Page 70 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 70

52       Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

            [to] drag and female impersonation.” Pulling his wizard’s curtain back, he
            confirmed his naivete that at the beginning in LA he had “little, if any, idea
            what it [Drummer] should look like.”
               So, like a designer baby whose four parents decide “what it should
            look like,” the  Drummer  that readers nationwide first responded to in
            June 1975, and came to love internationally by 1979, was gestated by a
            Jedi Council of four mitochondrial people: founding Los Angeles publisher
            John Embry, founding Los Angeles editor-in-chief Jeanne Barney, founding
            San Francisco editor-in-chief Jack Fritscher, and founding San Francisco
            art director Al Shapiro aka the artist A. Jay who had been hired in 1977 by
            Embry who was seeking publishing roots and design magic in A. Jay himself
            because Shapiro had been the art director of the original Drum magazine
            and Queen’s Quarterly in the 1960s.
               Embry acknowledged this evolution, from nothing to something, when
            he wrote ingenuously in Manifest Reader 26 (1995): “Drummer’s first issue
            had 48 pages, a cover price of $2.50, and was made up of whatever.”
               Made up of whatever?
               “Later [after moving to San Francisco] we were [he was] amazed at how
            much there was available to us.”
               Embry, in actuality, paired Barney and Fritscher with equal billing, cred-
            iting each as editor-in-chief, the only two Drummer editors distinguished
            with that title, although he did bend history in Manifest Reader 26 when
            he lied, despite absolutely no evidence at all on any masthead in Drummer,
            that “John Rowberry, after Jack Fritscher’s exit, went on to become editor-
            in-chief.” He depended on both Barney and me for the magazine’s survival
            during the founding process made convulsive by three formative events: the
            arrest of Embry and Barney by the LAPD at the Drummer Slave Auction
            (April 1976); and the character-changing relocation of Drummer from LA to
            San Francisco (March 1977) when Embry, still on two years’ parole, left only
            after the court gave permission; and, finally, Embry’s nearly year-long absence
            from the Drummer office because of his long bout with cancer. (1978-1979).
               He wrote in his Super Manifest Reader (2000), that his Los Angeles
            “Drummer was so limited in its subject matter....Moving from Los Angeles
            to San Francisco was like,” in a comparison he made repeatedly like an angry
            man obsessed, “leaving East Berlin.” He had earlier confirmed the fact of
            the magazine’s evolution between two cities in his column in Drummer 26
            (January 1978) published while I was his editor having accomplished the
            previous eight issues: “Drummer has had a number of renovations [geo-
            graphically and editorially] in these three years, most of them, we assume,
            being in the right direction.”

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