Page 431 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 431

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 17                       413

             John Preston’s raw first draft of Mr. Benson. Oftentimes, authors “hate”
             editors who do what editors must. Instead of Embry paying me to edit his
             manuscript, I paid him a substantial amount for reprint rights for two selec-
             tions from Epilogue to use as evidence, inclusive from his point of view, in
             my logging of Drummer history. That was rich: me paying him after him
             not paying me for my work in Drummer.
                By 1998, Embry was not only trying to collect his own memoirs, he was
             also trying to reconstitute his own greatest hits of 1970s classic Drummer
             in his new Manifest Reader magazines. So he asked me for permission to
             reprint several of my articles and stories from that free-love “Golden Age of
             Drummer, 1977-1980,” which was a different Drummer from the safe-sex
             Drummer (1980s-1990s) circumscribed by AIDS, political correctness, and
             leather contests. That golden run of Drummer (issues 19-30) was also very
             different from the Drummer (issues 1-18) that had fled LA, bullied, and
             beaten almost out of business by the LAPD.
                If Embry and his erstwhile LA founding fellows of Drummer had not
             quarreled among themselves, if they hadn’t given each other the attitude of
             feuding bit players at a Hollywood studio, if they hadn’t alienated their peers
             contributing to Drummer, if they hadn’t caused most of their own LAPD
             troubles, they might have launched Drummer into an earlier, higher, better,
             brighter orbit in that first decade of gay liberation after Stonewall.
                Instead, Embry estranged his collaborators like Jeanne Barney and Fred
             Halsted and Larry Townsend, dumped Drummer in the LA political toilet,
             and fled to San Francisco. The convenient irony was that the reputation of
             Drummer as a “fugitive outlaw” fit into sexual outlawry of Folsom Street
             culture, but the tempestuous mail-order mogul Embry could not shed his
             attitudinal LA roots. He remained in laidback San Francisco what he had
             been in quarrelsome LA. San Francisco in the 1970s was still very much a
             1960s Haight-Ashbury love commune evolving into the new concept of gay
             community. The smack talk that Embry and his peers in LA cocktail bars
             applauded as campy blood-sport infighting was a lifestyle choice of words
             and attitude not liked by men on Folsom and Castro streets.
                From the 1960s, up until Larry Townsend and John Embry died (2008
             and 2010), Embry’s feuding and fussing LA  Drummer  Salon famously
             fought like cats and dogs. Their tiffs made for legendary gossip and giggles.
             Perhaps fancying their coterie as an LA Algonquin Club, they were wits
             halfway between Theater of the Absurd and Theater of Cruelty. And then
             they’d all go out to lunch. Again. Always at the French Quarter Restaurant
             at 7985 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood where San Franciscans
             Mark Hemry and I were invited several times to join the LA pals who were

               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-14-2017
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