Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer. A Memoir of the Sex, Art, Salon, Pop Culture War, and Gay History of Drummer Magazine, the Titanic 1970s to 1999, Vol. 1

By Jackson, Kathy Merlock | Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA), September 2008 | Go to article overview

Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer. A Memoir of the Sex, Art, Salon, Pop Culture War, and Gay History of Drummer Magazine, the Titanic 1970s to 1999, Vol. 1


Jackson, Kathy Merlock, Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA)


Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer. A Memoir of the Sex, Art, Salon, Pop Culture War, and Gay History of Drummer Magazine, the Titanic 1970s to 1999, Vol. 1 Jack Fritscher. Collected and Edited by Mark Hemry. San Francisco: Palm Drive Publishing, 2008.

In the 1970s, Ray Browne, the founder of The Journal of Popular Culture and The Journal of American Culture and the Bowling Green State University Popular Press, encouraged those whose nonconventional lifestyles stood on the fringes of the mainstream to share their stories as a way of analyzing the diversity of the culture. One who embraced this challenge was Jack Fritscher, who holds a PhD in American literature from Loyola University and has, at one time or another, been a tenured university professor, academic journal contributor ("Gay Incest in The Boys in the Band" in The Journal of Popular Culture), short story writer, novelist, biographer, producer of over two hundred erotic videos, Catholic seminarian, exorcist, and chronicler of American popular culture. Perhaps most importantly, however, he served as the editor of San Francisco's Drummer Magazine, dubbed the "Rosetta stone of leather heritage" (101), during its seminal period from March 1977 to December 1979. The title of the magazine is derived from the famous quotation by Henry David Thoreau, which appeared on the cover of every issue: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away" (qtd. 275). Drummer Magazine defined gay life and the sexual revolution in San Francisco and, in particular, advanced a more masculine form in the gay subculture. Its masthead read, "The American Review of Gay Popular Culture."

Fritscher was at the helm of the magazine for seventy issues, molding it into a cultural force within the gay community. According to Harold E. Cox, "One of his missions was to clarify the mysteries of gay S&M to those seekers who wished to play but didn't know how to start. He published articles (e.g.: bondage) on technique, safety practices, and other practical information for the uninitiated" (qtd. …

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