Page 301 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 301

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 11                       283

             Mirror.” It was his intent to incubate and grow leather history in Drummer. In
             that pre-Google decade, using the reach, resources, and friends of Drummer
             was the in-house way he and I started to gather up, rough out, and construct
             the foundation of his late-1980s concept of that “Leather Timeline” for his
             passion project, the Leather Archives & Museum, which he would co-found
             with Chuck Renslow in 1991 in DeBlase’s native Chicago.
                The founding of the LA&M, like the founding of Drummer, took sev-
             eral people and several years to create itself, finally completing its six-year
             origin story with the appointment of Drummer editor Joseph W. Bean as
             executive director in 1997. Bean, in his words, said he arrived to “legitimize”
             and “professionalize” the infant LA&M. I had the same two goals when
             Embry hired me to edit the infant Drummer when it was eighteen months
             old. From the first, I positioned Drummer to be a first draft of leather his-
             tory. On the masthead of Drummer 23 (July 1978), I lead with my tag line
             of intent, subtitling Drummer as the “American Review of Gay Popular
                Writing journalism before the internet, I put my leather-research boots
             on the ground to support DeBlase by gathering first-hand eyewitness his-
             torical information. In 1988, accompanied by the leather poet Ron Johnson,
             I shot hours of videotaped interviews of iconic San Francisco leather pio-
             neers such as
                •  California Motor Club (CMC) founder (1960), Linn Kiefer;
                •  Ambush bar founder (1970), Kerry Bowman;
                •  African-American Folsom Street leatherman, Al Smith; and
                •  Jaguar Bookstore founder (1971), Ron Ernst, who originated
                    the first printed Hanky Code (1972) with Alan Selby (Mr. S.)
                    for their 18  and Castro store, Leather and Things.
                Given the technology of the 1980s, the “Leather Timeline” lifted off to a
             good start, but has, since the introduction of fact-checking on the internet in
             1995, proved that, even with the best contributors, every timeline will always
             be a work in progress, open to corrections and additions as more leatherfolk
             and researchers participate and bring in new eyewitness line items.


             Looking at the internal evidence of leather history inside Drummer 17 (July
             1977), I know that DeBlase as his pseudonym “Fledermaus” had sent a
             “Letter to the Editor” (Embry) asking to be published as a fiction writer
             (page 7). This was nine years before DeBlase bought Drummer from Embry.

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