Page 35 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 35

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 1                         17

             Drummer, listing himself (and not his alter-ego “Robert Payne”) as man-
             aging editor, and Dagmar King (Drummer’s first female employee) as art
             director, with fiction by Larry Townsend.
                Always controversial and frequently exposed in the press because of
             his trickster business practices, Embry, the publisher who had two faces,
             quickly became a Los Angeles character whose twenty-five-cent bi-weekly
             magazine, in the end, ran away from him to San Francisco where it achieved
             an international cultural reach beyond his LA vision.
                Drummer was a noble undertaking, but with the rebellious hubris of a
             bottom taunting a top, founding Drummer publisher Embry provoked the
             Los Angeles Police Department so relentlessly in the first pages of the first
             issue of his bi-weekly zine Drummer (December 1, 1971, page 31) and in
             the first issue of monthly Drummer (June 20, 1975) that he nearly destroyed
             the magazine when he caused the LAPD to arrest him and forty-one other
             leatherfolk at the infamous Drummer Slave Auction in 1976.
                For years, the relentless Police Chief Ed Davis was Embry’s Inspector
             Javert, but Embry, who taunted Davis personally in print, was no innocent
             Jean Valjean. He stuffed Drummer with shady topics that drove Davis crazy.
             Former Drummer editor Joseph W. Bean observed in Drummer 188, page
             17: “The first four issues of monthly Drummer featured slavery, SM, incest,
             phone sex, piss play, fist fucking, art, movies, plays, porn, and, to see what
             buttons really could be pushed, a piece on necrophilia as a fetish.” He could
             have added the bestiality themes and underage sex ads and Nazi display
             ads that Embry fancied made him and his petulant Drummer politically
             relevant in that first decade of gay liberation after Stonewall.
                In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declared that homosexu-
             ality was not a mental illness. In 1975, the future mayor of San Francisco,
             Willie Brown, personally moved civilization forward with the passage of the
             “California Consenting Adults Law.” During the founding of Drummer,
             gay sex was changing into something psychologically defensible and legal.
             Thus thwarted, LAPD Police Chief Ed Davis had to scramble to invent new
             constitutional grounds for arresting queers. Davis decided the best way to
             destroy Drummer was to use its contents against itself—in the same way I
             use Drummer contents to find its identity and prove its history. His approach
             was biblical: “Out of their own mouths they shall be condemned.” Davis,
             convinced that Drummer was subversive, studied the writing in Drummer
             so he could destroy Drummer and the “sick” leather culture that threatened
             Davis more than did effete drag culture.
                It was easy for a fundamentalist like Davis to deconstruct the text of
             Drummer which had those references to underage sex, as well as an emerging

               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40