Page 100 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
P. 100

80                                      Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            Drummer would have been the high-concept album, Sgt. Pepper.” When
            Embry was ill and absent, Fritscher not only shouldered the load, he and,
            I think, Al Shapiro, pushed out even further the envelope of Drummer.
               Drummer  moved  from  its first  LA  popularity  into  being sold all
            across the country by subscription and in some leather stores. I remember
            in 1979 when I was doing a reading and signing my novels at A Different
            Light in Silver Lake, the store manager Richard Labonté told me he had
            tripled his Drummer order during Fritscher’s tenure as editor. Despite this
            amazing success, few readers knew the problems inside Drummer ranging
            from John’s extended illness to money problems with distributors and
            censorship caused by do-gooders like Anita Bryant and John Briggs that
            curtailed sales in retail outlets. I can’t speak for all the Drummer contribu-
            tors I knew in LA, but Jeanne and Fred Halsted and, I think, Ed Franklin,
            had quit John Embry because of creative differences and business ethics
            differences. Halsted started his own magazine called Package.
               In 1978, I drove to San Francisco and met Jack for the first time face
            to face. We had talked on the phone and I certainly knew his writing. He
            took me to his favorite Italian restaurant called the Haystack on 24  Street
            near Castro Street where we compared notes and he asked me to consider
            writing for Drummer even though he warned me of what I knew: that
            John Embry was very lax in paying the talent. Because of the old tension
            between John Embry and me, I held off until the 1980s when I first began
            contributing to Drummer in trade for advertising rather than money.
               Unlike Jack and John, I was never “a Drummer writer.” I am a novelist
            whose novels were often excerpted in Drummer and a columnist published
            for a dozen years in Drummer before I sold my “Leather Notebook” col-
            umn to Honcho. I was outside the inner orbit even after John and I buried
            the hatchet after his illness in 1980. I never pushed Drummer the way Jack
            pushed it and formulated concepts for entire issues. His writing, as well
            as the direction he gave other contributors, pushed Drummer through its
            initial leather-only phase into an era of many fetishes and into masculin-
               Readers  (including  myself)  found  his  changes  so gradual,  and  so
            natural it was hard to imagine his upgrades were not all part of John’s
            original grand scheme. In other words, I feel that Jack’s work in keeping
            Drummer alive and interjecting his own ideas into it advanced John’s
            initial conceptions beyond its original scope.
               What Jack accomplished was, in effect, the expansion of the vision
            John had tried to achieve — and which circumstances had prevented John
            from doing. Under Jack Fritscher’s guidance, Drummer became one of
            the important icons of San Francisco’s Golden 70s. When Jack and John
            parted company over financial matters, John never once regretted the

          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
   95   96   97   98   99   100   101   102   103   104   105