Page 317 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                297
             of leather Evergreen Review, I envisioned literary erotica and new photo-
             graphs of the newly uncloseted masculine-identified gay men signified by
             the leather life emerging in a homosexual culture dominated by drag and
             petulant sissyhood.
                I was first published in 1957, twenty years before Embry hired me.
             Writers, like actors, mostly always have experience in holding two jobs
             at once; it’s the nature of the vocation. Embry rather liked that I had a
             job and an income independent of him. Maybe he thought I wouldn’t
             pressure him to be paid as did the others — until I did demand he pay me
             back wages and we fell out in autumn 1979.
                My straight job gave me also a kind of intellectual independence
             from him. I could dare stand up to him when other staff had to salute and
             say yessir.
                Fresh from the front lines of civil-rights and anti-war activism in
             the 1960s, and as a founding member of the American Popular Culture
             Association in 1969, I wanted to buff up the potential of Drummer to
             capture realistically the first gay decade after Stonewall.
                I set about studying page after page of each existing issue (Drummer
             1 to Drummer 15), searching the internal evidence in the magazine to find
             if Drummer had a “voice” or not. By Drummer 21, which I think is the
             most perfect issue of Drummer, the new and distinctive Drummer voice
             was speaking to the decade.
                 I felt in my guts what a jumble Drummer had been in LA and I
             figured in my cock what a giant it could become in San Francisco.
                My longtime friend Al Shapiro, the artist A. Jay, who did not have
             a day job, had gone ahead full-time on Drummer as art director while I
             reconnoitered as a ghost-editor producing this and doctoring that and
             recruiting friends as contributors. Al said: “I’m pasting up the last pages
             and I don’t have enough for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ column.” Al and I
             were flying by the seat of our pants; Embry was too often gone making
             round trips to LA to complete his move. As a clue to who did what in
             Drummer, it should be noted that whenever Drummer had no editor, the
             editor listed on the masthead defaulted to publisher John Embry’s alter-
             ego “Robert Payne” — an S&M-pun a bit less corny than “Dick Payne.”
             Embry, fresh from Hollywood, knew that whenever a writer’s real name is
             deleted from the screen credits for whatever reason, the custom is always
             to substitute the code name of the anonymous “Alan Smithee.”
                “Robert Payne” was the “Alan Smithee” of Drummer.
                With this “Robert Payne” persona, he covered the void between the
             time that Jeanne Barney had dumped him and the time that I was coming
             on board at a disintegrating magazine that had no San Francisco office.

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