Page 473 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 473

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 18                       455

                Embry was the founding publisher. Barney was the founding Los
             Angeles editor-in-chief. Al Shapiro was the founding San Francisco art
             director, and I was the founding San Francisco editor-in-chief.
                Rowberry’s pecker tracks were nowhere on my work. Rowberry’s name
             was nowhere on my Drummer mastheads, not even as a contributor. In fact,
             it was only with my last fully edited Drummer 30 that Rowberry’s name
             appeared on the San Francisco  Drummer  masthead. Even then he was
             listed—and this is precisely accurate—not as part of Drummer, but as editor
             of The Alternate. While I was editor-in-chief of Drummer issues 19-30 (plus
             hybrid issues 18, 30, 31, 32, and Son of Drummer), Rowberry was sitting off
             by himself in a small office, very mondo depresso, very withdrawn, chewing
             chocolates and spying on how I managed my Drummer staff. He was working
             on The Alternate, and as “assistant editor” on Mach, had absolutely nothing to
             do with how I conceptualized the gestalt in my essentialist run of Drummer.
                Rowberry water-skied in my wake: my own original feature on
             Pasolini and Salo (Drummer 20, January 1978) was followed a year later
             by Rowberry’s feature on Salo (Alternate 8, January 1979). With his gift for
             lip-synching leather themes, Rowberry was John Embry, Jr. He was not a
             “Son of Drummer.” Like Preston, he was not even a friend of Drummer. He
             was a “Son of Embry.”
                Edmund Miller writing in The Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage pegged
             John Rowberry with a profile in an obituary summary of his talent which
             gives objective correlative to my eyewitness testimony: “John Rowberry
             (1948-1993) who has since [sic] become a critic and bibliographer of gay
             video porn, is perhaps less important as a storyteller in his own right than for
             encouraging writers like [Aaron] Travis [Steven Saylor] and [John] Preston
             when he [Rowberry] was editor of Drummer.”
                In fact, Rowberry was never Preston’s mentor for Mr. Benson. As noted,
             long before Rowberry became editor, I had accepted, edited, and serial-
             ized the entire manuscript of Mr. Benson, and had published five of its ten
             chapters eighteen months before Rowberry followed me with the full title of
             “editor.” The Drummer masthead shows that Rowberry succeeded me only
             as “Associate Editor” (January 1980) and did not succeed me as “Editor”
             until thirteen months after my exit when his job description was bumped up
             with Drummer 40 (January 1981). Even that title was a discount Rowberry
             fumed about because he wanted to be editor-in-chief.
                Miller concluded with an insight into Rowberry’s dissonance: “Though
             he [Rowberry] certainly plunges into all the mythic themes [the way he tried
             to plunge into the esthetics and erotics of Drummer], the vision is always a
             little off.” (Page 263)

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