Page 414 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 414

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

               the Mr. Drummer Contest weekend [We were both judges]...I’ll
               look forward to seeing you again....Sincerely, Dom

               His last years of illness kept Dom from going forward with the proj-
            ect. Without producing a video of his art, and before the futurism of the
            internet, he died September 24, 1991. The Leather Archives & Museum,
            however, had been founded principally to preserve his work.
               In 1981, as if the debt-ridden Mr. Drummer Contest were not drain
            enough, Embry began awarding the sash-rash title, “Mr. Manifest,” thank-
            fully without a contest, through his new Manifest Reader. In point of fact,
            his concept “Mr. Manifest” was more a direct imitation of my invention of
            “Tough Customers” in Drummer, because “Mr. Manifest” contestants were
            asked to submit photos of themselves for free publication. In 1989, he was
            still plugging his faux “contest” in a full-page advertisement in his “Virtual
            Drummer,” Manifest Reader 9, page 53.
               In the end, International Mr. Leather (IML) had the last word and the
            last laugh.
               The last ad on the last back cover of the last issue of Drummer 214 (April
            1999) was for the “1999 IML Contest.”
               And the last word of that ad was the last word printed in Drummer:

            MARIO SIMON (“MRS. DRUMMER”)

            Val Martin, as no one has yet analyzed, was swept up as an immigrant pawn
            in all this. For Embry, Val Martin was the incarnate alter-ego of Drummer.
            Not only was he the star of both Sextool and Born to Raise Hell in 1975, he
            was the avatar leatherman whose face and torso graced the covers and cen-
            terfolds of several pre-Slave Auction issues in 1975, including issues 2, 3, and
            8. For the LAPD, Val Martin was a trophy arrest. He was the figurehead
            Chief Ed Davis wanted to mount on his wall. He wanted to put the fear of
            God into all the macho fags in leather bars he couldn’t bust fast enough. The
            LAPD, as did we all, found Val Martin to be “a person of interest.”
               Val Martin was a world-class stud exuding mystery, romantic risk,
            and Latin machismo. He was the other side of the American existentialist
            hard man, the blond WASP, Fred Halsted who had directed him in Sextool.
            The deep, dark secret of his real name, Jeanne Barney, told me was “Vallot
            Martinelli” which sounded Italian, although he was born in Colombia,
            South America. He claimed to have been a New York City cop. He had

              ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
   409   410   411   412   413   414   415   416   417   418   419