Page 83 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 83

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 2                         65

                    Ten months later, just before his New York, October 28, 1978,
                double show with Etienne, Tom of Finland wrote to Al Shapiro. Tom
                was hoping he could move permanently to America, and he was
                patiently awaiting for Embry to respond to his many inquiries. He
                wrote on October 16, 1978:

                    Dear Al, ...I hope to be able to come to California some time
                    next year, but probably not for good even if I wished so. I
                    can write again to John Embry about the publication [of the
                    drawing(s)] if you think he is interested. I on my side should
                    like the idea because there are several in my opinion very
                    good drawings which are never published before....and also
                    because I know that the technical quality in printing is good
                    at Alternate Publishing.... —Tom

                    Embry was my “Original-Recipe Tough Customer.” When Tom
                of Finland died, Embry managed to cobble up a half-page generic
                obituary of Tom featuring a murky reprint of one of Tom’s drawings
                in Manifest Reader 16 (1992) page 77. As if he begrudged Tom’s
                talent and success, Embry never once mentioned any connection
                at all of the legendary Tom of Finland to the legendary Drummer
                which Embry had sold in 1986. Thus does an unrequited grudge in
                an obituary change the bits of history. Embry’s obituary for Tom of
                Finland was a passive-aggressive “revision by omission” of what ten-
                sion and drama historically occurred between the two men. It was
                characteristic of Embry’s lifelong “Los Angeles modus operandi,” or,
                what San Franciscans postulate about LA, that “LA gays fight over
                everything in the gay world because, it seems, so little is of any
                value.” If the LAPD had not driven John Embry out of LA, his revolving
                door of unpaid talent contributing to Drummer, backed by his erst-
                while frenemies, including Larry Townsend, Ed Menerth, and even
                Jeanne Barney, would have gladly given him the gate.
                    Tom of Finland triumphed over Embry’s Blacklist when Tony
                DeBlase, giving the finger to Embry’s shunning of Tom, published a
                boot drawing by Tom on the cover of Drummer 113 (February 1988).

                When the Sparrow and I split up after ten years in 1979, Kane—happy
             I had given up saving Sparrow—was finally able to fulfill his desire to “have
             and own” David, and to “fix” his alcohol and drug dependency. He rented
             David an apartment he and Barnes owned next door to their Pink Alley
             house, at 42 Pearl Street, where David lived until he died February 20,
             1992. Kane, ever the leather parish priest, rented to “bottom” S&M males

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