Page 296 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 296

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

               Davolt had promise, but he arrived with too little too late and fell in
            with some wrong people. Drummer to his mind had existed as a condensed
            erotic abstraction before he arrived in San Francisco at the scene of the
            business accident where Drummer, having been bled to death, was already
            a corpse.
               Like so many guys who grew up, or came out, after the Golden Age of
            the 1970s, he was nostalgic for the idyllic sex-past that was legendary. He
            wanted to make it his. But because it was not his by experience, he figured
            he’d make it his by inheritance. Trying to graft himself to our origin saga, he
            made himself believe anything old dogs told him. He wanted to fit into the
            romantic lust of Drummer so he could belong, like a time-traveling sex tour-
            ist, to that idyllic erotic history which he missed. Born too late in Washington
            state, he was a twenty-year-old sailor in the US Navy when Drummer was at
            its peak in 1978-1979. He did not move to San Francisco until 1996 when
            the dying Drummer had been in business for twenty-one years.
               In an interesting sociological phenomenon, I have been eyewitness to
            hundreds of such young men grieving, bittersweet, that they missed the
            party of the first golden decade after Stonewall. My valentine to them is, of
            course, my novel of Castro and Folsom, Some Dance to Remember, which
            may be why my shoulder has become one for some to cry on in letters and
            emails and on telephones. After all, as a gonzo journalist, I press people
            to tell me their stories. As a father confessor, I was trained professionally
            by the Vatican to hear confessions. People know the Drummer name, but
            they don’t know the Drummer story. They think they know what Drummer
            published in 214 issues, but they have no clue what the people who created
            it went through.
               In the Dark Age of the AIDS 1990s, Davolt complimented my salad
            days as editor-in-chief when he confessed in his “Outline” to his Rise and Fall
            that he needed to perform a resurrection: “I would have to take Drummer
            back to what it was in the 1970s for it to survive.” That was music to my
            ears, because he meant my version of Drummer. He made me think of the
            William Wordsworth poem that gay playwright, William Inge, had re-pop-
            ularized with his novel and film, Splendor in the Grass, in 1961: “Though
            nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the
            flower, we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.”
               Davolt also committed the fatal flaw of naive young bohemians: he
            expected to earn his living off art, particularly gay art. He wrote in his
            “Outline” that he asked Drummer for a company van after complaining
            about his paying for taxis to travel to contests and fund raisers, and that he
            was embittered that after paying some Drummer bills he had “less than $20

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