Page 99 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 99

Jack Fritscher              Chapter 3                         81

             of Drummer. Embry’s personal “take” on being topped by real cops was typi-
             cal of a pivotal universal drama within mid-century gay liberation in which
             the hero struggles on his journey as the ancient procreation myths of tribal
             eros evolve into new modern kinds of complicated personal sexualities that
             replace procreation with recreation.
                In those twelve years, attitudes changed 180 degrees.
                Before that evolution, however, Embry suffered from the conserva-
             tive fascism in the LA scene that Larry Townsend had fought in found-
             ing the Homophile Effort for Legal Protection (H.E.L.P.) in 1968 to assist
             gays entrapped by cops. After the Slave Auction bust, Embry, beaten but
             unbowed, acknowledged the opening of the culture war, a year before Anita
             Bryant came down with Full-Blown Crazy Syndrome, in  Drummer  11
             (December 1976), page 76: “Chief Edward M. Davis is at war with the gay
             community. He is basing many of his political aspirations on the battle.” Yet,
             faced with the dangerous Ed Davis who had the usual political ambitions
             of a fundamentalist conservative, Embry seemed, in some expiatory act of
             self-immolation, to have been asking for trouble by publishing wild articles,
             seductive stories, and feel-good coverage of very risky topics. Was it to goad
             Davis? Or to harass the LAPD? Was it Embry’s masochistic hubris? Was it
             radical sex journalism? What was Embry’s motive?
                The mechanics of the Drummer Slave Auction arrest can be explained
             simply: Embry tried to stage an event to increase business and publicity
             for his “Leather Fraternity” mail-order scheme, and when the LAPD took
             notice, Embry—to make himself appear a gay victim—claimed, post fac-
             tum, that his commercial party which was for his own business gain was,
             in his telling, a charity benefit for the gay community. But was it a private
             event, or was it open to the public? In short, when caught, Embry lied his
             way to an alibi, redundantly casting Ed Davis as the villain. Embry, think-
             ing fast on his feet, hoped to link the Slave Auction raid to the legendary
             Stonewall arrests in New York. But, even in LA, he could not gin up the
             kind of sympathetic traction that the Black Pipe bar defendants received
             after two LAPD raids in 1967 and 1972. A year before the Slave Auction,
             Embry prefigured his motivation and his model for grabbing his fifteen
             minutes of fame when in Drummer 3, page 37, he salivated over the almost
             “Stonewall-level” headlines The Advocate had screamed when connecting
             the Black Pipe raid to LAPD excess: “Biggest Raid in LA Since Prohibition.”
             Even though the Drummer essay, “Triumph of the Black Pipe,” was Embry
             at his most cogent, the reach of rhetoric he sought was impossible in 1976
             because in 1975 The Advocate was sold by its progressive founders who had
             covered the Black Pipe in liberal ways the uptight new owner would never

               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-14-2017
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