Page 134 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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116      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999


            contributor, Robert Opel. If ever any one person should have been the edi-
            tor-in-chief of Drummer, although he lacked the endurance and long-view
            oversight needed, it was the creative, inventive Robert Opel who had big-
            ger fish than Drummer to fry in the performance art that was his life and
            ultimately his death.
               Former LA school teacher, Opel, was a 1960s gay radical who was Police
            Chief Ed Davis’ bete noir, famous for stripping naked at City Council meet-
            ings and showing his cock to Ed Davis (photo of Opel and Davis: Drummer
            26, page 19) and even more famously streaking a billion viewers during the
            1974 Academy Awards when David Niven and Elizabeth Taylor were on
            camera (Drummer 3); and finally famous for being shot to death Sunday
            evening, July 8, 1979, by—according to the intuitive gay grapevine of alle-
            gations—vengeful cops, pals of Dan White, in his SOMA gallery Fey-Way
            (Drummer 31, Drummer 32). Opel’s murder is dramatized in Some Dance
            to Remember, Reel 3, Scene 1 and Scene 9. Embry also published ads for
            Opel’s own LA magazine venture titled Finger (Drummer 7, page 3) with
            satiric “endorsements” by Embry’s nemeses, “E. Davis” and “D. Goodstein.”
               In 1977, Opel asked me to write on spec for his next new magazine
            whose title was too perfect for its own good. He never got to publish his
            National Pornographic because of objections from National Geographic. If
            his story were not true, by now some other porn publisher would have used
            that title. There is an interview of the amazing Robert Opel that should
            have appeared in Drummer; instead it appeared in the “Virtual Drummer”
            of Fred Halsted’s  Package  magazine. Stopping his own contributions to
            Drummer, Halsted competed with Embry to steal Drummer’s thunder in
            the publishing wars. He released Package 1, July 1976. Confer author, Bill
            Arseneaux, “Bob Opel: An Interview,” Package 6, January 1977. Is Arseneaux
            (“arse nose”) another camp pen name? Was it a pseudonym for entrepre-
            neur Opel, the perfect publicist, who, with the esthetic introspection of a
            Modernist, interviewed himself?
               Separation is not six degrees. In August, 2001, working as an associate
            producer with Andy Perrott to create a television documentary on Robert
            Opel for the LA cable series, Fame for 15, I set up on-camera interviews with
            Opel’s pals, Durk Dehner of the Tom of Finland Foundation and with Mark
            Thompson. Former Advocate editor Thompson had previously interviewed
            me for a book he was writing on the glamorously notorious life of Robert
            Opel whom I interviewed at Fey-Way Gallery with Patti Smith’s avowed
            rival, Camille O’Grady—who was Opel’s lover—just three weeks before
            his murder. In 2008,Thompson invited me to collaborate on his screenplay
            about Robert Opel that he was writing with Andy Perrott. In 2009, Robert


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