Tricky Dicky – The Gay Liberator

Less than two years ago Richard Scanes was a public health inspector with a reputation for pulling the girls. Now he’s Tricky Dicky, the gay dee-jay who’s given up the pretence of living a straight life, but puts all his energy every night of the week into getting gays to come out and into their home surroundings.

Tricky Dicky has a discotheque booking every night of the week in places well out of the usual gay areas. And that’s one of his aims, he told Gay News. He started at The Father Red Cap in Camberwell, now he has discos at The Kings Arms in Liverpool Street and the Arabian in Bethnal Green as well as monthly discos in Southend and the occasional shuffle up the Thames.

He told GN: “Usually a gay stays anonymous in his home area and only takes off his protective overcoat when he gets to Earls Court and the gay ghettoes, as they have beer called in Gay News.

“What’s happening now is that people are opening gay bars and gay discos in their areas and it’s possible for the gay to come out in the East End, and we’ve got to learn to do that.

“The places I work at are in the middle of nowhere, but then all the big discotheques are in the West End. Now DJs are taking discotheques to the people. I offer people a show of the same standard as they’ll get in a West End club but in the area they live in.

“And in the places I work gay people have the liberty they should have. You go to the Catacombs and try dancing together there. All these big names won’t let boys dance together, perhaps they are being leant on, but all that they have is something like a parade.

“At my discos the gay boys and gay girls can dance together and no-one is going to say a word. This time last year you wouldn’t have seen gay people dancing together.”

Now Tricky Dicky is playing sounds for gay girls and men to dance to every night of the week, thanks to his break at the Father Redcap.

He says: “About 18 months ago I had heard that the governor of the Father Redcap was gay and I phoned him and said ‘I am gay, I am a DJ’ and he gave me the chance to get started.

“Now it’s up to three nights a week disco there and one night of stage show, when I play records and do impressions. I might put on a wig or something like that, but I wouldn’t wear full drag. At present I’m formulating my act for Leader of the Pack.

“The Redcap would like me to do more evenings a week, but I want to get discos going in other areas, so I won’t increase the number of nights I spend there.”

He says he tries to make his evening’s work more entertaining than just someone putting on a record after another. He plans the evening’s show. But that’s not the only thing he plans. He says: “Gay discos can get bigger and better, and that’s what we’re working on now. In fact, we are something like six or eight years behind straight discotheques. There always have been gay places in the West End, but one day there’ll be strings of gay discotheques all over London and in the bigger provincial towns.

“Maybe it won’t be Tricky Dicky who’ll be running them, but, at least, I’ll have done something towards making them possible. I’m in this business to make money. I wouldn’t pretend otherwise, but my main aim is to entertain my fellow gays, and to play my favourite sort of music – soul music, which has a very strong following among gays.”

We spoke to him one Thursday night. The night before he’d done The Arabian in Bethnal Green. “Last night,” he said cheerfully, “I made £1.50. No-one can say I’m making a fortune at that rate. The Southend trips I’ve run have made a small profit. The Brighton trip made a small loss. And the riverboat shuffle – well, I thought I was going to be running the thing at a loss until the night when all the people turned up. By the Wednesday before I’d only sold about 60 tickets. It looked like being a disaster.”

But the prospect of a financial disaster doesn’t stop Tricky Dicky ploughing the money he makes back into equipment and other stunts. He insists that gay mobile discos must be the same high quality as you’d get in a major West End club and that gays must have a parallel of every event that the straight world organises for itself. If there are straight New Year’s parties, he says, there should be gay New Year’s parties. That’s why he’ll be featuring all the Christmassy tracks by soul singers later next month.

Of the 170 gays at his last disco at South-end, only 50 came with Tricky Dicky from London.

For the 32-year-old DJ that’s a success because “it’s something like treble the number we had at the one before, the first one. And it means that 120 gays from all round Southend got a chance to go to a gay disco, and they don’t get that chance very often.”

Tricky Dicky is trying to find new places to hold gay discos. He’d like to have a place in North London. At present, he’s south of the river at Camberwell and in East London. Being at two places in the East End pleases Dick no end. “There must be just as many gays per square mile in the East End as there are in Earls Court. And I’m an East Ender born and bred. Only about five years ago there were about four or five pubs you could single out as being gay. But they’ve changed now, I don’t know why, so someone has got to give the East End gays a social life.”

For someone who is working almost full-time for gays – apart from weddings on Saturday afternoons – Tricky Dicky is fairly recently come-out. He says: “When I was a public health inspector, until 18 months ago, I pretended to be straight, because there weren’t any other gay public health inspectors. At least, there weren’t as far as I could see.

“I really started to come out when I was 25, when I broke off my engagement. No-one could understand why. I was only three months off being married before I realised which path to take.

“When I told my mates I was gay most of them said ‘You’re kidding’. But then I had been going up to the Ilford Palais with them pulling the birds and trying to lay them in the back of cars. They couldn’t believe I was gay because I seemed so normal to them.

“One thing I’ve noticed about the way people behave through my discos is people coming up and saying ‘You’re camp up on stage,’ but they never thought that when I was pretending to be straight. I think it shows that a lot of people’s everyday behaviour can be interpreted as ‘camp’ if others want to see it that way.

“If we are going to have parallels between gay entertainment and straight entertainment, it means we have to have equality in the quality of the entertainment on offer, as well as equality in social life.

“If that’s what gay equality means then I’m doing what these GLF and CHE people are supposed to be working for. There are enough people worrying about the politics of equality, so I’m just giving the people equality in my way. I’ve never been very keen on GLF, but then I’ve only seen it from the outside.

“All I saw was the intense political side, which is what you see from the outside. But then, most people can only see it from the outside until they get into it. And if the outside appearances put them off they’re never going to get into the inside to see it from that way round.”

We suggested there was more toleration of gays in the East End then in the middle class areas of West London. As an East Ender, Tricky Dicky knew the answer: “The East End boy learns a lot more about sex from experience than from education. And in the East End brothers very often have to sleep together, so they get used to the idea of sleeping with boys. And as any healthy boy is going to start masturbating when he reaches puberty, sex between brothers is looked on as something very normal, and no-one thinks it’s odd or gay or at all out of the ordinary.

“I think gays find greater acceptance from the older people in the East End, but less tolerance from the younger people.”

With the US elections only a few weeks back, Tricky Dicky was at pains to explain that his name is nothing to do with Richard Millhouse Nixon. “It was a nickname a girl in my office gave me,” he says. “I was having a bit of a thing with her, nothing sexual, mind. And it was long before Nixon became president.”

In All Probability It’s The Movie Maker Who Is Perverse

If anyone wanted to know why West Germans have been denied the sight of It Is Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse But The Situation In Which He Lives, a couple of showings the movie got at the London’s National Film showed that it’s probably for the good of gays in Germany and also for the majority of the TV audience, which is, presumably, heterosexual.

There are quite a few Germans and if they believed that gays lived a form of Rake’s Progress (or should it be The Three-penny Opera?) as it was portrayed in this movie they might do everything they could to make sure that Amendment 175 of the constitution of West Germany, which makes homosexual acts legal among legal consenting adult males, and all that stuff.

The NFT showed the movie on two successive nights, and on both nights they got a full house (it’s probably the first time the NFT’s commissionaire has ever seen a queue) and although Volker Eschge, the assistant director wasn’t allowed to finish his piece which tended to go on and on, by shouts of boredom from the audience, no-one who missed Herr Eschge’s summation of the director Rosa von Praunheim – who’s male, by the way – missed much.

On the second night, either the audience was more tolerant or Herr Eschge had severely curtailed his speech on the relevance of Marxism to a sexual revolution.

The important bit he said was that the movie was shot as a simulated documentary about 1967 and planned as far back as the first stirrings of the USA Gay Liberation Movement – the riots in the Greenwich Village Stonewall. Which put the movie into perspective. Even if no-one was admitting it, it was made as a piece of pro-gay propaganda made to show how society forced the homosexual into a degrading life-style.

As Derek Malcolm said in the post-movie discussion after its second showing: “It shows that Rosa von Praunheim knows nothing about the gay scene.”

Whether Mr Malcolm, who writes about movies for The Guardian, knows all that much about the gay scene is immaterial, largely because he found the movie’s fundamental flaw. Every scene looked like a cheap back-of-the-lot Hollywood Western set. Cheap fittings with any little bits of effort put into it so hard they stuck out a mile.

It’s true that this sort of garish gay scene did exist before Amendment 175 was passed. At a time when German gays were totally disorganised. So the movie preaches that they should join their local groups and become militant gays, equating sexual and social revolution with a political revolution.

It’s true that you can’t have the former without the latter, but the unprocessed propaganda that the movie came out with was more likely to get the millions of German gays retreating into their closets with their Bullworkers, iron crosses and elevator shoes, as well as turning the majority of society against gays.

It Is Not The Homosexual… followed one Daniel on the broad path through the bar scene, the rent scene, and, after freaking out of leather, and into drag to being talked at by six well-meaning nude gentlemen who were doing all they could to cover their naughty parts.

The plan of the movie is probably – it’s not so obvious as to be able to say that this is what it’s about definitely – the degradation of Daniel through his contact with the Berlin gay world. Unfortunately the only English language print was made for showing in the USA, so we had a lot of references to ‘faggots’, ‘leather-freaks’ etc. And that sort of categorising doesn’t do anyone any good.

During this scene there was a mysterious large bottle of Coca-Cola being passed from one end of the group to another.

So, basically, It Is Not The Homosexual… is about another time, another place and none of it is helped by the fact that it’s made with all the expertise of a ten-year-old psychopath turned loose with a Super-8 camera and a roll of Kodachrome II.

Herr von Praunheim won’t let the movie be shown unless there’s a discussion after it. So George Melly tried to get people discussing the movie one at a time on the first night the movie was shown.

Come the second night and Mr Melly (of The Observer) had been replaced – according to plan – by Mr Malcolm, Roger Baker of CHE by Bernard Greaves of CHE and Denis Lemon of Gay News by your faithful reporter.

Regrettably the movie is to be shown at last on German TV in January. Pity really, as the direction and the acting are both so wooden as to make Crossroads look like a masterpiece of movie-making.

Below The Belt

I’ve spent a few years as a provincial paper movie critic and, as such, I’ve had sex education flix up to here (he indicated his rat-low brow.)

In fact I’ve seen so many sex education movies that the Pearl and Dean breaks became cinematic delights before I moved from country pleasures to the lemming-race of the Northern Line.

All this by way of introduction to what was for me an amazing little movie that opens at the Electric Cinema Club, Portobello Road, this weekend (November 5) for a week.

It’s amazing because it’s not crammed with:

a) as much nudity as possible using sex-ed as the excuse for a pale blue movie

b) well-meaning Scandinavians discussing orgasms over their coffee and cakes with schlagsahne, evidently psychiatrists of some sort.

Cobra-One – called that because it’s Cobra Films’ first effort – is a realistic piece of sex-education that, as one would expect, concentrates on a heterosexual couple. But it does not put down gays, just as it doesn’t suggest that such a position may be just right for a certain couple. But then it doesn’t advise gay sex.

Cobra-One, otherwise known as etcetcetc, does not set out to teach sex but relationships. As such it’s a success, except the home-movie-ishness about it made me feel that the entire cast and crew were stoned on something all the time.

Viewed as a stoned movie it’s great. But as sex education it’s no great shakes.

Undergrinspoon Movies

While the lovely JD Grinspoon is just collecting her things together for her nightly troll down Wilton Road, I just thought I’d pop in and tell you all of the wonderful gay movies they’ve been showing in London.

The ICA is a haven for us gays with weekend doubles of Andy Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboys (1968), My Hustler (1965) and Chelsea Girls (1966) showing regularly along with Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1964), the gay movie that started all the gay movies.

With the exception of some commercially financed and marketed ‘gay’ movies, such as The Boys in The Band, I Want What I Want, Fortune and Men’s Eyes, Some of My Best Friends Are… no gay movie has been given a reasonable circuit showing (ie nationwide) by Rank Voyeur Services or Electricity Means Income Theatres – with the possible exception of The Killing of Sister George – which was a cop-out in every way, I feel.

Warhol’s delicious Flesh (1968) was given a reasonable length screening at the Essoldo, Chelsea, but now the Essoldo group has disappeared into the Classic group, a group that’s learned that there’s gold in them thar safe programmes and bingo halls, when they’re not busy turning perfectly good cinemas into Tatler wank clubs.

Trash (1969) has still not been given a proper public showing in Britain. Stephen Murphy, the secretary of the British Board of Film Censors, and Jimmy Vaughan, the movie’s renter in Britain are still haggling over the cuts that should or shouldn’t be made. None should. Not that Trash is a specifically gay movie, but its star, Joe Dallesandro (see This Months Rent) is enough to keep this boy’s eyes glued firmly to the screen.

What happens with these beautifully made movies is that they say too much for people like Murphy, who’s besieged on one side by liberals and on the other by “responsible Christian gentlefolk”.

Flesh sat on the censor’s shelves for a couple of years before it was finally given an X-certificate. It deals with Joe, who has to go out and hustle on 42nd Street to earn money to buy his girlfriend’s girlfriend an abortion.

Trash has been sitting around since last year when it was given a limited showing at the London Film Festival. As all showings then were booked solid within a few days of the announcement, very few people ever got to see it.

What’s put the shits up Stephen Murphy isn’t a scene where Joe, a trash-picker from the very worst of Greenwich Village in New York, fixes with heroin — a horrifying scene which made my boyfriend pass out at the time – but a scene where Holly Woodlawn, a drag queen, jerks off with the aid of a beer bottle because Joe’s incapable of anything approaching sex, he’s too full of junk!

This was the scene which provoked the usually staid, prim and generally harmless Margaret Hinxman, the alleged movie-critic of the Sunday Telegraph to exclaim: “I think it’s disgusting, and it should be banned. What I thought was really horrible was the bit where the girl masturbates with the beer bottle.”

Holly Woodlawn is a drag queen.

Chelsea Girls, which has been running at the ICA Club for rather longer than this reporter cares to remember is a very lengthy (210 minutes) and alternately boring and screamingly funny piece of Andy Warhol’s dissection of Amerika.

Flesh and Trash were made under the banner of the Warhol workshop and directed by Paul Morrisey, who’s brought big-pic production values to the workshop. His movies are “better-made” than Warhol’s own but no less interesting.

Chelsea Girls, My Hustler and Lonesome Cowboy all predate the arrival of Morrissey at the Warhol workshop. The movies are bittier, not so technically well-made, but often funnier.

As I’ve said, Chelsea Girls was for me, largely a bore. I found I started watching the screen with the soundtrack and then drifting off onto the silent screen alongside it. Often the dialogue on one screen doubles for both. In places then, it was funny. But, I would add that 75 per cent of the audience left by halftime.

My Hustler was very disappointing. I’d wanted to see this movie about hustlers on Fire Island, starring Paul America, for years. When I saw it, it looked like two reels rescued from the centre of a home-movie. Paul America is almost enough to make up for the disappointment.

Lonesome Cowboys comes last because it’s the funniest movie ever made perhaps. Obviously the entire cast and crew were stoned out of their heads when they shot this — everyone’s having so much fun. So many lines were fluffed, so much is ad-libbed. More than anything else it’s got a nice gay story-line. This group of cowboys ride into town, and they’re immediately picked up by the local equivalent of Barbara Stanwyck — Viva and her pimp, Taylor Mead.

Needless to say the cowboys are fucking each other from one end of the range to the other. So they tell anyone they meet they’re brothers, to try and create a good impression.

Their usual group sex activities are interrupted somewhat by Viva trying to get off with each of them in turn. The result is hilarious. Boys to watch are Joe Dallesandro and Tom Hompertz and anyone else that takes your fancy.

That brings us to Kenneth Anger — who GN will interview as soon as possible.

Anger was making movies at the age of 16. They’re still not certificated although his Scorpio Rising is the untimate in motorbike/S&M flix which uses intercut pieces of movie footage of Brando and Jesus to make the neo-Nazi cult thing not just frightening but funny.

MESSAGE TO ALL OUT OF LONDON GAYS: These movies are only on display at the ICA because the place has found a loophole in the censorship law. As a non-profit-making charity it may show uncertificated movies for two days or less without harassment.

If you can’t work the same fiddle in your area, join a film society and demand that they’re shown, the BFI, the film society’s fairy godmother will back you to the hilt. These are the movies film societies should show. Not middle of the road, harmless pap like Elvira Madigan.

Peter Holmes

Forthcoming Attractions

At the time that GN9 went to press Censor Murphy and Trash’s distributor in Britain were still deadlocked over what — if any — cuts should be made from the movie before Murphy will grant it an X-certificate.

Inside sources at the censors’ board tell GN that it’s not the drug sequences that are worrying Mr Murphy – for instance, a full-frontal heroin-fix – but the sex-deviance angle that emerges most when Holly Woodlawn masturbates with the beer bottle.

Had this latest in the series of deadlocks not happened the Classic group had planned to open Trash at the Classic Curzon, Chelsea, some time in late September.

Before Gay News was even a newspaper, a German movie-maker called Rosa von Praunheim asked the GN collective if it would distribute (in the UK) his movie called It Is Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But The Situation In Which He Lives.

It Is Not The Homosexual etc is to get its first London showing at last — at the National Film Theatre, which means it’s a members-only do. It shows on Wednesday October 25 and Thursday October 26. After each showing there will be a discussion about the movie, in which people in the audience can take part. People invited to take part in the discussions include the director, Derek Malcolm, George Melly, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, the Gay Liberation Front and Gay News.

Noble Savage

Savage Messiah Starring Scott Anthony and Dorothy Tutin.

Don’t be put off by those earnest souls who tell you that Savage Messiah is about the role of the artist in society. And don’t be conned by people who tell you it’s a heart warming love-story. It’s both.

Ken Russell makes movies about artists mainly, I think, because he sees the artist, who is at one remove from society, having to suffer yer everyday trials etc on his own far more than yer average man-in-the-street.

I don’t know whether Mr Russell believes that artists feel things more, or any of that old stuff, but all that’s immaterial.

What Ken Russell does with every movie he makes is he comes up with a visually stunning piece of work that has a lot to say about the way we live.

The Russian authorised version of Tchaikovsky’s life is neither as interesting nor as good to look at as The Music Lovers. And Russell cut his teeth on telly biopics of people like Debussy, Rosetti, Richard Strauss and so on. His artists are larger than life. But what the hell? Especially as every movie has a serious core to it – quite apart from the sensational bits the publicity kids like to publish.

The Savage Messiah in question is a young artist, Henri Gaudier, who has a platonic relationship with a neurotic failed novelist lady called Sophie Brzeska. He goes to war, against his principles, and dies.

Scott Anthony – just two weeks out of drama school – got the plum part of being the young artist. Dorothy Tutin is superb as the hopelessly jumpy woman who won’t let her pretence of grandeur go as she gouges out the rotten bits of the vegetables she s picked up to make yet another inedible stew.

Because Sophie won’t let Henri sleep with her (in fact, she even gives him five bob to buy himself a tart at one stage) and because they love each other, they form a union of sorts — they share names. Which makes both of them Gaudier-Brzeska.

Their intimacy and lack of it – and the actual cruel opposites of intimacy that Russell uses makes this an intelligent person’s Love Story. Because, more than any other recent movie, this investigates what love is.

Bye-bye Weymouth!

Hullo Morecambe!

19720901-03
MANCHESTER: The Campaign for Homosexual Equality has had to move its first conference next year from Weymouth to Morecambe, because the Dorset resort’s council has reversed a decision it made in July to allow CHE to hold its conference at the Pavilion.

CHE finally got the cold shoulder from Weymouth on August 17 when the council decided by 24 votes to 14 to reject the decision of its entertainments committee to invite the conference to the town after a storm of protest in both the national and the local press.

The Dorset Echo shrilled: “Between 300 and 500 homosexuals will hold a conference in Weymouth next April.

“Their applicaiton was granted yesterday despite angry protests from the Town Council.”

Leading the opposition former mayor, Ald. Wilfred Ward, who thought the idea “a disgusting lead” to give to the town.

He said; “Just how can we get in this town in order to raise money? Are we going to stoop to just anything? We seem to want to get our money without taking into regard any standing of the town.”

Coun. John Knight agreed. He said: “This will bring in a lot of morbid sightseers who will want to see a crowd of queers.”

The Daily Mirror got in on the act, too. On July 21 the paper joined the protesting chorus.

Coun. Clifford Chalker said: “We will be having a conference of prostitutes next.”

Not all Weymouth’s councillors share Mr Chalker’s prehensile views. Ald. Sidney Porter said: “We have no right to stop a bona fide conference. We wouldn’t stop one on grounds of race or creed.”

The Mirror’s bedfellow, The Sunday People joined in the finger-pointing campaign to kill the conference.

Voice of the People, the new-style, old-morality comment column lashed out saying: “Something very queer, but very understandable is going on at the seaside town of Weymouth.

“The queer thing is that some councillors are up in arms over the decision of the entertainments committee to act as hosts to the annual conference of a perfectly legal body.

“The uproar is understandable. Because the body is the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.

“Legal though homosexual acts now are between consenting adults in private, there is strong public distaste for those who engage in them . . .

“If the citizens do let the homosexuals in there is one way that they can dissociate themselves from their guests.

BY CUTTING OUT THE OFFICIAL SHERRY PARTY AND DANCE AT WHICH CONFERENCE DELEGATES ARE USUALLY WELCOMED!” – their boldface.

The Sunday People showed that there’s more than one way to go about queer-bashing and the challenge was taken up by the people of Weymouth.

The paper showed the way to get the boot in to a lot of the good people of sunny Wevmouth.

Mrs H. A. O’Neill wrote to the Echo saying: “I am far from being prudish, unenlightened I or unwordly, but I feel the citizens of Weymouth must band together to have this degrading decision rescinded.”

Despite Mrs O’Neill’s reminder to councillors that it was the citizens of Weymouth who put them on the council, the entertainments committee wouldn’t go back on its word to CHE, and its report to the council said that it (the committee) consider that this conference might lead to better understanding of the problems which face what is understood to be a fairly large number of people, without at the same time, involvement in an extension of licence that would be unacceptable to them.

“The campaign is supported by a large number of highly distinguished and responsible persons prominent in Church and State, who have given it their approval.”

Despite that the council meeting that looked at the entertainment committee’s decision to let CHE have the Pavilion decided that it was not going to risk having 300 to 500 gays in their happy seaside resort.

The Town Clerk, Mr Edward Jones would tell Gay News only that the council had debated this for about an hour and a half. Weymouth Council would make no comment on the reasons for their decision to go back on the entertainment committee’s decision.

As for CHE, Weymouth’s hostility hasn’t upset the Manchester organisation’s hierarchy a bit. A spokesman said: “Weymouth was just one of the resorts we’d approached. We’ve now fixed it all up for Morecambe.”

Presumably the people of Morecambe are more broadminded than A. W. Delacour, of Wyke Cottage, Weymouth, who wrote to the Echo saying: “For the very small minority of our population genuinely trapped psychologically in the homosexual stage of development, one must feel the greatest compassion.

“But the current intellectual cult of defending any sort of aberration or perversion in personal relationships in the name of freedom needs to be challenged and attacked by all who subscribe to the Christian concept of human dignity. There is nothing new about sexual or homosexual licence. What went on in Sodom and Gomorrah 4,000 years ago or in the Roman Empire in the days of St. Paul, is known to everyone.

“Many people in Weymouth must surely beappalled by the insensitivity of certain of their elected representatives in agreeing to receive the conference of the Campaign for Homosexual Inequality (whatever that means!)” – Mr Delacour s cock-up.

Mr Delacour was not available to comment to Gay News on his views on gayness, but we compliment him on this letter and on his error in CHE’s title.

St Valentine’s Day At The Paramount

19720901-10The Godfather. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Richard Conte, Sterling Hayden, James Caan, John Marley. Distributed by Paramount Pictures. Cert X. 175 minutes.

I always thought a “press show” was when a movie renter showed his latest product to the press. But the Godfather press show changed all that. All 900 tickets had been allocated weeks before but still the press showed up in force to tell us where they’re really at. The Paramount staff had to deal with a crowd that behaved more like a crowd of hungry bears than like a corps of serious-minded critics.

19720901-11One ageing trendy tried to slip his amoureuse past the cordon by folding his ticket in half. “I haf two tickets. Ve are ze German Press.”

But Paramount’s lady at the gate wasn’t having any of that and the German Press’s lady was sent to stand with the ether ticketless wall flowers.

So the carnage had started outside the cinema, with people trying to storm the barricades. And even if the people in the cinema clap at the end. it seemed hardly worth the effort.

It isn’t so much that The Godfather is a bad movie, it’s just that it’s two hours and 55 minutes long.

Brando’s make-up is good, his acting is as good, but it’s hidden by all that face he’s wearing.

The story is a vicious as they come, and not half as boring as Mario Puzo’s novel which it’s based on – largely because Puzo and Coppola have gutted the hopelessly wordy novel

But it still leaves a hopelessly long movie. Maybe it’s because the style it’s made in is the style gangster movies of the 1930’s and 1940’s were made in – the heavy dissolve from scene to scene.

The movie treats the decline of a powerful Mafia family without mentioning the Mafia once – the Italian-American community leaned on Paramount to get the word cut out.

Instead we get “the mob”, “the family”, “the racket” where we should have the Mafia, and it makes it all seem rather silly – euphemisms always do.

The best thing is the music, by Nino Rota, who always did run up a nice little score for the odd movie.

The most entertaining thing was the press clawing at each other, but when this gets into print they’ll be fighting at another viewing.

In fact I fell asleep in the first hour, but it didn’t make much difference to my understanding of what was going on.

Two disturbing factors: The Godfather is apallingly sexist and it enjoys its violence like any good little rich voyeur getting his kicks.

GAYROCK

David Bowie, in concert at The Royal Festival Hall.

05-197208xx-6There comes a time when each of us has his turn to be right. But let me put that truism in perspective.

This year your reporter said this was going to be the year of “gay rock” And the year when David Bowie was going to happen.

He said it last year. And the year before. By now his ancients are used to dismissing these portentous statements by “Just because you fancy David Bowie” and that sort of thing.

This year Alice Cooper is getting friendly with snakes, the Kinks are living up to their name, the grounds of Elton John’s Honky Chateau have turned into a camp-site. And Elton and Rod Stewart camped around with John Baldry on Top of the Pops.

Most important, Bowie is back in the top twenty singles for the first time since Space Oddity (1969) and he’s well up in the album charts.

It’s good to be right. And that brings us to the event.

THE EVENT: Saturday July 8th Bowie played at London’s Royal Festival Hall in a benefit for the Friends of the Earth’s Save The Whale campaign fund.

Bowie and Mott the Hoople were going to be equally billed. But Mott insisted on doing their full two hour act, which, with Bowie, makes the thing too long, so Mott drop out.

That leaves the boy from Brixton at the top of the bill. And makes the concert something of a coming out for him. And of a gay event.

Two weeks before the concert you couldn’t get a seat in the RFH for deviant practices or money. Your reporter got in early with a couple of quid and there he was just a few yards out from the stage and enough amplification equipment to set up a small to medium sized radio station.

Kuddly Ken Everett is compere. Introduces Marmalade and the JSD Band, who replace Mott. It seems podgy Scots boys with glasses are in this week. They get a reasonable reception. But we’re waiting for the Star.

The crowd isn’t noticeably campy, even though the after shave lies slightly heavier on the air than at most concerts at the RFH.

Then Ken Ev (“I even went a bit gay” – Nova) in a fetching jumpsuit of blue denim with massive while buttons showing how he’d got in and how he meant to get out says he’s fought his way through the feather boas to the star’s dressing room.

“He insists on introducing himself in about four minutes time. So here is the second greatest thing, next to God . . . David Bowie.” says Kuddly Ken.

The speakers boom out the Moog martial version of the ‘Song of Joy’ from ‘A Clockwork Orange’.

The capacity plus crowd claps in time and in the dark as people sneak across the stage in the murk.

It ends. A single spot picks out a thin, almost drawn, jester. Red hair, white make-up and a skin tight red and green Persian carpet print space suit. All this on top of red lace up space boots.

“hello. I’m Ziggy Stardust and these are the Spiders from Mars.”

More lights and we have Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Mick Woodmansey.

A few seconds and we have the mind-fucking electric music of Bowie from the amps matched by the words that make Burroughs look like a slouch.

And on stage, Bowie rampant.

Until now, Bowie’s never been a star, but he’s studied some of the best, like Garbo, Presley, and now he’s on top he knows what to do.

Sometimes he plays guitar, sometimes just sings with his eerie thin voice, but sometimes that voice grows. Bowie is the understudy who’s been waiting in the wings for years. Finally his Big Day comes, and he’s got every step, every note, every voice-warble right. A star is born.

He’s a showman alright. Even the pubescent girls who’d spent their Saturday-morning-at-Woolies wages on a seat, or crowded into the gangways, screamed.

He says, “Tonight we have a surprise for you”. And everyone knows what it is. Lou Reed. The NME and the other pop papers carried that secret during the week in inch-and-a-half caps.

“Tonight we’re going to do a number by the Cream – Free.” Anti-climax swamps the hall.

But the Bowie voice is haunting in the few lines of words at the beginning of the number. Then he leaves it to the spiders to get on with it. They do – talented musicians that they are. Strobe lights on the gantry over them slow then into a far from silent movie, one frame at a time.

Then our David’s back. Now he’s in white satin space suit that leaves only how he managed to get into it to the imagination.

Garbo on Mars

And, off-hand, he says: “If you’ve seen us before, you’ll know we do some numbers by the Velvet Underground. And tonight we have, for the first on any stage in England, Lou Reed.”

And the Velvets’ former leading light bounds on in black to match Bowie’s white.

We get a set of Velvets numbers. David plays to Lou.

Lou plays to Mick. Mick plays to David.

While they’re having fun on stage there’s enough electricity generated in the RFH to keep the national grid pulsing high voltage goodies all over the land.

They end, and the front several hundred of the 3,000-plus crowd mobs the stage. Time for the expected encore.

Ziggy and the spiders reappear and do ‘Suffragette City’, orange handouts with their pictures on, explode from the stage.

In this hour-and-a-bit Bowie has passed from wild electric rock to simple ballads, such as ‘Space Oddity’ and a Jacques Brel poem, ’The Port of Amsterdam’ and back to wild electric rock.

His words span concepts from science-fiction and the coming of a superrace to sexual liberation.

And that’s what a lot came to hear, your reporter supposes. For Bowie is the totem of gay-rock. Lou Reed a “bisexual chauvinist pig.’

But more important is the little girls who came to scream at Bowie’s “bump” — as the groupy girls say – get turned on to sexual liberation.

And we all had a bloody good time.

David Bowie is probably the best rock musician in Britain now. One day he’ll become as popular as he deserves to be. And that’ll give gay-rock a very potent spokesman.

After the event:

Reporters in state of shock, deafened. So easily put off making prearranged backstage tryst with the Bowie circus by unfriendly lady from Friends Of the Earth, who’s busy being seen with the Stars.

“Thank you so much, Kenny, it was wonderful” Kisses the ducking Ev. Lady from F O E is another reason for mysogeny.

So back to the records.

  • Brief discography of albums:
  • ‘Love You Till Tuesday’ (Deram. deleted) but much of the material is on the low – price ‘World Of David Bowie’ (Decca).
  • ‘David Bowie’ (Philips, deleted).
  • ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ (Mercury deleted) ‘One Stop. Dean Street. W.1 has some U.S. import copies of this., Bowie’s most powerful album, at £2.99.
  • ‘Hunky Dory’ (RCA)
  • ‘The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (RCA) his latest is equally best. Treat yourself. ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide’ (Side two, last track) is a wow.