In the 1970s, thousands of young gay men flocked to San Francisco. Mark Abramson, author of the best-selling “Beach Reading” mystery series and the AIDS memoir “For My Brothers,” was one of them. In a time and place where sex was free, drugs were cheap, and the driving disco beat felt like it would go on forever, he landed in the great gay Mecca fresh out of college, reconnected with his old friend, the writer John Preston and soon encountered such interesting people as Harvey Milk, Sylvester, Rock Hudson, Natalie Wood and Vincent Price. These are his raw, uncensored diaries.
Reviews: from Amazon
By CyberGuySF on March 19, 2016
By T. S. Lowe on July 29, 2015
Mark Abramson’s SEX, DRUGS & DISCO: SAN FRANCISCO DIARIES FROM THE PRE-AIDS ERA is a fun read. And it’s an absorbing read. I read it, happily entertained, for uninterrupted stretches until I had finished it. The book is comprised of excerpts from Abramson’s diary, chronicling his life from the day he arrived in San Francisco from Minnesota in summer 1975 through New Year’s Eve 1979.
Since the entries are presented chronologically, there is a narrative through-line telling the story of Abramson’s life. The story is fleshed out, however, and given context through other, more episodic, entries that highlight moments in gay history and/or in San Francisco history.
Each entry is dated, so part of the fun for me was thinking back to what I was doing on that same date—and realizing how much more fun Abramson was having. My personal recollections, along with Abramson’s detailed memories of the 70s, transported me back to a time when I was coming of age, and also allowed me to experience things I had missed, seeing them through his eyes.
Though the book tells the story of a more carefree time in gay history, a time before AIDS changed the narrative, it’s difficult not to read the stories without knowing where things would lead—especially if you have read Abramson’s earlier book, FOR MY BROTHERS—which I highly recommend—which picks up Abramson’s story during the AIDS era, a few years after the events in SEX, DRUGS & DISCO. That knowledge does not take away from the sense of fun; it merely adds a layer of subtext or maybe just poignancy, since the reader may see something that was not evident, of course, to Abramson when he was originally chronicling his life.
In arranging and editing the entries, Abramson inserts very welcome contemporary comments after selected entries to provide context or to give updates of the lives of people we have met in the pages of his diary. In the diary entries themselves, the mature writer resists the temptation to explain or comment on some of the more naive musings of a young man in his early twenties, which only serves to make the character of Mark more endearing.
At the end, Abramson promises MORE SEX, DRUGS & DISCO is coming soon. It better be.