Drummer (magazine)

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Editor-in-chief Jack Fritscher
Categories Leather subculture, LGBT
Founder John H. Embry
Jeanne Barney
First issue 1975
Final issue 1999
Country United States
Based in San Francisco, California
Language English

Drummer was an American magazine targeted at gay men with an interest in the leather subculture founded by John H. Embry and Jeanne Barney in Los Angeles, 1975. Because of police harassment,[1] the magazine moved to San Francisco in 1977, with Jack Fritscher as new editor-in-chief (1977–1979). The last number of the magazine, issue 214, was published in April 1999.

Drummer was the most successful of the American leather magazines[citation needed] and was also sold overseas. The publication had a major impact of spreading gay leather as a lifestyle and masculinity as a gay ideal. The magazine was originally focused on quality writings about leather[1] but gradually changed into more of a photo magazine.[2] Among the published writers and artists were Phil Andros, Tim Barrus, Scott Masters, Tom of Finland, Robert Opel,[1] Fred Halsted,[3] David Hurles, Rex (artist), British artist Bill Ward and Larry Townsend. It featured comic strips starring buff gay secret agent Harry Chess by Al Shapiro (under the name "A. Jay"). The photographer Robert Mapplethorpe contributed a photograph for the cover of issue 24, September 1978.

Despite Fritscher's personal dislike for Nazism, the gay National Socialist League was allowed to advertise in Drummer during the 1970s and 1980s.[4]

The magazine arranged yearly International Mr. Drummer contests in San Francisco, 1981–1999 (ca).[5]

Manga artist Gengoroh Tagame has pointed to the magazine's illustrated strips as a major influence on his own work.

The San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley consists of four works of art along Ringold Alley honoring leather culture; it opened in 2017.[6][7] One of the works of art is metal bootprints along the curb which honor 28 people (including Drummer cofounder John H. Embry) who were an important part of the leather communities of San Francisco.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b c Drummer magazine founder John Embry dies. Obituary in the Bay Area Reporter
  2. ^ Gay leather magazines, cuirmale.nl
  3. ^ Five pieces titled only "Fred Halsted", from nos. 18–21, 1977, aure reproduced in William E. Jones, Halsted Plays Himself, Los Angeles, Semiotext(e) (distributed by The MIT Press), 2011, ISBN 9781584351078, pp. 202–210.
  4. ^ Fritscher, Jack, and Mark Hemry. “Drummer 19: Astrologic Capricorn.” 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, Palm Drive Pub., 2008, pp. 405–405.
  5. ^ A Hell Of A Run: Leather Publishing And San Francisco from leatherpage.com, archived at archive.org
  6. ^ http://www.artandarchitecture-sf.com/ringold-alleys-leather-memoir.html
  7. ^ a b Paull, Laura. "Honoring gay leather culture with art installation in SoMa alleyway – J". Jweekly.com. Retrieved 2018-06-23. 
  8. ^ http://www.artandarchitecture-sf.com/ringold-alleys-leather-memoir.html

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