Page 373 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 14                       355


             in Drummer. His constant reprinting of Drummer contents angered the
             creators and contributors, and pissed off the subscribers who did not like
             buying the same thing twice. Jeanne Barney recalled that in Los Angeles
             Embry was tagged as “Robert Ripoff, the Prince of Reprints.”


             DECONSTRUCTING JOHN ROWBERRY,
             REFUGEE FROM LA: 1978-1979

             Regarding John W. Rowberry during March 1977 and December 31, 1979,
             I must report that he did not work for Drummer when I was editor. When
             I first heard his name, he was working as the night porter at a motel in
             West Hollywood until, in one of his fits of mood, he suddenly chased after
             Embry, moving to San Francisco, where he talked Embry into hiring him
             to edit The Alternate. Rowberry was second choice, after my friend David
             Hurles first took the job of editing that magazine which Embry always really
             wanted instead of Drummer. The Alternate was supposed to be the rival of
             the political Advocate, and was supposed to make Embry as relevant as his
             competitor, Advocate publisher David Goodstein.
                To Embry, Drummer was a bastard child sired out of Larry Townsend’s
             H.E.L.P. Newsletter. The wild child Drummer found success not in politics
             but in erotica which, Embry judged, did not lead to the gay mainstream
             respectability that reassured big corporate advertising agencies fearful that
             their product placement might land next to ads for dildos or poppers. Hurles
             who was a genius photographer and entrepreneur could not, on top of his
             own agoraphobia, handle Embry’s volatile business style. He retreated to his
             SOMA studio apartment at the exact moment that Rowberry roared into
             San Francisco seeking employment from Embry.
                Bonded by their magazine work and roots in LA, Embry and Rowberry
             convinced each other that in tandem exile they might make The Alternate
             happen in San Francisco—the way Al Shapiro and I had made Drummer
             happen in San Francisco. Having published the first six issues of Drummer
             in LA, Embry had changed the business name from “Drummer Publishing”
             to “Alternate Publishing” in Drummer 7 (July 1976). It was not a good
             counterintuitive move to subordinate the brilliant brand name of Drummer
             to a backup magazine titled purposely to equate it to, or confuse it with,
             The Advocate.
                When Rowberry waltzed into our Drummer office, he tried casting the
             spell of his LA attitude that, like his padrone Embry’s, didn’t play in San
             Francisco. Both Embry and Rowberry were, at heart, petulant LA queens,
             and neither ever was one of the boys among the leather players. Embry


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