Page 175 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 175

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 6                        157

             garde” despite the retrograde fact that he often plagiarized his bylined writ-
             ing from straight men’s pulp adventure magazines like Argosy. He forgot that
             back then, suffering psychosomatically from the homophobia of the LAPD,
             he was not a well man emotionally or physically. Unlike his arch-rival David
             Goodstein who would die of a similar bowel cancer in 1985, he was a cancer
             survivor inconveniently disabled with a colostomy in an office staffed with
             ironic ass-fuckers and joking fistfuckers who treated his ambiguously once-
             and/or-future bag like the Second Elephant in the Room.
                In recovery during the summer of 1979, Embry returned to the 1730
             Divisadero office from his constant round trips to what was left of his sup-
             port circle of friends and lawyers and backup doctors in LA. He had a new
             lease on life. He was full of piss and vinegar, roaring with mood swings of
             pent-up anger over his illness and his endless legal problems with the LAPD.
             Upon his arrival, we unsuspecting staff stood, grinning like leather footmen,
             holding what we intended as a surprise gift to welcome him back: the new
             San Francisco Drummer.
                Hoping to make him better, we made Drummer better. During his
             ordeal, we, with instinct and impulse and subtlety, had driven the magazine
             forward from his unsustainable fixation on LA politics, camp humor, fren-
             emy feuds, and mail-order gimmicks to the participatory New Journalism
             and emerging gender joys of the bold new homomasculine identity and
             avant garde leather scene. It was what national and international readers in
             the late 1970s came to expect in editorial content. The Drummer personal
             ads were the Facebook of their time. They reveal everything about the hearts
             and minds of the readers we reflected monthly. The readers drove Drummer.
             In those “Leather Fraternity” personals, the most frequently chosen words of
             “search” and “self-identification” were masculine and masculinity.
                Embry was a rich corporate LA businessman who misread our editorial
             evolution as a workers’ revolution. Drummer was being created by its hired
             office staff and by the writers, artists, and photographers who made it, and
             not by the estranged publisher who paid for it.
                He realized he had in his hands the hit he had always wanted.
                That good deed did not go unpunished.

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