Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks? (Video still via MGM)
I was just flipping through a stack of early-'70s gay-lib mags I acquired, marveling at their documenting of things long gone — like an ad for the Mattachine newsletter — when I came across David W. Dunlap's piece for The New York Times on a little-known aspect of gay history that was preserved thanks to the 1971 flick Shaft.
Dunlap writes that the opening of the film preserves a precious 15 seconds of an otherwise poorly documented LGBTQ milestone, a rowdy Times Square protest by the Gay Activists Alliance of employment agency Fidelifacts, which at the time advised clients which of their prospective hires might be light in the loafers.
The protest, carried out on W. 42nd St., was about 18 months after Stonewall. It included signs declaring, “I GOT MY JOB THROUGH THE NEW YORK TIMES,” adorned with ostriches. Dunlap is perplexed by the use of the bird, but it seems obvious to me the protesters were accusing the notoriously anti-gay (then) Times of burying its head in the sand on the issue of fairness in employment.
The ostrich get ostricher. (Video still via MGM)
It's an interesting little piece on an interesting little piece of history.
Fidelifacts somehow still exists, but hasn't provided that type of information in decades, its owner says, because:
Fidelifacts, along with others in the industry have been heavily regulated since the mid-1970s by federal and state Fair Credit Reporting Acts which bar questions related to an applicant’s health, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, age, disability and veteran status. Employers are barred from asking the same questions under various state and federal labor laws.
So ... not just 'cuz it would be wrong to do so.
Shaft's director Gordon Parks died at 93 in 2006, while its star, Richard Roundtree is 74 today. As noted in the piece, at least some of the protesters are alive, as well.
Back to my old gay-lib mags, Gay Scene v. 1 no. 2 from 1970 contains an amazing, short squib that recounts the action at the first-ever NYC gay march. It notes that the gay-lib movement was born in June 1969, just a year before the issue was published:
(All ensuing images via Gay Scene)
The same issue also contains a hoot of a description of another Times Square mob scene, also gay-powered, but not exactly about gay power — instead, it's one queen's earnest account of the gala premiere of the turd of a movie Myra Breckinridge, which represented Mae West's first film in nearly 30 years and which teamed her with instant nemesis Raquel Welch.
Love the Mae West stans!
As Mae might suggestively coo, “What a pair.”
Keep reading for my transcription of the Myra mayhem, and try to imagine how much more entertaining it would be to hear the original writer read it aloud ...
(Original collage by Matthew Rettenmund circa 1990s)
Michael Musto, writing for Thump, contributes an essay on how former Mayor Giuliani destroyed NYC nightlife, all for the sake of making the city more favorable to big business and luxury housing.
Through Giuliani's actions, NYC has become far less interesting, top-heavy with 1%ers.
From the piece:
At one point in the 1990s, I nearly plotzed with shock as I was carded at the door of a bar. This hadn't happened for quite a while; most night spots didn't card at all, and besides, I was rapidly approaching middle age. But it was the Giuliani era, and some venue owners were starting to realize how strict they were going to have be to stay in business. No chances could be taken when it came to the law, even if my ID was practically an AARP card!
I'm all for making New York City nightlife safer and more livable. But I'm not in favor of sucking all the life of it, so it becomes a terrified place full of people minding their Ps and Qs while looking behind them to see if they're going to get busted for having fun.
As mayor of NYC from 1994 through 2001, Rudy Giuliani demonized nightlife as our city's bastard child, trying to smooth it over in order to make things safe for tourists and co-op owners. Ignoring the fact that nightlife pumped money and creative excitement into the city (which many tourists and co-op owners would have loved), he steamrolled over the industry, at the same time taking the porn out of Times Square and making it ready for people in Mickey Mouse costumes.
Don't miss it — it's a book-length piece of journalism all too relevant now that Trump has declared it to be “Giuliani Time” in America.