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From The Literary Underground Wiki
Drew Blood was an underground publisher and author of poetry chapbooks from 1980 until his death in the late 90's on the now infamous Drew Blood Press,Ltd. He was involved in the early days of the LA punk scene and later lived in Riverside, CA where he used his job in the copy shop making syllabus for classes at UC, Riverside to also make copies of poetry chapbooks and broadsides that he would distribute at punk shows, art galleries, poetry readings, record and book stores around Southern California. He also distributed a number of titles and authors through the classifieds of Flipside, Maximum Rock-n-Roll and Factsheet Five. His press died with him, but he had printed and distributed over 9,000 chapbooks before he passed from health complications resulting from being HIV+ since 1982.
Drew Blood was one of many disenfranchised, demoralized youths that found a common voice in the Southern California punk rock community in the mid to late 70’s. He had struggled with being openly gay even as a young boy in a world that was very stigmatizing toward him. He was eventually drawn into the seedy world of hustling and became enamored with glam rock then punk rock as it emerged in the local DIY spirit of the day. He was a front man for several bands and began writing poetry as well as song lyrics. He was close friends and band mate with Donnie Rose, who had been in a relationship with Darby Crash (Jan Paul Beahm) of the Germs. He roamed around So-Cal gaining the experiences he would write vividly about and started making little punk rock broadsides that accompanied his bands fliers for shows. The death of Darby by overdose and the incarceration for life of his friend Regi Mentle (Reginald Alsin) for murder deeply affected Drew and exacerbated his tendency toward depression. His writing became a tool to deal with the grief and loss that was occurring all around him. He used his writing more and more to cope with life.
After the first P.I.L. show at the Olympic in Los Angeles in 1980, which was a monumental social event for many in the LA music and art scene at the time, Drew was inspired to start his own DIY “small press” in order to make more of the broadsides and with the intent of making a chapbook of his writing. This was the inception of Drew Blood Press, Ltd. or D.B.P.L. with his obvious nod to Johnny Rotten’s (at the time, John Lydon) Public Image, Ltd. and he would borrow heavily from the Malcom McLaren/Vivienne Westwood, Situationist International inspired, cut and paste artwork that was so prevalent at the time and easy to do on the Xerox copiers that were still costly to gain access to, but nonetheless more and more available.
He published his first chapbook in 1980 and made 20 copies of the 10 page booklet that he hole punched three times and tied black ribbons through the holes as a binder. This would be a hallmark of his early chapbooks. He was diagnosed HIV+ in 1983. His health affected his outlook on life as the death toll of AIDS began to mount. As the onset of his depression became more and more severe, Drew spent less and less time going out. He moved into an apartment in Riverside, CA, and obtained a job at the University of California, Riverside in, of all places, the copy room, which made copies of syllabus for classes and manuscripts for teachers and professors. The steady income helped him get a stable residence and he began to make more chapbooks and broadsides, including other writers from his circle of friends. He began to attend spoken word events and would read his “rants” out at many of them, as well as handing out his latest work.
At a reading in Silver Lake in 1982 he had heard A. Razor and became interested in publishing his writing. They lost contact until Kym Landry, a writer that Drew had just recently published a chapbook for at that time, reintroduced them in 1984 and the first chapbook collaboration, Spare Blades, was released soon afterward. Drew published 10 more titles of A. Razor's work, as well as many other writers, in the coming years and up until his death and served as an editor for A. Razor, transcribing writing from incarceration and setting up readings through his extensive correspondence with other underground publishers.
A. Razor and Drew Blood collaborated with many other writers and helped each other as much as they could to make the press be as inclusive and dynamic as possible. Drew also published and befriended many other writers and artists who contributed immensely to spreading the words and creations he put together on the D.B.P.L. He published many titles, including those of the writers Maureen McNally, Kym Landry, Paul “White Boy” Weinman, Larry Oberc, Jodi Hathaway, Holly Day, Alan Catlin, C. P. Neblett, Al Slammer, Anne Wilgure, Mike Cluff, Becky Tatham, Donnie Rose, Michelle Clinton, Erika Schleager, Rafael Carvajal, Tim Shepherd, David Curtis, Max Hoffman, Dominique Lowell, Danielle Willis, Bob Z, Diet Popstitute, Larry-bob Roberts as well as featuring art from Bob Peck, Dax, Ulla Nilsen, Mark Neville, Anders Nilsen, Rax, Jean Thomas, Jayne Henle and Regi Mentle (who would contribute from inside the Men’s Colony at San Luis Obispo).
With the help of fellow editors, Erika Schleager and Kim Koch, A. Razor was able to bring Drew Blood out to Minneapolis, MN for a Your Elbow reading at Mayslacks Bar. Razor also was able to read Drew’s poem, SILENCE=DEATH(a rant), at the first unveiling of the AIDS quilt in Washington, DC on the capitol mall. Drew befriended and corresponded with Mike Gunderloy at Factsheet Five, Larry-bob from Holy Titclamps Zine, Diet Popstitute of the Popstitutes, Xcene Cervenka of X, Bob Z from Bad Newz in NYC, as well as Al Slammer and Pig Havoc in the UK. He collaborated with Regi Mentle (Reginald Alsin) through the mail and phone calls and made Regi’s artwork and writing available to the world despite the severe circumstances of Regi’s incarceration for murder. His fierce correspondence was a foundation for so much creativity that had its roots in the early days of punk rock and the voice of youthful rebellion against the massive status quo soul removal machine in this world.
He eventually topped out at over 100 titles, making him one of the most prolific small presses that ever graced the pages of Factsheet Five. His own titles were many, some even just limited run broadsheets that expressed his exacerbation with a current political trend or unrequited love or an ode to a bathroom he had cruised for money in his youth, but now for company in his decline. The work was all heavily wrought with emotion and struggle. He was a tireless champion of the forgotten and the overwhelmed in this world. His efforts were humble and lacked much ambition, other than to bring words and authors together in the moment and make some noise that would be at least some act of defiance in the face of a ruthless power game that the rest of the world played. He made as many copies of his, and a host of others, art and writings as he could until the day he died.
All of these chapbooks have been long out of print. If you have a copy or have ever seen one, it represented the work of what some might view as marginal failures who found a common community for a moment in a world that just did not seem to care. It was a statement of voices in a canon of the unknown. Shots launched across the bow of an immanent juggernaut that dwarfed the sound of a few scattered screams from a soon gentrified and cleansed landscape. We hope it gave you pause to think and shelter for a seditious thought or two.