How 70’s Gay Porn Disco Music influences modern Trance and Electronica
At one time there was a magical place called San Francisco. It was full of Gay Men, Drag Queens, after hour clubs, drugs and disco music. It was a place where stereotypes were born, where promiscuous men could have sex, do a line of cocaine, and shake their booty to the latest music for days at a time. Unfortunately this Paradise on Earth was soon to crumble as that spectre of the 19080’s gay lifestyle, HIV, was already infiltrating the city.
Two prominent members of the community that crossed at the corner of Disco and Fabulous were Sylvester (known as the Queen of Disco) and Patrick Cowley. When the two met, Sylvester already had a moderately successful career. He was an founder of a musical group made up of black transwomen and cross-dressers called The Disquotays, a member of The Cockettes and a solo artist. He also had released several albums and had signed with Fantasy Records who’s best known act was Creedence Clearwater Revival.
One of Sylvester’s better known songs is his first hit single, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real.)”
Liking his sound, Sylvester asked Cowley to join his studio band and lay down some synthesizer tracks. One of their collaborations hit #4 on the Billboard dance chart in 1982 – “Do Ya Wanna Funk.”
Hear we can hear a great early electronica 4/4 beat that is the cornerstone of many modern House, Techno and Electronica songs. Patrick Crowley also had a successful solo career with hits such as “Menergy” and “Megatron Man,” as a writer for many other artists of the time, and as a successful DJ at Dance Club The EndUp. (Which is still in business, and plays music, especially Cowley’s, from this era every Sunday.)
But his other major musical contribution was the sound tracks to many Gay Porn movies. The pure sensuality and energy of his synthesizer is such that decades later they continue to be used across the entire porn industry.
Patrick Cowley died of HIV November 12, 1982, bringing his music career and pioneering musical influence to an unfortunate halt. But not before completing two entire albums in the year between when he first became sick and his death. Sylvester also succumbed to HIV on December 16, 1988 after a year of increasingly ill health. He followed his partner who had died a mere year before in 1987.
Fortunately for us, both men’s music lives on. We have even been fortunate to recently uncover some of Crowley’s lost works that have complied and released as “School Daze.” Both were heavy influencers of the “Hi-NRG” style of uptempo disco and electronic dance music that first came out in the 1970’s. Combining high tempo beats with great lyrics that make just about anyone want to jump out of their seat and dance the night away, this style embraced electronic musical instruments to create unique sound.
Hi-NRG saw it’s peak in the 1980’s, with artists such as Donna Summers, Dead or Alive, Bannarama, and the Village People all getting into the Hi-NRG scene. Many of them used electronic music as backups to drive the beat of their songs. During this time they genre and style spread to Canadian and British Dance Clubs as DJ’s incorporated it into their play lists. It is interesting to note that many Electronica and Techno artists continue to remix Hi-NRG songs to this day.
In turn, Hi-NRG music heavily influenced House Music. Based on the pedigree of those highly sexualized rhythmic beats, House Music likely started in Chicago night clubs that catered to the African American and Latino Gay population of that city. It expanded to Detroit, New York, San Francisco and other American cities before spreading across the Atlantic Ocean to British and European Dance Clubs.
By the end of the 90’s House Music had not only superseded the Hi-NRG genre in popularity, it had become incredibly fragmented also. Techno, Electro, Trance and the various House Derivatives such as Electro House and Progressive House all come from House music as artists bent and recreated sounds in an effort to differentiate themselves from other groups.
Today, groups such as Kraftwerk, Daft Punk, Moby, Front 424 and thousands of others continue to push the frontiers of Electronica music splitting it even further into more and more diverse genres. But if you listen closely you can still hear that driving, penetrating, sensual 70’s Gay Porn Disco beat pioneered by Sylvester and Patrick Cowley.
What music by today’s artists do you hear that 70’s Disco Porn beat in? Please comment below!