Page 108 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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90       Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

               eating at a nearby sidewalk café, got up, raced to the river, and dived
               in fully dressed.
                   “I swallowed an awful lot of the Rhine, but the two of us made
               it back to shore all right,” Bernhard, who lives at 624 Veteran Ave,
               West Los Angeles, recounted yesterday in the German Counsulate at
               3450 Wilshire Blvd. Accompanying the young man to the Counsulate
               was his sister, Mrs. Ralph J. Tingle of 621 S. Barrington Ave., who
               proudly looked on as Dr. Hertz gave the awards.


            How John Embry’s spit hit the fan! Let me count the ways. Was it Embry’s
            act-up content and politicking what done him in? In the mise en scene of
            gay LA, Embry was sketchily involved with the August 1972 fund-raiser
            for H.E.L.P. headed up by leather author Larry Townsend. The title of
            the “Homophile Effort for Legal Protection,” founded in 1968 (three years
            before Embry’s arrival) was designed so its acronym would announce its
            mission: Help. Its campy tap root in 1960s popular culture was the Beatles
            film, HELP! (1965). Its main purpose was to bail out gays entrapped in tea
            rooms and arrested in bar raids by the LAPD. Townsend was particularly
            motivated. In his FBI file, I found he had been arrested three times: Sex
            Perversion and Fellatio (1963); Failure to Register as Sex Offender (1964),
            followed by a 1968 ruling that his registration was no longer required; and
            for Lewd Conduct at the H.E.L.P. fund-raiser that was dismissed for insuf-
            ficient evidence the same year he first published his Leatherman’s Handbook
            (1972). Held at LA’s then-leading leather bar called the Black Pipe, the
            H.E.L.P. charity event suggested a two-dollar donation at the door. One of
            the booths on the open-air patio “auctioned off leathermen for a date” to
            raise money to open a gay Community Center. This mini-event was a Slave
            Auction that preceded the more famous Drummer Slave Auction four years
            later in 1976.
               Proving no good deed goes unpunished, the cops targeted their so-
            called  “Black  Pipe  21”  arrests  on  the President  of H.E.L.P.  who  was
            Larry Townsend, and on H.E.L.P.’s board of advisors, including, almost
            Fascistically, the astonished guy at the card table registering voters. In 1975,
            Larry Townsend became the founding president of the Hollywood Hills
            Democratic Club which was the first openly gay political club in LA. But,
            in 1972, political activist Townsend’s name, with ad man John Embry’s,
            appeared for the first time together on the masthead of the first issue of

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