Page 462 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 462

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

            with camp, gossip, recipes, and ads for toupees, gay paperhanging, and the
            self-satirizing BlaBla Café. Those topics were already covered by the then
            infant Advocate whose advertising Embry coveted in an age when gay busi-
            nesses, forbidden to advertise in the telephone Yellow Pages, turned to the
            gay press.
               Eager to dig up an existing gay sales base, political or sexual, with its
            own members’ mailing list, Embry approached the founding president of
            the Hollywood Hills Democratic Club, Larry Townsend, and his struggling
            “Homophile Effort for Legal Protection” organization, of which Townsend
            was also president. H.E.L.P. provided assistance to gays entrapped by the
            LAPD who would soon entrap Embry.
               Townsend was editor of the twelve-page H.E.L.P. Newsletter and he,
            speaking as a novelist, told me how he always hated the burden of publishing
            a new issue every thirty days. Sensing an opportunity, Embry swore fealty to
            Townsend and his two organizations. He offered to assist H.E.L.P. publish
            its newsletter which he, as the new editor, quickly combined with what he
            had called in his first “proto Drummer” editorial “our brave little Drummer.”
            Even though he published the Townsend short story, “The Loner,” in a badly
            pasted layout in the first issue of his “proto Drummer,” his next moves con-
            stituted a hostile takeover of H.E.L.P.
               Townsend’s H.E.L.P. Newsletter became Embry’s H.E.L.P./Drummer
            which in June 1975, dumping H.E.L.P., became large-format  Drummer
            with its own “Issue One.” A legend was born. The games began.


            At the beginning, Drummer was a Petri dish of creative, intellectual, and
            financial cultures. At the LAPD police station after the Slave Auction,
            Embry admitted in Super MR #5 (2000), page 37, that he openly walked
            up to the man who owned the Stud bar and kissed him in some gesture of
            leather fraternity even though “the Stud’s owner and I had been to court over
            an advertising bill and, when I won, he had ceased to speak to me.” Was it a
            Judas kiss to endanger or embarrass the man in front of “twenty uniformed
            police” dripping with the homophobia of the raid? The ingrate Embry stirred
            up the deadly nightshade of his Blacklist when in Drummer (June 1979)
            he attacked the most important woman who had ever helped him, Jeanne
            Barney who, four years earlier, while still working for The Advocate, had
            come to hold his hand and to edit the first issues of Drummer (1-11).
               As eyewitness editor-in-chief, I was embarrassed when Embry drew up
            his “bill of divorcement” from Barney. His attack was thrust on my full

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