Page 221 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                201
             H.E.L.P./Drummer, “We Weren’t Born Yesterday,” featured a 1971 Sym-
             posium on the importance of “preserving our considerable gay history.”
                Book reviews showcased Larry Townsend’s Run, Little Leather Boy,
             its sequel  Run No More, and  The Leatherman’s Handbook. Townsend
             was a gay pop culture phenomenon who held himself independent from
             the 1975 birth of the glossy magazine, Drummer, which I dubbed in 1978
             “Leather’s Publication of Record” and “The American Review of Gay Popu-
             lar Culture” in Drummer 23. He didn’t come aboard Drummer until 1980.
                Cherchez le femme! A woman helped deliver Drummer. Ms. Jeanne
             Barney, according to Leather Patriarch Harold Cox, publisher of Check-
             mate/Dungeonmaster, was one of the two best editors Drummer ever had.
             Trouble — police-driven by then LA police chief Ed Davis — complicated
             the infighting causing Drummer’s founding partners split. Entrepreneur
             John Embry got custody of the infant Drummer, named himself pub-
             lisher, and after the April 10, 1976, bust of his “Slave Auction,” fled Los
             Angeles for San Francisco leaving behind such leather stars as filmmaker
             Fred Halsted, photographer and performance artist Robert Opel, and
             photographer/hustler JimEd (Master Tau) Thompson who in 1974 cre-
             ated Gay Bondage magazine and Action Male bondage magazine, the tuto-
             rials for Mikal Bales’s Zeus bondage studio.
                 Drummer, once arrived in Mecca, quickly became leather’s official
             voice to the world during the Golden Age of Liberation. Imitation is the
             sincerest form of flattery. Because Embry seemed peeved with and by
             Townsend, he also seemed rather pleased at Townsend’s absence which
             might have imprinted Drummer. And miffed that he himself had not
             written The Leatherman’s Handbook, claimjumper Embry — who was also
             trying to clone The Advocate by creating The Alternate — commissioned
             a clone of Larry’s Leatherman’s Handbook written by Bruce Werner and
             called  The New Leatherman’s Guide (Drummer 18, 1977). Embry fol-
             lowed this with The Care and Training of the Male Slave written by Embry
             himself aka Robert Payne. This kind of instant commercial imitation
             signaled the enthusiastic beginning of a pop culture genre: how-to and
             self-improvement books for leather players.
                Larry Townsend, by talent really a novelist, achieved legendary status
             by founding this new leather genre of self-improvement through S&M.
             “Larry Townsend” became an instant Brand Name in leather popular
             culture. Embry himself, finally, could not resist publishing even more
             writing by  Townsend  in 1980s  issues of  Drummer where ultimately
             Townsend’s monthly column, “Leather Notebook,” appeared for twelve
                Townsend’s second regular column, “Ask Larry,” on this Silver Anni-
             versary of the Handbook is currently a regular feature in the international

           ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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