Polak, Clark

NAME: Clark Phillip Polak

"I envisioned a sort of sophisticated but down-to-earth, magazine for people who dug gay life and Drum’s view of the world."


"And so, Clark Polak just sat in a corner and I said, 'Hey, Clark, don't you want to be Martin Luther King too?' He said, 'No, I just want to be Hugh Hefner.'"



Clark Polak.jpg



Biography:

POLAK, Clark (b. 15 October 1937; d. 18 September 1980), activist. One of the most important homophile activists of the 1960s, Clark Phillip Polak was the president of the Philadelphia-based Janus Society (1963–1969); the founder, publisher, and editor of Drum magazine (1964–1969); and the leader of the Homosexual Law Reform Society (1965–1969).

In retrospect, most of the pre-Stonewall gay publications were relatively assimilationist and tame. But drum was racy, raunchy - and brilliant.
drum (subtitled "sex in perspective") began as the newsletter of Philadelphia's Janus Society. Clark Polak, a brash homophile leader in the mid-Sixties, appropriated editorship of the newsletter, and told Streitmatter he "began drum Magazine as a consistently articulate, well-edited, amusing and informative publication. I envisioned a sort of sophisticated, but down-to-earth, magazine for people who dug gay life and drum's view of the world." (Or, as John Loughery wrote in The Other Side of Silence, "drum's philosophy was plain enough: it was time to raise a little hell.") In addition, Polak was the first gay editor to hire a professional clipping service to obtain gay-related articles from around the country. Veteran gay journalist Jack Nichols additionally told me that "drum published nudes - frontal nudes - first, in any gay publication in America." But even Ladder editor Barbara Gittings reflected on drum's positive impact with me, noting that despite showing abundant male flesh, drum and similar magazines that followed "were a way of getting [movement activity] information to people who wouldn't bother to read it otherwise." drum even boasted the first gay comic strip (the risqué "Harry Chess: The Man from A.U.N.T.I.E."). Polak's formula proved enormously successful; by 1966, drum's 10,000 circulation surpassed that of all the then-extant homophile publications combined.
However, that formula also left Polak vulnerable to police and legal intervention when the Buffalo, New York Postmaster seized drum's March 1966 issue. While ultimately distributed, Polak later proved less fortunate. drum abruptly ceased publication by May 1969, as Polak awaited a federal grand jury indictment for mailing allegedly obscene material. He evaded a prison sentence only by agreeing to cease publishing drum and to leave Philadelphia.
Yet drum's movement contributions could not be denied, nor could its founder's aspirations be denigrated. New York pre-Stonewall activist Dick Leitsch recalled for me a heated discussion among movement leaders in the Sixties regarding "which one of them is the Martin Luther King of the gay movement. … And they went on and on, just yelling and screaming …. And so, Clark Polak just sat in a corner and I said, 'Hey, Clark, don't you want to be Martin Luther King too?' He said, 'No, I just want to be Hugh Hefner.'" Polak never quite reached that level of sophistication with drum, but not for lack of trying.

drum was a delightful alternative to the more solemn and staid homophile magazines issued in its day, and contains a mixture of seriousness and humor. Interspersed with illustrations (including the regular comic strip "Harry Chess: That Man From A.U.N.T.I.E." by A. Jay and artwork by Dolphus Smith, Jr.) and physique photographs taken by Bob Anthony, Mel Roberts, Frank Hollfelder, Jovan Studio, Neil Edwards, Jay Mitchell, and Models Studio, . Published by the Janus Society of America, an early homophile organization out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Beginning with the December, 1965 issue of drum, two versions were published: one for subscribers only containing four additional, unpaginated photographic pages, and the other for newsstand distribution without this insert.
{drum (subtitled "sex in perspective") was racy, raunchy - and brilliant. Clark Polak, a brash homophile leader in the mid-Sixties, appropriated editorship of the newsletter, and told Streitmatter he "began drum Magazine as a consistently articulate, well-edited, amusing and informative publication. I envisioned a sort of sophisticated, but down-to-earth, magazine for people who dug gay life and drum's view of the world." (Or, as John Loughery wrote in The Other Side of Silence , "drum's philosophy was plain enough: it was time to raise a little hell.") In addition, Polak was the first gay editor to hire a professional clipping service to obtain gay-related articles from around the country. Veteran gay journalist Jack Nichols additionally told me that " drum published nudes - frontal nudes - first, in any gay publication in America." But even Ladder editor Barbara Gittings reflected on drum 's positive impact with me, noting that despite showing abundant male flesh, drum and similar magazines that followed "were a way of getting [movement activity] information to people who wouldn't bother to read it otherwise." By 1966, drum 's 10,000 circulation surpassed that of all the then-extant homophile publications combined.
However, that formula also left Polak vulnerable to police and legal intervention when the Buffalo, New York Postmaster seized drum 's March 1966 issue. While ultimately distributed, Polak later proved less fortunate. drum abruptly ceased publication by May 1969, as Polak awaited a federal grand jury indictment for mailing allegedly obscene material. He evaded a prison sentence only by agreeing to cease publishing drum and to leave Philadelphia. Excerpted from Paul D. Cain's 20th Century Gay Publications http://gaytoday.badpuppy.com/garchive/reviews/070201re.htm}

#10 of "drum: Sex in Perspective" (September 1965) Although stated Volume 5 #7, the Janus Society continued the volume and issue numbering sequence from earlier newsletters published by the organization before changing the format from newsletter to magazine. A glossy stapled digest-size containing 40 pages including front and rear covers.
Highlights of this issue include: editorial "The Failure" (that sex law reform, including sodomy laws, is best achieved in the courts); interview of C. (Carl) Vincent Welty entitled "Interview With a Pornographer" (who was then facing trial on three counts: gross indecency, corrupting the morals of a minor, and possessing pornography); homophile news ;"Ask Drum" ("Should I tell my straight friends that I am gay?"); book review ("Queer People"); article "Kim Kent on Vikingland" (on gay life in Denmark: "On the other hand, a big, butch blond Viking is not in every window, which seems to disappoint many Americans"); "The Press" (a current bibliography of major news articles and series on homosexuality); full-page ad for "Camp Records" ("Racy...Ribald...Madly Gay...Way Out!"); article "Scott vs. Macy" ("Does the Federal Civil Service Commission have the right to deny employment to applicants on the basis of mere allegations of 'immoral conduct', 'homosexual conduct', or 'homosexual acts'?"); list of homophile organizations ;letters to the editor; classifieds .

#11 of "drum: Sex in Perspective" (October 1965) Although stated Volume 5 #8, the Janus Society continued the volume and issue numbering sequence from earlier newsletters published by the organization before changing the format from newsletter to magazine. A glossy stapled digest-size magazine containing 40 pages including front and rear covers.
Highlights of this issue include: illustrated article "The Story Behind Physique Photography" (as mentioned above); editorial "The Visit" ("Countless citizens have been injured by gestapo-like tactics of U.S. Postal Inspectors..."); homophile news ;book reviews ;advice column "Ask Drum" ("I have a very common, orthodox case of loneliness..."); fabulous spoof entitled "Let's Get the Homos Out of the Comics!" by "Oliver (Daddy) Warbucks" (with three comic strip reproductions); list of homophile organizations ;letters to the editor .

#13 of "drum: Sex in Perspective" (December 1965) Although stated Volume 5 #10, the Janus Society continued the volume and issue numbering sequence from earlier newsletters published by the organization before changing the format from newsletter to magazine. A glossy stapled digest-size magazine containing 40 pages including front and rear covers.
Highlights of this issue include: homophile news ;article entitled "Censorship" (on Ralph Ginzburg, publisher of Eros Magazine, and his appeal to the United States Supreme Court); Part One of article "The Homophile Puzzle" ("It is safe to say that the present homophile movement neither addresses itself to nor speaks for the hip homosexual"); book reviews ;advice column "Ask drum" ("One of the boys I work with has made it clear for the past couple of weeks that he is interested in going home with me. A reluctance to team up with a co-worker made me hesitant, but one day I finally asked him what he was doing after work. To my surprise, he gave me a non-commital answer..."); letters to the editor .

#14 of "drum: Sex in Perspective" (January 1966) Although stated Volume 5 #11, the Janus Society continued the volume and issue numbering sequence from earlier newsletters published by the organization before changing the format from newsletter to magazine. A glossy stapled digest-size magazine containing 40 pages including front and rear covers.
Highlights of this issue include: homophile news ; delightful entry entitled "Phrases You Know and Love" ("What they say - 'He gives such dull parties' - What They Mean - 'I've had all his friends'"); Part Two of article "The Homophile Puzzle" by Clark P. Polak ; short story entitled "First You Take A Live Goat" by James Barr [Fugate] ;advice column "Ask drum" ("I have scoured the library for books which offer to explain homosexuality, and virtually every one I find states that it is a pathological state"); list of national and international homophile organizations ;delightful cartoon of two astronauts sitting on the moon, arm in arm, looking back at planet Earth: "What would they say if they could see us now?"

#20 of "drum" - no longer containing a subtitle - (1966, no month indicated). A glossy stapled digest-size containing 44 pages including front and rear covers.
Highlights of this issue include: homophile news ; short article "Different Drummer" by Monty Howard (inspired by Henry David Thoreau); a short, splendid history of New York's Astor Hotel entitled "Mrs. Astor's Bar" (the New York Times announced on Thursday, June 30, 1966: "Astor Shuts Its Doors - Waits Wreckers"); gay travel article "Winston Reynolds in Scandinavia" ; part two of article on sexuality in male prisons ; delightful "Gay Moments In News Coverage" (featuring a reproduction of a photograph taken by the New York Daily News of two fallen boxers in the ring, literally on top of each other, lip-to-lip); short story "The Van Scoons" by Jerry Short ; another delightful "Gay Moments In Advertising" (featuring a reproduction of an A&P Beef advertisement); advice column "Ask drum"; a full-page fashion advertisement for Ah Men Shop For Men (with five photos); delightful spoof "The How To Books" ("How To Find Your Socks in the Bedsheets"; "How To Look Butch With a Purse"; "How To Say 'Got a Match' in 84 Languages and Shorthand"); list of national and international homophile organizations ;letters to the editor entitled "Dear drum"; classified advertisements.

#23 of "Drum" (1967) published by Drum Publishing Company out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under the auspices of the Janus Society of America. A glossy stapled digest-size containing 44 pages including front and rear covers. Drum was a delightful alternative to the more solemn and staid homophile magazines issued in its day, and contains a mixture of seriousness and humor. Contents include:
*male physique photography by Jean-Paul David, Mel Roberts, Galaxy Studio, Jay Mitchell Studios, and Bruce of Los Angeles;*illustrations by Dolphus Smith, Jr.;*homophile news;*book reviews (including a delightful one-line review of "Song of the Loon" by Richard Amory that simply reads "The final answer to flacidity");*column "Ask Drum" (including letter from reader who writes, in part: "It probably happened to a lot of other homosexuals - getting involved with a married man...");*delightful five-page photospread entitled "Gay Moments in News Coverage" (featuring ten photographs from mainstream newspapers);*article "Winston Reynolds in Germany" (who begins, "If you don't like well-built, red-cheeked, fair-haired boys, don't go to the Northern sector of Germany");*fabulous fairy tale entitled "Camp Woe" ("Once upon a time in the enchanted land of Gaf there was a little man named Yves. He lived in a rather posh West 60's garden flat which was done in what he imagined as 'nouveau'");*gay cartoons;*full-page questionnaire for new gay dating service "Computer Compatibles";*list of homophile organizations;*four-page list of titles available from the Trojan Book Service;*letters to the editor "Dear Drum";*classified ads ("I would like to meet new friends who are sincere and friendly betwn. 23 and 30. #932").

#24 of "Drum" (March 1967) published by Drum Publishing Company out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under the auspices of the Janus Society of America. A glossy stapled digest-size containing 48 pages including the unpaginated four-page stapled photographic insert. Drum was a delightful alternative to the more solemn and staid homophile magazines issued in its day, and contains a mixture of seriousness and humor. Contents include: *male physique photography by Bob Anthony, Troy Saxon, Bruce of Los Angeles, Models Studio, Mel Roberts, and Zodiac Productions;*illustrations by Dolphus Smith, Jr.;*gay comics by Bob Vann;*delightful "Gay Moments in Advertising" (an advertisement with gay undertones reprinted from the mainstream press);*homophile news, articles, directory of homophile organizations, letters to the editor ("Dear Drum"), classified ads, and four-page advertisement spread from the Trojan Book Service listing gay books (mainstream and pulp) for sale. #28 of "Drum" (January 1968) published by Drum Publishing Company out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under the auspices of the Janus Society of America. A glossy stapled digest-size containing 48 pages including the unpaginated four-page stapled photographic insert. Drum was a delightful alternative to the more solemn and staid homophile magazines issued in its day, and contains a mixture of seriousness and humor. Contents include: *male physique photography by Bob Anthony, Jay Mitchell Studios, Dean, Models Studio, Neil Edwards, VIP Studios, and the Athletic Model Guild;*illustrations by Dolphus Smith, Jr.;*fabulous three-page comic strip by A. Jay entitled "HARRY CHESS AS POPPERMAN!";*delightful "Gay Moments in Advertising" (an advertisement with gay undertones reprinted from the mainstream press);*gay short story "My Last Inclination" by J.N. Knebels;*article "Prostitution in Ancient Greece" by Anthony J. Papalas;*homophile news (which includes report and four photographs of a Roman Catholic "wedding" of two men, immediately invalidated), book reviews, full-page ad from the Trojan Book Service offering gay magazines, letters to the editor ("Dear Drum"), classified ads. #31 of "Drum" (January 1969) published by Drum Publishing Company out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under the auspices of the Janus Society of America. A glossy stapled digest-size containing 48 pages including the unpaginated four-page stapled photographic insert. Drum was a delightful alternative to the more solemn and staid homophile magazines issued in its day, and contains a mixture of seriousness and humor. Contents include: *male physique photography by DOM (front cover), Neil Edwards, International, Dean, David of California, Champion Studio, and Bob Anthony;*illustrations by Dolphus Smith, Jr.;*fabulous three-page comic strip by A. Jay entitled "HARRY CHESS AS POPPERMAN! with Mickey Muscle";*delightful "Gay Moments in Advertising" (an advertisement with gay undertones reprinted from the mainstream press); "Gay Moments In Sports" (photo from the Arizona Wildcat);*article entitled "Pot" by William F. Damon (on marijuana);*one-page German male fashion spoof (with four photos: "The James Bond muffs keep your handsie-wandsies warm");*homophile news; book reviews; letters to the editor ("Dear Drum"); directory of homophile organizations; classified ads.





Date of Birth: 10/15/1937
Date of Death (delete if non-applicable): 9/18/1980
Age at Death (delete if non-applicable): 43


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