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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                425

                                Latin Leather Pioneers

                The quintessential presence of the Latin artist Domingo Orejudos
                as one of the central action figures creating leather culture, and as
                a universally beloved person as well, indicates the ethnic diversity
                at the formative core of our inclusive leather culture. In San Fran-
                cisco, Mario Simon, the longtime partner of founding Drummer
                publisher John Embry, was an immigrant from Spain who became
                associate publisher of Drummer. In October 1979 when Drummer
                art director Al Shapiro (a very close friend of Etienne) and Embry
                and I picked the first Mr. Drummer, we chose the Brazilian immi-
                grant Val Martin (Vallot Martinelli) who appeared dozens of times
                on the cover and in the pages of Drummer as well as in films by
                Fred Halsted. In face, physique, and sweet temperament, if Dom
                Orejudos had been separated at birth, his twin would have been
                my longtime intimate, Tony Tavarossi, who was legendary in San
                Francisco leather the way Dom was in Chicago leather.
                    For more on race and ethnicity in Drummer and leather cul-
                ture, see The Drummer Salon in this Gay San Francisco: Eyewit-
                ness series, and my erotic biography Mapplethorpe: Assault with
                a Deadly Camera (1994).

                Having come out in Chicago in the early 1960s, I became person-
             ally familiar with the Renslow-Orejudos leather family. Everyone drooled
             over their Triumph Gym, was imprinted by their photography at Kris Stu-
             dio (1950-1979), and cruised through their bar businesses like the Gold
             Coast and the Man’s Country Baths. I played in the heady and “outlaw”
             leather culture spun out of the Black Castle where they lived. When I
             moved to San Francisco, I took many Chicago leather values and ideas,
             and years later folded them into my version of Drummer. I also “mar-
             ried into the Renslow clan” when on July 6, 1969, I met the Gold Coast
             bartender David Sparrow who quit to become my domestic lover for ten
             years (1969-1979). With our Chicago values, we moved permanently to
             San Francisco and photographed many covers and centerfolds as a duo
             shooting for Drummer during the issues I edited from March 1977 to
             December 31, 1979 (Drummer 18 - Drummer 33).
                This thin slip of an article on Star Trick occasions this introduction of
             its surrounding history that emphasizes that gay life exists at six — maybe
             three, maybe zero — degrees of separation.
                It also demonstrates the roots of Drummer, and how everything that
             rose within leather culture converged to make Drummer possible. Drum-

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