Doris Fish and (presumed) James Moss. From Kalendar magazine, January 7, 1977. University of California at Berkeley Digital Library

James Moss

One of the people impressed with Doris’ act with the Tubes was James Moss, a former child star in Hollywood who was trying to make a name for himself in San Francisco as a filmmaker and promoter. His scheme was to produce a film called Magazine Movie and recognized Doris as potential STAR, much as Martin Ryter and then Phillip R Ford later would. The film did not come to fruition, but tantalizingly, they shot a ton of film and photos for it that sadly is likely lost to history. If anyone has any info about Mr. Moss and this work please do get in touch!

“At the launch party, on October 15, 1977, some five hundred men and half a dozen drag queens danced to disco as more than two hundred slides from Magazine Movie, mainly of Doris, flashed on the wall.”

Excerpt From
Who Does That Bitch Think She Is?
Craig Seligman

A project that did come to fruition was a magazine Moss produced called San Francisco Gay Life-Where It’s At. Doris wrote and illustrated articles, designed ads for the magazine, and even painted a cover for it featuring Patti LaBelle. I’m hoping to track these down, I’d love to see them!

In 1977 as part of the publicity campaign for Magazine Movie, Moss got them featured in a free gay bar magazine called Kalendar. Doris made the cover, and she had a short autobiographical piece that advertised a Doris Fish Fan Club complete with membership card! (WOULD LOVE TO SEE THIS!) The mailing address listed was James Moss’ apartment on Pearl Street, Doris was living there at the time.

Magazine Movie also sponsored the Anita Bryant Lookalike Contest that Tippi won.

Doris Fish poses with a circle of hunky men. Photo presumed to be by James Moss, circa 1977. From Doris Fish's collection, photographed by Daniel Nicoletta.
Doris Fish photo by James Moss, circa 1977. University of California at Berkeley Digital Library.

Doris Fish by Doris Fish

Kalendar Magazine, 1977

My first memory of myself as a performer is my father’s office Xmas party. I recited “Nellie Bly.” I was 4 years old.

My childhood was quite uneventful but very pleasant. I have two brothers and two sisters-all delightful, pretty people. The are all in Australia living delightful lives.

I remember my school days as being horrible and I was delighted to leave. I was sixteen when I went into the wide world of drugs and drags. Being ever mindful of my health I have religiously avoided any harmful drugs including alcohol. But I have not avoided drag.

It was not until I was nineteen that I first appeared in women’s clothes. An innovative troupe of actors and actresses had formed “Sylvia and the Synthetics”. I was a prominent and popular member for two years. During this time we appeared at various functions and did ourselves organize numerous parties at which we entertained our many friends.

We were described as “sexual politicians” by at least one newspaper. POL, a glossy fashion and scene magazine, used us as fashion models for one glamorous issue. We became famous (often for things we didn’t do!)

I remember one performance of things we did do. It was a New Year’s Eve Show in an old dis-used theatre club. We were already the darlings of the hip and art set and the hall was packed. The show opened with a gorgeous muscle-man centre stage. Onto his broad shoulders descended a young, pretty (fake) woman. The rest of us danced on in fish net stockings and tails as the “heroine” sang about her breaking heart. She then took her heart from her breast and ate it. The blood dripped onto her powder blue debut gown. At various times during the evening we threw fish, flowers, candy and glitter at the eager audience. We whipped and kicked each other and removed our frocks. The whole hall was soon filled with naked bodies. The police later arrived and arrested some rowdy people who were living in the gutter.

The New Year’s Eve Show was described in the press as an avant-garde art show. We were featured in an artist’s journal; we did television appearances and we made various underground movies, none of which have ever surfaced.

The initial energy of the group was waning as various members headed for distant lands. I came to San Francisco. The Synthetics last token performance was my farewell party. Another troupe member has now joined me-Jasper Havoc. We two have been friends for over ten years! (Since school.)

Shortly after my arrival, The Tubes Talent Hunt was staged. There were over 50 acts, Pearl Gates and myself, Doris Fish, were among the half-dozen acts chosen as winners.

For three fabulous weeks Pearl and I did two shows a night with the glamorous Tubes at the world famous Bimbo’s nite club. I met many famous and talented people including Julie Christie, Holly Woodlawn (“You must be a piranha Ms. Fish cause you sure ate me up!) and Grace Slick! Who is just my favorite lady! And of course lots of other pop stars.

A gentleman who was greatly impressed with my monologue introducing Quay Lewd, was James Moss. James photographed my beautifully and told me I was to star in his film “Magazine Movie”. I was absolutely thrilled with his offer!

Very quickly we organized our first filming session at Nelson Studio doing “Hanky Panky” and “Cheap Thrills” in one weekend. The first in an educational film on the elaborate handkerchief code of sexual preferences. The second is an expose of Amyl Nitrate, dealing with the manufacture, dealing and effects of Amyl. I play a nurse during a live demonstration of the heart-rate speed up.

Since meeting James, my time has been spent in photo sessions, filming, writing and fan club events and parties. T-shirts have been distributed worldwide. I have been called a cult figure! I have been invited to opulent mansions! Doris Fish the fake woman is becoming a real star!

For a personally autographed 8 x 10 glossy of myself, Doris Fish, send one dollar (to cover handling and postage) to: Doris Fish Fan Club, 63 Pearl St. San Francisco, California 94103. You will also receive a membership card.

Love & Kisses,

Doris Fish XXX