Page 319 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                299
                •   That hiatus ended when I produced my first full solo issue,
                    credited on the masthead as editor in chief, with Drummer
                    19 (December 1977).
                Drummer 19 to Drummer 31 — “Divisadero Street Drummer” — were
             created by Al Shapiro and me at 1730 Divisadero Street. The second-floor
             office was a makeshift dump stacked up and spilling over in a walk-up flat
             in a dirty old Victorian. We were young; we laughed; we smoked dope;
             we fucked. We were part of the 1970s Gay Renaissance of writers, artists,
             and photographers who had converged on San Francisco.
                Having known each other for several years before  Drummer  was
             invented in 1975, Al Shapiro and I were feeling our way toward a needed
             new identity for the dying Drummer. There had been so much trouble
             and infighting around the young Drummer in LA that after the “Slave
             Auction” arrest by the LAPD, Drummer very nearly did not survive the
             acrimonious divorce among all the LA personalities who had worked
             on LA Drummer. In fact, some of that acrimony exists into this cen-
             tury among the original LA principals who, like dinosaurs surviving the
             crunch, lunch  —  despite their differences and their advanced ages.
                Because of the on-going legal problems after the arrest, Embry sev-
             eral times had to return to court hearings in LA. In addition, he was
             trying to crush Jeanne Barney in a struggle over who owned the classified
             personals section “The Leather Fraternity.” Under the stress of fleeing LA,
             Drummer in 1977 was comatose when we San Franciscans took over and
             administered CPR. Drummer had landed on the yellow-brick road in Oz
             and we gave it a heart, courage, and a brain.
                And a dick.
                Having been preoccupied with his move which distracted him a bit
             from Drummer in 1977, Embry went virtually missing from Drummer
             for nearly half a year from late 1978 to mid 1979 because of a near-death
             experience with cancer, its onset and remedy. I visited him in hospital
             and brought him a goldfish in a bowl. Is kindness weakness? He rather
             expected Al Shapiro and me to continue the kind of creamed corn, 1950s
             gossipy, campy, and sometimes drag materials he famously favored.
                Embry’s drag cover of the “Cycle Sluts” on Drummer 9 created a huge
             controversy, and to this day remains a scandal and a blot on Drummer
             history as well as an absolute dipstick of why Embry, who advertised
             Naugahyde (!) vinyl sheets for sale in Drummer, was really quite unsuited
             to helm Drummer for eleven years of its twenty-four-year run, and for
             ninety-eight of its 214 issues which his regime made more “commercial”
             than “cutting edge.”

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