Leather PRIDE – June 20th, 1975: DRUMMER Magazine Hits The Newsstands

Today In Leather PRIDE - June 20th, 1975 : DRUMMER Magazine Hits The Newstands

June 20, 1975

Drummer Magazine the iconic granddaddy of all gay leather magazines hits the streets on June 20, 1975.

Founding editors John H. Embry and Jeanne Barney shared a vision in its original format geared  to leather stories but later the magazine became so popular that it became a photo essay magazine.

Drummer was the most successful of all American leather magazines and also sold overseas. The publication had a major impact of spreading gay leather as a lifestyle and masculinity as a gay ideal. and gave birth to such famous San Francisco social events as the California Motorcycle Club Carnival and the Mr. Drummer contest.

In 1978 Jack Fritscher became editor-in-chief of Drummer and introduced into “mainstream” gay media such artists as Tom of Finland,  Robert Mapplethorpe and David Hurles (Old Reliable), and showcased talents such as Robert Opel, Arthur Tress, Samuel Steward (Phil Andros), Larry Townsend, John Preston, Wakefield Poole, Rex, and A. Jay.

Through Fritscher’s work with Drummer the gay-identity word homomasculinity was coined as well as redefining S&M as “Sensuality and Mutuality” (1974).  Documenting on page the dawn of the “Daddy” and “Bear” movements, Fritscher was the first writer and editor to feature “older men” (Drummer 24, September 1978) and “Mountain Men Bears” (Drummer 119, July 1988) in the gay press.

One of Drummer Magazines most famous pieces of leather erotica was the story Mr. Benson written by John Preston and serialized in Drummer issues #29-38, 1979-80.

Mr. Benson is the compelling story of a young man’s quest for the perfect master. In a West Village leather bar, he finds wealthy, sophisticated, exacting Aristotle Benson, who leads him down the path of erotic enlightenment, teaching him to accept cruelty as love, anguish as affection, and ultimately, Mr. Benson as his master.  Its unabashed celebration of male sexuality made it a cult favorite among gay men, many of whom wore T-shirts declaring that they were “Looking for Mr. Benson.”

In 1992 Drummer magazine was taken over by a Dutch company and ceased publication in September 1999.

The first 20 issues of Drummer magazine have been preserved for history and uploaded on Scribd. 

Also be  sure to visit www.DrummerArchives.com maintained by our good friend and gay activist Jack Fritscher.

*Mr. Benson is available in book form from Amazon.com on Kindle and also in paperback.

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2 thoughts on “Leather PRIDE – June 20th, 1975: DRUMMER Magazine Hits The Newsstands

  1. It is funny how important these magazines were to my early gay life. Now they almost seem charming and quaint. The internet has changed everything.

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