An angry reader wrote to Time Out (London’s weekly entertainment guide) complaining that while viewing ‘Dulcima’ and ‘Family Life’ at the Biograph cinema in Wilton Road, Victoria, no less than eight different men sat next to him, and there was a constant stream of visitors to the toilet. All this coming and going caused such a disturbance that he had to ask for the soundtrack volume to be turned up. He knows, he says, of the cinema’s reputation, but those who don’t “are in for a bit of a shock”. He’s willing to help establish a gay cinema, on the lines of those in New York, as the “goings on” in the Biography will not help the straight world accept gays.
The Biograph, London’s oldest cinema, is well known among gays as a trolling place and sexual outlet; a great deal of mutual masturbation allegedly goes on in the cinema.
But it is not a gay cinema as such, since its usually good programmes are advertised continuously in the London evening papers, “Time Out” etc, and because most heterosexuals are embarrassed by public sexual display and presumably want to watch a film, without having to get up every few seconds to let someone else pass, a visit to the Biograph is obviously going to heighten any anger or misgivings they might have about homosexuals.
However, many gays who go to the Biograph, cannot for one reason or another, take their pick-ups home, and even if they can, where else is there to procure a sexual partner? Basically, in police entrapped lavatories or Earls Court pubs, and while peoples’ behaviour in pubs and clubs is more “acceptable”, they are not necessarily happy places.
The Biograph has a lower admission price (25p) than any cinema in London, and is always crowded, because of its “reputation”, without which it would probably have closed years ago. It exists because society refuses to accept homosexuals on the same terms as heterosexuals, who broadly speaking, can take boy/girl friends home and can kiss and cuddle in any public place. Homosexuals are forced into dark ghettos like the Biograph, which reinforces the idea in our minds that we are second class citizens and must hide our sexuality away, in between the occasional hurried experiences in the dark.
The creation of a completely gay cinema would not really change attitudes for the better on either side, but as in the gay saunas in Amsterdam, it would mean that we could troll undisturbed and without harrass-ment; but we would just be creating another ghetto. Straights will not have the chance to accept or reject us, because they will be more oblivious of our existence.
Whatever we do to improve our situation, whether it involves the creation of a gay cinema, or organisations such as CHE or GLF, it seems to perpetuate our separation and lack of contact with society at large, which would seem to demand, as a condition of acceptance, that we live their life style. In other words retire monogamously to the suburbs, and hide our sexuality behind the net curtains.
A camp cruise or charabanc à la mer is the entertainment innovation from Tricky Dicky who pioneered gay discos all over the suburban wastelands of South and East London.
Gay News went on his latest boat trip which took place on the evening of Friday February 23rd, and despite extremely cold weather, the two-tier cruiser was filled to capacity when it moved off Westminster Pier at 8.30pm. Journeying westwards for eight miles or so, to Putney, and then east, back again past Westminster, to a point just short of Tower Bridge, and back to Westminster by 11.30pm.
The boat peopled by gays of more varied backgrounds and types than I have ever seen cohabiting in a small place before, really seemed to enjoy this novel trip, which cost £1. The boat was divided into two covered, heated tiers, the upper containing one of Tricky Dicky’s inimitable, ebullient discos, and the lower a bar lounge, where it was nice to see fast efficient bar staff and drinks at normal pub prices. For those who dared to risk the seemingly sub-zero temperature to catch a glimpse of their city in its best aura – from the river at night, there was ample outdoor accommodation as well.
FOOTNOTE: On arriving at Westminster Pier, the ‘gay sailors’ were welcomed back to dry land by the Metropolitan River police. There were no incidents; the amazed officers just cruised around in their launch. The timely arrival of the ‘water watchers’ was reminiscent of Chelsea Constabulary’s activities around closing time at the Coleherne, Earls Court.
NEW YORK: The state’s Gay Activist’s Alliance helped New York cops after a series of five murders in the Greenwich Village area. The carbon-copy killings are said to follow the pattern described in a novel about a man who makes a habit of murdering gays.
When it was found that five men had died in this rash of brutal killing, three 24-hour hot-lines were opened – one by the police, one by the GAA and one by the Mattachine Society, the US homosexual law reform society – all appealing for information about the killer or killers of the five gays.
The city’s Village Voice put together an account of the slayings ‘from innumerable telephone calls and visits to the Homicide Bureau, calls on the Village leather and gay waterfront bars, discussions with bartenders, managers, customers, and a day at the GAA switchboard.
‘Victim No 1: Jose Ronnie Cabo, called Pepe by his friends … stabbed ten times, head gashed, Cabo’s nude body was found on a closed sofa convertible that went up in flames on January 4. Cabo had four Maltese dogs. Two died in the fire, two were saved.
‘Jose Cabo was a hairdresser with a receding hairline. Conscientious about his appearance, he wore a hairpiece, was about five feet eight inches tall, weighed 145 lbs, somewhat effeminate in manner. He came to New York from Havanna 11 years ago, joined the army, served at Fort Dix, worked as an Eastern Airlines steward between New York and Miami, frequented the waterfront bars and occasionally went to the trucks. (Lately there have been increased incidents of robberies and muggings at the trucks. Regulars report a knifing on January 12 which may not be linked with the homicides.)
Seen In Bars
It’s been established that on the night of the murder, Cabo stopped of at his two favourite bars: Danny’s on Christopher Street and Peter Rabbit on West 10th near the river. Both bars are owned by Joe Nieri. An acquaintance claims Cabo was also at the Roadhouse and was seen there at 2am talking to a tall blonde who wore a knit seaman’s cap. Cabo had been drinking.
‘Victims No 2 and 3: Donald McNiven, 41, and John Beardsley, 53. Victims maintained adjacent apartments. Bodies found on floor of MacNiven’s living room, Macniven stabbed 51 times. Beardsley stabbed 30 times. Both bodies badly burned. Police claim Beardsley’s underpants were charred. MacNiven was wearing tiny undershorts at the time of his assassination.
‘Beardsley was a graduate of Harvard, had a PhD and was listed in both the New York and Philadelphia social registers. He tutored, wrote a couple of books, worked for a short time at a publishing house – the same firm where MacNiven worked as a statistical clerk prior to his death. Beardsley, according to Homicide, liked to go to the better gay bars; MacNiven was a heavy drinker and preferred the raunchier places. Like Cabo, he frequented Danny’s and Peter Rabbit. He also liked the trucks.
‘Early on the day of the murders, MacNiven was seen drinking at Danny’s. Tipsy, he returned to his building and had a few more with his neighbour, Beardsley, then left at about 11 pm. Beardsley remained at home. Police are eager to know McNiven’s activities between 11 pm and 7am, at which time a neighbour heard scuffling, and a new voice, described as “strong and groggy and definitely not New York, but I can’t place the accent.” Later still, that neighbour smelled smoke in the hallway. He called the Fire Department. Shortly after, MacNiven and Beardsley’s bloody, smouldering bodies were found.
‘The Medical Examiner claims that MacNiven had a high alcoholic content at the time of his death. Detectives are checking out names in Beardsley’s address book. They include European royalty and New York cultural figures.
‘Victim No 4: Robben Borrero, 23, body fished out from the river at the Morton Street pier, approximately 1 pm January 17. According to Dr Rho, who performed the autopsy, there had been no obvious evidence of a violent nature, no gunshot wounds, knife wounds or strangulation. The body had been dead for a month to five weeks. Robben had been reported missing by his mother a week before the Christmas holidays. Police are to investigate further They claim there is no connection between the three murders and Borrero’s drowning.
Robben Borrero was an early member of the Gay Liberation Front. At one time he was with a gay consciousness-raising group, belonged to the Gay Community Group at Queen’s College (members say he showed up sporadically for meetings), and was vice-president of Homosexuals Intransigent, a Village gay group.
‘According to Craig Schoomaker, president of the latter group and one-time roommate of Borrero, “Robben was somewhat self-destructive, but he wasn’t the kind of person who’d kill himself.” The director of Borrero’s City Hospital therapy group agrees, “Robben seemed to be in control.”
‘During the last few months, Robben Borrero had been living, on and off, with a lover in a small apartment over the One Potato restaurant at Hudson and West 10th. His lover, a Christopher Street fixture during the summer, had spent time in a Florida State mental hospital. He was released last May and Robben sent him the money to return to New York.
‘The lover was on Thorazine, a major tranquilliser used primarily for schizophrenia. According to Robben’s therapist, the lover was a “tall blonde, over six feet, much bigger than Robben. He had been violent with Robben many times, destroying things like Robben’s paintings.”
‘Physically, Robben was built like Jose Cabo. He was about five feet seven inches tall, weighed about 135lbs, had black hair. Both Jose Cabo and Robben Borrero were beardless and of Hispanic origin.
Victim No 5: Robert Koleda, 27 years old, body discovered floating in water near Pier 66, 26th Street and waterfront, about 5 pm, January 17. The person who discovered Koleda was walking his dog when he “noticed the top of a head and a white ear.” He phoned the police and the Mattachine Society.
‘Koleda had been in the water four or five days. Detectives claim he had no gay history and there was no connection to the gay murders. Also that Koleda had a history of mental disturbance, there was no apparent violence and he was a drowning victim.’
The Village Voice seems to be the only US paper to have treated the rash of gay slayings with the seriousness it deserves. In another story it reported that Robben Borrero had been found wearing leather with a chain around his neck.
One theory that police started working on was that the killings were the work of one man with a grudge against gays, as the pattern of the murders seems to follow a novel of gay murders which is a village best-seller.
To quote: ‘Some details of the book, called Cruising by Gerald Walker, differ from the real-life account of the homicides. But the fact meets the fiction on several key points.
‘For example, the killer, who is portrayed as a man who hated homosexuals, finds his victims by picking them up in Greenwich Village gay bars and being invited to their homes.
Stabbed and Naked
‘And the victims are later found naked, dead of multiple stab wounds.
‘“We’ve gotten all kinds of tips” said a homicide detective. “This seems no more far-fetched than the rest. Maybe some lunatic would be impressionable enough to be influenced by a thing like this.”
‘The book was discussed in a December 28 Village Voice article – only a few days before the first homicide was discovered.
‘While Cruising is not found on the shelves of most bookstores, the homosexual shops of the Village say the book has been their number one best-seller over the past year. “We’ve sold so many it’s hard to keep it in stock,” said the proprietor of the Legend Gallery at Charles Street and 7th Avenue. “What Portnoy’s Complaint was to middle-class Jews, Cruising has been to the gay community. It’s about the fears we all live with.”’
This is just one lead homicide squad detectives are following up.
Another lead is this: several gays have come forward and told police they have been “brutalised”. Each witness gave an identical description of the man who’d assaulted them.
Another Pair Slain
Days later another pair of men were found dead in their plush Brooklyn apartment.
The VV reported: ‘The men, found Saturday afternoon with their feet and hands tied behind their backs with rope, shared the one-bedroom cooperative apartment in Henry Street for nearly a year.
‘The apartment was owned by Nelson Roberts, a 32-year-old teacher. He shared it with Lance Raiford, a 23-year-old senior at Queen’s College.’
Where Were They?
Police say it is possible that the men met their murderer or murderers on Friday night and were returning to the apartment together. Detectives hope they will find out where the men spent their last hours and thus link them to the killer.
‘Despite some similarities in the deaths,, police say at this point, there is no connection between the Brooklyn slayings and the murder of homosexuals in the Village recently.
Police were called to the Henry Street apartment block after loud music had been playing all night, annoying the neighbours.
Inside the 30th-floor apartment, which commanded Manhattan’s East Side, police found the two bodies. Nelson, clad only in his undershorts was lying on a bed, his head wedged between the mattress and the head-board. His neck was broken. On the living room floor, wearing dungarees and a white T-shirt, was Lance. He had been stabbed once at the base of the spine.
Cruising In Britain
The controversial book, Cruising, which may have served as a scenario for at least some of these slayings, is on sale in Britain, published by Lord Thomson’s Sphere Books.
Sphere Books, the British publishers of Cruising, the novel said to be the scenario for the Village gay murders, report that they have sold only 14,500 copies of the book since August.
A spokesman said: “It may be a bestseller in the States, but it doesn’t seem to have hit Britain in a big way at all.”
The only mention of the Village murders in the British press so far has been in the Evening Gazette, Colchester, which treated the story with a rather tasteless headline: “Police Go Gay In Hunt For Knife Maniac”
The Evening Gazette reported that ‘ten detectives are posing as homosexuals in the ‘gay’ bars, bookshops and cinemas of New York’s Greenwich Village in an effort to find the killer.’
“They Have So Many Friends”
Meanwhile in New York one of the detectives in charge of the gay slayings case told the New York Times’ “Homosexual homicides are always tough because they have so many friends.”
Lieutenant James Skennion continued: “We’ve asked for the homosexuals’ cooperation and we’re getting it, although some have over-reacted. If we can get information, we don’t particularly care about their feelings.”
Well, 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.
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.
HAMPSTEAD: 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.
(Being excerpts from a letter from Roedy Green, dated 16th April, ’72)
You 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.