Drummer is an American gay male leather magazine. The magazine was launched in 1975 and ceased publication in April 1999 with issue 214, but was relaunched 20 years later in 2019 by new publisher Jack MacCullum with editor Mike Miksche.
In 1972, as president of the ‘Homophile Effort for Legal Protection’ which had been founded in 1969 to defend gays during and after arrests by the Los Angeles Police Department, Larry Townsend led a group in founding the H.E.L.P. Newsletter, which was the forebear of Drummer.
Jeanne C. Barney and John Embry cofounded Drummer, which was launched in 1975, with Barney serving as its first editor-in-chief. She served as its editor-in-chief for eleven issues. Embry published the magazine from its beginning in 1975 until 1986 when he sold it.
Drummer was originally intended to be a publication for The Leather Fraternity, an organization founded by Embry, and ran advertisements for it. On April 10, 1976 The Leather Fraternity held a “slave auction” (meaning slave in the BDSM sense) for charity, which was raided by the police, resulting in eighty people being detained and forty of those being charged with breaking a law enacted in 1899 banning “white slavery.” Barney was one of those charged (and the only woman charged), and her house was also raided by the police, as she discovered when she returned home on bail. The charges against her were eventually dismissed.
In 1977, after the cases from the slave auction raid were settled, Drummer was moved to San Francisco by Embry, while Barney stayed in Los Angeles and ceased being its editor-in-chief. Jack Fritscher was its editor-in-chief from March 1977 to December 1979. As such he (among other things) profiled Robert Mapplethorpe and gave Mapplethorpe his first magazine cover (Drummer issue 24, September 1978).
Drummer arranged yearly International Mr. Drummer contests in San Francisco from 1981 until it temporarily ceased publication in 1999. The Australian Leather Pride Flag, designed and manufactured by Mr. Laurie Lane (Laurie Lane Enterprises Melbourne), was premiered at the 1991 Mr. Drummer contest by New Zealand-born Australian Clive Platman (Mr Australia Drummer and Mr. Drummer 1991). By judging this contest, Gayle Rubin became the first woman to judge a major national gay male leather title contest. The Mr. Australia Drummer competition was an annual leather competition held in Australia from 1990 until 1992; intended as a national leather title, the event pitched state titleholders against one another, and served as a stepping-stone to the annual Drummer competition. A companion title, “Australian Drummerboy”, was also contested and awarded at the same event in 1991 and 1992.
In 1986, Drummer was sold to Tony DeBlase, who sold it in 1991 to Martijn Bakker, owner of RoB Amsterdam.
Also in 1986, Guy Baldwin ran a small classified ad in Drummer, asking for contact from other kink-fluent professional mental-health providers. He hoped to build a network of like-minded professionals like himself. As the volume of responses became more than Baldwin could handle, Race Bannon, Baldwin’s long-time friend, came forward to collate and computerize the information and assumed responsibility for the data. Bannon eventually published it online, greatly expanding Baldwin’s initial network of therapists to include other kink-friendly medical, dental, and legal professionals, giving birth to the vital international resource now known as the Kink-Aware Professionals List. Today the list is managed by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom as a free service to all.
Robert Davolt was the last editor and publisher of Drummer before it ended in 1999 and before its relaunch in 2019.
The Master/slave Conference, more commonly known as MsC, has a yearly evening event dedicated to remembering the history and traditions of the community under the name “Our Traditions Live!”; as such, in 2011 MsC paid tribute to Drummer.
In 2017, the art installation known as the San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley was installed; in it Drummer cofounder John Embry (among others) is honored with a bronze bootprint displaying his name and a short statement about him.
In 2018 Jack MacCullum, a titleholder in the D.N.A. (“Drummer North America”) competitions, purchased the magazine and its associated events from Martijn Bakker, and relaunched it in October 2019 under editor Mike Miksche as a quarterly print and online publication.
Cynthia Slater was the first woman profiled in Drummer.
- 2008 – Drummer cofounder Jeanne C. Barney received the Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Pantheon of Leather Awards
- 2009 – Jack Fritscher received the National Leather Association – International: Geoff Mains Non-Fiction Book Award for Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer
- In 2014 and 2015 respectively Drummer cofounders John Embry and Jeanne C. Barney were inducted into the Leather Hall of Fame
- 2018 – Jack Fritscher received the National Leather Association – International: Geoff Mains Non-Fiction Book Award for Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Magazine Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999