“Free The Slaves” Benefit Show & Dance & Slave Auction. Fri.-April 23.

“Free The Slaves” Benefit Show & Dance & Slave Auction. Fri.-April 23.

Hollywood, California: Homophile Effort for Legal Protection, 1976. 11 ¼” x 8 ¾”. Bifolium. Pp. [4]. Near fine with light wear and a hint of toning at extremities.

This is a program for a fundraiser to assist with legal fees for those caught up in what has come to be known as the “Mark IV Incident” or “Mark IV Raid” which occurred two weeks earlier. The Mark IV Incident was an LGBTQ fundraiser in which the Los Angeles Police Department used approximately 100 police officers, two helicopters, and two buses to raid the Mark IV baths, allegedly to free victims of involuntary servitude.

In March, 1976, John Embry (the co-founder and owner of the important leather magazine Drummer) mailed notices to members of the Leather Fraternity for a “slave auction” to be held at the Mark IV Baths on April 10th. Apparently there was a detachable form to send $5 for an official invitation, as tickets were not going to be sold at the door. Winners of each “slave” were allowed to “own” the slave for the weekend, and the money they paid would be donated to any of several gay services organizations. Embry also sent invitations to his personal mailing list, one of which was intercepted by a postal worker and turned over to LAPD who tapped Embry's phone as well as those of his employees and had them followed. The police raided the auction, viewing it as a literal slave auction and applied 19th century slavery and prostitution laws. Ultimately, only four were charged with pandering: Embry, the editor of Drummer, Jeanne Barney, Doug Martin, and the emcee, “Mr. Leather,” Val Martin. The event, raid, and arrests became national news the next day. According to Barney's bio at the the Leather Hall of Fame website:

“The Mark IV incident was, in fact, a political disaster for the LAPD. “Gay” and "straight" publics alike saw the raid as a waste of precious resources that should have been spent fighting real crime. As if to dramatize the sense of public priorities that was affronted by the LAPD's overzealous actions, a woman was mugged and murdered just ten blocks from the Mark IV while the raid was going on. One hundred and seven cops to bust a charity ball but not a single one to save a woman’s life - needless to say, this image did not play well...The District and City Attorneys immediately dissociated themselves from the LAPD’s position until the prosecution dropped the ridiculous "slavery" charges, and the City received hundreds of letters from the public protesting the raid.”

The fundraiser defiantly had another slave auction with the program noting that “all our 'slaves' are offering their services on a strictly volunteer basis.” The back page listed thirty sponsoring organizations, noted that a number of city officials also supported the event and cautioned that “we'll be ever-watchful that this kind of outrageous injustice is never repeated. The legal battle went on for nearly two years, with the four who were arrested ultimately entering guilty pleas in exchange for community service.

A rare survival of the rapid response to an ugly moment in LGBTQ history. OCLC locates one copy.

This item is offered by Langdon Manor Books, LLC, antiquarian booksellers. Please do not hesitate to contact us for additional information and/or photos and we will respond promptly. We package our items carefully, ship daily, and have a no hassle returns policy--your satisfaction is guaranteed. We are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), the International League of Antiquarian Booksllers (ILAB) and the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA) and adhere to their rules of ethics. Item #3603

Price: $600.00

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