Page 183 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 7                        165


             is the same crucifixion all “same-sex lovers suffer, patiently and gladly.”
                Mapplethorpe and I, both saturated Catholics, matching his photo-
             graphs to my poem, were reading Rimbaud and Verlaine, and somehow the
             artful metaphor of blasphemy had become my litmus test for the Protestant
             literalist Embry. Apropos that, in 1986 with eight dust-grain photogra-
             vures, Mapplethorpe illustrated a luxurious bilingual quarto edition of
             Rimbaud’s poems, A Season in Hell, whose crimson goatskin cover featured
             Mapplethorpe’s portrait of himself as the horned Devil, Pan. In a less elite
             version, those beautiful pictures could have democratically graced Drummer
             seven years earlier than the Limited Editions Club press run of one thousand
             signed copies. But Embry refused, earning Mapplethorpe’s haughty disdain.
                Embry, never avant garde, grew more conservative after his 1976 arrest
             and slap-down by the LAPD, after his 1977 exile from LA, and after his
             1978-1979 cancer nearly killed him. A child born and raised during the
             Great Depression, Embry was a tightwad businessman who could squeeze a
             nickel till the buffalo screamed. Applying some of the profits from Drummer,
             he could have been a champion in that Stonewall decade when the emerging
             gay press was nothing but magazines—and gay book publishers still had to
             be invented. Diverting Drummer profits away from editorial development
             and into his personal real estate empire that he began when he moved to San
             Francisco, he had no fight in his millionaire’s heart to push the art-envelope
             of Drummer and risk profiting a penny less. Drummer achieved its world-
             wide editorial identity despite him.
                In short, Embry who was a Methodist refused to publish “Jesus
             D’Pressed” which was, for all its little satirical and sexy silliness, meant to
             be nothing more than an iconoclastic 1960s pop-art poem about a God
             who is crucified out of human jealousy because, with his divinely double-
             jointed back, he can fellate himself. The poem, part of my juvenilia and
             pertinent in its impertinent time, may or may not travel into any literary
             canon. However, Embry never said he didn’t like the poem. He simply could
             not bring himself to publish it after his run-ins with the law over various
             infractions like his bits of blasphemy in the early Los Angeles Drummer.
                As editor, I wanted the poem to scare him because I enjoyed double-
             daring him. He was easy to bait and switch. And tricking him was one
             way to get what needed to be gotten into Drummer. If he turned down a
             manuscript as too extreme, he would feel that he “won,” and, blinded by
             that pyrrhic victory, would then accept another manuscript that would have
             seemed “far out” if he had not had to pass judgment on the first document.
             That was one of the ways art director Al Shapiro and I practiced our intricate
             choreography so we could insert our homomasculine version of Drummer


               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
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