrote this essential statement in New York Magazine, page 37:

50 percent of all [straight and gay] young boys eroticize male attributes...90 percent of homosexuals show no effeminacy...furthermore, a great many people involved in homosexuality are the opposite of what the layman would expect, meaning that they are macho males of the truck driver-cowboy-lumberjack variety....Those he-man types place great emphasis on maleness and male values—and thus have an extraordinary tendency to eroticize male attributes, which is, after all, what most male homosexuality is all about. [Italics added.]

Continuing to write for Drummer over the years, I also kept:

The Advocate 472 (May 12, 1987) made unusual amends with leather culture in the feature essay by Scott Tucker, “Raw Hide: The Mystery and Power of Leather,” pages 40-49. In the evolution of BDSM in gay popular culture, butch covers that were once singular to Drummer began to appear on one or two covers of The Advocate in the first decade of the twenty-first century. However, after leather photographer Robert Mapplethorpe died, I had to browbeat The Advocate into putting that most world-famous of gay men and gay leathermen on the cover as their “Person of the Year” as 1990, the very high-profile year of the Mapplethorpe scandal, was turning into 1991 when the issue on the stands was The Advocate, December 18, 1990.

According to then Advocate editor Mark Thompson, my pressure ignited an internal fight at The Advocate which, in the end was a fight I won for Robert. Even so, queens being what we are, the cover photo which was published was, of course, not Robert in the characteristic personal leather he wore and was famed for photographing, but him in an experimental self-portrait wearing women’s makeup as a male-effacing masque. Having more or less embarrassed The Advocate into doing the right thing by the kind of artistic genius that gay culture is not likely to see again soon, I was hardly surprised that the magazine so patently begrudged putting a famously dead world-class gay leatherman on its coveted annual cover.

Perhaps to save face, or to find the balance, in the gender war, The Advocate finally decided to divide the real estate of its cover in half so it could also picture the famously alive Indian-American lesbian, Urvashi Vaid, as yet a second “Person of the Year” in a kind of politically correct timeshare of two worthy persons titled “Woman and Man of the Year” with Vaid pictured on the left and Mapplethorpe on the right. It may very well be the only year that The Advocate’s “Person of the Year” ended in a tie, much like the 1969 Academy Awards when Katherine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand tied for Best Actress in The Lion in Winter and Funny Girl.

Before I had contacted The Advocate nominating Mapplethorpe, I think the magazine may have already decided to name Vaid solo as its “Person of the Year.” She was freshly partnered with feminist comedienne and in-house Advocate columnist Kate Clinton; and, at that moment, Vaid’s media profile was beginning to rise because she had just been named executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; and finally, because the persons on the Advocate phones seemed rather disconcerted that I was upsetting their in-house plans for the cover with this outsider intervention which eventually “shamed” them into doing the equitable thing even if, like the mother in Kings 3:16-28, they defied King Solomon’s wisdom and divided their baby in half. I apologized for my urgency with them, and I argued that 1990 would really, really, really be the last year that the recently deceased Mapplethorpe could reasonably be honored as a person of the year.

Manifest Reader 17 (1992), Embry’s post-Drummer magazine, headlined by Dane/Mike/Rick Leathers, in the essay, “A New Mazeway for Homomasculine Men,” pages 33-39. The ascetic worshiper of bulls, Rick Leathers authored more than twenty-five homomasculine stories and articles for Embry in Drummer, Mach, and Manifest Reader. See the useful bibliography in Manifest Reader 30 (1996), pages 62-63.

The New Republic (June 13, 1994) published Bruce Bawer’s “The Stonewall Myth” in a special and important American Booksellers Association issue that addressed gay linguistics, politics, and masculinity. Another “myth” about Stonewall is that the riots were populated en masse like Woodstock which happened two months later with thousands of participants: every author who claimed to be in New York in June 1969, including the mandarin Edmund White, has written himself into the narrative of that night that he “just happened to witness” like Woody Allen’s time-traveling protagonist in Zelig.

Truth be told, “Stonewall” as a concept did not really penetrate the national gay culture—outside New York—as a popular metaphor until the early mid-1970s when Manhattan writers, in assumptions of artistic powers, alchemized their local event into a convenient watershed symbol of national gay resistance as if Stonewall were, indeed, “a shot heard round the world” like the one in Emerson’s “Concord Hymn” that started our Revolutionary War, or the shot that killed Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 starting World War I. Having just returned that June, 1969, from Europe on Pan Am, I was not in New York during the Stonewall rebellion. Visiting that week in Chicago, I remember only one bit of news exactly: the radio said Judy Garland was dead. Joining those New York writers, my own gesture to enhancing this archetribe symbol was my story, “Stonewall: June 27, 1969, 11 PM,” published in Harrington Gay Men’s Fiction Quarterly (Volume 8, Issue 1, 2006) and in the anthology Stonewall Stories of Gay Liberation (2008).

In defense of homomasculinity and Drummer, and the 1970s quest for defining new genders and old, I rest my case.

1976, October 9: Wally Wallace begins managing the “Temple Bar of Masculinity,” the Mine Shaft [written as two words on his opening night invitation, but more commonly spelled Mineshaft] at 836 Washington Street, New York, which I wrote about in Drummer 19 (December 1977).

1976: Alexander Shulgin stimulates leather culture when he unearths a lost 1912 chemistry formula to introduce one of 1970 leather culture’s most popular drugs, MDMA, with its gentle psychedelic and stimulant effects; not to be confused with popular and speedy MDA (Mapplethorpe’s favorite drug), innocent little MDMA soon becomes famous as Ecstasy.

* * * *


From Drummer 25 (December 1978)


An Introduction to a Drummer Editorial


Drummer Presents

Some “Found” Prose

from the Red Queen, Arthur Evans

by Jack Fritscher

I wrote this editorial, as a case in point, noticing Arthur Evans in September, 1978, and published it in Drummer 25 (December 1978), to help sort out the new Gay Civil War over Gender in the Titanic 1970s. For all its entertainment value, Drummer was a timely test-bed for purposeful versions and visions of the gay-liberation dream unfolding.

Some gender activists misunderstand homomasculinity as if it were a Fascist principle and not what it is, a gender identity innate to those born that way. When I coined the term homomasculinity in 1977, I meant not masculinity as a power tool of male privilege or male entitlement, but rather a masculinity whose identity was rooted in traditionally masculine goodness in the Latin sense of virtue, which comes from the Latin word vir, meaning man, causing virtue to be “the quality of a man.” That was the quintessence I sought to define in my coinage.

I published this satirical piece written by the self-crowned “Red Queen, Arthur Evans,” who was an evangelical gender missionary come from the island of Manhattan to convert the peninsula of San Francisco whose butch gays he rejected as much as they rejected him. Even so, he had a genuine political authenticity rather like the authenticity of political analysis of unfolding gender ambiguities made by University of California Professor David Van Leer in his benchmark book of the pop-culture period between World War II and Stonewall, The Queening of America: Gay Culture in a Straight Society.

In the gay civil wars of the 1970s, with some apostolic gender crusaders trying to gentrify other genders, I respected Arthur Evans’ representing one kind—his Faerie Circle kind—of “authentic” queening and queering. In Drummer, I chose to give his “red”—did he mean Marxist-Communist?—gender voice free exposure. At that time, I had already opened Drummer up, in my “Leather Christmas” feature in Drummer 19 (December 1977), to the first mentions of authentic female leather players such as Cynthia Slater, co-founder of the Society of Janus and author of first-person feminist S&M fiction like “Discovery” in Drummer 125. I also published one of the first press-releases from Samois, the first lesbian S&M group, founded by the transman Patrick Califia and the feminist Gayle Rubin in 1978. Samois disbanded in 1983 allegedly because of infighting, somewhat like Drummer itself. Those intramural spats reflected the very essence of the passions and politics being parsed about fixed and fluid gender identity in the leather community.

I openly tub-thumped an emergent defining theme of a populist homomasculine “authenticity” which actually did exist among Drummer readers as revealed in our confessional Leather Fraternity personals ads where masculinity and masculine were the two most repeated words. Homomasculine identity was the key ingredient leading to Drummer’s success because no one had anticipated, or affirmed, the unexpected news that masculine-identified gay men had to come out of the closet just like all the other gay identities.

By “authenticity” I meant something as authentic as a Platonic Ideal: a gay man in a police uniform, for instance, with his fetish act together and his head together, may be more “authentic” than an actual, credentialed, straight cop in uniform, because the gay man has the feeling and soul to plunge to the heart of, and understand and act out the quintessence of “copness” which the cop may not understand because to him his job’s just a paycheck.

By “authenticity” I mean the heart of the archetypal best that males do, not the stereotypical worst. Perhaps that should be repeated for the blind-and-deaf politically correct fundamentalists. In her essay, “The Fiction Writer and His Country,” Flannery O”Connor, the great Catholic novelist of the American South, wrote: “To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.” Latter-day critics should not misread Drummer, which they are only perceiving in their rear-view mirror, when we, back then, were looking forward through the windshield of Drummer which was about on-coming, large, and startling archetypes, not stereotypes.

I was coincidentally predisposed to a sibling kinship with my peer, Arthur Evans, who was diametrically opposite Drummer. Early on, we both were graduate students majoring in philosophy, and working toward our doctorates: Evans at Columbia University, and I at Loyola University, Chicago. Evans’ dissertation was not approved for, he said, anti-gay reasons, and he withdrew from his doctoral program where his radical and polarizing political stances made him somewhat of a pesky persona non grata. My own dissertation, Love and Death in Tennessee Williams, about ritual, race, and gender, was published in 1967 when I received my doctorate. From the early 1960s, Evans and I led parallel lives as activists in black civil rights, the peace movement, and then as gay activists theorizing on the nature of homosexuality. Evans was one of the founders of the Gay Activists Alliance, 1969. Representing gay inclusion, I was one of the founders of the American Popular Culture Association, 1968.

Inside our lateral lives, Evans was helping invent the “Radical Gay Faerie Movement” and working toward writing his nonfiction book, based on his doctoral work, Critique of Patriarchal Reason, while I was championing masculine-identified queers in Drummer and writing my reflexive fiction book Some Dance to Remember which, while dramatizing the immense disaster of masculinist patriarchy, eschews both “bully patriarchy” (masculinism) and “bully matriarchy” (feminism) for something grander—humanism–which was also perhaps Evans’ goal. In some ways, Patriarchal Reason and Some Dance to Remember are complementary reading.

In the mid-1970s while Evans was working with the faerie magazine Fag Rag, I was editing and writing the leathery Drummer. Both gender magazines might be studied together as might our two books in which we both wrote about magic and wicca, ritual and culture, and sex and gender identity. At the same time as I published him in Drummer 25, Evans published his Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture. His Witchcraft book immediately caught my attention, coming, in 1978, six years after Bowling Green University Press published my own occult history book, Popular Witchcraft: Straight from the Witch’s Mouth (1972).

No scholar has yet written a cohesive literary analysis of the gay books written during the pioneering 1970s, particularly those written outside the literary bunker of New York. These books, as art objects floating to the surface after the Titanic 1970s hit the iceberg of HIV, are particularly valuable, because like Drummer itself, they are intellectual and esthetic time capsules, authentically in and of the time when gay culture first came queening, queering, butching, and bitching out of the closet. They show modern gay culture self-consciously inventing itself. These pioneering books’ texts are not inauthentic revisionist or condescending peeks looking back at the 1970s. They were written during the 1970s. In such a literary and historical project lies, perhaps, for next-generation scholars a grant, or a doctoral dissertation of value.

People mouth the word Stonewall like a magic pebble on their tongue, but the invocation of Stonewall and who threw the first brick is meaningless if analysts, critics, and historians dismiss the 1970s decade of post-Stonewall literature and culture as ten years of gay juvenilia based on gay bacchanalia when that decade was, in fact, an important stratum in the long history of gay archeology.

If the Stonewall standard of measurement is legitimate, then serious scholars cannot pretend—like righteous sex bigots who hate the 1970s for “causing AIDS”—that worthwhile gay culture and gay literature only began after the advent of HIV in 1982, or when actual gay book publishers first started up in the mid-1980s. In American literary evolution within mass media, gay magazines were the first voice of gay culture for more than twenty years before GLBT book publishing began in earnest.

As a young university professor experiencing sexually, and esthetically, the rise of modern gay civilization during the revolutionary 1960s, I traveled across the globe to visit other cradles of queer civilization and culture. I had been taught the principles of cultural relativity by my mother who grew up as an amateur archeologist digging for ancient arrowheads, clay pots, and river pearls in her birthplace of Kampsville, Illinois. That village is wedged between the converging Illinois and Mississippi rivers on the delta which archeologists term “the Nile of North America” because it is the site of twelve Native American civilizations dating back to 7000 BC. She taught me, born only fifty miles away, that the information—in those ancient burial mounds’ archeology—was not just about linear dates but was also about relative and cultural behavior. One type of arrowhead, like one type of gay magazine or book, may follow another in time, but what do their comparison and contrast tell about causality and the identity of the makers? Drummer, with its 214 issues streaming for twenty-four years to millions of readers, may very well be the Nile Delta of Gay Leather Culture.

In the dolmans of Ireland, the catacombs of Paris, and the ruins of Rome, I have seen stonewalls of early civilizations as telling as the archeological debris left standing in San Francisco on the site at 4th Street and Harrison where the artist Chuck Arnett’s seminal Tool Box bar once stood, or in New Orleans at 141 Chartres Street where the Upstairs Lounge stood until set afire by an arsonist in a blaze that killed thirty-two patrons, or in Greenwich Village at 53 Christopher Street where the Stonewall Inn itself remains as a kind of gay Parthenon. Stonewall is one of the more important surviving snow globes of modern gay history.

Reading our Stonewall decade’s tectonic feminism, masculinism, and humanism should be no less valued and valuable. A person ignores his own roots at his own risk. One of the faults of critical thinking within politically correct attitude is its fundamentalist inability to understand its own agenda as sexist apartheid and not as the true fair play of diversity.

This back-story introducing the “Red Queen” is a sketch of that gadfly some call a saint. Evans was typical of the diverse chorus I aimed to reflect in Drummer which I wanted open wide to all gay voices so Drummer could serve the times it helped create even as it reported on them. Because Drummer needed reflexive material, I gladly peeled the Red Queen’s “protest poster” off a telephone pole during the Castro Street Fair and published it in Drummer. The archeology of this “found” poster shows how the effete New Yorker Evans, who admitted losing his sex drive, poked fun—what he called “satire”—at the masculine clothing and athletic sex styles of very earnest young gay men on Castro and Folsom which he misdiagnosed as butch costuming, guilt-driven S&M punishment sex, and a pecking order not unlike high school bullying.

He held an entitled sense of the primacy of his own fluid gender identity, causing more needless trouble in the uncivil “gay civil wars.” So many were those petulant fights, I have often wondered why academic queer-culture theorists have never yet dared call the strife in the 1970s gay community a “civil war.” In 1982, I applied the words “civil war” in this way for the first time. For the very focused back cover of the Lambda Literary Finalist Some Dance to Remember, I wrote copy referencing my avatar James Joyce introducing his Stephen Dedalus to the world in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It offered readers a quick orientation into the who, what, where, and when of the book. Because we are all film fans, I designed the copy to read like a movie poster in a theater lobby:

The Cosmos. The Solar System. The Earth.

North America. California. San Francisco.

18th and Castro. South of Market.

The Golden Age 1970-1982

A Drop-dead Blond Bodybuilder

A Madcap Gonzo Writer

An Erotic Video Mogul

A Penthouse Full of Hustlers

A Famous Cabaret Chanteuse Fatale

A Hollywood Bitch TV Producer

A Vietnam Veteran

An Epic Liberation Movement

A Civil War Between Women and Men and Men

A Time of Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

A Murder

A City

A Plague

A Lost Civilization

A Love Story

The operative line here is, of course: “A Civil War Between Women and Men...” and then the purposeful bada–boom break in rhythm: “...and Men.” Between women and men, it was still the same old battle of the sexes. The battle between men and men was something new, and that new spin of “men versus men” was locked in a civil war to define and control the new gay word, lifestyle. This civil war included the very nasty bitch fight between two gay corporations: Liberation Publications (The Advocate) and Alternate Publishing (Drummer) which created a gay apartheid of artists, writers, and photographers that exists to this day.

The two corporations’ rivalry to control and own gay culture divided gay culture and its artists and readers. Their rivalry, represented by John Embry’s Blacklist and David Goodstein’s villainous exclusionism, destroyed the very unitive notion of Stonewall. The two businesses caused rifts in gay American culture that may take generations to heal. The fighting publishers divided contributors by demanding fierce loyalty: if you work for him, you’ll never eat lunch in this town again.

Running a gay profile on the so-called graduates of “The Advocate Experience,” I offer that Goodstein’s “Advocate Experience,” mixed with Marxist-Leninist politics from New York and Berkeley, helped create the Fascistic monster-machine of the politically correct. Drummer wanted tie-you-up and tie-you-down erotica. The Advocate wanted to sway your, uh, un-chic feelings about déclassé S&M. Drummer offered alpha-dog, aggro-lit celebrating rough sex with working-class bravado. The Advocate was soignee sweater “essays” ranging from timid to outright negative about S&M preferences.

Let some seasoned scholar or some young graduate student, with a grant, decipher this civil war between corporate publishers seeking control of the “official” gay lifestyle. This apartheid in gay arts and culture, fought out in real time between The Advocate and Drummer, deserves its own book studied out of research and internal evidence in both magazines, as well as from discussion panels at gay literary conferences and queer studies seminars.

Drummer, like leather culture itself, stayed below the radar, never acceptable to bourgeois homosexuality. This corporate apartheid of talent, from artists to writers to photographers continues to this day in a literary circle jerk that remains a constant conversation running in the background about concerns of fair play and the literary canon of gay publishing. The East Coast literary establishment, famous for books reviewed by The Advocate, often “wins” Lammy Awards from the East-Coast-originated Lambda Literary Foundation corporately sponsored by the Los Angeles Advocate which owned frequent award winner, Alyson Books, from 1995-2008.

Drummer is symbolic of the West Coast literary establishment of “erotica” which the Lammy Awards, founded in 1989, did not recognize, according to iconic book reviewer Richard Labonte, as a “literary award” category until a dozen years later, as if the previous century of GLBT literary erotica was embarrassing. One needs to follow the DNA of the incest in literature, gay and straight, to see who’s fucking, publishing, reviewing, awarding whom and who’s jerking each other off. I can be an eyewitness analyst and historian of literary texts, but someone more objective needs to see why back in the 1970s, the Red Queen Arthur Evans, who after founding the Gay Activists Alliance and forming the Faerie Circle, took such a dislike to Drummer and to The Advocate where he soon enough sold out and became a contributor.

I introduced Evans “Butch Enough” poster with a thumbnail about the mysterious Red Queen in 1978. His glossary: “ Zombie Works” is the gym the “Muscle Works”; “All-American Clone” is the popular clothing store, “All-American Boy,” which was at that time considered both a sexy and political thing to be; the “Avocado Experience” is the expensive “Advocate Experience” that Advocate publisher “David Goodsteal” (David Goodstein) pushed on all Advocate employees to increase their “sensitivity,” which, of course, turned into “political correctness.” “The Advocate Experience” was a joke in San Francisco from the first day any of us heard about it.

As a result of the rivalry between Embry and Goodstein, the middle-class Advocate for years mostly hated leather and manliness and Mapplethorpe, rather much continuing Richard Goldstein’s nasty East Coast take on leather, “S&M: The Dark Side of Gay Liberation,” in The Village Voice, July 7, 1975.

That Village Voice essay, published when Drummer was less than a month old, shows how misunderstood S&M was in New York by Goldstein, about the same time as S&M was being misunderstood in Los Angeles by Goodstein.


The editorial was written in September, 1978,

and published in Drummer 25, December 1978.


Bitch bites butch, and vice versa...


Drummer Presents Some “Found” Prose

from the Red Queen, Arthur Evans

by Jack Fritscher

Drummer, The Magazine of Gay Popular Culture, has tracked “The Red Queen” [Arthur Evans] in his/her rapier-like dissection of gay rip-off stereotyping. Drummer strives to be the authentic chronicle of gay fantasies, realities, attitudes, fads, postures, and politics. We wanted to send this letter from Mecca out to the national and international gay community of men. Whoever is the writer of this anonymous insight, incite-fully pasted up on Castro walls and lamp-posts in the dead of night, deservedly wins our “Golden Drumsticks Award—even if Drummer turns out to be next on the (s)hit list! Remember: Just because a guy is gay doesn’t mean you can trust him like a brother.

The crusading New York effeminist Evans wrote about homomasculine life in San Francisco.

by Arthur Evans

Those who join now will get a free enrollment in the HUNGRY PROJECT, a humanitarian program designed to eliminate world hunger by the year 7,000. The HUNGRY PROJECT is based on the brilliant insight that mass starvation is not caused by the greed of the rich but by fuzzy thinking among the poor. As a member of the HUNGRY PROJECT, all you have to do is sign a statement saying you’re opposed to hunger. That’s it! Elegantly simple! You get to take a strong moral stand and keep all your middle-class privileges.

Worried that the “soft” half of your personality might be showing through? Then join the ZOMBIE WORKS! [The Muscle Works Gym] With our scientifically designed devices, you can make your body look just like a 1950s stereotype of the butch straight male. These wonderful machines were designed by government scientists in Germany during the 1930s. They’ll make you look straighter than the straights!

After just a few weeks at the ZOMBIE WORKS, you’ll look just like everyone else on Castro Street. No more anxiety over being an individual! Now you’ll blend in and look like you came from the same mould as everybody else. Only $250 a month (or $200 a month if you work out before 5 AM).

Once you get your ZOMBIE body, you’ll want to complete your image with a new wardrobe from the ALL-AMERICAN CLONE [All-American Boy clothes shop on Castro]. Here you can get a wide assortment of Alligator Shirts specially preserved in formaldehyde since the 1950s and tailored with that tasteful David Eisenhower look.

In addition, you can get blue jeans in six different hues of blue, as well as a fine collection of vinyl visors (in white, red, or green, to match your mood).

This week only, the CLONE is featuring Hong-Kong-Made Naugahyde baseball caps at a special reduced rate of only $45.00 each. When you shop at the ALL-AMERICAN CLONE, you never have to worry about being a big hit on Castro Street. We know that conformity makes sex appeal.

With your ZOMBIE body and CLONE clothes, all that remains is to build up your middle-class values. For this, we offer “The AVOCADO EXPERIENCE,” [“The Advocate Experience”], a marathon six-day encounter-group bonanza sponsored by David Goodsteal, [David Goodstein] , the multi-millionaire publisher of The AVOCADO newspaper [The Advocate]. Through 108 uninterrupted hours of intense mutual sharing (at only $650 a head!), you’ll learn that whatever happens to you in life is solely your own responsibility and nobody else’s. —The Red Queen

* * * *


I think the reason Evans’ eyewitness essay caught my eyewitness response was that during 1978, before I published him in the December issue, we were both, for all our differences, somewhat on the same satirical page. Earlier that year, I had written two Drummer satires of “life” on Castro Street and Folsom Street. One was based on the poem Desiderata and titled “Gay Deteriorata,” Drummer 21, March 1978, page 38. The second was “Castro Street Blues 1978,”Drummer 24, September 1978.

Satyr Satire...


or, Even Blue Boys Get the Cows

Years from now when you read this—
and you will read this—remember

The Way We Were (1978 Style)

In SFO, gay guys talk about sex, gyms, and real estate. They worry about being hot, too hot, or not hot enough. They fly so often they call cities by airline baggage initials. They hate LAX “attitude.” They call the West Hollywood boys up for a visit: LAXlanders. They love NYC and want to fly to JFK for some Manhattan “energy.” They wish SFO weren’t quite such a laid-back fishing village.

Yet gays have the same love affair as straights with SFO. Paradise is the place where when you go there, you get to be yourself. SFO has a grand tradition of tolerance for offbeat characters whose best creation is themselves.


On SFO weekends, little Algonquin Clubs brunch at Mena’s Norse Cove across from the Castro Theater. They dish the macho boys in the Ford pickups jockeying down to the intersection of Sodom and Gomorrah at 18th and Castro. They watch the Harleys, Kawasakis, and Mo-Peds park side by side in front of Toad Hall. Vehicles are an extension of gay sexlife. You are what you drive. Bored by Castro? Cruise over to Polk. Revolted by Polk? Head down to Folsom. Tired of Folsom? Try Land’s End.


Hot is as hot does in SFO. Scratch the word hot from gay chatter and stop the conversation. Hot is the ultimate review of anything. Roller skating Tuesday nights in South SFO once was hot. Currently, every Saturday midnight it’s hot to light candles on cue at the Strand’s ritual Rocky Horror Picture Show. Architectural Digest on an art-deco table is hot. So is the straight outlaw biker magazine Easy Riders. So is Disco. So is Crisco

Only God Herself knows what next will be hot.


Gays in SFO prefer costumes to clothes. Twinkies live in the Castro. Twinkies are no older than 24 and no taller than 5 foot 6. They sport cropped black moustaches and short black hair often with a gratuitous long lock left at the nape of the neck. They have hairy little muscular bodies of death.

Only a clone could figure the source of the breed.

Twinkies wear too-small Lacoste alligator shirts and size 28-28 pressed jeans. They tuck red hankies meaninglessly in their rear pockets. They prefer thick-soled hiking boots to gain an inch or two in height. With no visible means of support they are whisked away like Dorothy and Toto in Corvettes to Diamond Heights, in Jaguars to Marin, and by PSA to Palm Springs.


Leathermen hang out South of Market. Their bearded faces have the character that comes from surviving one’s own roaring twenties. They admit to no more than “mid-thirties.” They corset themselves in tight leather, western, or uniform gear. Unlike the Twinkies, Leathermen own several units of escalating real estate. By night they are rugged, because by day they are disciplined professionals who fill your teeth, bank your money, and draw up your last will and testament. A hanky in a right-hand leather pocket means the tucker is a catcher. In the left, at best he’ll negotiate who will pitch. Leathermen prefer cycles and Jeeps, but only as second vehicles. Leathermen look fine in the acid-red light of bars and baths on Folsom. At 2 AM in the back of a fluorescent MUNI bus, they look like mackerel.


In SFO, no one who is anyone lives alone. Gays have roommates to handle press releases. Roommates blab to friends what hot tricks you were up to the night before. In LAX, chandeliers are for show. In SFO chandeliers are for swinging from. You can buy designer track lights at “Work Wonders” (which should be the name of a gym, but isn’t).

Bodies are, after all, what this is all about.

A guy gets in shape by pumping iron M-W-F at the Pump Room. Some work up a sweat at the Y with its game-set-and-match-making of dollies in Levi’s. More re-fined types pop their niacin, and get their cardiovascular flush riding their naughty Nautilus exercise machines sidesaddle. Steroids to build muscular bulk are the street drug favored by jocks. At the hustlers’ corner of Sutter and Polk, ten Arnold Schwarzeneggers loiter under a lighting shop sign that says, “Any object made into a lamp.”


Spectacular parties in SFO are not thrown. They’re produced. Everybody is a star. Disco systems are flown in for the night from NYC. Fountains splash. Light shows flash. Grapes cascade. Rome declines. Aerialists perform above oiled wrestlers. Stud-mouse Mr. America types pose like 200 pounds of dynamite that won’t go off.

SFO doesn’t measure gay Saturday Night Fever with an oral thermometer.

Start dancing at Alfie’s on Market, move on to the I-Beam on Haight, and cruise out at Trocadero Transfer, South of Market. Collapse at dawn in the tubs on Folsom. Civilizations are judged by their plumbing. The SFO gay subculture bathes in elegant whirlpool grottos and Fellini Memorial steam rooms.

The hallways at the baths are the real gay parade.


American boys are not raised to be gay. Mom never takes her son aside the way she does her daughter and says, “Look, kid, you’re going to be gay. Lose some weight.” Gay kids have to figure it out themselves. SFO is full of theories. “Would Anita understand,” a gay priest confides at the Elephant Walk, “that God calls certain people to a gay vocation? Homosexuality is a religion.” Down the bar, twin Latino gay brothers smirk and say they were born again, yeah, born again for Salsa. Outside the Star Pharmacy, an ancient peg-legged newsboy cackles out the single raw word, “Chronicle!”

Precisely because of the newspaper headlines from the dark interior of the American continent, gays bring their hearts and other parts to SFO.


Sunday afternoons male belly dancers perform for coin-tossing crowds in front of the Hibernia Bank [at the south-east corner of 18th and Castro, aka “Hibernia Beach”]. A blond boy with punk-chopped hair recently mimicked the belly-boys’ boogie. He wrapped himself in a swirl of bedspreads and garter belts. He twirled like a laundromat dryer exploding. The crowd threw pennies at him as hard as they could. He retreated to play toreador with the traffic.

Buses often drive picture-taking tourists through the Castro. Gay photographers snap back through the bus windows at the Iowans dressed in their polyester Protestant Anita-wear. Cameras are the guns of our time. SFO supervisor Harvey Milk’s Castro Camera develops the film.


A man leans against the Star Pharmacy. He played a bit part in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He saw ACT’s Travesties twice. He jots notes for the very, very wonderful screen comedy he is writing about a macho type who freaks out at 18th and Castro. Movie mad scenes fascinate gay men. In his script, his jock hero blocks traffic by locking himself inside his truck in the center of the intersection. He rubs Oil of Olay all over his face, screaming in three languages how moist he is. A crowd gathers on this very Castro spot where a baby was born on an 8 Market/Ferry bus, attended to by a dozen gay waiters. Restaurants again carry white towels to the intersection. The man jots more notes.

The Star Pharmacy is closed on Sundays. Just when you need aspirin, where is the Star’s Jackie, the Sweetheart of the Castro? In SFO, gay refrigerators carry gay staples in their gay freezers: ice cubes, brownies, and poppers.

DOWN HERE ON A VISIT [Reference to Christopher Isherwood’s 1962 novel Down There on a Visit]

In SFO, believe it or not, some gays are native to the City. One third-generation gay man centers himself against the gay immigrant madness. He shuns motorcycle christenings, tricycle races, bedraggled empresses, and full-moon bar promo parties. He owns no albums by Donna Summer. He meditates. He refuses to do to himself gay illnesses with [hepatitis] symptoms like an RCA Colortrak TV commercial: “My eyes are yellow, my urine’s brown, my shit is white.” In SFO, love is always chance-y. But better a positive visit to the clinic than never to have loved at all.


“Maybe we gays are a religion,” he says. “More likely, the difference between straight and gay is simple. Straight people are the real earthlings. Gay people are just dropped down on this planet for a visit. That’s why we seem alien. Another difference is straight people don’t stand you up for dinner.”

He looks down at his vintage Earth Shoes.

“With all this religion and politics, I don’t know how long we can hang around on Castro singing some gay national anthem like ‘Over the Rainbow.’ Gay surveillance squads on Folsom? Gay deputy sheriffs? Bryant? Briggs? Shit! I can’t wait till we all fly back to Alpha Centauri.”

Just like the last reel of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Meanwhile, in SFO, without pecs you’re dead.

Blue Bar
Copyright Jack Fritscher, Ph.D. & Mark Hemry - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED