Sexual Expression and its Subsequent Suppression: A Beacon and a Boycott, Pt. III

disenchantment

The Saint was known to host frequent balcony sexcapades. The “narrow spiral staircases” led up to a “dark sexual scene” that came to haunt the Saint club’s memory in the eyes of many (McEwan, 42).

When AIDS struck, it decimated the Saint’s community; around 700 membership renewal forms were sent back through the mail bearing the message “Return to Sender. Occupant Deceased” (McEwan, 42).

DJs, staff members, and technicians at the Saint also fell ill.

Charges of tax evasion and a drug-dealing conspiracy were held against Mailman (though later dropped due to proven bias) at the same time that attendance in dance clubs and bars began to “radically” decline (McEwan, 42). Mailman became “disenchanted with the gay community,” according to Steve Casko, when he found himself fighting conservative city

bureaucrats alone.

Though the club had a capacity of 5400 people, once the AIDS epidemic swept through the country, Saturdays at the Saint drew in at most 500 people.

Members were sick, and those who weren’t sick, were afraid to go back.

In 1985, Bruce Mailman began to sell liquor at the Saint.

Mailman later opened the club to heterosexual people on Fridays. To Susan Tomkin, Mailman’s assistant, straight people “just didn’t appreciate it” (qtd. in McEwan, 42).

Soon an offer to buy the Saint for 6.5 million dollars from the Fillmore East Village Associates Ltd. was extended to Mailman. By the Saint’s 1987 Halloween Party, the sale of the building had already “passed the point of no return” according to Joel Teitelbaum (qtd. in McEwan).

The final party at the Saint in April of 1988 lasted 36 hours.

the last party. the last party?

in 1988, the “surviving DJs and lighting technicians and a roster of live

performers” enlivened the Saint one last time.

Saint regulars attended 30 hours of the 36 hour-long party, only going home to “bathe and change clothes,” according to Frank Courson (qtd. in McEwan, 42).

The Last Party spanned “three days and three nights,” evoking yet another Christian motif.

All things that are sacred come in threes.

Jimmy Ruffin’s song “Hold On To My Love” played as the Saint’s last party “drew to a close” (McEwan, 42).

After Jimmy Ruffin’s song ended, Marlena Shaw, a famous American singer closed the Saint with “Suite Seventeen,” a medley of the following songs: “It Was A Very Good Year,” “Love Dancing,” “Thank You,” and “Touch Me In The Morning.”

Shaw sang softly to a “tearful crowd” (McEwan, 42).

As Marlena Shaw’s performance culminated, “lightning flared in the [planetarium’s] night sky, the stage closed and the stars slowly circled over head. It was over” (McEwan, 42).

On the following day, the public noticed that the words “Hold On To My Love” had been spray-painted over the main entrance to the Saint. Bouquets were left in front of the door to the Saint on the sidewalk according to Frank Courson. Shown on the Saint Promotional Video, the following image likely depicts the textual memorial of the Saint, represented by Jimmy Ruffin’s song.

 

 

 

Many people, including Larry Kramer and other vocal writers and leaders in the gay community believed that Mailman took too long to close the Saint in the wake of the mounting evidence that AIDS was a sexually transmitted disease. Larry Kramer advised young gay people to avoid sex clubs and reduce their number of sexual partners, even to try abstinence. Yet Mailman did not want to “give up the freedom he had fought for so many years to establish” (Peters).

In 1985, Mailman was forced to close the St. Marks Baths due to increased political and legal pressure.

Mailman states that he spent $300,000 U.S. dollars defending his right to keep the St. Marks Baths open. He lost.

Some writers in the gay community did defend Mailman’s desire to keep the St. Marks Baths open. Bruce Mailman never “sat there with a shotgun and forced people to have sex” says Marc Berkeley, a club promoter in New York who later worked at the Saint during its closing years (qtd. in Peters, 82).

Marisa Cardinale, the executive director of Community Research Initiative on AIDS (CRIA) in 1994, believes the following:

“Our right to privacy and our right to gather are two of the most important things, as gay people, we have. And I don’t think anything, [not] even AIDS, is worse than voluntarily giving up those rights” (qtd. in Peters, 82).

ABANDONed

Things got worse.

The Saint disco lost club members, employees, and DJs to AIDS. The club eventually closed, a mere reflection of its former glory.

In 1991, drug and tax evasion charges were brought against Mailman.

An unjust investigation led by federal prosecutor James J. McGuire. McGuire and a team of IRS agents attempted to unravel the drug scene at Fire Island by targeting Bruce Mailman. Mailman eventually pleaded guilt to the charges of tax evasion, but he “vigorously” denied the raised drug charges (qtd. in Peters, 143).

No one in the gay community defended Mailman during his legal troubles, a fact that severely disappointed Mailman. The community’s easy abandonment of him hurt.

In 1992, Mailman’s case was thrown out of the court of law.

The Justice Department determined that fabricated evidence and homophobic motivations had significantly corrupted the investigation against Bruce Mailman. All charges against him were dropped, including those he pleaded guilty to.

Sadly, Mailman describes the entire experience as “being struck by a car” (qtd.in Peters, 143). What began with the closing of the St. Marks Baths swiftly “escalated” (qtd. in Peters, 143).

He experienced a lot of grief.

ghosts of the saint mystique

in 1994, Bruce Mailman decided to start cleaning out, stating that he was “slowly getting rid of most of what [he] owned” (qtd. in Peters, 143). He was in the middle of “downsizing his operations,” and was already selling his house in the Pines.

Author Brooks Peters believes that Mailman’s decluttering is a physical embodiment of Mailman’s “disenchantment with New York’s gay scene.”

Andrew Holleran, the novelist, had recently visited Fire Island at the time of this article’s writing; once there, Holleran states that he “felt like a ghost.” He believes that Mailman is in a transition, just as he is. Holleran proclaims the following:

“You have to start seeing yourself in a different way. It’s like molting and growing a new skin. One’s ship is changing course, reorienting and using a different compass” (qtd. in Peters, 143).

Bruce Mailman knows that his generation was dramatically affected by the onslaught of AIDS.

To Mailman, being gay “today is to walk around with a burden which certainly wasn’t the case in the 70s” (qtd. in Peters, 143). Mailman hopes that future gay generations will find the “same freedom [his generation] once had.”

Another mournful result of AIDS is the disconnect which resulted from it. Mailman feels that his generation did not get to share its “collective wisdom” with the next generation of queer youth because of the disease. He feels that “There is no continuity in the gay population.” The sense that the “young [gay population] arrived newly born and can’t benefit from anything that went before them” is upsetting to Mailman (qtd. in Peters, 143).

By 1994, Mailman owned the restaurant 103, was a silent partner in HX, a gay guide to sex clubs, discos, and bars in New York City, as well as the owner of several other real estate and theater investments.

Primary Source Description Draft One

A moon glows near the center of the panel. Aligned on the vertical axis that cuts the panel square into two coffee-table-sized halves, the moon first appears to be silver in color. Upon closer inspection, the moon reveals itself to the viewer. A shimmery green like the underside of a maple leaf draws a stripe from top to bottom on the moon. Just to the left of the moon’s center, this soft, mint green stripe nearly disappears into the moon’s swirling grays and lilac tones.

Circling the moon’s neat, spherical shape is a light cream-colored outline. White/purple marks shoot unevenly from the burgundy space around the moon. Symbolizing the moon’s radiance of light, these white marks contrast in both material and boldness with the moon’s solidity. The moon’s radiance is faint, drawn by hand with what could be chalk. Though the moon is full, its light is subdued in power. The moon’s overwhelmingly silver color contributes to its quiet brightness.

Once one expands one’s focus from the moon, star-like shapes become apparent. Acting as a spotlight in the quilt panel’s sky, the moon rests at the apex of a triangular section of stars, though the stars do not form a shape nearly as geometric as the moon, however. Altogether, the stars appear similar to a skinny stingray, or thick boomerang. If the moon is the kneecap of a bent human leg, then the stars on this fall like a curtain beneath it. Some stars are brighter than others. Some stars shine alone, yet others flash at the viewer from busy clumps. A burgundy wine color splashes in the space between the stars, complimenting the deep black fabric found above the stars on the block.

Beneath the stars, a representation of a tall, wooden structure juts from the bottom of the panel. The structure’s center column upholds a horizontal wooden frame. Providing additional support to the rendered horizontal platform are two similarly-colored pieces sticking out from the center column like short, thick arms. These two pieces form two right triangles underneath the structure’s horizontal platform, yet these triangles are not identical. Both of the triangles’ hypotenuses face the open red velvet material surrounding it, whereas their shortest sides are contained within the horizontal bar above them.

An orderly row of colorful spheres sit atop the horizontal frame. These spheres resemble a row of Smarties or even a candy bracelet, exuding colors of red, green, orange, purple, turquoise, yellow, and pink. There are sixteen of these circles, and nearly all of them contain shading that suggests an indented center. These sixteen spheres are some of the smallest circular shapes on the quilt panel.

Two sticks upholding two dime-like circles jut from within the row of round candies. Similar to the moon’s size and coloring, these two circles are only slightly smaller, like baby moons. These two circles lean inwards and towards each each other, touching at several points along their surface. These dime-colored heads protrude into the quilt’s star-filled sky.

There are three sections on the quilt panel. Reflective silvery material similar to the color of confetti has been cut into triangular shapes at the top section of the quilt. These reflective triangles are dissimilar in shape and size. Some of the triangles look like they could be tossed in a cornhole match; these are the flexible, bent, or otherwise warped triangles. Other triangles are long, scalene sword sheaths; still, others are fat, isosceles pizza slices. What these triangles have in common, though, is significant. All of the triangles point towards the moon. Like a halo of shards of glass, the triangles come from directions above the moon, beside the moon, and even below the moon. From 8:00 to noon on the left side of a clock, and from 4:00 to noon on the right side of the clock is where these triangles occupy the panel’s space.

Not all of the triangles have names, but thirty three of them do. The names are as follows: Shawn Buchanan, Mario Z., Alan Noseworthy, Alan Kanghi, Alan Magioncalda, Tony Devizia, Greg Koulis, Bob Updegrove, John Mensior, Tommy Ayala, “Michael Beck, M.D.,” Hector Garcia, Bill Bruno, Jim Hicks, Elliot Siegel, Mel Albaum, Robert DeVito, Jim Leys, Joe Palmeri, Julio Morales, Jorge Villaroel, Jürgen Honeyball, Victor Zaragoza, Peter Spar, Mark Ackerman, Mel Fante, Peter Vogel, Frank Olivia, John Reed, Bruce Crave, Tom Clancy, Eddie Lopez, and Joe Semiday.

In the left bottom corner of the panel, the words IN MEMORY OF THE MEMBERS AND STAFF OF are completed by the ones followed in the right corner of the panel: THE SAINT DANCE CLUB OF NEW YORK CITY. The text of the names and the aforementioned memorial note is smaller than that found at the very bottom of the quilt panel. In black lettering overlaying a thick strip of the same shiny material found in the top section of the panel are the words HOLD ON TO MY LOVE. A cream colored border an inch wide surrounds the entire quilt. Reddish bead sized circles evenly dot the border.

 

 

 

Website Updates

On my homepage, I have added a YouTube video of a song that I enjoy. I plan to vary the music on my page, so that the website stays active instead of static and never-changing.

I have changed the color scheme of my website as well, fitting it to match the current song I have listed on my homepage. At first, my background color was a bold, electric blue; however, that color combined with pink text proved difficult to read. Hopefully, the rose color background I have now is better for viewing and reading content.

In addition to changing the color scheme, I uploaded a new photo as well. Again, my homepage will change often because I want it to exhibit a multitude of my interests and experiences. The photos I upload will always be ones I have taken myself, unless otherwise specified.

Currently, I have posted one of my unfinished poems to my homepage; however, initially I included a quote from a television show that I like that stood out to me.

Either quotes or creative works will occupy the space beneath my homepage’s photo, as well as accompanying music.

Also on my homepage, I have embedded the Course Weekly calendar.