Page 270 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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252      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

            to history, no model identification documents or signed releases, and no
            mail-order business.
               Drummer was a brand name, yes, and had momentum, yes, and an
            ardent fan following, yes; but Drummer was made by all three publishers
            into a suicidal succubus draining cash, time, and talent because it was always
            run not as a proper business but as a gay business. It was Mickey and Judy
            putting on an unsustainable show in the barn. The first publisher, Embry,
            hitched his chapbook Drummer to the H.E.L.P Newsletter to access its sub-
            scriber list in order to sell personal ads, sex toys, and poppers mail-order. My
            friend from the 1960s, the Chicago psychiatrist Andrew Charles, who had
            deep pockets and a loaded checkbook, became the second publisher when
            he established Desmodus, Inc., and bought Drummer as a trophy-toy for his
            lover Anthony DeBlase, who, moving to San Francisco, and throwing his
            jolly weight around at Drummer, became an instant leather celebrity and
            corporal instructor of eager young leather bottoms worshiping “everything
            Drummer.” The eyewitness evidence of this dynamic is in DeBlase’s four-
            feature USSM video series starring himself as the epicene “Fledermaus,” the
            San Francisco whipmeister to hot and handsome young men—models from
            Mikal Bales’ Zeus Studio in Los Angeles—who would have been out of his
            league were he not the publisher of Drummer.
               Embry and DeBlase, with paradigms of Hugh Hefner dancing in both
            their heads, figured Drummer was a gay Playboy with the Playboy lifestyle.
            DeBlase and Charles stuffed their new mansion, south of San Francisco, with
            designer furniture, and staffed it with a revolving crew of leatherboy butlers
            and servants waiting on visiting LA leather-porn moguls such as Bales, and
            BDSM models such as Scott Answer who, like an Edwardian aristocrat
            changing into proper attire for morning, afternoon, and evening, slipped
            unironically every hour or so into new West Hollywood fashions made of
            leather, then rubber, then latex, pushing his didactic LA fetish exhibition
            at rival San Franciscans, happy with basic black leather. Embry struggled
            vaingloriously to open his “exclusive Drummer Key Club” on Folsom Street
            where it flopped. Embry also exploited the start-up of the Mr. Drummer
            Contest to turn the contestants into free models for centerfolds like Playboy
            Bunnies. In the annals and anals of gay liberation, sexual objectification
            has an enthusiastic and valuable tradition, but only as long as the contestant
            models are complicit in their pop-culture roles, and thus empower them-
            selves through performances which can enhance their self-esteem, perhaps
            damaged in their youth by nationalized American homophobia.
               However, the Hefner business model was more than about content or
            contests. Drummer needed to follow Hefner’s paradigm for Playboy, or Larry

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