Written by Bevis M. Griffin
Racism is an abstract concept until it rears its ugly head and glowers at you dead in the face! Franklin’s Mast was subjected to serial incidents of abject racism during its four-year tenure. The cause of most of our adverse experiences was rooted in white supremacist male paranoia. We were an erotically charismatic, sexually attractive band of Black-Eurasian-Caucasoid glam.
By 1974 we were well established throughout the vast expanse of the midwestern club-circuit. Our setlist was a potent mixture of 75% original material and 25% revised rock & soul classics. Jimmy Saurage was a fantastic showman and my melismatic soulful voice bolstered harmonies.
Our customized stage apparel became as avant-garde as our haute-couture hair and make-up. Our loyal female following was steadfast and extremely supportive and helped us weather the seemingly incessant storms of homophobic bile, and venomous, microcephalic, racial epithets.
The farther we ventured away from the halcyon nirvana of ATX, the worse the harassment got. By 1975 either myself, or the entire band had been stopped and frisked innumerable times for simply daring to appear in public in de rigueur sartorial splendor. This became our new normal, and so, we reciprocated; rebelliously fueled by our existential buoyancy and self-determination. During the course of my 70s career, whether on tour or simply walking down the street, I’ve been called every type of despicable name in the book, simply for being who I truly dare to be.
Once, I was denied gas in broad daylight in the reputedly KKK-infested enclave of Bowie, TX. I’ve been in several Hollywood-style chair-throwing, bottle breaking, knife-wielding, bar fights, due to the irrational drunken jealousy of racially intolerant, homophobic, red-necked morons.
I once was interrogated, detained, and falsely accused of female-impersonation and lewd and lascivious behavior, simply for purchasing a bottle of flat-black nail polish from a pet store!
After 4 years of touring across TX, OK, Arkansas, and Kansas, Franklin’s Mast ran its course. My sole regret is that we never secured a record deal, nor serious professional management. We were a unique and highly original act that defiantly broke ground in uncharted territories. The fact that we were poly-cultural pioneers amidst a sea of Caucasoid competitors says it all!
P.S. Respect & Blessings to my band of rock and roll brothers from the neighboring TX tribes: Krackerjack, Phoenix/Too Smooth, Blackbird, The Werewolves, Fools, Sirius, & ZZ-Top.