Page 446 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
P. 446

426                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            mer did not spring full-blown from the head of John Embry, Jeanne Bar-
            ney, or me. Without Chicago’s on-going leather heritage, Drummer would
            not have been invented in LA and perfected in San Francisco.
               Blaine Cunningham, my travel partner in Europe in the wild spring
            of 1969, introduced me to Dom Orejudos during a concert at the Lincoln
            Park band shell, July 4, 1969. The bunch of us were picnicking in a leather
            group together, and Dom and I laid in the grass sharing a joint, sur-
            rounded by John Philip Souza and fireworks and shirtless men in leather
            vests, beginning an acquaintance that lasted until his death; we were both
            judges for Mr. Drummer, and before his final illness we were in correspon-
            dence about my directing and shooting an Etienne Video Gallery in the
            style of the other video galleries I had created for Dom’s peers: Rex, the
            Hun, A. Jay, Domino, and Skipper.
               In a zero-degrees letter from Boulder, Colorado, October 12, 1988,
            Dom “Etienne” Orejudos expressed his interest in my translating his
            drawings from page to screen:

               Hi Jack: . . . Yes, let’s follow through on discussing the possibility
               of an Etienne video gallery by you at Palm Drive. I’ve had some
               ideas in that area (video) for some time now, and I’m sure we
               could come up with something interesting. I enjoyed visiting
               with you during the Mr. Drummer Contest weekend [We were
               both judges] . . . I’ll look forward to seeing you again . . . .
               Sincerely, Dom
               Used with permission of Chuck Renslow and the Leather Archives &Museum.

               His last thirty-six months of illness kept Dom from going forward
            with our project. Without his own video gallery, and before the public
            had access to the Internet, he died September 24, 1991, with our video
            feature unfinished. During the sad time of his oncoming death, Renslow,
            his partner of forty years, was inspired to create — with Drummer pub-
            lisher Anthony DeBlase — the Leather Archives and Museum of Chicago
            which was founded in 1991 to preserve the artwork of Etienne and then
            by extension other artists and artifacts of leather heritage. Seven years
            earlier in Los Angeles, the nonprofit Tom of Finland Foundation had
            been created in 1984 with its own mission to preserve the homomasculine
            artwork of Tom of Finland and other gay artists.
               In the way that Renslow-Orejudos ran a salon of artists and bohe-
            mian leathermen out of the Gold Coast in the 1950s, and in homage to
            their style (in which Dom would later introduce Durk Dehner to Tom of
            Finland in 1979), I figured it made sense for me in 1977 to follow their
            model and create a salon around Drummer because a magazine requires

          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
   441   442   443   444   445   446   447   448   449   450   451