Page 499 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 499

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 18                       481

             beloved dead, Al Shapiro, who was the founding San Francisco art director
             of Drummer, as well as the creator of his own monthly cartoon-strip satire,
             Harry Chess, which he had begun in the 1960s in Queen’s Quarterly and
             continued in the 1970s in Drummer. Besides the vetting of the essay by asso-
             ciate editor JimEd Thompson, my rhetorical style had its satire enhanced
             by the virtuoso art director, Jameo Saunders, who designed the comic-strip
             layout with so much brilliant whimsy on seven pages that it looked as if the
             recently deceased Drummer art director Al Shapiro himself had come back
             from the dead for a laugh.
                In short, DeBlase, having bought Drummer from Embry only a year
             before, delighted in publishing the feature obituary on A. Jay as a tonal
             rebuttal to the kind of jealous gossip Embry was spreading about Deblase
             and the new Drummer. From personal experience, Deblase was an eyewit-
             ness of how Embry treated himself and others, and Deblase, with Drummer
             as his platform, felt no fear in being one of the first leathermen to come out
             of the closet of leather history and dare condemn the contrary Embry in
             print. Drummer had long been Embry’s smart bomb, and DeBlase hoisted
             him on his own petard.


             In the “Grudges Never End Department,” John Embry never missed a
             chance to praise Drummer and to bury Drummer.
                In Super MR #7 (January 2001), he published two notices. The first was
             a five-page editorial concerning his recent health which recalled the crisis
             of his cancer that had so impacted my iteration of 1970s Drummer. The
             second notice, like a Mardi Gras call-and-response song, published inside
             the echo chamber of his Super MR, was Embry responding to an “anony-
             mous” “Letter to the Editor” which he had also written. In it, he ranted as
             if Dutchman Martijn Bakker, the third publisher of Drummer, had some-
             how done something wrong in keeping up with the twenty-first century by
             selling twentieth-century Drummer to American leather businessman Mike
             Zuhl who produced leather shows like his DNA: Drummer North America
             Contest, and had announced plans for building an online Drummer.
                In his page five editorial, Embry wrote:

                A funny thing happened to me on my way to the International Mr.
                Drummer Contest in Florida. All dressed up in cowskin [to him
                leather was “camp”], armed with carry-on cases, heading to the

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