Page 102 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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84       Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999


            arts issue, Son of Drummer (September 1978), showcasing the artist Rex and
            Robert Mapplethorpe in his Drummer debut.
               Eleven  months  after  the  Slave  Auction  arrests,  Embry  used  his  “In
            Passing” editorial column in Drummer 13 (March 1977 to protest too much
            the arrest of straight publisher, Larry Flynt, whose Hustler magazine had
            just been busted for pornography in Cincinnati, the most puritan city in
            American fundamentalism.  Stretching to identify with Flynt on page 76,
            and claiming permission from the L. A. Free Press, Embry reprinted novel-
            ist Harold Robbins’ article defining the censorship of Hustler as “another
            example of fascism in America.”
               When Mapplethorpe died eleven years after Son of Drummer, I updated
            this American Fascist censorship battle with my obituary feature article,
            “Pentimento for Robert Mapplethorpe: Faces, Fetishes, and Flowers of Evil,”
            in Drummer 133 (September 1989). It was in censorious Cincinnati where
            seven of leatherman Robert Mapplethorpe’s  Drummer-style photographs
            were put on trial in 1990 as dramatized in the feature film, Dirty Pictures
            (2000), a docudrama focused on museum director Dennis Barrie and his
            attempt to exhibit Mapplethorpe’s photographs at the local Contemporary
            Arts Center. Although the jury ruled in favor of Barrie, the Mapplethorpe
            case had a nationwide impact debating the role of government in support-
            ing the arts. After censuring the recently deceased Mapplethorpe on the
            floor of the U. S. Senate, Culture War conservatives slashed almost all the
            government funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Conversely,
            as soon as a New York editor read the Drummer obituary, I was contracted
            to turn the essay into the book, Mapplethorpe: Assault with a Deadly Camera
            (1994), which was followed by my entry, “Mapplethorpe,” in Censorship: A
            World Encyclopedia  (2001). I also contributed photographs, personal letters
            to me from Robert, and onscreen eyewitness testimony for Fenton Bailey
            and Randy Barbato’s HBO documentary, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures
            (2016).
               Censorship from the outside plagued Drummer as much as did insider
            complaints from passionate subscribers. In that same Drummer 133, a dis-
            gruntled reader wrote to publisher Anthony DeBlase accusing Drummer of
            politically correct self-censorship on the one hand and the glorification of
            drugs on the other:

               ...sorry to see so much has become a no-no in your fiction.  You
               claim your distributors threaten you to be sweet and clean and
               pure like Family Circle magazine or Reader’s Digest. However, it
               seems that you still promote the use of drugs in your safe-sex vanilla


              ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-14-2017
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