By Garry Bowie
Writing a blog is a matter of consistency and discipline…oh, and time. Back in 2000 when then Satyrs’ member Scott Bloom and I began videotape interviewing of all of our members to create an archival document of our elder members before time took them away along with their memories, we never envisioned the significance of that early effort. Surprising to many, the original project never started off as a documentary film project. This was the second time “the day the universe changed”…at least for the Satyrs.
Joe Gallagher, Mr. International Leather 1996, approached the Satyrs in 2000 about submitting for historical deposit of our meeting minutes, photos and video interviews into the Leather Archives and Museum. Scott Bloom was involved in the film industry doing editing and I had a small production company and sister video production rental company. It then donned on the both of us that a documentary film was right in front of us, but how would we make this film?
After much discussion and with subsequent discussions with Joe Gallagher, our plans were to tell the story about the Satyrs Motorcycle Club of Los Angeles, the oldest continuously running gay organization, and the men behind the stories. Our backdrop would be painted with the current events of times by each decade as we told the story from the beginning to the end.
Interestingly enough, both Scott and I no longer had an interest in creating an archival document for the Leather Archives and Museum. Scott and I continued working the project over the months with the plans to eventually completed it for the club’s 50th Anniversary in 2004. Neither of us had decided our roles in the filmmaking process other than the task at hand, including videotaping, researching, scanning, editing and other production work. Joe Gallagher moved on to other interests and Scott continued honing the raw footage into a rough timeline.
Eventually Scott came out with a rough cut and we were discussing a title for the documentary. I favored a film title with a secondary title. Scott favored a simple title. This was the result of each of our experiences, Scott working in television and I having been a filmmaker and documentary filmmaker. It was the year of the widely viewed documentary film “SuperSize Me” which had been nominated for an Academy Award. I felt strongly about a main title and secondary title; and challenged Scott to see how Academy members will vote. Having formerly been a member of the International Documentary Association and met past Academy Award documentary filmmakers, I knew that the Academy members often never watched a documentary film (not as popular in those days until Michael Moore and Rob Epstein changed that) and often voted simply by the sound of the title.
We were both on our phones to each other watching the Academy Awards live on television. Scott was rooting for SuperSize Me and I had no favorites other than something with an elaborate title. Then the nominees were announced; the winner: Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids. Scott moaned loudly over the phone…I yelped, “Yes!”. To punctuate my point, the previous year’s Academy Award winner was, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. We then decided over the phone, Original Pride: The Satyrs Motorcycle Club.
One of my favorite old shows was a show presented by science historian, James Burke entitled, The Day the Universe Changed (subtitled “A Personal View by James Burke”) originally broadcast in 1985 by the BBC. In the United States the 10-week hour-long series was broadcast October 13–December 15, 1986, on PBS and was rebroadcast on The Learning Channel in 1993. I point this out for one reason, in doing the research about our Satyrs Motorcycle Club, the internal history led me to the external history of the Los Angeles and the world. In order to get to the beginning, I had to go back in time to find what caused the shift in local and world views on gay men by the early 50’s. In fact, the research for Los Angeles took me back to over 150 years. History that created forever the changes that affected the world, some of it by societal views of the time and some forever forged in time, unknowingly, by these men. I assure you, not one of these fine men of the Satyrs Motorcycle Club are aware how they changed the universe. I was aware of our modern historical significance of the gay community but not to the extent that I am so wildly excited in completing the next chapter in the storytelling of the Satyrs.
The new documentary is a five-part series, an anthology of the complete record of the club, the men, the culture, the community of Los Angeles and of the world. I only have a main title at this point, titled: The Long Road Forward. The secondary title will eventually come later. It will be a fascinating ride for all of us, especially if you follow this blog/journal as I discover fantastic historical significance to our modern daily lives. The film’s first episode is entitled, “The Brotherhood“, a term that’s been around since about the 1200’s. The film should make it’s world premiere in September 2011 at Badger Flat. That’s not much time to get the thousands of photos, slides and documents scanned. Nor to transfer old 8mm films, record new interviews of the remaining surviving elder members and stitch the rich Los Angeles history into the fabric that formed the Satyrs.
This will be a long fast ride into the past. My challenge will be the discipline needed to post here an entry of discovery, story telling and documentation of findings. Just the little bit that I have uncovered in researching this more in-depth follow-up documentary to Original Pride is exciting. It is sort of what I imagine as an archaeological dig would feel like, finding those treasures. I hope you will follow this journal and invite other friends to subscribe to the blog-journal as well, as I post new discoveries or insights. The future posts won’t be as long as my first entry, but they will be exciting, educational, inspiring and have historic photos and videos attached. If you’re a history buff, you’re in for a treat! If you’re a member of the gay community,I know you will learn about modern history that 99.9% of our community doesn’t even know. The first pushback from oppression started several decades before the Stonewall Riots. It was called the Los Angeles donutshop riots. But you’ll have to follow along to see how all this connects to the Satyrs Motorcycle Club.
Nice thing about time…we didn’t have this capability to blog/journal to the world in 2000 as we created the first documentary film. Scott became the director of Original Pride. Now, you have the opportunity to participate in the making of a documentary in a way I don’t think has ever been done before. Your comments and input will even shape each documentary episode.
Technology can be great, but the downside of it all can be that is could all be lost forever in the digital 1’s and 0’s of the universe never to be seen again. This is my attempt to ensure that this history is never lost, digitally, analog or otherwise. Now let’s go change the universe….