Page 209 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 209

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 7                        191


             issue every six weeks. Each deadline was a triumph against all odds.
             For instance, during my eyewitness tenure as editor-in-chief and as a
             longtime contributor, I noticed that the huge subtext of gay gender poli-
             tics—given grass-roots voice in the subscribers’ Sex Personals ads—both
             informed and deformed Drummer. Embry, ignoring the GPS directions
             of his demographic audience, never bothered to develop cues from the
             juicy Personals ads into reader-reflexive editorial stories and articles that
             entertained and informed their concerns.
                Embry sadly ignored even applying his own experience. He had the
             fundamentalist fortitude of a cancer survivor who bravely never complained
             publicly about what he suffered privately, but his near-death experience
             hardly educated him to rise up and publish anything on gay spirituality,
             psychology, or health, even when HIV appeared on his watch. Drummer
             never mentioned social diseases until, in the late 1970s, I noticed a rise in
             illness among leathermen, and persuaded him to publish my column on gay
             health, “Dr. Dick: Drummer Goes to the Doctor,” beginning in Drummer
             21 (March 1978).
                He wanted Drummer to live in denial of death. He wanted eros not
             thanatos.
                He slowed down the evolution of gay culture and the evolution of the
             magazine. He failed to read his readers. Instead of embracing their ideas and
             concerns, he kept leathermen at a distance with the kind of LA camp that
             had created his Cycle Sluts cover.
                Nevertheless, we staff were all pleased when Embry returned to the
             office with a grin on his always reddish face. He had a second lease on life.
             He had beaten death. He came smiling through, but, as he stood akimbo in
             the doorway, waiting for applause, blocking our progress, I thought: “Uh-
             oh, he’s back, with a head full of those campy 1950s dialog balloons that he
             can’t resist pasting down on sex photos, and that I have to pull off the flats
             before they go to the printer.”


















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