Page 464 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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446      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

               Larry said, “Rowberry’s contributions to that contest were minimal.
            Mostly, he ran around with a clipboard, feeling up the contestants back-
            stage at the Trocadero Transfer. I told Jeanne Barney what an embarrassing
            joke Rowberry had been, and,” Larry alleged, “Jeanne told Rowberry what
            I said.”
               For years, Rowberry and Barney had been on-again-and-off-again
            friends,  as  were  the sparring  Hepburn-and-Tracy  duo  of  Barney  and
            Townsend, and the bickering trio of Embry-Barney-and-Townsend. Jeanne
            Barney told me that Rowberry, whom she often openly denounced with
            delight, had at one time in LA been close enough to give her a Miro as a gift.
               However, after the 1980 Mr. Drummer Contest, when, according
            to Townsend, Barney told Rowberry that Townsend had poked fun at
            Rowberry, saying “Rowberry was a like sex-starved secretary with a clip-
            board,” Rowberry jumped to blackball Townsend from Drummer.
               After a few months, when Embry, who rarely read Drummer, noticed
            that Townsend’s column was missing, he called Townsend and asked why.
            Twenty-eight years later, Townsend told me, “When Embry asked me to
            return to Drummer, I informed him I would if I never had to deal with
            Rowberry again.”
               Rowberry’s reputation was known among contestants, writers, artists,
            and photographers. When Embry started his Mr. Manifest Contest, he tried
            to reframe the “sexual harassment” of leather contestants as a funny brou-
            haha and wrote in Manifest Reader 12, page 29: “Very little backstage grab-
            assing.” In Chicago in 1985, as a pre-condition to buying Drummer from
            Embry in 1986, Tony DeBlase and Andy Charles insisted that before they
            would pay a dime or sign a piece of paper, Embry had to fire Rowberry. It
            took five minutes.
               Very “LA,” Embry was a diva mogul who acted like he was head of a
            Hollywood studio. If staff did not do what he wanted, and if a contributor
            demanded payment for services, he’d thunder some equivalent of “You’ll
            never eat lunch in this town again.”
               Just before that, in 1978 and in 1979, when I told Embry I wanted to
            be paid, or I’d quit, he asked me not to, sweet-talking me for a couple weeks
            with promises of payments and book publishing rewards. Embry was never
            stupid. He liked how I wrote hundreds of column inches to fill his rag and
            he figured my personal pals in the Drummer Salon might also stop contrib-
            uting. When I again asked to be paid, he floated a little “threat” that he
            would drop my novel, I Am Curious (Leather), which he had announced in
            Son of Drummer, September 1978, as “a forthcoming Drummer novel from
            Alternate Publishing.” Some threat: a year had passed since that promise.

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