Page 116 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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98       Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999


            larger than Drummer. He refused to be defined by Drummer. He was sim-
            ply, and perfectly, the marquee identity of “Larry Townsend, author of The
            Leatherman’s Handbook.” Although he was part of the wider Drummer Salon,
            Townsend always worked from outside Drummer as a guest “contributing
            editor” whose fiction and advice columns—which he also wrote freelance
            for a variety of publications—were printed in Drummer.
               His “Leather Notebook” column ran from Drummer 38 (1980) through
            Drummer  156 (1992) when Dutch publisher Martijn Bakker bought
            Drummer. Typically, magazine editors, eager for his famous byline, wel-
            comed Townsend who shuffled the deck of his writing and dealt it out stra-
            tegically to publicize his new books. In the landmark Drummer 100 which
            published Townsend’s story “Board of Inquiry,” his “Leather Notebook”
            Q&A column appeared “in trade” for his full-page mail-order ad, page 93.
               Famous for mining leather and S&M themes, Townsend liked Drummer
            hosting occasional excerpts from his fiction as well as from his “Ask Larry”
            column which was also published in other magazines. As an author in a kind
            of early gay syndication, he finally acquiesced to write monthly columns as
            synergistic promotions for his yearly books. His self-referential column in
            Drummer was in effect “advertising in trade” for his mail-order business
            through which he sold his independent L. T. Publication titles from 1972
            to 2008. With the startup of his publishing company in 1970, Townsend
            was one of the first founders of a gay small business, and Embry scrambled to
            emulate him with his Alternate Publishing. Through Drummer, Townsend
            found value writing for several magazines with a masculine-identified demo-
            graphic. With Drummer dead for the nine years since 1999, I remember in
            2008 when he went apoplectic on the telephone because his long-running
            column in Honcho was suddenly cancelled; he died six weeks later, July 29,
            2008.
               In short, although Townsend and Embry despised each other like kar-
            mic star-crossed lovers to the day they died, Townsend liked the mail-order
            publicity in Drummer, and Embry needed the endorsement of Townsend’s
            marquee name. It was a Hollywood marriage made in hell, and eyewitness
            Jeanne Barney was its eyewitness bridesmaid.
               Jeanne Barney wrote to me on September 8, 2006:

               I rather imagine that John envied Larry’s reputation as The Last
               Word in Leather. I know for sure that Larry was (and still is) really
               bothered by Embry’s dishonesty, the reason that he declined when
               approached to kick in with Drummer in the beginning. [Some men
               on the mailing list confused “Embry” and “Payne” and “Townsend”


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