In Ten Days The Circus Leaves Town

I’ve never seen a pantomime like Le Grand Magic Circus – and I’ve never seen a circus like it either. In fact, to say that Robinson Crusoe, which the Grand Magic Circus is staging at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London, until January 20 is unique is no overstatement.

In short, you don’t get to see many pantomimes that don’t have women dressed up as men trying to look like women as the principals or men dressed up as women trying to look like men dressed as women in support roles. Le Grand Magic Circus has none of the overblown panto about it.

Instead of a yesterday’s pop idol clutching onto a hand-mike, Robinson Crusoe gives us the mime that gave panto its name. Forget yer usual R.C. story, this one has Crusoe hanging around in a hammock watching the telly while Friday pulls massive cardboard vegetables out of the ground.

So it’s not a pantomime in today’s accepted-and-debased sense. It’s real theatre. And it’s no ordinary circus, either. The only animals used are a few birds (a chicken and a goose inter alia) who make noisy and unexpected entrances from various parts of the auditorium. Otherwise the zebras, very obviously human underneath it all.

Le Grand Magic Circus started life as a street-theatre group in the Paris troubles of May 1968. Robinson Crusoe has grown out of that. It works on two levels, it’s fun and it’s a piece of propaganda about the telly-watching landlord Crusoe, who’s not sure he wants to be rescued while life’s so soft on his island.

This is one band of actors who can get me to pay to see it a second time, and get me to forget all my reservations and participate. Robinson Crusoe is quite easily the most interesting thing on London’s stage. But the Circus leaves town on January 20. Get in quick and see the show. It may be a long time before you get another chance.

Try Again Woody

PLAY IT AGAIN SAM, Directed by Herbert Ross. Starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Jerry Lacy. Certificate AA. Released by Paramount Pictures.

It’s not good for any movie star to be likened to another, so it’s invidious to say that Woody Allen is the new Groucho Marx, or even Buster Keaton. But whether it’s fair to call him that or not, that’s exactly what he is.

Just as Peter Sellers showed promise of being a comic talent some years ago, before his ability was squandered in the search for a few dollars more to buy another mini, Woody Allen now looks set firmly on course for being the best comedy actor we’ve had for years. And to cap it all he writes most of his own material.

Until recently (in fact until Bananas) he never put a foot wrong as far as I’m concerned.

So it’s with some regret that I have to admit that I didn’t exactly die laughing at Woody clowning his way through Play It Again, Sam, Herbert Ross’ movie from Woody’s screenplay based on his own stage play.

Perhaps it’s because this movie is based on a stage play that it doesn’t work as well as Bananas or Take The Money and Run. Or perhaps it’s because it’s directed by someone other than Woody Allen himself — he directed the others and has just finished Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex etc.

Whatever the reason, this movie just doesn’t hang together as well as most of Woody Allen’s humour.

Basically, his usual maladroit everyman figure is surrounded by disasters, as usual — but this time they’re romantic disasters mostly.

True, there are moments when the usual brilliant visual humour shows through, but, generally speaking, those good patches stick out. And that’s a bad sign for any movie. If the good bits are conspicuous, then the rest can’t be up to scratch.

I love Woody Allen. He is me. He is a human disaster area. He is the victim of gadgets and 20th Century technological hardware. His hairdryer causes havoc in his medicine cupboard as he hurries to meet a girl.

The story is this: Woody is a movie-critic on a rather esoteric movie-mag. His wife walks out because he’s more hung-up about celluloid than sex. So he has to go out hunting for a new mate. He’s helped in this by Humphrey Bogart (Jerry Lacy) and his best friend’s wife (Diane Keaton).

The Bogart figure is the product of Woody’s movie-mad imagination. Bogie follows him on his dates and tells him what to do, for Woody is, as ever, completely flustered when faced with the realities of a situation.

Every date fixed for him by his best friends (and that wife of his) turns out to be a shambles, because Woody just can’t pull the birds any more. Not even a roaring nymphomaniac — a crazy cameo played by Viva (from the Warhol factory).

Meanwhile as rebuff after rebuff erodes our hero’s self-confidence. Woody discovers the only woman he feels comfortable with is his best friend’s wife. They have sex.

She tells her husband their marriage is on the rocks and he goes off on yet another of his business trips. Realising that she should be with her husband she rushes off to join him at the airport.

Meanwhile Woody turns up at the airport, but he won’t keep her from her husband because that’s not the way it happened in Casablanca — and sure enough, there’s Bogie at his elbow, mighty proud of him, and that’s the way he’s learned to treat dames.

Romantic comedies aren’t exactly my elegant glass of Babycham. But this one’s different. It has to be with Woody Allen involved. Who else could give the woman he loves a plastic skunk for her birthday or say as she walks out of his life that that’s the scene he’s been wanting to play all his life – or, at least, since he first saw Casablanca.

Trouble is the movie’s produced by Arthur (Planet of the Apes) Jacobs and much of his influence seems to have spread throughout the movie. The intercutting of real Bogart footage is overly heavy and unnecessary. But Woody wins out in the end. There’s a scene where he’s elated and walks

along a bridge patting the backs of the boys fishing. One of course, falls off the parapet. Woody, of course, notices nothing.

It’s fun, but it’s not the best of Woody Allen. All the same it’s better than no Woody Allen. And that’s enough to get me into the cinema – even at 10.30 a.m.

Public Parts

LONDON: It wasn’t exactly her cup of Earl Grey, but the old lady in the front of the orchestra played her harp happily and smiled at Peter Straker as he performed his Private Parts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Staging a concert starring a largely-unknown singer, such as Peter, is something of a risk. Staging it as a public performance of the singer’s latest album is probably more of a risk, especially when Private Parts is a work that’s adult enough to make radio producers’ rising eyebrows make up for their receding hairlines.

But taking risks is the job of a pop promotor, so we shall have no more of the commercial considerations of this concert.

Suffice it to say that An Evening With Peter Straker was a remarkable success. The success was remarkable not because we had any doubt about Peter’s ability as a singer – he’d shown his talents in Hair and on several records. The success was remarkable because he managed to put over to an auditorium of people one of the most personal pop works I’ve heard for a few years.

For the first half of the concert – the first side of the record really – he was coming down from the high of tension that he’d been building up for the last two months, worrying about the concert. It ended with the most surprising piece of the whole evening. Peter put over his feelings about the death of his father, in the song As You Were Dying, as powerfully in public as on record. Perhaps the feeling of personal involvement by the audience was greater at the concert. For Peter, an actor as well as a singer, turned the empty laughter at the end of the song into a macabre, mocking laughter echoing down its emptiness.

It had never struck me until then just how horrifying and bizarre that song is, telling of his father’s suicide by hanging.

By this point he’d gained confidence and the rest of the concert reflected this. Peter seemed to be enjoying it as much as the audience by then.

He was confident, but not over-confident, which, I feel is the general feeling behind the second half of the work, apart from a Bad Night — the song which attempts to convey his fear during a bad trip.

By the time we got to What More Is There To Say? the last song in the cycle, Peter Straker had arrived, and was irradiating the sort of feeling you get when you watch the established solo performer.

Considering that Peter’s only made three records as well as being in the London cast of Hair, and of the disastrous Mother Earth musical you can’t really classify him as a big-name singer. I’ll rephrase that: you couldn’t – until the Queen Elizabeth Hall concert on December 1.

He’d got up early in the morning and walked around Holland Park singing every number in the Private Parts cycle.

His next singing engagements will probably be on the continent. “People in this country just aren’t into this sort of music,” he told me after the concert was over.

He may be wrong, for the crowd at the QEH demanded an encore. And by the time he’d finished Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley’s work (Private Parts is written by them) there was nothing left for him to sing. So he had to go back to Who Killed Cock Robin. Then he had to come back again, and again, and again.

Even though the horns in the orchestra didn’t seem as interested in Richard Hartley’s directions as the lady harpist, who carried on regardless when one of her strings broke, it might just be that people in this country are willing to accept Private Parts as an important pop work, which owes much to the French chanson style, and also the Great British Public might just accept Peter Straker as an important figure on the pop scene and not just a left-over from Hair.

Peter may not sing reggae or soul but it wouldn’t hurt the GBP to give Peter’s Private Parts two listens – it’s even better the second time round.

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.”

Man Versus Motorway

DUEL, directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott. Distributed by Cinema International for Universal Pictures.

In many ways Duel is like a 20th Century version of Alfred Hitchcock. More modern than the master but just as exciting. As the master of suspense/thrillers Hitchcock has always focussed his attention on one thing in particular. The weakest point of his subject’s survival pattern. Often it’s an object that becomes an obsession which finally destroys the person.

Hitchcock is ageing and his movies are not as gripping as they were. His style has changed little since he ran up the first British talkie a few years back. His old-fashioned approach to settings is most typified by his frequent use of quite obviously painted back-drops instead of a location.

So it is good that Universal’s television output – which hams British screens with rubbish much of the time – has given Steven Spielberg a chance to get into making feature movies.

Spielberg is 25 (or he was in September) and Duel was never meant to be shown in cinemas. It was made as a television movie. Spielberg starts work on his first scheduled feature (starring Goldie Hawn) from his own story in January.

Like most directors from television (Arthur Penn, Don Siegel et al) Spielberg uses the locations he chooses for all they’re worth, and once again like most telly-directors, he makes Duel as a sparing and taut piece of moviemaking.

Duel is the story of a salesman who finds his freeway lane blocked by a juggernaut petrol tanker, he overtakes it and, from there on out, it’s a battle between the man (Dennis Weaver) and the tanker. When he stops off at a petrol station he starts again to find the tanker – which also stopped for fuel – coming up behind him at an amazing speed. As soon as it overtakes him it slows to a crawl.

The battle is between the salesman and the tanker, for we never see its driver clearly. It takes place on a wide fast road, and the service stations and cafeterias along it. In short it’s man versus the motorcar with a vengeance.

It is probably the best thriller I’ve seen since Psycho, but then I don’t usually go to thrillers. For the first half-hour I was thinking Duel’s television techniques couldn’t hold my attention. Then gradually I got so involved I couldn’t leave the cinema even to go to the lavatory.

As this is touring with Asylum, my advice is go’n’see’em. They’ll have you on the edge of your seat, it’s the best double-bill for years.

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.