Page 398 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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378                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            as a business. I had to be patient until 1984 when former Catholic priest
            Winston Leyland published the novel as Leather Blues at his Gay Sunshine
            Press, San Francisco; that 1984 edition sold 10,000 copies which made it
            a huge best-seller in the gay press where the standard press-run is 3,000
            to 5,000 copies printed.
               The following tale of one poetic little boy’s “rise and calling” repre-
            sents how a generation of boys grew up to converge as men in the leather
            culture that needed Drummer.
               Was I prepared by my pop-culture and human nature to ride into
            Drummer in 1977? I’d been a leather cultist in Chicago even before I
            arrived for the first time in San Francisco in August, 1961. Recently I
            came across a bit of writing, some juvenilia — a poem — that I wrote in
            the 1950s when I was eighteen years old, May 14, 1957. I was well aware
            of the poetry scene in San Francisco and was in awe of Ferlinghetti, Corso,
            Spicer, and Ginsberg. That little beatnik poem, “Cry! The Young Hunt-
            ers,” written in those early years in my closet, when I was beginning to
            learn the extent to which homosexuality and leather existed, positively
            drips with my teenage desire for edgy, muscular, gay sex. The poem was
            one of two published in the teen poetry anthology, America Sings 1958,
            edited by Dennis Hartman for the National Poetry Association, 3210
            Selby Avenue, Westside Village, Los Angeles 34, California. Was that
            then where WeHo is now?
               I confess my poem’s imagery was influenced by black-and-white
            beatnik and rock-n-roll movies. At that time, I played bongo drums,
            grew my first chin-strap beard, and was a great fan of The Wild One,
            Blackboard Jungle, and Rebel without a Cause. In fact, I was perhaps the
            first mid-century teen author to write a serious published article about the
            legend of James Dean whose death to me, when I was sixteen, was like
            the end of the my teenage world. My 1,500-word feature — which was my
            first pop-culture article — was titled “James Dean: Magnificent Failure”
            and was published in The Catholic Preview of Entertainment: The Family
            Entertainment Guide, June 1962.
               The 1950s did not end until the world changed on November 22,
            1963. So when I analyze my “1950s” James Dean piece now I am amazed
            at how intuitively queer I was as a teenager at writing code to mask the
            homosexual longing that simmers under the text. I was at the time a clos-
            eted “altar boy” who thought I could save the “bad boys” who attracted
            me. At least, that was my plan. It was the usual queer transposition of
            all the then-new teen movies and songs in which a good girl falls for the
            wild heart-throb of a bad boy. I bought tons of 45rpm records themed like
            Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s 1955 hit “He Wore Black Denim Trousers
            (and Motorcycle Boots and a Black Leather Jacket with an Eagle on the

          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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