Page 463 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 18                       445


             attention in the last complete issue which was not gutted of my editing,
             “The Fourth Anniversary Issue,” Drummer 30, page 38. Thinking of Hester
             Prynne forcibly marked with an “A,” I asked Embry not to print his harsh
             notice against the first editor-in-chief of Drummer. With the divine right
             of publishers, he ruled what he would rue, and immediately, he revealed his
             moral character.
                His private hit list came out of his closet as his Blacklist.
                His lesson to editors, writers, artists, and photographers was, “Don’t
             cross me.” Nevertheless, his public denunciation of Barney poisoned the
             Kool-Aid at Drummer. Unlike Rowberry and his 1980s peers who thought
             of Drummer as a “job” interchangeable with other gay jobs, we dedicated
             and committed 1970s staff were not drinking it.
                What no one knew in the 1970s was how Embry’s over-eager 1980s
             hand-puppets in his full and part-time employ, like John Rowberry and
             Scott O’Hara and John Preston, would take his divisive grudges and his
             Blacklist poison out into the nationwide gay publishing business the way
             the mythic “Patient Zero” spread AIDS, causing a 1980s second generation
             to blackball each other without knowing how the hate started.
                Illustrating a kind of inherent abuse in S&M practice where ritual is
             sometimes confused with reality, Embry was like the leather priest Jim Kane,
             the property investor who rented his Pearl Street apartments to indentured
             masochists like Cynthia Slater happy to accept their slumdog units as no
             more than what they deserved from a leather top.
                Embry exploited this card-carrying S&M “slave” concept to control and
             program some of his hired bottoms with his attitude, grudges, and untruths
             that they, in turn, dined off of as gossipy former Drummer employees spread-
             ing his Blacklist wherever they worked during the 1980s and 1990s. What
             happened at Drummer did not stay at Drummer.
                Rowberry kept his own version of Embry’s Blacklist. When Rowberry
             became editor after my exit, the first thing he did, without Embry’s knowl-
             edge, was blacklist Larry Townsend who had finally consented to write
             his “Dear Larry” monthly advice column in Drummer. Two weeks before
             Townsend died, he told me in a recorded conversation that Rowberry fired
             him out of revenge. In 1979, when Embry had asked me to produce the first
             Mr. Drummer Contest, I told him producing Drummer was hard enough.
             I suggested that “Rowberry can manage the beauty pageant,” which the
             always-derivative Embry, was producing in imitation of Chuck Renslow’s
             International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago. Putting Rowberry in charge
             of Mr. Drummer 1980, Embry invited Larry Townsend up from LA to be
             a contest judge in San Francisco.


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