Page 365 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 13                       347


             charred ruins of the Barracks, which I described in Some Dance to Remember,
             were erotically interpreted in a photograph by Mark I. Chester in Drummer
             137, February 1990, page 17. Hit with hard luck, Chester, burned out of his
             apartment next to the Barracks, was burned out a second time on February
             2, 1991; the fund-raiser for him was reported in Drummer 147, March 1991,
             page 61.) When artist Chester published his handsome photo book, Diary
             of a Thought Criminal, he sweetly inscribed on the title page, “For Jack,
             Who knows me longer than almost anyone else in San Francisco, Mark I.
             Chester, 9/20/96.”
                Two days after the Barracks fire, leather pioneer, Tony Tavarossi, died of
             unknown causes in the ICU of San Francisco General Hospital. He was my
             longtime friend. I kissed him goodbye. “What’s the matter with him?” I had
             asked the ICU doctor two days before. “We don’t know,” she said, “We’ve
             never seen a patient so distressed.” (See details of the Folsom Fire and the
             burning of the Barracks and the death of Tony Tavarossi in Some Dance to
             Remember, Reel 4, Scene 3 and Scene 4.)


                December 13, 1979 (Thursday): For the second of three times, I waived
             my option to become a San Francisco deputy sheriff. I also telephoned Don
             Embinder, the Florida publisher of Blueboy, to discuss his bid for my services.
             Embinder and Blueboy were mutual enemies with Embry and Drummer. I
             figured I might as well sleep with the enemy as long as he had a magazine
             and a checkbook. But Florida? At that time the raging home of Anita Bryant?

                August-December 1979: The end of 1979 was a perfect storm in purga-
             tory. During my last five months with Embry, as if coping with a family
             feuding and divorcing, Al Shapiro and I managed to create the contents and
             design layouts of Drummer 30-33.
                After the July murder of our Drummer contributor and friend, Robert
             Opel, hysteria and high anxiety began to destroy the salon around Drummer.
             With Embry’s slow and fractious “fits and starts” of re-entry, things fell
             apart. Born recalcitrant, the LA publisher could not get up to speed with
             the pace of the new consciousness we had created in the new San Francisco
             iteration of Drummer. He’d come into the office by night, and, playing a
             leather Penelope, he’d undo the editorial work we had done by day. Like
             children caught in a divorce, junior staff fled his unpredictable autocracy,
             and resigned, mostly unpaid, because, as editor, I had no control over
             Embry’s purse strings.
                Besides the specific grief Embry caused, there was a kind of generic and
             existential “gay grief” that impeded working conditions and deadlines. If


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