Page 206 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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188      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

            truck with Rice,” forgot he listed himself on the masthead as both publisher
            and editor of Drummer 71, which first excerpted her, and of Drummer 83
            featuring her second excerpt. No one can remember everything, but it was
            his business responsibility to know that A. N. Roquelaure was Anne Rice.
            He was already growing his Alternate Publishing brand, and planning to
            sell Drummer off. From his first day to his last as publisher, he paid scant
            attention to what filled Drummer.
               In the creative vacuum caused by panic over HIV, Preston himself
            became HIV positive and conscious of his legacy. With his dour vampire
            looks, he pursued the Eternal Life of Column Inches. In order to service
            both Rice’s publisher, and Embry (who was Preston’s Mr. Benson publisher),
            he went wide to score more coverage. He lobbied to get her Exit to Eden
            excerpts in Drummer. He repeated his PR tactic when he again published
            Exit excerpts to give both mainstream and female gravitas to his anthology,
            Flesh and the Word (1992). The brand name “Anne Rice” sold books, but it
            never sold Drummer. No disrespect, but Anne Rice has rarely been deemed
            a proper leather author any more than E. L. James who wrote the erotic
            BDSM romance novel, Fifty Shades of Gray.
               Preston, driven to quickness by HIV, was noted for hitching his wagon
            to established stars whose collected reflected glory could make him seem
            like a literary powerhouse. He ingratiated himself with the sexual under-
            ground by packaging several anthologies, like Flesh and the Word, with eager
            and grateful genre authors he courted, including Drummer contributors Phil
            Andros, Larry Townsend, Aaron Travis, and Patrick Califia. They wrote
            the stories and he put his name on the cover. In late 1978, when Preston
            queried Embry seeking his own debut in Drummer, Embry tasked me to edit
            Preston’s draft of Mr. Benson for content, style, and serialization because it
            was a book-length manuscript whose chapters could be serialized monthly
            to keep subscribers coming back for more.
               Preston is a case in point. Drummer was a magazine open to publishing
            sadomasochistic novels written by storytellers from New York to Timbuktu.
            While Preston was happy editing other authors, I experienced in 1979 that
            he had a less than happy attitude that he was being edited at Drummer even
            though he had agreed to the edit. His friend, Lars Eighner, the author of
            Travels with Lizbeth, wrote: “Preston often told (wrote to) me that he needed
            a lot of editing. I thought he was being modest until I was given the task
            of editing the introduction [to Eighner’s book Lavender Blue], which was
            the first time I had ever seen his raw copy.” —Lars Eighner, “John Preston
            Goes in Search of an Author’s Lost Manuscript,”
            July 2, 2011

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