Page 20 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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2        Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999


            subtract from the total. Willie Walker, the founder of the San Francisco
            GLBT Historical Society wrote: “Drummer was a center of a whole cultural
            phenomenon....and its editor Jack Fritscher is a prolific writer who since
            the late sixties has helped document the gay world and the changes it has
            undergone....if queer people do not preserve our own history, most of it will
            simply disappear.”
               Drummer helped create the very culture it reported on. Drummer was
            a revolutionary idea in motion. In our leather archetribe, Drummer vicari-
            ously portrayed our desires to organize our thoughts to inform our practices.
               Drummer published 214 issues from June 1975 to April 1999, and quit
            business on Folsom Fair weekend, September 30, 1999. A stack of 214 issues
            of Drummer is a coffee-table sculpture 3.5 feet tall weighing 120 pounds.
            Laid flat, top-to-bottom, Drummer stretches sixty-four yards: two-thirds of
            the length of a football field.
               Drummer was the autobiography of us all, or at least a lot of us, written
            and drawn and photographed by many of us to entertain the rest of us from
            1975 to its end in 1999.
               At a rough ninety pages per issue, Drummer comprised a total 20,000
            pages of advocacy journalism created by hundreds of writers, artists, photog-
            raphers, and designers including even more thousands of revealing autobio-
            graphical Personals ads written by readers, with advertisers displaying their
            own commercial wares as pop-culture signifiers of the times. It took a village
            to fill Drummer. It took the Village People to act it out.
               A group photo of every person who helped create Drummer would rival
            the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
               So how does this “J. Alfred Prufrock” dare to eat a peach, and wear my
            leather trousers rolled?
               As its founding San Francisco editor-in-chief for nearly three years
            (March 17, 1977-December 31, 1979) and its most frequent contributor
            of writing and photography during twenty-four years, I enjoyed backstage
            access that over time made me one of many eyewitnesses of its evolving
            institutional history under the three publishers, John Embry (1975-1986),
            Anthony DeBlase (1986-1992), and Martijn Bakker (1992-1999). Keeping
            notes during 24 years, I observed Drummer for 2.5 times longer than Embry
            who owned Drummer for only 11 years, and fought with it for 13 years; and
            4 times longer than DeBlase who struggled with Drummer for 6 years, and
            Bakker who killed Drummer in an assisted suicide that took 7 years.
               Editing monthly Drummer daily in real time was a wild literary ride in
            gay popular culture when readers demanded authenticity and truth in report-
            ing the emergence of BDSM rites and rights. Near the end of Drummer’s


               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—post: 03-14-17
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