Page 237 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 9                        219


                There are many stories about Drummer, but there is one chapter in
             Drummer history that few know, and it connects Drummer to the infamous
             David Begelman embezzlement scandal at Columbia Pictures that was one
             of the biggest media stories of the late 1970s. What I write here I write
             allegedly.
                In San Francisco in 1977, Embry imported from his posse of LA cro-
             nies a certain “Dick Caudillo” whom he hired as a business manager with
             the title “Assistant to the Publisher.” At the Divisadero office meeting in
             which Embry introduced “my friend Dick Caudillo who formerly worked
             at Columbia,” the seven of us staffers sniffed because the smell in the room
             went “off.” Caudillo was famously one of Begelman’s accountants; and there
             was nothing funny or flattering about any gay connection to the financial
             crimes.
                In addition, hard on the heels of Embry’s LA attitude, Caudillo’s LA
             attitude, the moment he spoke, immediately bombed. I remember on that
             afternoon I purposely sat by the door, inside Embry’s office, on the arm
             of his red couch. Having been briefed beforehand by Embry whose choice
             shocked me, I did not want to go further into his office, and I did not want
             to sit down, and I gave off my own attitude as editor-in-chief. Piso mojado!
             A pissing contest had begun. All we staff of insouciant leathermen cast
             side-eye glances at each other, smirking at Caudillo, wondering like Mart
             Crowley in The Boys in the Band, “Who is she? Who was she? Who does
             she hope to be?” Al Shapiro afterwards said, “‘Dick Caudillo’ sounds like
             a porn name.”
                When I told Embry to dump Caudillo fast, he invoked an odd loyalty.
             He claimed he had met Caudillo for the first time—in jail—the night they
             were both arrested at the Drummer Slave Auction one year before. Embry,
             reminiscing at the turn of the 21 -century, wrote about the group of them
                                         st
             locked into the same cell.

                Included in my group was Fred Halsted, Terry LeGrand and a cou-
                ple of his filmmaker associates, along with a newcomer Richard
                Caudillo, who gave me his business card. It said that he was with
                Columbia Pictures and I thought it strange at the time that he was
                handing them out in jail. —Super MR #1, (2000), page 36

                Caudillo means leader in Spanish, but in the office Caudillo’s “leader-
             ship” was little more than the kind of nagging that square accountants do
             who do not understand how to work with staff hired to be creative. For the
             next two months the personally (to all of us) loathsome Caudillo was the fly


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