Page 440 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 440

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


            masculine identity as the oppressive “other.” Drummer by comparison grew
            its core readership by planting the gay pride flag of homomasculinity—even
            while evolving to include all the genders of leatherfolk. Drummer began
            with a female editor, Jeanne Barney, and ended with a female editor, Wickie
            Stamps.
               Among the Las Vegas slot machines, a parallel drama unfolded on the
            floor of the ABA mobbed with thousands of book buyers. Elizabeth’s hus-
            band, Jim Gershman, was already angry at what looked like Sasha Alyson’s
            scheme. It was gay insult to straight injury when a Knights Press writer, T. R.
            Witomski, a Drummer author, and a friend of Tim Barrus and me, walked
            up unannounced to the Knights Press booth and launched his ambush
            attack on the Gershmans. One of those “radical” guys from New Jersey who
            think that “causing a scene” is essential to rebellious homohood, Witomski
            was a tall man who towered over the crowd. Wound up, he began screaming
            at the top of his lungs about his contract and the royalties he was owed for
            his book Kvetch. Erotic filmmaker Witomski had no bourgeois boundar-
            ies when shooting his surreal BDSM sex features with mud, raw eggs, and
            Daiquiri douches for his cophrophagic Katsam Video Company that made
            John Waters’ Pink Flamingos seem like Disney. He certainly had no bound-
            aries in his performance art that afternoon. He hated the Gershmans.
               Terminal with AIDS, he went mad ranting at the Knights Press booth
            with thousands of conventioneers milling around us. His heterophobic gay
            tantrum, denouncing the gay-straight alliance attempted by Knights Press,
            embarrassed Mark Hemry and me. We were two guys, partners, happy with
            my new novel and high on our author gig, standing at the booth chatting
            with the legendary Hollywood actress, Ann Miller, MGM’s star dancer,
            who had stopped by out of curiosity, asking, “What kind of dancing is Some
            Dance about?” She was one of the big celebrities at the ABA publicizing her
            own forthcoming New Age book Tapping into the Force. Dear Annie, all
            eyelashes, red lipstick, and sleeked black hair. She was the 1940s star with
            the legs my father adored. Standing with us, obviously mortified, watch-
            ing Witomski explode, she took the hands of both Mark and me and said,
            “Darlings, don’t be embarrassed. I see this all the time.” And with an air kiss
            to each of us, she and her publicist walked on.
               Within months, Knights Press closed its business because Elizabeth
            Gershman—who could blame her?—turned her attention from the poli-
            tics and stress of gay publishing to her daughter who was marrying Teddy
            Kennedy, Jr. For his part, Tim Barrus never forgave Elizabeth for killing her
            infant company that Barrus had worked so hard to establish. For my part, I
            can’t forget that Gershman exited owing me $12,000.


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