LONDON: Clearing the television documentary on Andy Warhol which he and two other Appeal Court judges had barred from being shown on ITV, Judge Denning tried to give the programme his seal of disapproval by saying it shows “the perverts and homosexuals who surround Mr Warhol”.
Not only did Lord Denning confuse “perverts” and “homosexuals” but he found that the programme was “dreary and dull. Taken as a whole, however, it is not offensive.” That was his verdict after he’d seen the television programme made by photographer David Bailey which he and another Appeal Court judge banned without bothering to see some weeks ago.
Lord Denning may have been prepared to make a volte-face in the light of public opinion about the court’s television censorship, but he was determined to get a last word in on the subject.
He said: “I speak as I find. The film struck me as dreary and dull. It showed the sort of people, perverts and homosexuals, who surround Mr Warhol and whom he portrays in his works. Taken as a whole, however, it is not offensive.
“Viewing it piece by piece, there are some incidents which seem to be inserted in an attempt to liven up the dullness; but this attempt did not succeed as far as I was concerned.”
Whether Judge Denning watches the programme or not is immaterial, what is important is that the court got rapped over the knuckles rather sharply by Sir Peter Rawlinson, the Attorney-General, who said it had no right to issue an injunction against the broadcasting authorities on the strength of a private complaint.
Ross McWhirter, the shocked and somewhat disappointed would-be hero of the ban-Warhol attempt, should have complained about the showing of the programme through the Attorney-General, Sir Peter said. And if though there was a breach of the law regarding broadcasting standards in the screening of a programme, it was up to him to get the injunction against the authority concerned. In this way he scotched the clean-up-TV-campaigners’ hopes for more and more successful court actions against TV companies.
QUOTES: Ross McWhirter: “I have received donations towards my (legal) costs in advance of today’s hearing.”
Mary Whitehouse: “The case is a beacon to the silent majority.”
David Bailey: “If the judges had liked it that would have been really something to worry about.”
Jimmy Vaughan, Warhol’s European agent: “I’m delighted. It’s a victory against humbugs.”
FOOTNOTE: Four days later Andy Warhol’s Trash opened at the London Pavilion, two years after the cans of movie arrived at Vaughan Films, and minus 23 seconds.
It has taken two years to get the British Board of Film Censors to agree to give Trash an X-certificate.
The 23 missing seconds include a fraction of the scene in which drag starlet Holly Woodlawn masturbates with a beer bottle, a fraction of a scene where Joe Dallesandro injects heroin into his arm and a little of one of the movies infrequent fucks.
Only one of the London film critics (Alexander Walker of the Evening Standard) realised that Holly Woodlawn, the glamourous heroine, is a well known Warhol factory transvestite.
The protracted soul-searchings by Appeal Court judges over the Andy Warhol television documentary, followed by a series of raid on ‘pornographers’ by the police have put the question of what is obscene and what isn’t back into the centre of public attention – where it ought to stay for a good while longer so that it may be resolved.
The trouble is that the time it takes the law to make up its mind as to what is offensive – and is therefore the basis for a criminal charge – makes the court the wrong place for it to be decided whether something should be available to the public or not.
Publish and be Damned
The situation in this country now is that you can publish whatever you like – and the court will make its mind up later whether or not you are to be damned. And that situation is, quite obviously, not good enough.
Society must decide, once and for all, what it is going to allow. The choice, quite starkly, is between all or nothing.
If the answer is nothing, then we have opted for a society that doesn’t want to develop.
It’s a truism to say that standards have changed over the last so many years. The only reason they have changed is because society has developed organically. The moral censors and porn-breakers are usually fighting a rear-guard action.
To change organically society must accept new ideas constantly.
That’s why a society that refuses to allow certain things to be published, because they offend the standards of those judges and censors of our moral taste and behaviour, is a stagnant society. Judges and censors are usually ageing, middle-class and totally out of tune with the times they live in, not seeing outside their own cloistered world.
In fact, society has set up these censors precisely to halt change, without realising that it is the worst possible move as far as its own interests are concerned. By doing this, society has surely shut the door on an organic change.
A closed-doors society cannot keep itself away from the influences of the rest of the world.
Eventually, either those who censor will find the ground eroded from under their feet or the members of the society they control will refuse to be ruled by out-moded laws any longer.
These considerations are quite apart from the allegations made by the porn-swoop police that the ‘pornographers’ were involved in underworld gangster warfare. The gang allegations are more than a mere side-light on the whole subject of pornography. It is a product of the very system that censorship is intended to protect.
There will always be a need for what is described as ‘pornography’ and while society goes on denying people what they want to see, the porn-biz is going to be very big business, a high-profit business, where a contact magazine that sells wholesale for 10p retails to the public at £1. And it’s that sort of high-profit business that attracts the less honest to cash in on the great titillation bonanza.
By its absurd practice of attempting to clamp down on sexual publishing – and then only after the event – society builds up not evolutionary, but revolutionary pressures and opens the way for racketeers, who will, naturally enough, be prepared to join battle to carve themselves a monopoly out of this multi-million pound trade.
There’s one answer that relieves the law of the burden of wasted hours spent in finding out whether or not a girl’s breasts are offensive to a judge; a solution that avoids the massive costs of such court cases and destroys the semi-gangster sub-culture the underground porn-market creates. The answer to all these problems is quite simple: scrap censorship as we know it now.
New ‘Porn Laws’
Let people see anything they want to. They’ll get to see it anyway, by hook or from crook. Perhaps it would be necessary to extend the existing system of movie-censorship in a modified form to cover all areas of publishing.
The sanest way to censor would be for something that is to be published to be passed as fit for people under or over a certain age. Above that age anything should go. It would need a censorship board to deal with those areas of publishing not already affected by censors, but once a publisher had his work passed as fit for adults, he would be sure there would be no possibility of prosecution.
This, surely, is the only way to get out of a situation where we are beset by cranks on one hand and people (we are told are gangsters) on the other.
LONDON: Just to prove that there are some that can and some that can’t, the three judges who banned the David Bailey documentary on Andy Warhol actually sat down and looked at what they’d stopped the public seeing.
It was the first time the judges, who banned the television programme without seeing it, put their innocence in jeopardy by exposing themselves to the documentary film about the pop artist and movie maker.
For this treat, they left the boring old Appeal Court, where they spend about 30 per cent of their lives. And just to prove that he didn’t mind risking being corrupted by the ATV programme he’d got blacked out, Ross McWhirter, the rugby commentator and record book compiler, who has ambitions for political office, went along too. He’s behind the Master of the Rolls, Judge Denning (centre, front row).
Now that McWhirter has battled the Bailey documentary to a guarenteed high viewing figure when it is finally shown, he intends to take on the Attorney-General at the European Court of Human Rights alleging that the Government committed an illegal act by making Britain join the Common Market.
He’s a versatile campaigner, who even the Daily Telegraph put down as someone who ‘has set himself up as a legal watchdog on Governments and public bodies’.
In the past he’s failed to get elected to Parliament as Conservative candidate for Edmonton (1964), accused James Callaghan, the Labour Home Secretary, of jerrymandering (1969), and finally settled out of court for £250 costs.
The fact that not only the judges, but also McWhirter were allowed to see the television movie demonstrates that in the eyes of the law some can be corrupted, and some can’t. Those who can’t are judges and their friends.
It’s Wednesday about 5pm. The Gay News office is a tip. We’ve been mailing subscription copies most of the day. The phone rings.
It’s Variety. Not the show-biz trade paper, but the girl who answers the phone at Vaughan Films, with the collected movie works of Trevelyan (not the ex-censor), Anger and Warhol in cans piled up round her desk and her electric typewriter.
“Joe’s in town. Would you like to see him?” she asks.
“Would I? You must be joking. What time and where?”
“I’ll have to tell you the time tomorrow and it’ll be at the office.”
Next morning up and ready ridiculously early. We have to waste some time listening to Jimmy Young and sitting at home – if home is where my toothbursh is – waiting for Variety to call.
She does. At midday.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to get up, Peter, you can see Joe at one.”
London Transport Executive does its best to delay all 149 buses to Liverpool Street, and to keep all Central Line trains to Oxford Circus from running.
Despite LTE we get there on time. Just.
Variety looks after the Gay News carrier bag while we’re off to see the ‘superstar’ of the movies that puts fear into the hearts of the sensitive and politically ambitious of Enfield.
Next door is almost as crowded, but this time it’s people not film cans that are piling up round the walls. There are Christine, the lady who fixes almost anything, and the rest of the small distribution company’s directors and staff, all buzzing with excitement at the thought of The Big Opening, (Trash, February 8, London Pavilion). And leaning against the doorpost there’s a young man who looks as though he’s trying to merge with the furniture and the posters with his face on.
He’s got the face of Joe Dalessandro, but it’s difficult to recognise him in a tidy blue suit with creases in the trousers any banker would be proud of, let alone with his clothes on.
Christine says: “This is Peter Holmes of Gay News and he’d like to have a few words with you.”
We shake hands and say hello/hullo/hallo and retire to the inner sanctum — the office of Andy Warhol’s European agent, Jimmy Vaughan.
Joe seems frankly surprised that Europe’s leading gay fortnightly wants to talk to him. He takes out a Marlboro and lights it. He says he’s hungry, loud enough for the massed company directors and their right-hand men and women to hear.
On every surface of the room there’s a picture of Joe, some in colour, some in plain old black-and-white.
Gay News: How much do you identify with the characters you play in the movies? After all, you’re always called Joe on the screen.
Joe: Well, I’ve got Joe tatooed on my arm, and I didn’t find out how to blank it out with make-up until just recently.
GN: You’ve been a screen stud, a gay and you’ve even fixed heroin on screen. How much of it is the real you?
Joe: None of it. They’re just characters in movies. At home I’m just a quiet family sort of man. I’ve got my mother living in the city, and I visit her regularly. And I’ve got a wife at home and a child. And my wife cooks me delicious meals and I stay at home and watch television a lot. I don’t know any junkies. I don’t know any gays. I’m just a very straight sort of person.
GN: Despite that you’ve become something of a gay hero.
Joe: I don’t know why.
GN: Well, Joe was pansexual in Flesh and Lonesome Cowboys was overtly gay.
Joe: Well, I’m glad I’ve become a hero for somebody.
GN: Back at reality in the Warhol movies, there’s a scene in Trash where you fix heroin…
Joe: ‘Fix’? Is that what you call it?
GN: You fix heroin, you shoot it up into your arm in full view of the screen. That scene made the boyfriend I saw it with faint.
Joe: Did you see it here in London?
GN: Yes, at a screening for the trade, to coin a phrase. Anyway, what did you shoot up, or fix, or whatever? Was it water or something?
Joe: I didn’t shoot anything into my arm.
GN: You mean it’s all done with the tricks of the cinema business?
Joe: Yes, I never put a needle into me.
GN: You say you lead a very straight life. Does that mean you’re anti-drug and anti-gay?
Joe: What do you mean by ‘anti’?
GN: Do you personally, discriminate against drug-users or gays you meet?
Joe: I can’t really because I don’t come into any contact with anyone who falls into these categories, because I spend most of my life at home when I’m not working. I believe that people should be able to do whatever they like, in ones or twos or threes or whatever outside my home. But once they’re inside they have to do what I say.
I wouldn’t discriminate against gays — if I knew any – but then, I wouldn’t sleep with a gay guy either.
Actually, I’m very anti-drug. I don’t use any and I don’t allow any to be used in my home.
GN: I think Trash is probably the most convincing condemnation of drug-use I’ve ever seen. It’s ridiculous their banning it for two years in this country. If it was given a U-certificate, that’s the unrestricted viewing certificate, and shown in schools, it would kill the smack trade stone dead in just ten years, probably.
(Jimmy Vaughan, Andy Warhol’s European agent walks into his office to the refrigerator that holds the hospitality wine.)
Joe: Do you have some kind of hamburger joint in England?
JV: We’ll be giving you some meat in half-an-hour. We’ll go out for a steak.
Joe: 15 minutes.
JV: 15 minutes.
Joe: I’m sorry but I really am hungry.
JV: And when Joe gets hungry he gets annoyed. Isn’t that right Joe?
JV: Don’t mind me, I’m just popping through.
GN: You’ve been with the Warhold factory for five years now …
GN: Ever since The Loves of Ondine. Can you see a time when you’ll quit the factory to join the more conventional movie-making industry?
Joe: Not really. After all, the movies we make have changed a lot. Paul Morrisey has changed things and the movies are very different now.
GN: Yes, but Savages has just opened in London with Ultra Violet in it. She was one of the factory’s first superstars, and Play It Again Sam had Viva in a very small and rather bad part.
Joe: Viva was great in Cisco Pike. Did you ever get to see that?
GN: No. What I meant was that these two have broken away from the factory, seemingly to get into the straight movies, if you can call Savages straight. Would you do that, now that you’ve become a ‘superstar’?
Joe: I wouldn’t say I was a superstar.
GN: It’s the Warhol name for the stars of the factory’s movies. Would you make movies for other directors and other set-ups?
Joe: Sure I would, but that doesn’t mean I’d stop working for Warhol. I enjoy working there too much to leave it.
GN: Why did you start working for the Warhol factory?
Joe: You see I like money and I wanted to be an actor in the movies and no studio would give someone of my age a part unless he’d already done a couple of features.
GN: How old were you when you started, then?
GN: At that age, I suppose you can’t get a part unless your father is a big-name star.
Joe: Who are you thinking of?
GN: Peter Fonda, for one.
Joe: Do you know how old Peter Fonda is?
GN: He’s starting to look about 40 or 50. But he was in a lot of features before he made the big-time, albeit low-budget jobs.
Joe: Yes, but he was 28 or 29 when he started those.
GN: Are you only loyal to the Warhol movie factory because it keeps you in regular employment?
Joe: I suppose so, yes. I don’t live and breathe it, and I’m not politically committed to it. To me they’re just movies with parts in them to be played.
GN: Which is your favourite of the movies you’ve been in?
Joe: I don’t know that I have a favourite. I liked them all. They’re all movies.
Joe: I never say what people should do and what they shouldn’t do, and I don’t think anybody else should. Britain’s no worse than other countries.
GN: It’s more repressive than most, and not just in censorship. The laws against gays make male gay sex legal only between consenting adults over 21 in private, as long as neither is a member of the armed forces or the merchant navy.
Joe: What you’ve got is a law that gives gays the freedom they haven’t got in the States, and then takes it away again at the same time.
GN: Sure, that’s why we run a contact ad section. You see gay contact ads got International Times busted a few years back. The law hasn’t changed since.
Joe: But contact ads aren’t important enough to get busted on.
GN: The contact ad thing is just an example of the discriminatory laws against gays in this country. You know the reason the Bailey documentary got banned was because of the movie clips in it, most of them with you in them? People complained because the clips showed gays and you said fuck four or five times.
GN: Well there are about four copies coming in here every fortnight. You know Kenneth Anger is working here? Have you seen Anger’s movies?
GN: Oh. You should. He more or less invented the quote underground unquote movie years ago with some of the earliest gay movies made that were really good movies. Now he’s getting more involved in the work of Aleister Crowley.
(By this time it’s lunchtime and Joe heads off for the steakery. One of the directors is asked to follow with cash for the meal, as he’s tied up talking to the art man about the deadline for posters for Trash’s opening.
Then other members of the staff talk about the people they forgot to invite and talk to Joe on his 24-hour trip to London.)
Staff: Did we invite that guy who does the arts on Friday for the Standard? What’s his name? And how about Ray Connolly? Did we invite him? Damn.
Conversation with Joe. Starring Joe Dallasandro. With Peter Holmes, Jimmy Vaughan and staff, the Evening News. Introducing Variety. Cert ‘U’.
During its short existence, Gay News has come across many barriers — barriers of intolerance, ignorance and blind prejudice. It’s likely that many of you reading this have too. Hardly surprising, when one considers the amount of real information about homosexuals available to the average member of the public.
We cannot expect all to be well though until gayness is openly and freely discussed by the media (ie newspapers, television, etc), in schools and colleges, and anywhere else where knowledge and factual information should be available. All too often, the media, the medical profession, the church and all the rest, rely on age-old myths and suspect conclusions for their facts.
Subsequently it’s no wonder that the general public continues to be so much in the dark about the subject of homosexuality. Those of you who have come out to any degree will probably remember the shock and amazement of friends and relatives, when they discovered that someone they actually knew and/or loved, was one. Adding to the impact of your revelation was no doubt the confusion in their minds when they realised that the queer in their midst was completely unlike the stereo-typed caricature of a human being they had always expected a homosexual to be.
One of the reasons Gay News came into existence was so there would be an impartial mouth piece for the gay community, that would not only be accepted by the people it was named after, but hopefully to be also read by those who might decide it was time to enlighten themselves a little about one of the largest minorities in this country.
But even the best of ideals and intentions did not help us to easily overcome the social barriers of intolerance and the type of aggressive, unthinking prejudice known only too well by Oscar Wilde, or the man who recently went to prison for six months because of a furtive feel in a park with another consenting adult.
We at GN had to struggle and fight back, for we had a newspaper to regularly produce and after an initial period of suspicion etc, we found that people began to think a little more about their preconceived attitudes. Within a short time the many non-gay people we had to deal with started treating us exactly the same as anybody else.
That, unfortunately, was only part of the battle. W H Smith’s provided a means of ensuring that our early readership would be small, by imposing their hypocritical and old-fashioned moral standards on a newspaper that came into being in an age when men walked on the moon, doctors performed complex transplant operations and the whole world could possibly be destroyed by the pushing of a single button. They effectively blocked our chances of reaching a wide audience by refusing the handle any part of our distribution. This form of censorship is something that dear old Private Eye has been waffling about, in exaggerated accents, for some time.
We had no alternative but to set up our own distribution network, and while it is still somewhat limited, it is at least allowing us to reach five times as many people as we did with the first issue of Gay News.
The police have attempted to interfere with the news reporting of GN. Their action over one of our reporters taking photographs demonstrated the general maliciousness shown towards homosexuals. Our photographer was arrested and charged with obstruction, whilst he was trying to gather evidence about alleged police harrassment. This minor example of their hostile attitudes proved to be the first of many such incidents. Luckily for us, we now have the support of a number of people in the legal profession, as well as that of friendly Members of Parliament, who will come to our aid whenever we need them.
Another barrier set up to limit the potential and usefulness of Gay News was the almost total press silence about the paper. We didn’t kid ourselves that The Daily Telegraph, for instance, would run a two-page feature on us, but we did expect the supposedly free and impartial press to realise the significance of our publication. But hardly a word has appeared. Also, paid advertisements of ours have been refused by other newspapers and even ads quoting the opinions of Gay News have been declined, as we have reported in an earlier edition.
What the last few hundred words have been leading up to is that whilst the press and the majority of those working for it (and its supposed freedom) have frequently, if not totally, refused to report or comment on our existence, there have been a few brave and aware journalists who have not been afraid to do so. Many of them going beyond just that and advocating an end to the discrimination and intolerance usually displayed towards gay men and women.
One enlightened journalist is Alan Brien, who writes the Alan Brien’s Diary in the Sunday Times. Alan is not gay, or wasn’t the last time we met him, but he is aware of the present position of homosexuals in society and the many injustices they have to suffer. (To any reader thinking that he or she has never suffered as a result of being gay, we believe that it wouldn’t be difficult for you to find someone who has.)
From Alan’s column on Sunday 21 January, we reprint the following. We do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, to demonstrate that we are not alone in our struggle for social and legal equality.
Secondly, to show any heterosexual reader that it isn’t just gays who shout about discrimination etc. Thirdly, because we believe that it will give hope and encouragement to many gays who think that those demanding equality are fighting a losing battle. Fourthly, to prick the consciences of the many homosexuals who are journalists. And lastly, to express our thanks to Alan Brien, who has shown that he has the guts to express his convictions and opinions despite the social taboos and stigmas attached to the sexuality known to us as gay ness.
‘Wednesday: I thought Andy Warhol’s Trash was one of the best films I saw last year. But I thought most of his paintings and imitations of paintings were trashy, though they received glowing reviews from the posh critics. It is partly because of ambiguity in his achievement, the poppy-Cocteau effect of the charlatan genius, that I looked forward to seeing David Bailey’s portrait of him last night.
‘What disturbed me even more than the ban (I am certain we will see David Bailey’s programme eventually, probably mid-afternoon next Boxing Day, without a single protest being lodged) was the use of language describing it. I am accustomed to Lord Longford’s pottiness on pornography, But for the prisoner’s friend, the outlaw’s inlaw, who asks for Christian charity for murderers and torturers to object that here was a film which he understood, contained “reference to or sight of homosexuals and such like” is really shocking. And on the BBC Night Extra, the interviewer of Ross McWhirter lumped in “lesbians” with “obscenities” as if both would be equally likely to “offend against good taste or decency.”
‘Can people who use such terms of automatic abuse have ever knowingly seen a lesbian? Do they imagine she has hair on her chest, a brand on her forehead, and her knickers in her hand? Some of the best lesbians are my friends, and as pretty and feminine a lot of girls you wouldn’t expect to see in the Miss World contest. How can these objectors be sure they are not married to lesbians, or parents to them?
‘Once it was Communists whose appearance on our screen was banned because the sight would be so horrible that nice people would not want to invite them, even electronically, into their homes. But when Jimmy Reid actually appeared, without horns and a tail, he became a telly star overnight. If this is an example of Christian concern for the dignity of all God’s children, then I think I’ll apply for an injunction against Stars on Sunday.
‘Thursday: Access (the principle not the card) is one of the rights Mr Heath promised the public. TV has gone some ways so far to pussyfoot across this dangerous ground by permitting pre-selected outsiders to voice their opinions via the phone-in, or to appear in equally hand-picked groups and shout each other down in front of the cameras.
‘But a much more important restriction on the expression of unpopular views can be found in the newspaper business. Many papers refuse, even when paid for each line, to mention underground or dissenting publications. Gay News, the homosexual fortnightly, and Lunch, the Campaign For Homosexual Equality monthly, both find their ads refused. Are editors who pride themselves on the freedom of the Press aware of this?’
Tiptoe Through The Filing Cabinets
To change the subject completely, we have yet another appeal to make. Recently we acquired our first filing cabinet, but within a week possessing it, we find that it is inadequate to cope with our immediate requirements. And as the buying of office equipment is an event that rarely happens, owing to our limited budget, we appeal to anyone with one that is in good working order and is serving no useful purpose, to transfer it to the GN office. Incidentally, at the time of writing, we still have been unable to discover suitable premises to replace our present tiny office. So if you know of anything that is just waiting to be occupied by us, that has at least two rooms and is in Central London, please contact us immediately.
Gay News No 17 will be published and available from February 21. Till then, we hope this issue proves to be interesting, informative, entertaining and, dare we hope, controversial.
Gay News Editorial Collective
Late News From The Here We Are Again Dept.
Just in case it has escaped your notice, the egg on the front cover has now finally been scrambled. The logo that saw Gay News from issue one to issue 15 has gone to make room for more picture space on the front of the paper. Egg-lovers will be delighted to know that Gay News can supply back-dates of the paper, complete with the old logo. Just write and send us the cash.
And, whilst we’ll go on without egg on our face, the familiar Gay News lettering logo will stay the same. We hope you think it’s an improvement.
LONDON: Britain’s self-appointed arbiters of morals, the Festival of Light, has won an albeit temporary victory against the fair presentation of gay sex on television when Ross McWhirter, better known for compiling the Guinness Book Of Records and meddling in comprehensive education, managed to con the Court of Appeal into stopping ITV’s planned screening of a documentary by photographer David Bailey on Any Warhol, without bothering to see it.
McWhirter, perhaps in an attempt to win a record for stupidity, could not claim any greater knowledge of the programme’s content. He, too, had not seen the documentary made for the Midlands ITV company, ATV, before spending a day getting the law to rush through its due processes with undue, and almost obscene, haste.
He started with Mr Justice Forbes, sitting in private. Judge Forbes dismissed McWhirter’s objection to the programme. Within hours – not the months any mere mortal would have to wait – McWhirter was in the Court of Appeal conning three judges into passing an opinion on the programme none of them had seen.
Lord Justice Cairns said that he didn’t think the court had any right to stop the screening of the programme. But all the same he didn’t think it was the type of thing people should be allowed to see. The other two judges, Denning and Lawton, thought they could judge the programme and meddle in ITV’s schedules.
The trouble started when Lord Longford, whose self-appointed commission into pornography tried to silence sexual liberty, and other Festival of Light trouble-seekers decided they didn’t like the idea of a programme about the American movie-maker and artist that didn’t put him down.
Longford lashed out with his first broadside safe in the knowledge that he knew enough about porn to be able to criticise Bailey’s work on Warhol without moving his ass and bothering to see the film.
What he didn’t like about the movie he hadn’t seen was that he’d heard that the hadn’t seen was that he’d heard the movie Bailey had made for ATV’s documentary spot on the ITV network contained references to and the sight of “homosexuals, lesbians, transvestites” and such like.
“And on the strength of that it ought not to be shown.”
To make matters worse, David Bailey, who appears seemingly nude in bed with Warhol, who remains fully clothed, included footage from Andy Warhol factory movies. During this characters used the word ‘fuck’ four times, Lord Longford had heard. ‘Fuck’ is a word heard more than four times in the average AA-movie in the commercial cinema.
Just as the Festival of Lighters were sitting down eager to be shocked and disgusted by ATV’s cavorting around the New York movie factory the news came that the judges of the Appeal Court had come to the unprecedented decision of letting the Lighters have their way in getting the Warhol documentary banned.
The Independent Broadcasting Authority, the ITA as was, the authority that has the responsibility of making sure that all ITV output is ‘up to standard’, held out longer against the attacks from the Festival of Light than the BBC has of late in its brushes with the Festival and Mary Whitehouse’s National Viewers’ Association, but in the end it was outmanoeuvred by the self-righteous moral guardians who managed to get the programme banned.
Where Longford and the Festival of Light with their usual under-the-counter tactics – usually so effective on Lord Hill and the BBC – failed, Ross McWhirter succeeded.
McWhirter is new to the business of being a clean-up television campaigner, and could be said to have done much to encourage violence by working for the BBC as a rugby commentator. In the past he has battled to get comprehensive school plans scrapped for Enfield where he lives waiting to be discovered for Parliament.
The position at the time of going to press was that the IBA was appealing against the Appeal Court’s ban. At this hearing the judge may actually see the programme instead of dispensing justice blindfold.
Critics in Fleet Street are unhappy about the ban, which they feel smacks of dictatorial censorship.
They are even unhappier that McWhirter got the injunction stopping the screening of the Warhol movie partly through his claims that television critics who’d seen the movie were shocked by it.
John Howkins of Time Out, Tom Hutchinson of the Evening Standard and Elkan Allan of The Sunday Times issued a statement dissociating themselves from McWhirter’s protest.
Tom Hutchinson wrote, in a remarkable front-page attack on the ban in the Standard: ‘Some of the objected-to words are in fact contained within clips from Warhol’s own films which the cinema-going public has already been granted the privilege of seeing or not.
‘Of course, now my appreciation of the film has accelerated. Bailey’s point has been substantiated beyond my first reaction. For it seems very true now, that as Bailey suggests, Warhol is what you make him and what you think he is – even without seeing him’.
When the programme was cancelled, Thames TV, the London week-day television station, was besieged with telephone calls. All of its 84 ones were blocked for 90 minutes, the IBA reported a bigger-than-ever response to any of the programmes the ITV companies had been allowed to show. All the callers were complaining that the documentary had been shelved. Mr McWhirter may claim to represent the silent majority, but the majority, in this case, were against his under-hand, old-school-tie censorship tactics.
Thames compounded the silliness, which Anglia TV had already added to by individually refusing to show the programme, when London viewers were told that there had been a programme change – just that – with no reference to the court battle that had forced the chanage.
During the safe replacement documentary on a Nottingham craft centre – a programme which had been shown before – the BBC had The Old Gray Whistle Test on BBC2, including David Bowie’s Andy Warhol track, from the Hunky Dory album – played in sympathy?
QUOTES: Andy Warhol (in New York): “How quaint. How old-fashioned. Maybe they should see my movies.”
Jimmy Vaughan, Warhol’s European agent: “This is a terrible blow – it is censorship of the worst kind. Surely people have a right to decide what they watch.”
The National Council for Civil Liberties: “While a minority has a right to persuade, it does not have the right to impose its views with the blunt weapon of censorship. The NCCL urges the IBA to show this film at the earliest opportunity and let the viewing public decide on its merits or deficencies.”
Peter Thompson, secretary of the Festival of Light: “Thank God for men like Mr McWhirter.”
David Bailey: “I am amazed that the judges can make the order stopping the film without having seen it. Hitler used to burn books he hadn’t read.”
LONDON: London has just finished a week when Andy Warhol’s latest movie was shown in the London Film Festival and his older “Trash” was given a certificate after almost two years of campaigning.
The renter of all Warhol’s movies in this country, Jimmy Vaughan, announced that the censor had approved of Trash having an X-certificate rating rather fittingly just before a Film Festival screening of Heat, which will be the next Warhol movie to run the gauntlet of the censor’s office, following Flesh and Trash.
Mr Vaughan also announced that Trash would open its London screening early next year in the West End, and not in Chelsea as had been planned.
The announcement on stage just before another movie was fitting because it matched the Hollywood world of stars that Heat is about. And for the same reason, it was rather fitting that Mr Vaughan decided to throw a party to celebrate his success at the end of the campaign to get Trash a certificate.
Joe Dallesandro who was the rent-boy in Flesh plays a trash-picking junkie in Trash and goes on to become a former child-star in Heat. All the movies are directed by Paul Morrisey.
Trash tells of the degradation through heroin of Joe who ultimately can’t make it with anyone, not even the drag queen he lives with.
Heat is a bizarre parody of the American dream of Tinsel Town. Joe is pestered by a strange group of women; there are a partly gay unmarried mother and her ex-movie queen mother pursuing him. They all live in a motel run by an immense madam, who also tries to get a bit of the action with Joe. Just to finish things off the motel is also populated by a pair of boys who work in a stage sex show.
The Warhol movie factory moved from its native New York to Hollywood to shoot Heat.
Presumably censor Stephen Murphy will take another two years before deciding to allow Heat to be shown to the public.
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.
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.
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.