Page 410 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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392      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

               Who provokes cops? Embry was not Thoreau using passive resistance
            against taxes. He caused his own trouble baiting the LAPD by advertising
            a “Slave Auction” to Ed Davis who was of an age alarmed by the perils of
            the words “white slavery.” In the early twentieth century, the urban leg-
            end of “white slavery” was a pop-culture term of sexual, and often racial,
            panic regarding young white women forced into prostitution by nonwhite
            men, usually Asians xenophobically color-coordinated as the “yellow peril.”
            (See the camp film, Thoroughly Modern Millie, 1967.) At that time, genuine
            awareness of international sex trafficking was forty years in the future. In
            addition, Embry turned his private charity function—limited at first to his
            “Leather Fraternity” members—into an event open to any of the paying
            public seeking cheap thrills. Without irony, the LAPD charged Embry with
            breaking a post-Civil War law forbidding slavery.
               Embry made himself the Marie Antoinette of gay publishing.
               And the gendarmes knew exactly what to do.


            In the following scenario I was an eyewitness because I was the one being
            recruited to start the first Mr. Drummer Contest. In 1979, Dom Orejudos
            and Chuck Renslow in Chicago invented their International Mr. Leather
            Contest out of their previous experiences producing sanctioned AAU phy-
            sique contests out of their Triumph Gym where they showcased straight
            bodybuilders for discreet gay audiences. On a sunny afternoon in 1964, I
            attended one of their contests on the quiet basketball floor of the Lawson
            YMCA where a half-dozen straight musclemen—likely graduates from Kris
            Studio—took one step up onto a large wooden box to pose, up close, under
            a light clipped onto the basketball hoop, moving gracefully in the silence,
            no music, so that the ten men in the audience, each sitting solo and aloof, in
            the twenty metal folding chairs might applaud. It was too intimate for me
            to uncloset myself by filming with my Super-8 camera. Because the contest
            was so simply produced, it was almost hands-on hot, just as was the new
            IML, perfectly produced, fifteen years later.
               Embry wanted his own huge “production number” to compete with
            Renslow whom he envied for entering the leather scene in 1950, twenty-
            five years before the first issue of Drummer. He came into my office and
            told me he wanted me to begin producing a “Mr. Drummer Contest.” As
            if speaking one of his dialog balloons in a Drummer cartoon strip, he said
            something like: “Lots of guys posing for free. Lots of photos.” Monthly

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