Swans Commentary » swans.com July 14, 2008  



Chicago's Gay Parade And Related Gay Memories


by Art Shay



Pic: "The Crotch" - © 2002 Art Shay - Please do not steal - Size: 9k
The Crotch
© Art Shay 2002



(Swans - July 14, 2008)   I didn't expect my proclivities to be attacked the moment I set up my three legged porta-chair a block from the Lake on Diversey and fixed my digital Nikon to my famous eye. Then Bam! The loudest stentorian in the 250 thousand-plus Gay Parade revelers came from a short, obese, God-quoting anti-Gay on an aluminum ladder. He wielded a bullhorn and wore a kind of faux police shirt hidden by his venomous body-sized sign.


Pic: "Obese Venom" - © 2008 Art Shay - Please do not steal - Size: 25k
Obese Venom
© Art Shay 2008


And there on other big signs, echoing the loud venom of his voice, were hateful commandments in red, white, and yellow: "Warning!" one screamed -- then listed all us miscreants -- like Noah's paired passengers -- in two linked columns: "Drunkard, Fornicators, Masturbators, Atheists, Abortionists, Adulterers, Witches, Revelers, Sodomites, Hypocrites, Blasphemers, Liars, and General Heathen." Then in big red letters: "HELL AWAITS YOU... (Hebrews 9:27)." I gulped finding myself calumniated so casually and multifariously. Alas, at a fit 86 I still like to watch and photograph jiggly young women but have cut down on most of my other sins. I idly wondered if Gawd's man was himself committing sacrilege or blasphemy by presuming to talk for Jesus or God, One. I mean what would Jesus have done at the parade? Thrown the Dykes on Bikes into Lake Michigan, excoriated the two calling themselves "Hos on Harleys"? Amputated the loving arm of the strolling gay I caught cradling the crotch of his male lover?

Pic: "Pinko Lady" - © 2008 Art Shay - Please do not steal - Size: 9k
Pinko Lady
© Art Shay 2008
Pic: "Oh my Gawd!" - © 2008 Art Shay - Please do not steal - Size: 10k
Oh my Gawd!
© Art Shay 2008

As an old testament Hebrew I looked up this shouter's King James's Hebrews and found that all of us who have died in history without ever learning Gawd's Way "will be resurrected at the end of the millennium." Whew! What a relief! Only 1,992 years to go. So maybe Gawd ain't all that mean. Every third phrase Gawd's voice-on-Diversey graveled out alluded to eternal damnation in bottomless hell. I doubt if this screecher read Dante or realized Hell was all circles. Or that Dr. Faustus had so many options en route to damnation. Sin has become too discreet, too quantified. Why should we Atheists be linked with Masturbators?

Pic: "Jesus help us" - © 2008 Art Shay - Please do not steal - Size: 15k
Jesus help us
© Art Shay 2008
Pic: "Oh my Doggy Gawd!" - © 2008 Art Shay - Please do not steal - Size: 13k
Oh my Doggy Gawd!
© Art Shay 2008

As godless or God-damned gays of all four sexes danced and mocked past Gawd's shouter, giving him and Him the sacrilegious finger, they were further insulted and assaulted by other big signs. "Homo Sex is Sin, Believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved." "Your Behavior is a gross abomination not a genetic trait...Read the Bible for details." "For genetic, medical details?" someone next to me muttered. "They don't believe in science or medicine. Just hate that we dare to be different than they are. That we have more fun fucking every which way than just their one way." Just then two slender bird-costumed boys in white tutus engaged in mock-rear entrance coitus to great cheers that momentarily drowned out the voice of Gawd. "You're a fat fuck," shouted one lesbian to him, "an abomination to excess and lack of control." He blushed. "Your sin is your stuffed mouth and stomach. Eat shit and you'll lose weight, asshole." I was shocked, shocked. She had a point. There's hardly enough food to go around God's world and this saviour is slurping the rations of three normal sinners. Forgive us our excesses as those who press-pass against us? Like they manage to find food in Darfur for enough energy to cover the starvation.

Pic: "Fingering Biggots' Asses" - © 2008 Art Shay - Please do not steal - Size: 15k
Fingering Biggots' Asses
© Art Shay 2008
Pic: "Nice Ass, Dude" - © 2008 Art Shay - Please do not steal - Size: 14k
Nice Ass, Dude
© Art Shay 2008

For some reason this summoned to the tip of my sex-religion addled brain the memory of an old friend, author James Jones, who was the only self-avowed avatar of bisexual fucking I had met. But it was his literary success not his concupiscence that brought me and Chicago Life Bureau Chief (and ultimate editor of Life and Fortune), Roy Rowan, to Jones's sprawling farmhouse in Marshall, Illinois. He had just sold Some Came Running to the movies for $750,000 and was about to move to Paris. He was, of course, famous for From Here to Eternity, in which movie version he seemed to parse the immorality of enlisted men Sinatra and Burt Lancaster and that of the colonel's hot lady played by Deborah Kerr. Rowan and I, trained observers, were covering a Jones party, which he had promised would be a blast and an orgy... Local hot- to-trot lady teachers were on hand. After the party, during which Rowan and I each noted Jones had not made it with any of the easy women abounding, Jones led us to his kitchen table. "This is what I love," he said, pouring cognac, "Three men of the world (we were all in our mid thirties) sitting around after the party bullshitting about what we did." Jim asked how we had done with our teachers. We told him truthfully, nada. We were, after all, both married men. "And you Jim?"

Pic: "Colorful 'Try-Sexual'" - © 2008 Art Shay - Please do not steal - Size: 13k
Colorful "Try-Sexual"
© Art Shay 2008
Pic: "Balling Champions" - © 2008 Art Shay - Please do not steal - Size: 12k
Balling Champions
© Art Shay 2008

The bantam-cock Cagney-like lovable Jim lied passionately: "I banged the redhead twice and the blonde one and a half times. Don't print that." What we were trying to deal with was the farm wife Lowny Handy in her late forties, who was using Jones as the center boy-toy in her writer's colony harem, but who had also helped edit Eternity and Running. It was she who suggested the picture I shot that ended up in Life -- Jones drunk hanging onto a lamppost outside a Terre Haute whorehouse... That is she suggested I accompany him to the whorehouse. "Jim's gotta get his rocks off twice a week to help him write," she explained. She gave us to understand her husband, an older man, understood her needs as well as Jim's. Litrachur came first, or second, so to speak.

Jones looked at us intently. "You guys have been around a lot," he said. He leaned in. "Have either of you ever tried it dog-fashion?"

So Rowan and I knew immediately that Jones's sexual posturing in his fiction was indeed fiction. Masturbatory fiction. But worth millions to the book and movie markets. And publicly abjured on a sign at the Chicago Gay Parade!


Pic: "Burt Lancaster & Deborah Kerr faking it in 'From Here to Eternity'" - © 1953 Myron Davis - courtesy of the author - Please do not steal - Size: 26k
Burt Lancaster & Deborah Kerr faking it in From Here to Eternity
© Myron Davis 1953 -- Courtesy of the author


I asked him how the sex had been on the set of Eternity in Hawaii. (You remember the great Myron Davis Rolleiflex picture of Lancaster and Kerr making out in the surf, he prone, head cocked and up, she on her right side in standard receptive posture of colonel's wife with boy toy churning up the sexual surf...)


Pic: "James Jones holding a $750,000 manuscript" - © 1957 Art Shay for Life Magazine - Please do not steal - Size: 13k
Jones holding a $750,000 manuscript
© 1957 Art Shay for Life Magazine


Jones grinned and said, "Well, I fucked all of the women on the movie except Deborah Kerr -- and most of the men."

I couldn't bring myself to help him impugn the master womanizers on his picture, Sinatra and Lancaster, who made Bill Clinton, Johnson, JFK, and Ike before them look like hayseeds in a Terre Haute whorehouse. I mean Clinton ultimately had to pay $750,000 to a consensual Gennifer Flowers and Ike's whining RAF chauffeuse wrote a tell-all book describing how she cured his impotence by the second blow job. Johnson's technique, which worked on several lady reporters: "Honey -- I know you're a happily married woman and probably plan to write a memory book someday about being a Washington correspondent. How would you like to add a little note on having a private lunch and bit of lovin' with a sittin' president of the Yewnighted States?"

And so the Gay Parade and its colorful matching aggressions, conceits, and sanctimonies, bear me ceaselessly back to a phrase my old friend Studs Terkel, the wrap-up king, used a lot when tying the divergent strings of a wildly surrealistic interview with a charmed, half-drunk celebrity: "So for the moment we end up back in Chicago where so much began for you (Liz, Marlon, Adlai, Nelson, Simone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Gypsy Rose Lee, Ernest Hemingway, Saul Bellow, Martin Luther King, JFK, et al). It's all connected, isn't it?" It sure is, though Studs is now 96 and needs a hearing-ear dog.

Toddling town theme segue to Louis Armstrong's Midnight Special Blues and out.


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Tracking Art Shay...


Internal Resources

Shooting Szell In Cleveland - Art Shay, June 30, 2008

The Democratic Convention -- Chicago 1968 - Art Shay, June 2, 2008

Art Shay's Traces Of A Bygone America - Karen Moller, June 2, 2008

Arts & Culture

America the 'beautiful'


About the Author

Art Shay is the author-photographer of more than fifty books, the former staff Washington correspondent for Time-Life and Life Bureau Chief in San Francisco. Shay has had 25,000 published pictures including 1,050 covers of magazines, books, and annual reports for such clients as Ford, 3M, National Can, Motorola and ABC-TV. His pictures hang in the National Portrait Gallery (Heffner, Durocher, Robert Crumb) in the Chicago Art Institute. His work is currently exhibited at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art (through June 29, 2008) following an exhibition at the Gallerie Albert Loeb in Paris, France. The April 2008 issue of North Shore magazine (Chicago) says that "his pictures have the psychology of Dostoevsky, the realism of Hemingway, and the metaphor of Melville... He's in the Pantheon of great photographers such as Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Strand, and Stieglitz." The Daily Herald (Chicago suburban) of May 5, 2008, called him "the pre-eminent photojournalist of the 20th century..."



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art14/ashay03.html
Published July 14, 2008