In partnership with the Honey Soundsystem DJ collective, San Francisco label Dark Entries is responsible for an ongoing archival campaign focused on Patrick Cowley, the 1970s artist best-known for pioneering HI-NRG disco and producing Sylvester. Compilations such as School Daze and, more recently, Muscle Up, center on Cowley’s previously lost gay porn soundtracks. And the recently released Kickin’ In 12-inch features Cowley’s narration of sex fantasies “inspired by San Francisco’s leather bars, back rooms and bathhouses.” Now, Dark Entries has shared a lengthy remembrance from collaborator Maurice Tani, entitled “Synths, Sex & San Francisco in the 1970s: Pat, Art, HINRG & Me.” The piece, which follows an in-depth report published this week by Thump, details Cowley’s enthusiasm for electronic music equipment in college from the perspective of a fellow gearhead, baseless harassment by the police, and the confluence of camp theater, pornography, and dance music that Cowley contributed to as a bold producer and sound artist before his untimely death due to AIDS complications in 1982. As Tani writes:
The Cockettes, The Angels of Light, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, drag stars like Divine, etc. were raw, silly, over-the-top fantasy performers working the edge without a net on shoestring budgets. This was fertile ground for experimentation, and with the studio, Patrick was able to contribute unexpectedly sophisticated music and audio production….[And] then there was the dark (in the best sense of the word) world of leather bars, back rooms and bathhouses. This too, was a fantasy world. Also a parody, but as opposed to the overblown, absurdist focus on the feminine by the colorful, flamboyant drag performers in the alternative theater scene, this was the other end of the spectrum: hyper-masculine. These places were generally seedy, gritty, intentionally dimly lit places. Not truly dangerous, but the vibe was hot, sweaty and dirty. Patrick plunged into this world as it grew and it became a major part of his life.
Read the entire piece here and preview the recent Cowley titles below.