Wednesday, 9 May 2012

401: Gay Bar 2 - Ed Fisher

If this were some sort of full documentary effort than I’d include a few clips from the films “Victim” (1961) and “Advise and Consent” (1962), both movies in which fundamentally decent men are blackmailed because of their tortured homosexuality and which feature brief sallies into the twilight demi-monde of the invert. Tutt - Shocking. Both films proved a little prophetic in that both America and the UK would soon have their respective scandals about blackmailing of homosexuals in the government or secret service. Both of these films are rather sombre apart from some nice cameo character parts and really don’t fit in with this though.

The next gay bar in a humorous piece should be the one in the “Bar Scene” sketch by The Committee (1964), an American improv satire group, but I don’t have that album, though you can read a little more about it here:

So the next chronologically is this:

Ed Fisher
“The Realist”, November 1964

No actual homosexuals in sight but; “I’m trying to get the place known as a homosexual hang-out”?

The idea of gay men as scene-makers is a cliché. Even by the early 1960s there was the assumption that hairdressers and interior decorators are gay, and who knows how many artists and writers are “that way”. But 1964 saw the publication of Susan Sontag’s essay on “Camp”. Even if you weren’t a reader of “The Partisan Review” where it originally appeared or high-brow collections of essays, Sontag’s point was disseminated in reviews of the book and then became the buzzword in numerous newspaper and magazine columns. The new artistic mode was “camp”, but worse, Sontag also pointed out that homosexuals were its arbitrators and vanguard. Homosexuals were recognised as being in a position of explicit culture power. It is amazing how many book, theatre and art reviews in late 1964 and early 1965 push back against this, finding the flimsiest opportunity to criticise the idea of “camp” and to knock homosexuals (immature, developmentally retarded are the nicest arguments) in the process. So I think this may be what prompts this cartoon.

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