Page 69 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 69

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 1                         51


                               The Drummer Origin Story
                                    Morally Speaking

             In the Drummer Origin Story, the founding Big Bang of Drummer resem-
             bled the tumultuous founding of The Advocate, Andy Warhol’s Interview,
             and Facebook. Derived out of the Clark Polak’s 1960s magazine, Drum,
             founded in 1963 and published by the Janus Society of Philadelphia
             whose motto was the “different drummer” of Henry David Thoreau,
             Drummer—which did not become iconic overnight—evolved during
             the four rocky years of its trial-balloon emergence from a Hollywood bi-
             monthly chapbook “zine” (December 1, 1971) to its first glossy monthly
             issue of Drummer 1 (June 1975). Drummer finally found its leather charac-
             ter and homomasculine voice in both form and content in perhaps its most
             platonically perfect issue, the breakthrough and brand-making Drummer
             21 (January 1978).
                During its four-year gestation in Los Angeles (1971-1975), Drummer
             struggled to be born in the hands of advertising man John Embry, assisted
             by his archenemy leather author Larry Townsend who, when he withdrew
             his support from Embry in 1973, nearly put the fledgling Drummer out of
             business. Driven out of Los Angeles by the LAPD, Drummer was finally
             fully birthed in San Francisco in 1977.
                In the tale of two cities, and in the tumultuous years of its delivery from
             1975-1978, it took a village to create the legendary Drummer.
                John Embry started Drummer, yes, in Los Angeles, yes, but he could
             not achieve liftoff. LA was the runway for Drummer, yes, but San Francisco,
             yes, was where Drummer achieved liftoff, yes, and cruising altitude, yes, that
             took it national and global.
                Historically, Embry went to his grave protesting, perhaps too much,
             claiming Drummer was his immaculate conception, and his solitary con-
             ception, writing in his must-read editorial in Manifest Reader 26: “Unlike
             popular conceptions [which he was actively refuting], Drummer magazine
             was not something we all got together on, like in an Andy Hardy movie,
             with lots of enthusiasm and offers of Judy Garland’s father’s barn for a the-
             ater. Or even like Shel Silverstein’s wonderful concept of Playboy’s begin-
             ning with all the fellas standing around the steps of a Chicago brownstone
             deciding who was going to be the editor, the art director, and who would
             recruit the broads [sic].” In addition to writing this “broad” sexism that
             he thought was “cool,” Embry also confessed to his “unnatural aversion...

               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
   64   65   66   67   68   69   70   71   72   73   74