Page 38 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 38

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

               During issues 6 to 11, legal, creative, and personal tensions ran high. The
            first Mr. Drummer was the Hispanic Vallot Martinelli, a native Argentinian,
            chosen, not in a contest, but in a business decision made in the Drummer
            office by John Embry, Al Shapiro, and me. “Val Martin” recalled his own
            Embry-caused stress in his interview with Drummer artist, Olaf Odegaard,
            in “Serving Two Masters, Or: The Great Slave Auction Bust,” Connection
            (October 10-24, 1984): “From 1976 until 1979, we [Embry et al.] used to
            go to court almost every other week, every three weeks, every month [while
            Fritscher was editor]. On Christmas we had to go to court.”
               In Drummer 6, Embry wrote his own eyewitness version of the LAPD
            raid in a three-page essay with photographs, “Drummer Goes to a Slave
            Auction.” Embry’s first paragraph is an exercise in self-defense claiming—
            and this was always the controversial point—that his Slave Auction was a
            “private fund-raiser for charity.” Always scheming, Embry was trying to out-
            trick the LAPD charge that he had planned the Slave Auction for “commer-
            cial reasons” to fund his own private “Leather Fraternity” club in Drummer,
            and that it was not “private,” but open to the paying public. Noting that the
            aggressive LAPD bust that night was traumatic, Embry more importantly
            revealed the terrorizing ten months of LAPD harassment that the staff of
            Drummer suffered during the first year of publication. In Drummer 7 and
            Drummer 8, Embry continued his angry narrative in his publisher’s column
            “In Passing.” In Drummer 8, editor Jeanne Barney devoted her “Getting
            Off” column to the back story of the raid that so obsessed Embry she called
            it “a burning issue” in Drummer 6.
               In San Francisco, I inherited this “burning” climate which was not
            sexy “hot” and asked Embry either to turn his emotions into an S&M porn
            story or give it a rest. His major complaint in a minor key was a turnoff.
            He rather much caused his legal troubles himself. National readers seeking
            erotica hardly cared about an old Los Angeles bathhouse raid that was not
            the Stonewall Rebellion Embry wanted to galvanize it into. From March
            1977 through December 31, 1979, the entire time I was editor-in-chief,
            Embry was more than less absent because he had to drive his van round-
            trip from San Francisco to LA for his many court appearances with the
            legendary defense attorney Al Gordon, and he usually returned ranting,
            angry, and exhausted. Nerve-wracking legal problems, I think, contributed
            psychosomatically to his colon cancer in 1978. During the four months of
            his treatment, he was again absent from the Drummer office, leaving the
            production and creation of Drummer to art director Al Shapiro and me who
            created a new Drummer by coloring outside Embry’s lines.
               Embry was peeved that Al Gordon, and not Embry himself, became a

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