Doric Wilson, pioneering Off Off Broadway gay playwright, who wrote plays for the Caffe Cino, considered the birthplace of alternative and gay theater, in the early 1960s, and founded the gay theater company TOSOS (the Other Side of Silence) in the mid-1970s, reviving it with Mark Finley and Barry Childs in 2002, passed away on May 7 at the age of 72, having survived and recovered from a stroke several years ago.
Among Wilson’s witty plays were “Now She Dances,” his version of “Salome;” “The West Street Gang,” written and set during the time of Anita Bryant’s war on gay rights; “A Perfect Relationship,” about roommates, who find that they’re an ideal match for each other; “Street Theater,” which takes place on the eve of the Stonewall Rebellion; and “Forever After,” in which Melpomene and Thalia, muses of tragedy and comedy, take part in and manipulate the action. Billy Blackwell, Casey Wayne, Terry Helbing, Peter Boruchowitz, and Chris Weikel were some of the actors who appeared in his casts. Through TOSOS, Wilson and his colleagues also championed and presented the work of many other LGBT playwrights.
A Stonewall veteran and participant in the 2010 documentary “Stonewall Uprising,” Wilson was also an early member of Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), and early in 1972, shared his experiences as leatherman at a GAA panel discussion, along with leather couple Pete Fisher and the later Marc Rubin, an event that significantly influenced this nascent leatherman. At around the same time, Wilson started a bar and nightclub, Brothers and Sisters, in the theater district, where he gave former Broadway ingénue Barbara Cook her start in a new career in cabaret and also welcomed organizations, such as the Eulenspiegel Society, the S&M group, to meet. A frequent operagoer as well, Wilson was never at a loss for trenchant commentary about the performance at hand.
Doric Wilson was one of our community’s irreplaceable treasures and will be sorely missed.