Page 408 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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390      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

            4 that alerted the LAPD that gay men in leather were up to something new
            and wicked. However, in all of Drummer, I found only one passing reference
            to Goldstein’s “S&M: The Dark Side of Gay Liberation” in a “Letter to the
            Editor,” titled “Hanky Panky,” Drummer 10, page 4, proving Embry knew
            about the article and thought it a joke.

               An article on S&M in New York’s Village Voice the summer of 1975
               started the current fad [pennies tied into color-coded hankies so
               they’d swing fetchingly from your butt at the disco], and they’re
               still laughing about it back in the [Village Voice] press room.

               In a slight historical correction, the writer of the letter was wrong: the
            hanky code, with and without pennies, existed for many years coast to coast
            before Goldstein mentioned it. Proof lies in Drummer 1, published before
            the Goldstein piece, in which editor-in-chief, Jeanne Barney, discussed what
            I called, deep back in the 1960s when the fad began, the “semaphore of han-
            kies.” The point is that Goldstein’s vanilla rant required instant refutation
            by leatherfolk as much as did the rants of the faith-based Fascists rising on
            the religious right.
               Embry may have missed out fingering Goldstein, but he was on the
            money tagging 1) the LAPD; 2) the anti-leather, and politically correct
            tabloid, The Advocate; 3) the rising Orange-Juice queen, Anita Bryant,
            who  taught  the  Religious  Right  its  anti-gay  tactics  continuing  into  the
            21  century; and 4) the grotesque Southern California congressman, John
            Briggs, who powered up United States Senator Jesse Helms. In 1989, homo-
            phobe Helms, funded by his own tobacco state’s taxes and Political Action
            Committees, condemned the premier photographer of leather culture,
            Robert Mapplethorpe, and dismantled funding of the National Endowment
            for the Arts in the early 1990s.
               However, Embry’s purpose for Drummer soon revealed itself as business
            not politics. After he was burned by the lesson taught him by the LAPD
            Slave Auction bust, he retreated to his “basic default identity” as a mail-order
            sex-toy salesman named “Robert Payne.” For all his process-analysis fiction
            about S&M written by Payne aka Embry, he seemed not to comprehend the
            message of the decade’s most popular straight book among leathermen, Zen
            and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974), except insofar as he knew the
            price of the poppers he sold, but not the value of the pages he sold. He never
            understood the Zen and the Art of Drummer Maintenance.
               Embry had not conceived of Drummer as a cultural or literary or political
            force. He founded the magazine with its sex stories and photos as attractive

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