Page 374 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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356      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

            thought San Francisco was little more than Los Angeles’ ugly stepsister. The
            leather staff of Drummer, ourselves all newish immigrants to San Francisco,
            with some attitude of our own, kissed the entitled Rowberry off as the
            “office boy,” as a “page boy” to the self-consciously “royal” Embry who,
            dreaming for himself the memes of the divine right of queens, bragged about
            “all the years of my [his] reign” [italics added] at Drummer in his Manifest
            Reader 30 (1996), page 82.
               Back in LA in 1976, Rowberry’s first writing for Embry was his snuff
            poem, “White Death,” in Drummer 5. In a truism of publishing, most free-
            lance poetry in magazines is “filler” designed in to finish a page of other
            material. In its first LA issues when Drummer was new, and its filing cabi-
            nets were empty, and no one was sure that “leather” would in fact be the core
            Drummer identity, Embry was so desperate to fill empty pages that he pub-
            lished writing, new to him, that was sometimes as off-topic as the drag cover
            of Drummer 9. Or, worse, he would plagiarize entire feature articles from
            straight men’s magazines such as Argosy. With Rowberry’s poem, Embry
            flouted the laws against snuff pornography existing in the homophobic city
            of the LAPD where the groundbreaking S&M film Born to Raise Hell (1974)
            could not even be screened. Embry, of course, further endangered the very
            LA existence of Drummer when he featured that forbidden sex film on the
            cover of the infant Drummer 3.
               Breaking the straight community’s taboo  against  “snuff sex”  por-
            nography presaged the offensiveness the LAPD found in the feature arti-
            cle, “The Great S/M Murder Mystery,” which Rowberry—with former
            Advocate  employee, Rue Dyllon aka Larry Reh—had co-authored as a
            freelancer for Dateline, a magazine that Embry considered his rival. When
            Dateline imploded after one issue, Embry crowed victory, and with quick
            Schadenfreude serialized the Rowberry-Dyllon piece, edited heavily by edi-
            tor-in-chief Jeanne Barney, in Drummer 9 through Drummer 11. In publish-
            ing Rowberry-Dyllon, Embry, who had hated Dateline, took up dancing
            on his competitor’s grave with harsh words in Drummer 9, page 72, and
            Drummer 10, page 76. Barney was fierce in reminding me how much editing
            Rowberry’s writing always required.
               Years later, Embry also spit on the fresh grave of my successful Man2Man
            Quarterly which publisher, Mark Hemry, and I had shuttered because as our
            subscriptions increased, the personal sex ads grew increasingly unsafe and
            dirty in the psychological denial of the first years of AIDS (1981-1982). As
            an eyewitness, journalist John Calendo wrote a gloriously perfervid review
            of Man2Man in In Touch for Men, Number 58, August 1981, quoted below
            as a finale to this chapter. For the same health concerns, my longtime friend

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