Trolling In Capri

Or, Watch Out Gracie

19720914-05Well, darlings, what an exhausting time up Capri! All day at Gracie Field’s little old swimming pool camping our tits off with the jolly Americans and laughing like rather shrill drains at the day trippers from Blackburn and Accrington who’d just come to see “Our Gracie”. Poor loves, they’d queued all the way from Sorrento that morning on the paddle-steamer, fought for a hot and sticky twenty mins for the funicular up to Capri – standing all the way — then caught buses out to the Piccolo Marina and off to the Canzone Del Mare, Gracie’s place (the Song of The Sea-ee, it’s luvly). Doesn’t that Italian sound like camp polare? I thought I was in Berwick Street Market on a Saturday morning!

Well, where was I? Oh yes – the Piccolo Marina’s absolutely THE only place to go on the island. The other beach – the Marina Grande – is a bit naff. So we went to Gracie’s bit of the Piccolo Marina. Well, she and Mr. Boris run this lido place which is a series of rather sweet terraces with a pool, bars, restaurant and one or two dolly men. The whole place is laid out on the edge of the sea in case it’s not quite as clean as it should be. That’s not funny some days with Naples round one corner (apparently the sea is now a definite health hazard – now nearly combustible – oops! I love that dinky word!) But seriously, though, Jackie and Aristotle appeared one day and stayed for three, leaving a wake of rubbish which meant the pool was an absolute must – they always are dear for me – you should see my Esther Williams act where I shake my hair out in the sun.

Oh – we’re not getting very far on the more pouffy side of things are we? I know the sort of things you’ll be wanting to hear! Darling, the place was crawling with them – well I was alright, but Hubby (he’s a dear about these things) he just sat and moped. You see, up in the town they have this square and it’s so tiny they have to do shifts at swanning. It’s a bit like Chelsea Arts Ball holding a bring and buy sale at the Kings Road on a Saturday – that goes on from early arrivals back from the beach until bed-time – which is usually from five to five. Not that there’s much to do but swan. Italian women are very good at it – they always remind me of giraffes, they have such long necks and they sway a bit when they walk. They wear all their jewels at once too poor loves (and that’s from the beach – surprised they don’t get rusty – come to think of it some of them look a bit rusty!) Mind you they’ve got their work cut out – all day long there’s queens everywhere – some like Douglas Fairbanks Jnr in his pirate king outfit, bandanas, earrings and all – Queens in long see-thru Indian cotton caftans with an apology for swim-trunks underneath, one had obviously come out in such a hurry he’d forgotten to put on any knickers under his tight thin cotton faded red trousers – and it showed! There were lots of rather self-consciously butch numbers with aggressively feminine women in tow, often wearing those beach fashions you thought only existed in Sunday Colour Supps – you know – those darling impractical tinkly bits that are all cold when you wear your navel jewels? Well they exist on Capri – I’ve seen them.

All this was going on while there were perfectly innocent people trying to cross the square – porters with suitcases, laundry maids with bundles, barrows piled with fruit etc., and of course our beloved Day Tripper in his khaki shorts, vest, shirt and pullover and camera and pink wife and several sulky kids – it was really quite entertaining, for a few hours. It is then you realise what is wrong.

It’s the good ole Dolce Vita again – without the Vita. The whole object of the exercise would, you would think, be to attract people enough to make them want to make a pass or something. But it was about as easy as a night out in one of our wonderful gay clubs – a wonderful place to swan if you’re in a camp mood, but how long does that last? Mine’s gone already.

There are two ‘gay’ clubs. There’s a dance floor and a reasonable group at one but men are not allowed to dance together. I know — we tried. The other place was similar but that waf already full of middle-aged tourists of the Day Tripper-type listening to execrable music of the Neapolitan-type (if you don’t know what that is like you’re lucky!) So there was just the trolling.

Well of course this is what you’ve all been waiting for you’ll say. To be truthful I must say I thought it would be more fun than it was. That’s the whole trouble – it never is more fun for me than I think it’s going to be and it’s very often less.

Past the Hotel Quisisana, from which Wilde and Bosie are popularly supposed to have been asked to leave in 1897, there is a street which runs downhill, out of town towards the beach, on the Piccolo Marina. There, along the pathway with the hair-pin bends, were a series of groups of men admiring the view, pulling at cigarettes, or themselves, or walking about soundlessly as if they were trying to be invisible. It’s funny how much scenery one can find to look at in Capri at four in the morning with no moon out, isn’t it? Some gentleman obviously thought I’d got a better command of the view than some of the others as he kept standing behind me to look. There was a dearth of quality so I chose quantity – which was lucky – it belonged to the gentleman who’d come to look at my view. I knew what I was getting as he was one of the gentlement I’ve been talking about before – who habitually wore thin pants with no knickers. After a few minutes we were joined by others who were just passing by and thought they’d admire the view, which proved anything but exciting -I seem to have chosen the only gentleman who washed regularly! I was contemplating – a bit difficult with your mouth full – leaving these other gents to it, when a car approached the bottom of the hill. I stopped contemplating, and I left them while I composed myself. How very inconvenient it had been. As far as I knew there was just a path to the beach – the car stopped, the people got out and walked up the hill.

I made my way home. What an unsatisfactory sort of experience – so hit-and-miss – so very little contact except genital. I felt rather ashamed of myself. But what other way of meeting in congenial surroundings was there on this GAY island? As far as I could see there was none whatsoever. Obviously the people who flock from all over Europe to camp it up for a few brief weeks and then go back to their double lives still haven’t got it together enough to work out how to meet each other – if you like someone you meet this way who becomes a friend that’s fine. I should have had the strength of mind to go straight home when I discovered there wasn’t really anyone I would really like to make friends with afterwards.

Rule Britannia

19720914-05The Cottage, Regents Park

My Lords,

You have made a notable contribution to the moral health of your countries. “International News” is ever so national.

Gazing out of my cottage the other day, I saw what I took to be a painted harlot approaching the cottage. But something was dangling from her, something suspiciously like a truncheon.

I removed myself with deftness via the opposite end of the cottage only to see another painted human. Also, his Inspector had not inspected him. His glossy hair was depressed in a positive circle, indicating years of helmet-wearing. No need to look at his feet. The painted harlot now leered bewitchingly from the cottage enticing me to return. “No,” I said in my innocence: “Flirt with the one inside there.”

A voice, high and lacking resonance, surprised me as it whispered in my ear: “Take care, they’re cops, ducks. It’s the newest police game. You don’t have to do anything. Just be in there and two cops will swear your life away.”

“You know them?” I asked. “You can’t know all of them” the high-pitched whisper replied. “But what if I want to piss?” I asked.

“Makes no difference, ducks,” he answered with manly confidence: “You can’t have an honest piss anywhere. It’s government policy, police policy, House of Lords policy. That’s why so many people have made the atavistic plunge back over time and are pissing in the streets. I mean, like, it’s a bit stiff, twenty-five pounds a squirt. Even women don’t pay a penny now. So it’s full drag, burst your bleedin’ bladder, or piss in the street. But they do say the rear offside wheel of something is legal. Why, there’s a police car standing unattended over there.”

My kind friend went on the path of duty.

Your lordships will be delighted to know that the tiled palaces will continue to remain sterile and constantly, frequently, frequented only by those overstretched coppers – now painted.

Do take care how you pass this round, even in the Lords Cottage. A bit of ermine may well conceal a copper. Other devices are misleading. One is actually a truncheon.

Rule Britannia, Love and kisses,

To Their Noble Lordships

  • Reed
  • Morris of Borth-y-Gest
  • Diplock
  • Simon of Gladale
  • Kilbrandon

Thump in the Dark

19720901-04HAMPSTEAD: An anonymous Gay News reader was given a black eye by plain clothes police while walking on the Heath.

The reader told Gay News: “I was walking on the Heath and I met these three large men in dark suits and blue shirts. I should have known they were police. One of them punched me in the face and 1 have a black eye.

“When I got to the roadway I saw there were two unmarked police cars parked. And from the noises behind me I could tell the plain clothes men were having a good time beating up gays.”

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said:

“There was an injury-only accident at Hampstead Heath, which required the usual police procedure.”

He denied that there were any plain clothes police in the area.

Cottaging in Br. Columbia

or The Mountie Always Gets His Man

(Being excerpts from a letter from Roedy Green, dated 16th April, ’72)

02-197206XX 8You wanted some information on Cottaging. First of all I should make it clear that there is a very strong prejudice in western Canada against this practice. On top of the status heap are those who meet through private “parties”. Next come the club people. Next come the steambath people. Next come the outdoor cruising people, and on the bottom of the heap come the cottagers.

I think that the disdain with which the practice is viewed has a lot to do with the wide variety of other methods available. People who meet in cans must do so because they like cans – perhaps it is the smell that rouses their lusty emotions.

Police cruising of cans (even in an official sense) is minimal. In all my time I have never heard of anyone being arrested or even harrassed by police in cans. The one exception happened about ten years ago (I remember being somewhat horrified as a child) when the police broke up a huge orgy in one of the washrooms in Stanley Park. About 30 people were arrested but there was no further mention of it.

The most active can is the Hudson’s Bay downtown store on the 2nd and 5th floors (two separate places actually). One old gentleman goes there with two shopping bags. His intended is invited to enter his stall and stand with one foot in each bag while he blows him. I have never personally witnessed this event.

The reason this can is popular is that underage boys go there quite innocently and of course meet some older man. They keep returning there as they feel that is the only place that homosexual satisfaction can be had, and of course the dear old lechers keep them in ignorance.

Pme ptjer sprt pf cp
One other sort of cottagley thing is the bathhouse a few blocks from my house on English Bay. It is a cement structure that used to be the public aquarium that overlooks the beach. It is built partly under the road that runs under the beach giving it the look of some oversized hobbit warren.

The beach area of course is Vancouver’s main outdoor cruising ground (save Wreck Beach in summer). But at about 3 in the morning the steps of the bathhouse become the scene of an outdoor orgy with perhaps 4 couple doing their assorted things in plain view to the gawking spectators.

That is all I know about cottaging – no, one more savory detail – and this one was even researched in person (though I maintained my detached observer status throughout). When the student union building was being designed at UBC, someone thought
that students needed a place to rest during the day to refresh themselves for the late night labs perhaps. At any rate they installed dark rooms off the cans filled with about 12 huge leather couch-like beds. For some reason most of the beds were removed until there were only 3 left. After hearing about a friend of mine who claims to have had sex in these rooms with 5 different people in one day (he went in for the ten minute break between classes), I decided in moral indignation to investigate. It is true.