Page 474 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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456      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999


               Rowberry and I never had one single conversation about my Drummer.
            Nor one cup of coffee. It may sound terrible to latter-day leather discussion
            groups, but in the sexual class-and-caste system of the 1950s-1970s, tops like
            me and bottoms like him rarely spoke. Even if not overtly invoked, leather
            ritual behavior affected daily life and attitude. It was an S&M magazine
            after all.
               When Rowberry, with empty drawers, approached me to help fill his
            Alternate pages, I explained I was identified with Drummer and Drummer
            only; to write for the Alternate would take time from Drummer and would
            confuse readers about the separation of the two magazines.
               Truth be told, this was the real-life S&M pecking order and the leather
            culture custom at the time when I was editor-in-chief. The new-hire slave-
            boy, Rowberry, queeny and snotty with LA attitude, was dismissed as, we
            all joked, “the office boy.” He was a closet chicken hawk, and no leather
            player on Folsom Street. Within minutes of my exiting Drummer, Rowberry
            cozied up to the kindly art director Al Shapiro who was himself exiting
            because of cash and copyright issues with Embry. Rowberry sought some
            quick mentoring and gave Al a signed black-and-white photograph shot by
            Richard Fontaine that is a “signature” and characteristic picture satirizing
            Rowberry. In the overhead shot, looking down, he is outdoors, naked, with
            a long rope noosed around his neck, and he is crawling up cement stairs
            nude on his hands and knees, which is pretty much what he did to become
            editor of Drummer by attrition. Rowberry inscribed the photo: “Thanks,
            Al, for making it all possible....JWR.” Having helped Rowberry whom he
            did not want to work with, Shapiro shrugged, gave the photo to me as a
            joke, quit Drummer, and took employment as art director for the risque
            book and video publisher, the Dirty Frenchman, at Le Salon, 1118 Polk
            Street.
               Fifteen years later, Tony DeBlase and Joseph W. Bean, editor 1989-
            1993,  both  correctly  credited  the naming  and  invention  of  the  “Tough
            Customers” column to “Fritscher” in  Drummer  188 (September 1995),
            the 20  Anniversary Issue. Joseph Bean specified: “The first generation
                  th
            of Drummer offspring are the spinoff publications created by the publisher
            and staff... Tough Customers...started as pages devised by Jack Fritscher, and
            became a new publication when Paul Martin and I hatched the [separate
            magazine] idea years later [in 1990].”
               In Drummer 143 (October 1990), pages 18-22, I purposely re-staked
            my intellectual claim to my “Tough Customers” concept in the feature
            article I wrote for Mikal Bales and Zeus Studio titled, “Radical Nipples:
            Photography by Zeus Studios and a Few Other Tough Customers.”


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