Page 78 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 78

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

               It was a singular high point of the Drummer Salon, when for February
            9, 1978, I arranged a dinner party, aided by Al Shapiro, to cross-pollinate
            the best of the Drummer talent at that moment present in San Francisco.
            Because I employed all the guests in one way or another from my editorial
            desk at Drummer, I took a kind of glee in anticipating the needs of gay icons
            who wished to meet other icons back in that first decade of liberation when
            icons were colliding for the first time. In the carousing melodrama that was
            the Drummer Salon, it was like setting up a gentlemen’s Algonquin Club
            supper, clever and agreeable and toned not at all like a scene from The Boys
            in the Band.
               The February 9 soiree was such a Drummer triumph that in his letter
            to Douglas Martin, my ever-ascending friend Sam Steward, who hungered
            for his own charmed circle ala Gertrude Stein, shrewdly overstepped and
            attributed to himself the creation of my dinner party. Sam, at that time, was
            an unlikely host of anything. He was nearly seventy, and old for his age. He
            was a drug-and-alcohol-addicted hermit of melancholy hiding in Berkeley,
            and he was pretty much grandfathered—through his being published in
            Drummer—into post-Stonewall culture for his S&M writing penned in
            earlier decades for Der Kreis (The Circle) whose closing in 1967 troubled him
            deeply. Sam Steward, who always depended on the kindness of strangers to
            drive him and feed him and fuck him, never organized much more than his
            1950s spintriae orgies of sailors. Hung up on straight rough-trade hustlers,
            he famously had little regard for other gay men. I met him in 1969, and I
            doubt if he ever served a trick a sandwich, much less hosted a dinner party.
            I am certain that Sam had not met Al Shapiro, Tom of Finland, Robert
            Opel, or Robert Mapplethorpe until I introduced them to him, as I also did
            to Kane and Barnes. In fact, Sam Steward had no connection to any one of
            the dinner party guests except to his caretakers Kane and Barnes who were
            social-climbers enough to agree to my invitation that they, in their own
            striving to collect a Pink Alley salon, would be foolish not to entertain such
            an iconic gay summit of leather artists, photographers, and writers.
               Present on my editorial guest list for that February 9 dinner party were
            hosts Kane who swanned at the head of the table and Barnes who skivvied in
            the kitchen; my lover Robert Mapplethorpe; my pal, Fey-Way Gallery owner
            and Oscar streaker Robert Opel; my creative partner and erotic intimate, Al
            Shapiro, the art director of Drummer; and the editor-in-chief of Drummer,
            who happened to be me, a New Journalist swimming in history and taking
            notes of the forces I had unleashed to sit together for the first and only time
            at one dinner table.
               This one evening indicates how powerful was the Drummer editorship

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