Page 412 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 412

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

            I recoiled from Embry’s rip-off proposal. I did not want to steal thunder
            from Orejudos and Renslow, two artist-entrepreneurs I had known in my
            formative leather years in Chicago where my masculine-identified “leather
            roots” had come out sexually, esthetically, and philosophically in the late
            1950s and early 1960s. In 1990, the contentious Embry proved my instincts
            were correct when he summed up twenty years of his subtle enmity against
            Renslow on the inside back cover of Manifest Reader 12: “The Mr. Drummer
            Contests have always been more exciting than the International Mr. Leather
               In fact, Embry from Arizona, Hawaii, LA, and other push-pins on the
            map, had no idea that as a gay-leather “medium” I was channeling and evolv-
            ing the Chicago homomasculinist leather-art scene of Orejudos-Renslow
            into San Francisco Drummer. Embry also did not know of the sexual reach
            of  Orejudos-Renslow who kindly  supplied  Drummer  contributor, Sam
            Steward, with hustlers. As he became a man of a certain age, Steward,
            profiled in Justin Spring’s Secret Historian, revealed in Chapters from an
            Autobiography (page 119):

               I went into the land where Everyman must eventually go, that of the
               older human being...romantic encounters...were vanishing.... No
               question: one had to begin to purchase, or do without—and here
               again the Chicago studio [Kris] which had [previously] pimped for
               me helped me enormously. They sent me many young men....

               I advised Embry not to start a Mr. Drummer Contest because it would
            sap the company’s time, energy, and money. (In the year 2000 at leather-
  , Robert Davolt revealed that the Mr. Drummer Contest “lost
            money for at least fifteen out of eighteen years.”) I predicted to Embry that
            the tail would wag the dog. I reminded him every issue of Drummer was
            notoriously behind schedule because of his misguided budgets. The Fourth
            Anniversary Issue coming up was only Drummer 30 which, if published
            monthly, should have been Drummer 48. I told him that for me writing
            and editing Drummer meant everything in political and erotic terms of
            masculine-identified gay identity. I saw Drummer as the wave of the future
            which I was keenly aware of positioning because I had been one of the
            founding members of the American Popular Culture Association (1968),
            and had militated, before Stonewall, for the PCA to include gay popular
            culture in university curricula.
               I told him no.
               Nobody told John Embry no and got away with it.

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