Page 66 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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48       Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999


               “I...went around the house [meaning Drummer], seeking out any-
               thing with a RUSH, RAM, THUNDERBOLT, LOCKER ROOM
               HARDWARE, DOUBLE EAGLE, CLIMAX, QUICKSILVER,
               HEAD, or CRYPT TONIGHT [his caps] label and tossed them
               into the garbage. Room odorizers indeed!”


               With the popper companies boycotting the issue, Drummer 98 had no
            ads either inside the front cover or on the back cover which instead promoted
            Embry’s mail-order video company. The inside back cover was an antidote-
            to-poppers ad for VitaMen and Immunitab vitamins.
               At the height of the AIDS epidemic, “Death Rush” was the last piece
            Embry wrote for Drummer. Thirty days later, in his first issue of Drummer
            (Drummer 99, August 1986), DeBlase was so fiercely angry at this attack
            and, by extension, at all of Embry’s skullduggery that he reprinted in his
            own first “Drummer Forum: The Popper Wars Continue” an article by Dr.
            Bruce Voeller to rebut Embry with Voeller’s feature noting that while pop-
            pers may have health risks, the studies were not scientific, and anti-popper
            crusaders were often too politically motivated to discuss the issue. Professor
            Voeller was the founder of the National Gay Task Force and the Mariposa
            Foundation and was the man who coined the phrase “acquired immune
            deficiency syndrome.” DeBlase’s laissez faire attitude of choice around drugs
            was not too different from what I learned at San Francisco General when
            my longtime friend Tony Tavarossi, one of the founding pioneers of Folsom
            Street culture, was dying of some mysterious ailment in ICU in 1981. I asked
            his doctor, “What’s the matter with him?” “We don’t know,” she said in that
            summer when no one had heard of AIDS. She added, “We’ve never seen a
            patient so distressed.” Tony was on a ventilator. I asked, “Could poppers
            have caused this?” She looked up and said, “Poppers are an insult to the
            lungs, but, no, poppers did not cause this.”
               The several times when I could have bought the Drummer business,
            I did not, because I knew as an insider, there was nothing for sale but the
            Drummer name, and a lot of ongoing debt.
               Embry’s fake embarrassment at Bakker’s Drummer was nothing more
            than a sniffy attack of the “vapors,” trying to remind everyone of his one-
            time connection to Drummer.
               So confused is the timeline of leather history, and so bad were the inter-
            necine vendettas that a blogger wrote in his inflated obituary for Embry,
            “The young [italics added] John Embry founded Drummer.” In truth, on the
            day that the first issue of Drummer was published, John Embry was forty-
            five years old, and not at all part of the youth revolution of the 1960s and


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