Page 36 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 36

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


            gay vocabulary where the words boy and slave were evolving to new meanings
            beyond the linguistic ability of the LAPD. To destroy the upstart Drummer,
            Davis decided to arrest publisher Embry for committing the crime of, not
            sodomy, but slavery. At the “Great Slave Auction” on Saturday night, April
            10, 1976, at the Mark IV Health Club, Davis and his stormtroopers rounded
            up 125 leatherfolk and arrested forty-one men, and one woman, Drummer
            editor-in-chief, Jeanne Barney.
               The infant Drummer was only five issues and ten months old.
               Ten years later, John Embry, still shaken but not stirred to greatness
            by adversity, sold Drummer in 1986 to Anthony F. DeBlase who sold it in
            September 1992 to the Dutch publisher, Martijn Bakker, who Amsterdamned
            the American classic.
               In fact, Drummer had been in such deep trouble with the law when
            Embry asked me to become the editor-in-chief in March 1977, I must
            have been out of my mind to ink our deal. The entire time I was editor of
            Drummer, Embry was on probation, continuously in court, and sentenced
            to community service.
               Drummer had a dangerous history.
               If I play “pinball” with Drummer, shooting the silver ball past the kick-
            up holes through the chase lights, using the flippers, risking TILT, all to
            make the score add up on the back glass, well, it lights up with something
            like the following facts and opinions.
               If there is a point here, it is first to establish the history of Drummer
            itself, as well as the vast archive of leather history incidentally hidden in its
            pages.
               Second, it is to answer the call to “Save Leather Culture” sounded at the
            height of the AIDS epidemic by Anthony DeBlase who with Chuck Renslow
            founded the Leather Archives & Museum of Chicago. Embry himself wrote
            in Alternate Reader (1995): “These days it is up to the survivors to pick up
            the mantle and fill in some of our terrible voids.”
               Third, it is also up to the critical thinking of discerning readers as well
            as of literary historians, culture critics, and queer theorists to examine the
            role of Drummer, its owners, and its contributors, as well as its evolving
            content that helped create and shape leather culture itself. Readers who had
            never considered smoking a cigar as a fetish changed their minds in May
            1978 upon discovering the feature-article instructions of “Cigar Blues” in
            Drummer 22 which ignited the cigar fetish in bars beginning that summer.
               During the magazine’s twenty-four years and through all three owner-
            publishers, I was the fated eyewitness participant who was in sum the most
            frequent contributor of editing, writing, photography, and display advertising


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