Page 260 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 260

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


               John asked me to go into business with him on Drummer, but I
               didn’t because I did not want to get involved in the pressures of
               writing and producing a dated publication that had to come out
               monthly or else, and I also did not want to be in business with John.


            MAIL-ORDER: OLD RELIABLE, BOB MIZER, AND
            PHYSIQUE PICTORIAL

            In my “Gay Sports” feature in Drummer 20 (January 1978), I first intro-
            duced the wrestling photography of my friend David Hurles, the gay mail-
            order pioneer whom I had met in May 1976 through Drummer photogra-
            pher Jim Stewart who had been my longtime friend since we both lived in
            Michigan in the 1960s. Jim Stewart roomed with David Sparrow and me
            at our 25  Street home when he moved to San Francisco in 1975. In our
                    th
            intimacy, I produced his photographs for Drummer 14 (April 1977) in my
            run-up to becoming editor. In that same issue, page 65, was a half-page
            display ad for Stewart’s Keyhole Studio. Two Hurles’ boxing photographs
            appeared on page 70 in Drummer 20. Another Hurles’ photograph, featur-
            ing our friend, the gay-sports trendsetter, John Handley, founder of the New
            York Wrestling Club, appeared on page 71.
               Working with fetish themes, I began my campaign to launch Hurles’
            important American erotic art into our Drummer Salon and into the leather-
            stream of gay popular culture. I introduced him very aggressively in my lead
            feature, “Prison Blues,” Drummer 21 (March 1978), as a gonzo character
            under his professional name, Old Reliable, who was fictitiously kidnaped
            and brutalized in Beirut. That porn-mogul character, already in progress in
            “Prison Blues,” prefigured the fictitious character of the pornographer, Solly
            Blue, loosely based on David Hurles, in Some Dance to Remember.
               In the same Drummer 21, I transcribed, re-wrote with a polished edit,
            and printed Hurles’ oral history interview, “Scott Smith: Heavy Rap with
            an Ex-Con” with his “Mug Shots” gallery. That edgy monolog and the
            fourteen Old Reliable photos were two “firsts” in gay publishing history: the
            authentic first-person voices and the photographs of straight ex-cons force-
            fully presented as dangerous, irresistible, and available sex partners printed
            to frighten readers into a masturbation frenzy.
               Before I determined to “discover” Old Reliable, who was as Weegee as
            he was Arbus, and before I set up his debut in Drummer, no gay magazine
            would touch his scary photos, and not even he had thought to turn his
            recorded Old Reliable audio tapes into writing. David Hurles had been
            laboring underground since the late 1960s with H. Lynn Womack at Guild


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