Page 442 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 442

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


               T. R. Witomski, the director of Barber College and Mess, gave up the
            ghost in 1992, but provocateur Tim Barrus never let up on their mutual
            nemesis, John Embry, who, later as publisher of Manifest Reader, remained
            to Barrus the same villain who had screwed up thirty years of gay publish-
            ing in Drummer.
               The shape-shifting Barrus whom I helped journalist Andrew Chaikivsky
            profile in his feature, “Nasdijj,” in Esquire, May 2006, was never one to let
            those who screw him escape. Retorting Barrus, John Embry in Manifest
            Reader 17 (1992), played coy with Barrus’s reputation which he tried to
            destroy when he published a feature by the pseudonymous Vee Kay (sloppily
            billed as “Kay Vee” on the contents page). The exercise in scorn was titled
            “Portrait of a Wild Thing: Interview with Tim Barrus, the Enfant Terrible
            of Gay Publishing,” pages 41-46.
               At that moment, Drummer and its identity had once again been tossed
            in the air like a dog toy because the innately American magazine, spun out of
            the quintessence of the Marlboro Man cowboy, had just been sold on May 19,
            1992, to its third publisher, the Dutch businessman Martijn Bakker whose
            corporate ownership in Holland plus his amateur editors in San Francisco
            finally killed everything that was grass-roots leathersex in Drummer. Over
            seven agonizing years, Bakker drained Drummer of its American sex appeal
            and identity, and stuffed it with sex photos from corporate video compa-
            nies aping real leather action until he ceased publication with issue 214
            in 1999. Embry danced on Drummer’s grave, eulogizing 1970s Drummer
            (issues one to thirty) as the Golden Age of Drummer. Vee Kay’s sarcastic
            interview, “Portrait of a Wild Thing,” was calculated to justify Embry’s
            onward-marching Blacklist. Plowing through Roget’s Thesaurus to damn
            Barrus with faint praise, Embry/Vee Kay’s poison pen set about spinning
            the truth about the delightfully controversial Barrus into insults and lies that
            only made Barrus more colorful. Vee Kay wrote:

               This was an almost impossible interview to get. Tracking Tim
               Barrus down takes the skills of a detective...this most elusive and
               difficult of writers. Getting Barrus to sit down long enough to ver-
               bally organize his thoughts...takes the skills of a psychiatrist and a
               travel agent. Contrary to current literary opinion, Tim Barrus is
               neither crazy or institutionalized. He is volcanic, lucid, vehement,
               arrogant, seductive, childish, vulnerable, serious, unforgiving, and
               one of the most impassioned writers of words alive. There is perhaps
               no other writer quite like Tim Barrus in the small, idiosyncratic
               world of gay publishing. Barrus is disliked in the inner circles of


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