Page 221 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 8                        203

                installments, along with the more current ones that Drummer has
                published, will, with any luck, be put together into a book of the
                Complete Harry Chess...

                On March 28, 1980, I wrote a letter to my LA friend Bob Johnson
             to whom I provided short erotic fiction. He had created a lucrative career
             packaging porno magazines for George Mavety at Modernismo Publishing
             in New Jersey:

                Dear Bob, Dirt Time: John Embry, according to Al Shapiro (author/
                creator of Harry Chess) is threatening to sue Le Salon for bringing
                out Al’s complete Harry. Al has a letter from Queen’s Quarterly [the
                original publisher of the first installments of Harry] stating that
                he [Shapiro] remains the owner of the strip, and can produce his
                own version whenever. Meantime, it seems Embry has bought tear-
                sheets out of old QQs and is now running them in Drummer as if
                they are new work, even though the quality of repro is down several
                notches because of the genesis of the artwork. I recall your tell-
                ing me how you smelled rats-around-the Embry-o when the Big D
                [Drummer] was still aborning in LA. You remember, of course, how
                Embry stiffed me. Ah, life. I’m glad our interconnections remain
                clear in this world of seeming cutthroats.

                At the end of Al’s life, just before AIDS blinded him, he penned for me
             his last drawing which I cherish to this day, as told in my “Obituary for Al
             Shapiro,” Drummer 107 (August 1987).
                Drummer 31 was the last Drummer issue published at 1730 Divisadero
             Street. As Al and I were finally ankling the joint, Embry announced that
             he was moving the office from the rented Divisadero Victorian to his newly
             purchased building South of Market at 15 Harriet Street whose garage,
             stuffed with back issues, already housed the boy-lesque Stars Magazine and
             its publisher Glenn Turner who was funded by Reuben Sturman, the “Father
             of the Adult Industry”—if not the godfather. Were the new digs conjured
             by an act of gay magic? Had the money come from Mafia investors? Would
             the move to South of Market cancel financial problems the way his moving
             from LA had kept Drummer one step ahead of the cops, the censors, the
             printers, and the talent asking for pay?
                We had gifted Embry with a new concept of Drummer that would endure
             as the magazine’s archetype of identity throughout the rest of the century.
             We had a hit on our hands. What was the matter with him? As Gertrude

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