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


            negatives and transparencies and their copyright. David, knowing the risks
            of living with an author, signed a contract that freed me to write about him
            in fiction and nonfiction. And I thanked him for assigning me his share of
            our copyright by forgiving the sizeable financial debt to me he had run up
            during the previous ten years.


               March 19, 1979 (Monday): As editor-in-chief of Drummer, and stand-
            ing in for publisher Embry in hospital, I met with author John Preston
            for three hours at the second-floor restaurant bar called “Caracole” on the
            northwest corner of Market Street and Noe Street across from Café Flore.
            Calling himself “Jack Preston,” Preston looked at my edited pages of the first
            chapters of his raw manuscript for his novel Mr. Benson which Embry had
            bought unfinished because he loved serializing stories to fill future hungry
            issues. He also had a lech for getting into Preston’s pants.
               Preston was a good enough writer that he didn’t have to flirt or put out.
            He did, however, require heavy editing. During my Drummer time with
            him, when he was young and sorely stressed out with anxiety having just
            been fired as editor by The Advocate, he was a bit touchy about anyone, not
            just me, editing his draft manuscripts, even though the publisher had made
            it a condition for publication. (I was six years older than Preston, and when
            we met, I had already logged twenty years of magazine editing experience.)
            Later in his career, as he burned transparent with HIV, he owned up to his
            friend and sometime editor, Lars Eighner, the author of Travels with Lizbeth,
            that he knew he had always required a great deal of editing.
               During the previous months as Embry’s health deteriorated, Embry
            was desperate to secure for Drummer serialized material that was easy to
            produce. With his haunted vampyr eyes, Preston behaved as if he might have
            been on some kind of drug, or was it his masochistic attitude that made him
            an eerie and scary young man. “So you’re the star of Drummer,” he snapped.
            I joked back: “Yeah, I guess I’ve become identified as the Drummer ‘Jack.’
            How about you using your real name, John.” He, with competition from
            Rowberry, had little or no chance of Embry ever hiring him as editor of
            Drummer, but he had envious Iago’s sharp elbows. Still creating his porn
            identity, he was billing himself in Drummer bylines as both “Jack Preston”
            and “Jack Prescott.” At Embry’s order, I had edited every chapter of Mr.
            Benson, whether Preston gave attitude or not, so that it could be published.
            Editors don’t fear writers as much as writers fear editors. It was the first and
            last time I ever met with the young Preston which was more than Drummer
            staff usually met with most authors who most often mailed in their writing
            from distant zip codes.


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