Page 322 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 322

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


               Fatefully, before it had a politically correct forced sex-change, Drummer
            was dead on its feet, if not buried.
               Like any corporate publisher responding to the special-interest markets
            of emerging genders, Davolt said what he needed to say to keep up the
            subscriptions, and fluff the good will of the leather community which, like
            the pool of Drummer talent and readers, had been shrinking with the AIDS
            deaths of men, and growing with the gender diversities of feminist subscrib-
            ers. Who can blame him for pushing his own agenda? Time was never on
            his side. Not only did skin cancer cut his talented life short, he was late for
            the 1970s party he idolized when he finally arrived in San Francisco in 1996
            when the twenty-one-year-old Drummer had only three more years to live.
               During all that terminal turmoil around Drummer, he was a good guy,
            with his own good intentions, who crafted his legacy by writing his own
            obituary as was often the custom during AIDS. (Reported by Joe Gallagher,
            leatherpage.com, retrieved http://truetales.org/writings/peterson0506da-
            volttributes.htm)
               Contextually, in 1972, when Davolt was fourteen, three years before
            the founding of Drummer, Charles Aznavour captured the “gender despair”
            of queer lives before gay liberation with his existential chanson, “Comme
            ils disent” (“What Makes a Man a Man”), a narrative short-story sung by
            an Old School drag queen who has seen every fit of gender, and goes home
            alone singing the lyric, “I change my sex [gender] before their eyes.”
               Aznavour might well have written that movie-like song for his longtime
            friend, Liza Minnelli, who that year won the Academy Award for Cabaret,
            and went on to sing “Comme ils disent” to adoring fans at the Palais Des
            Congrés in Paris during the academic rise of queer theory around gender
            in 1992.
               In 1975, as the first issue of Drummer hit the stands, that 1970s fascina-
            tion with the new “out” masculinity was one of the many identity themes
            that made writers James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante’s A Chorus Line the
            gay Broadway hit of the decade:

               Paul: I always knew I was gay, but that didn’t bother me. What
               bothered me was that I didn’t know how to be a boy. See...what I
               was... trying to find out who I was and how to be a man. You know,
               there are a lot of people in this world who don’t know how to be men.


               Who knew that issues of gender and homomasculinity were stirred into
            Broadway musical comedy? Or into a leather magazine that was more than
            pornographic?


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