Page 99 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 79
                I remember it was over a period of months, maybe February to May
             1977, that John — minus his LA staff — fled with van load after van load
             to the freedom of the City by the Bay. He took his personality with him,
             and, as some have alleged, his LA “style” — maybe fueled with anger over
             being arrested and “exiled” — made his acceptance in laid-back San Fran-
             cisco problematic. He needed a local envoy and editor who could recruit
             for him a new talent pool for Drummer. When John hired Al Shapiro as
             art director, Al suggested John interview his friend Jack Fritscher who had
             twenty years of magazine experience. The three of them transformed LA
             Drummer into San Francisco Drummer which by some alchemy made the
             magazine international.
                Then bad luck hit. Within eighteen months, John was struck with
             colon cancer that took him out for months and, for a second time, almost
             killed Drummer. Was there a psychosomatic cause from the stress of the
             arrests, the harassment, the move, the sheer pressure of monthly publish-
             ing? It was here that Jack Fritscher rode to the rescue — the proverbial
             hero in the white hat (and black leather chaps). As editor in chief, his
             uncompromising drive to produce a magazine by, for, and about mascu-
             line leathermen built perfectly on, and enlarged, John Embry’s original
             conception. (Only two people were titled “editor in chief” of Drummer:
             Jeanne Barney and Jack Fritscher. All the rest were titled “editor” only.)
             In March 1977, Fritscher began working behind the scenes as a producer
             drumming up talent and topics for Drummer beginning in issues 14 or
             15 and ghost-editing Drummer 18 before coming out as editor in chief, I
             remember, with the Christmas issue, Drummer 19.
                As a writer and observer, I agree that the period 1977 to 1980 when
             Jack Fritscher was editor was the “Golden Age” of Drummer. My opinion
             might seem gratuitous or coincidental until a person studies the 1970s
             issues, like Drummer 21, in which Jack wrote so many articles and shot
             so many cover photographs, centerfolds, and interior photo spreads. In
             addition, he turned his circle of friends, like Robert Mapplethorpe and
             Old Reliable and a renewed Robert Opel, into the Drummer talent pool
             Embry had hired Jack to recruit. Jack was not a fan of the “camp” in LA
             Drummer, particularly John’s cartoon balloons pasted on sex pictures.
             Jack, like the Drummer readership who complained in Letters to the Edi-
             tor, declared the gender-fuck cover of the “Cycle Sluts” on Drummer 9 as
             the worst Drummer cover ever. Dumping camp, and widening the demo-
             graphic of leather, Jack introduced “theme” issues like bondage, prisons,
             rough trade, and fetishes like cigars. “If, for instance,” Jack once told a
             leather audience at a reading, “the 1964 Beatles and the 1967 Beatles
             were analogous to Drummer magazine, LA Drummer would have been
             the teen-hit singles on the album, Meet the Beatles, and San Francisco

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