Gay newspaper days

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This entry has been superceeded by: The Atlanta Barb

I wrote about my time at the Atlanta Barb sometime ago and while revising another old web page I discovered this wasn't online anymore. It needs to be rewritten as well.

An idealistic gay guy of 19 wanted to be 'involved' in gay liberation. To do the right thing and make a difference. In some listing he'll never recall he found a phone number. Dialing it he met the only person who constituted gay liberation in Atlanta in 1973. Let us call him Bill Smith. Atlanta was in one respect very progressive. Bill was the 'homophile' (now there's a term that never caught on) on the mayor's Community Relations Commission.

Unsurprisingly enough I'm talking about myself.

I met Bill. Nothing much was happening back then. Atlanta was fairly gay friendly. Oh the cops would do bad things but the people in power were left of the cops and would override them. So bill didn't have any way I could express my desires.

Except that he edited Atlanta's gay newspaper. It was distributed all over the Southeast for free. Paid for by advertising. A forlorn precursor of the local gay newspapers to come. The self-deceiving, pathetic traveling jewelry salesman who founded it and for a brief time to come would own it christened the paper The Atlanta Barb. The Berkeley Barb was making good money of sex ads and personals. He thought he could mine the same load.

No such luck. When he decided to sell the paper to Bill his friends gave him a bottle of Champaign. Loathing him they partly emptied the bottle and pissed in it.

Bill offered told me I could work on The Barb if I wanted to contribute. Sounded good to me. I wound up moving into his townhouse (later flat). I became financially dependent on Bill. Not that we had a sexual relationship. I don't know where I fell in his erotic life (as far as I know he never had one) and he was anything but the smooth nelly boy that I was passionate about at the time.

My memories are partial and blurred. I remember typing and retyping so it would be in adequate shape for the typesetters. I fell in love with the IBM Selectric typewriter.

We'd go on 48 hour binges pasting the paper together. I remember dreaming on my feet. Eventually we'd wind up at what is now call the IHOP but back then they spelled it all out: International House of Pancakes. Just as Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC. The latter must hope that either you won't think heart attack or at least not feel confused when you encounter the ingestible tacos.

Eventually the paper went to bed. At the last stage we'd go and grab it as it came off the press, bind it in string and mail it out. When I did the mailing labels I learnt the horror of manual typewriters. I managed to so screw up the shipping manifest that UPS forgave us about a grand in shipping because they couldn't figure it out. We danced when they skipped the bill for three months shipping. But they did require more conformity to good practice later.

We were dependent on bar advertising for revenue. In Atlanta this depended on the offices of Phyllis Killer, a Phyllis Diller imitator drag-queen. I learned to hate bar owners. They'd measure the column inches devoted to their bar. Many of them were het so they were outsiders, exploiters. But they paid the bills and Bill himself knew how to play the stuck-up.

The only moment relevant to gay politics was the night the raided After Dark, an exceedingly tasteful gay only porno store. I went to Bill's room, woke him up. He got to the shop. Called someone in the mayor's office and the cops faded away.

Another good memory was going to Boston to be at the charter meeting of a gay press network.

A big moment came when I went to Ft. Lauderdale to stay at a gay hotel which were very rare then. I stayed 'comp.' They were hoping for a good writeup. Which I dutifully gave them even though our bedroom (I went with a very sweet fem guy) was robbed while we slept.

I was there to meet people who might advertise in The Barb. I don't know how many bars I went to. I recall being the 'celebrity' photographer at a beauty contest and the blonde twink of whom I shot the most photos.

I met a guy who ran an 'escort' service. That would have big time repercussions

Your feelings?

Please share your feelings about Gay newspaper days.
Thanks,
Richard

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