Yours on top of hers

Quite recently, I went to my local GP (a male doctor) and told him I had begun to get severe pains in the groin and abdomen. His reply was “Oh, nothing to worry about. Plenty of women get it.”

05-197208xx-5I then told him that I was sleeping with a girl who had had severe salpingitis quite recently – could I have caught it from her? “No, no – you’re not lesbians or anything like that, are you?” I told him that, yes, we were. His attitude then became somewhat hostile – “Off to the VD clinic with you, then.” – and he gave me some painkillers. He made no internal examination, and did not examine me in any other way.

The next week I was on holiday, and had to get antibiotics from the local GP, as I had begun to have attacks of sharp pains. I went back to my GP and told him this, and was given more painkillers and told to rest.

Later that week my girlfriend had to take me to the casualty dept, of the local hospital.

I was given some pills and told to get more from the doctor, which I did.

05-197208xx-6On going to the VD clinic, I was asked whom I had slept with recently. I gave the names of about five women. They were not interested in these, and wanted to know when I had last slept with a man, so I told them, and said it was about six months ago. I kept going for check-ups, and was told I did not have VD, but an inflammation of the fallopian tubes.

The doctors’ attitudes ranged from amusement, to sarcasm, and lastly open hostility. One of the doctors wanted to know if I was butch or femme I explained that I wasn’t into role-playing, etc., at which he was most amused and surprised, and wanted to question me further. I answered his questions, as I felt he needed educating, but he was merely titillated.

I asked him if it were possible for women to transmit sexual infections to each other. He did not appear to know, and ended up by answering me in this fashion: “Well, I would imagine it would be rather difficult to get, er, ‘yours’ on top of ’hers’, wouldn’t it?’” “No, it’s not that difficult, actually.” I then asked him if we would be at risk by plating each other (cunnilingus). He was very embarrassed by this, and again could give no definite answer.

I was given more pills, and will now have to go for further examinations.

In the first place, I think this could have been avoided with more help and interest from my doctor; in the second place, there should be more readily available information about transmission of VD etc. between women, as gay women do go to these clinics, and need help as much as anybody else.

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.

Saga of a Sexy Novel

Back in the late Sixties I finished a novel which I called ‘Cupid’s Crescent’ – Not my first novel but the first I actually thought worth persisting in sending round to publishers. It wasn’t a long novel, just a fraction shorter than the average, but it was certainly sexy and contained a few of those words that, though in common use, weren’t at that time supposed to appear in print.

05-197208xx-6During the following years the manuscript passed through the hands of several agents and practically every fiction publisher in and around London. Reactions ranged from that of a well-known publisher, since dead (though not, I understand, because of reading my book), who got very uptight and slammed the agent for sending him such a disgusting piece of work. The regular response was: Sorry, but not suitable for our list. But about half a dozen publishers were extremely enthusiastic, and although they wouldn’t take the novel, their comments gave me the heart to keep trying.

They put in their rejection letters such nicely quotable phrases as ‘entertaining and very well written’, ‘congratulations on a really original story’, ‘it’s one of those rare, really funny books .. . contains scenes of great comic merit’, and ‘a dirty book but deliciously funny’.

These same publishers, however, tempered their praise, not by picking out faults but by indicating that they were afraid of the consequences of producing my book. ‘It is the dirtiest, kinkiest, sickest, and most unpublishable one that has come my way’, said one, adding that he didn’t want to end up in prison. Another said that ‘we’d be inundated by strangled cries from the outraged reading public’. And another commented: ‘If you clean it up, you’re going to ruin the effect; if you don’t clean it up, you’re going to have to wait until the dirty market catches up with you …’

I doubt if the ‘dirty’ market is ever going to catch up with me. Why? Because in England there is the hypocritical belief that detailed sexual writing, unless dealt with in an indirect or in an ‘educational’ way, is pornographic – I use that last word only because it’s handy in the context; I don’t believe that anything is porno or obscene, and if I have to use such words I’d rather apply them to such matters as war and violence and unnecessary suffering. And if a writer not only writes about sex, but also does so in a comic manner (which I hope is the case with ‘Cupid’s Crescent’), then his case is hopeless. Sex isn’t supposed to be funny!

I guess that most English publishers are scared of sex. If a publisher likes a book, as several obviously liked mine, then why suppress it? – because suppression is the ultimate effect of their rejections. It’s an identical kind of censorship to that which is supposed to apply to political novels in the so-called Iron Curtain countries. Of course, if you cut the book off at source (that is, in manuscript form), then you can kid yourself that you’re not a censor at all, merely a publisher rejecting unsuitable material, and you can go on believing you’re living in a lovely free democracy.

Ah., says the Gay News reader, but what about such books as ‘Candy’ and ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’ and those by Genet and Burroughs, and Henry Miller – they’re all available here. Well, potential customers, don’t forget that these were published with considerable success in other countries first; they were acclaimed by critics, endorsed by best-seller lists, and enjoyed by millions of readers in their own countries. Any attempt to suppress them in England would make the censors, whether at publishing company level or at Government level, look bloody silly. And don’t forget either that the publicity such books have already attracted makes them sure best-sellers here. Profitability is, for most publishers, whatever they spout about honour and integrity, the supreme factor; and whether we like it or not, in this kind of society it’s difficult to blame them.

Anyway, I finally decided to publish ‘Cupid’s Crescent’ myself: by subscription, as this is the only way I could think of to raise enough bread. For potential subscribers, let me say that I think you’ll get your money’s worth. The novel recounts the adventures of a young man who like certain unnamed people connected with pornography commissions and festivals of light, believes that Sex is a very Nasty Thing indeed, and goes to extreme lengths, murder even, to achieve his goal of ridding the world of people who actually enjoy fucking. There’s practically no ‘straight’ sex in the book, but lots of other kinds, especially gay sex – and it’s all dealt with in a tongue-in-cheek, humorous (I hope) fashion.

The novel is going to be published as a paperback, clearly printed but not a luxurious production. It’s expensive for what it is: £2.00 per copy for the first 350, which will be signed and numbered by me; and the rest, without my autograph, at £1.00 each Postage included. It’s possible they’ll become collectors’ items, but this I don’t guarantee. What I do guarantee is that, if the project doesn’t get off the ground, you’ll get your money back. Okay?

(Editorial note: Laurie is an active member of both GLF and CHE. has had many short stories published, stage plays produced. TV and radio plays on the RRC and other networks, and is the author of two collections of poetry. Cheques should be made out to Laurie or to ‘Grandma Press’ and sent to 30 Andrewes House, Barbican, London, EC2Y 8AX)