Page 50 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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32       Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

            size on cheap newsprint. It was published by H.E.L.P. Incorporated whose
            president was Larry Townsend. Thoreau was not mentioned.
               In May 1973, Action magazine published author Phil Cooper’s two-
            page feature condemning John Embry’s handling of H.E.L.P, At the same
            time, in  California Scene, Steve Shoch/Shock, an intimate at H.E.L.P,
            wrote a scathing indictment of both Embry and Townsend with particular
            emphasis on Embry’s mishandling funds, and his claiming that H.E.L.P
            owed Drummer money. In a hostile takeover not forgotten years later by an
            unforgiving Townsend, Embry replaced Townsend as president of H.E.L.P.
            Exiting the organization he had founded, Townsend channeled Sun Tzu,
            and in his cynical resignation letter “praised” his enemy Embry in  The
            Advocate, December 19, 1973.
               In the first issue of the slick-format  Drummer  (June 1975), Embry,
            well into blacklisting his partners and contributors, took his characteristic
            revenge trashing Townsend’s latest work in the first and only book review
            in that first issue. Embry and Townsend famously hated each other. In
            1997, I wrote a narrative of this feud which Larry Townsend published as
            the “Introduction” to the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of his classic, The
            Leatherman’s Handbook.
               Finally, reaching for socio-political relevance, Embry printed Thoreau’s
            marching orders for the first time on the masthead of Drummer 1, 2, and
            3. Thoreau’s quote then mysteriously disappeared from the next nine Los
            Angeles issues 4-12, reappearing inside San Francisco  Drummer 13 and
            thenceforth in every issue.


            Note that it only took six—count ’em, six—lines in the first article in the
            first issue of Drummer to use the word nigger erotically in the same way
            Mapplethorpe did in the 1970s.
               That may be “racial,” but is it “racist”? It is a curious “compliment”
            within gay culture that the very ethnicity of a person, even a howdy white
            redneck, can be objectified by himself or others into a sexual fetish with-
            out prejudice. Page through all the Drummer stories, and read the reveal-
            ing Personal sex ads, lusting with equal opportunity after Blacks, Latinos,
            Asians, Southern white trash, and the disabled during that taboo-busting
            heyday when Robert Mapplethorpe, Rex, and Tom of Finland were fetishiz-
            ing blond Nazis. Drummer thrived on erotic racialism that confused and
            angered the white racist LAPD.
               John Embry’s longtime partner was the immigrant from Spain, Mario

              ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
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