Page 219 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 219

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 8                        201

                Among the living, everybody, including DeBlase and Barney and
             Townsend, was guffawing at the suggestion that Embry would pay for-
             ward anything to anyone when he was so notoriously forever in arrears
             paying nearly everyone. At least, Embry remembered the amount was for
             around nine issues at $400 monthly which would be the nearly $4000 I had
             requested eight years earlier. I would happily delete this paragraph upon
             seeing the canceled checks.
                Al Shapiro was not surprised that our pay was not forthcoming. In
             quiet protest, he had withheld his A. Jay cartoon strip Harry Chess from
             Drummer 29, page 24. He forced Embry—who had little graphic novel, or
             cartoon strip, backfill on file—to publish the full-page notice on page 24
             that “Harry Chess and His Fugg Pals Are on Vacation...But Will Be Back
             in the Next Issue [if negotiations go well].”
                 Embry had turned slow-pay into no-pay. He claimed Drummer was
             always totally broke.
                At that, I suggested he contact the Mafia.
                His face nearly exploded.
                I was not really kidding when I offered the advice: “Everyone knows
             the Mafia runs gay bars and gay publishing. The Mafia ran the Stonewall
             Inn. Mafia magazines make money. If you need the Mafia to keep Drummer
             going, here’s a dime. Call them.”
                Embry looked at me in shock.
                I wasn’t Pinocchio needing Geppetto to shout: “Save yourself!”
                I wasn’t a puppet.
                I was a real boy.


             The always calm, mild, and non-confrontational Al Shapiro quietly began
             packing up his art-director supplies, and he and I spent most of the next
             months exiting together, followed by a long list of talented friends. All dur-
             ing the sixty days of that autumn of 1979, Drummer seemed like the Eagles
             song, “Hotel California” where “you can check in but you can never leave.”
             Or you leave slowly, like “Harry Chess,” in bits and pieces the way Drummer
             itself had fled LA in a hundred carloads to move to San Francisco. Gay life
             was exactly like track after track of the album Hotel California: “New Kid in
             Town,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” and “Wasted Time.” It was the soundtrack
             of the Titanic 70s, and one of top-ten best-selling albums of the twenti-
             eth century. It played continuously in bars and baths and in our heads.

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