Page 30 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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10                                      Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            more or different or otherwise. This was all very good for everyone, par-
            ticularly a youngish guy who believed that the leather-clad men you could
            find in Drummer were a separate and special creation, on a higher order
            than homo sapiens sapiens. That’s me thinking that, until a few Fritscher
            features drew pictures in which I could see myself without even straining.
            Then, just to keep me in my place after all, he’d come along with some-
            thing like the Drummer 23 editorial where, in effect, Drummer claimed
            its place in the world and demanded that the readers notice the magazine
            was hung bigger than we were and had balls like we only dreamed of.
               “Just you mention Drummer in a roomful of guys,” Fritscher wrote,
            “and you’ll get a heavy feedback of attitude. They either love us or hate us.
            They either understand us (meaning themselves) or they refuse to under-
            stand us (again, meaning themselves).” That’s balls! And, not surprisingly,
            the editorial began by asking “where’s Drummer get the leather balls to…”
            and ended with the honest answer that the readers who kept buying the
            magazine gave those who produced it the balls to do it as hard as they did
            and, in every other way, just as they did.
               I don’t know that the truth of the moment is really in that. For me,
            and I suspect a lot of others, it was impossible to see myself as a provider of
            chutzpah. I was being fed and encouraged, not consumed or reflected…
            but then I saw it, thanks to that editorial: There was a breed of leather-
            men — Val Martin and Fred Halsted and Joey Yale and Durk Dehner
            and the rest, art director Al “A. Jay” Shapiro and editor/writer Jack Frit-
            scher among them — who were the source of all this ballsy machismo.
            And, closer to my home, there was a less plugged-in tribe — myself
            included — who were being lifted and flown, like little kids being “air-
            planed” in circles by their Dads. Fritscher was the Braveheart, the Shaka
            Zulu, the Kamehameha, the battle-crier who did not say something never
            before said or thought but, instead, gave voice to a thing never before
            made clear enough to rally around and to pass along to strangers in print.
               The style and intelligence and urgency of Fritscher’s message were
            his own, but the message itself was the one leathermen wanted (or, just as
            often definitely didn’t want) disseminated. The essential content of what
            he was saying in “his” issues of Drummer (19 through 30 and his hybrid
            issues 14-18, 31, 32, 33) and in his other work and, as a contributor, in
            later issues of Drummer changed naturally because we changed, but the
            essential nature of it, the thing that made it Fritscher, never changed.
               By the time I went to work at Drummer, 100 issues after the last one
            Fritscher edited, he really was a god of leather, an unimpeachable and
            unassailable solitaire whose very name had developed a meaning. “What
            do you want done with the ‘Leather Lifestyles’ theme you announced for
            Drummer 132?” I asked my boss, Drummer publisher Tony DeBlase.

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