Page 216 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 216

198      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

            never understood his corporate trespass was betraying the authenticity of
            Drummer for readers who were true leather loyalists.
               The very word Drummer was an endorsement. In 1996, one May mid-
            night in Paris, Mark Hemry and I, searching addresses for #14 along Rue
            Keller near the Bastille, rang the bell at Keller’s bar, and stood waiting in
            the cold dark. The brusque doorman was a hard-case inquisitor turning
            away voyeurs on the doorstep. Enforcing Keller’s strict fetish dress code, he
            judged who drank at the bar and who played in the dark back room. Did
            our big boots and black Levi’s cancel our being American? Between his
            bouncer English and our menu French, before gestures turned to silly pan-
            tomime, I said the magic words: “Je suis l’éditeur de Drummer.” Drummer
            was a powerful international code word. We were immediately swept into
            the leather heart of the Paris underworld that was Keller’s, with its front bar
            and its infamous back room.

            BECAME “TALKIES” IN THE 1980S

            Between 1979 and 1982, the cost of producing gay popular culture on screen
            dropped one million percent. The silent films—the gay art-porn films of
            the 1970s—identified by the personal esthetics of their directors such as
            LeGrand-Earl’s Born to Raise Hell, Fred Halsted’s Sextool, Wakefield Poole’s
            Boys in the Sand, and Peter Berlin’s That Boy, disappeared into the “talking
            pictures” of assembly-line porn videos of the 1980s that turned authentic
            homosex into a corporate commodity. It was the difference between leather
            and Naugahyde. It was a revolution. There is a difference between the pre-
            cise economy of shooting leathermen on film with an involved director’s
            acute personal point of view and the wanton shooting of hours of corporate
            footage of actors hired to play leathermen.
               Film costs a fortune with each frame shot. Video costs pennies. New
            Orleans photographer George Dureau, Mapplethorpe’s mentor, told me that
            “The camera is a mindless lunatic.” The photographer must control the
            instrument. After the disciplined underground gay films of the Swinging
            Sixties and the Titanic 1970s, lunatic video rose as just one more piece of the
            1980s iceberg. When Embry hopped on the wagon as a video producer, he
            further distressed the schedule and budget needed to sustain the magazine
            itself. In-house video-making at Drummer was an ill-fated undertaking, too
            often featuring miscast twinky blond modelles like the human Easter Peep,
            self-sucker Scott O’Hara. Embry had little talent as producer or director,
            and did not long sustain his efforts at making his own Drummer videos

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