Page 53 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 1                         35


             news-media photographs and TV footage for its single frames. A good pub-
             lisher could have done all this while skating figure 8’s on an ice cube in
             hell. The issue would have spontaneously created its sensational self—with
             breathless commentary by activist Robert Opel, and with sexy re-staged
             “erotic arrest photos” upon which Embry’s dreaded “camp cartoon-dialogue
             balloons” might have for once been suitable.
                Embry, during the age of Woodward and Bernstein, owned a gay maga-
             zine and missed a triumphant opportunity for GLBT investigative journal-
             ism, political commentary, and exciting satire, particularly of The Advocate
             which, while owned and published by the rich-born heir to a family for-
             tune, the bourgeois David Goodstein, did nothing significant to support
             the annoying leather freaks against the LAPD. Even as some LA political
             activists, including the Reverend Troy Perry, galvanized around the Slave
             Auction at fund-raisers, West Coast journalists failed in their responsibility
             to jump all over this 1976 liberation story unlike East Coast writers who
             elevated a similar 1969 raid on the Stonewall Bar into a benchmark myth.
             The two raids were very different. At Stonewall, the NYPD purpose was to
             bust the Mafia—with gays being no more than collateral damage. At the
             Slave Auction, the LAPD goal was to bust queers.
                Will a GLBT queer studies conference ever host a panel investigating
             why there is an inherent queerstream double-standard against S&M leath-
             erfolks who tend to embarrass the mainstream Advocate culture? Twelve
             years after the Slave Auction, my colleague Eric Rofes, writing in Drummer
             115 (April 1988), raised a cri de couer wondering why leathermen, and the
             “feckless press,” rarely fight back against anti-leather raids. He cited LAPD
             harassment specifically against leather bars such as the One Way, Griff’s,
             and the Gauntlet which the cops, not liking shoulder-to-shoulder men, lim-
             ited to only fifty-seven patrons. Rofes claimed nothing had changed since
             the 1976 Slave Auction. “This isn’t 1978 [sic],” he wrote in his “Rough Stuff”
             column. “It’s 1988 and the issues that these bar raids raise for our specific
             [leather] community are great.” On the cusp of becoming executive director
             of the Shanti Project in San Francisco, he meant that especially because the
             AIDS epidemic was raging at its height, leather culture seeking collective
             safety needed to be “especially protective of our community spaces.”
                Rofes was the author of Dry Bones Breathe: Gay Men Creating Post-AIDS
             Identities and Cultures. He was an informed voice of the times. In a sense in
             post-Embry Drummer, Rofes faulted former publisher Embry for agonizing
             way too personally over the Slave Auction arrests, and for failing to use the
             power of his press to turn that horrible event into a game-changing West
             Coast Stonewall. Embry was too cash crazy to become a leather Patrick


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