Page 232 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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214      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999


            bought Triumph gym, photographed musclemen, created magazines, was
            busted by the Post Office for mailing obscene material, and helped push
            toward the Supreme Court decision that frontal nudity could be sent via US
            mail. Without that 1967 ruling, subscription mailing of 1970s sex-identity
            publications could not have reached readers, and Drummer would never
            have become San Francisco’s longest-running gay magazine.
               Synergizing business with art, Renslow’s pre-Stonewall Chicago style,
            driven by his can-do “Renslow Family,” helped stimulate San Francisco’s
            1970s  immigrant boom. For instance,  Etienne,  Renslow’s  esthetician,
            painted the Gold Coast walls re-conceptualizing bars as galleries, beginning
            the Muralist Movement whose “Rushmore Four” included Tom of Finland,
            Drummer art director A. Jay, and SoMa’s Chuck Arnett whom Robert Opel
            and I dubbed Drummer’s “Lautrec in Leather.” In 1962, Etienne tutored
            Arnett who, speeding off to San Francisco, painted his avatar mural at
            the Tool Box. When Life magazine pictured that mural, five years before
            Stonewall, it invited gays nationwide to bring all regional lifestyles to melt
            in San Francisco’s pot.
               Within the extended Renslow Family, B.A.R. columnist Mister Marcus
            regularly alerted western readers to Renslow’s Midwestern entertainments
            from his annual White Party to Castro diva Sylvester singing on Renslow’s
            “K-Y Circuit” stages. As an IML judge for 28 years, Marcus flew to O’Hare
            with San Francisco entourages, often including Folsom’s divine IML emcee
            Queen Cougar. Always, folks returned to SFO energized in local activ-
            ism by the annual leather-family reunion that is IML. After winning “Mr.
            IML 1985,” San Francisco’s Patrick Toner, using that celebrity, established
            the AIDS fund-raiser, the Dore Alley Fair. In 1991, Renslow and Anthony
            DeBlase, the San Francisco publisher of  Drummer, and creator of the
            Leather Pride Flag, founded the IML Trust-funded Leather Archives &
            Museum with Joseph Bean, editor of San Francisco’s Bear magazine, as
            executive director.
               In 1978, creating SoMa’s first gallery, Oscar streaker Robert Opel chose
            veterans Etienne and A. Jay to launch Fey-Way Studio’s opening exhibit
            featuring emerging talent like Robert Mapplethorpe who told me, when
            assigning him his first magazine cover (Drummer 24), how his own 1970s
            photography was influenced by the 1950s beefcake of Renslow who was
            “genius at lighting his models.”
               Becoming Drummer editor, I purposely injected Renslow’s masculine,
            but not separatist, heartland values into the founding of that magazine that
            helped create the very San Francisco leather culture it reported on. Drummer
            9 featured the “Gold Coast 15th Anniversary,” and, imitating Renslow’s


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