The Boys In The Bank

NEW YORK/LONDON: Gays are coming in for some strange slaggings from the press. A rash of gay gunmen seems to be spreading almost as fast as Arab terrorists. In the first place, fresh evidence suggests that John Wojtowicz, the “gay” gunman in the Flatbush, New York, raid that started it all, who was not shot by the police, was a Mafia gunman anyway.

Originally John and Salvatore Naturale were said to have raided the Chase Manhattan Bank in Flatbush, Brooklyn, after being tipped off by someone they met in a gay bar that there was going to be $200,000 there.

In fact the $200,000 was taken from the bank almost four hours before John and Naturale raided the place, leaving about $29,000 in the vaults.

So the “gay” gunmen grabbed what cash there was and the staff when police cars screeched up, summoned by secret signals.

That was when the ordinary, everyday Brooklyn bank-raid became a curio for the world’s press. For, despite Salvatore Naturale’s denial that he was gay, the raid was dubbed “Gay Gunmen” by the world’s press because John demanded that his gay spouse Ernest Aron was released from mental hospital, as one condition of the raiders’ setting free the bank employees.

Ernest was brought along by the cops, looking a lot the worse from having just recovered from an overdose of sleeping tablets, and the hormones he’d been taking in preparation for the sex-change operation he’s promised himself.

The question remains: what was a gay Vietnam war veteran doing holding up a bank in Flatbush N.Y.?

Captain Nemo of I.T. suggests that the Mafia, who have had a running battle with the Chase Manhattan Bank used John to carry out its latest raid on the bank.

In fact, Nemo alleges that it was when Ernest found that the Mafia had sent John one of the guns used in the raid that he took the sleepers.

The Mafia boss said to be behind it all was Mike Umbers, the mob’s head of exploitation of gays. The senior Mafia men behind the raid should have got $75,000 to $100,000. The rest should have gone to the five bank-robbers, three of whom chickened out.

The “gay gunmen” raid leaves gays in New York wondering just how the whole caper relates to gay liberation and what they can do about the fact that virtually every New York gay bar is controlled by the Mafia.

Meanwhile London gays are angry at the Evening Stadard’s follow-up gay raid headline.

The Standard reported that four men snatched several thousand pounds from Barclays Bank, Knightsbridge Green.

The paper’s story mentioned that one of the bank-raiders wore pink gloves.

The headline was “Gay bandits raid bank” There was no mention made in the story of the raiders’ sexual preferences, only of their taste in gloves.

Much love and thanks to International Times – whoops, I.T., for allowing us to pinch their scoop.


Gay Bank Robber : More Facts

19721001-05It was Donald Matterson, aged 18, who was killed by an FBI agent at Kennedy airport, not ‘Salvatore Naturelle’ as originally printed. The FBI identified him after death through his fingerprints. There is no evidence to suggest that he is gay, unlike John Wojtowic.

Wojtowic is reported to have staged the hold-up to raise cash for a sex-change operation for Ernest Aarons, his lover, according to one of his hostages. Wojtowic had been in the care of a psychiatrist since January.

Aarons and Wojtowic had been married by a defrocked Roman Catholic priest last December, after having lived together for several months. Aarons wore a four hundred dollar wedding gown.

Two days before the hold-up attempt, Aarons attempted to commit suicide after the apparent end of their marriage during a quarrel. Wojtowic is said to have been ‘insanely jealous’. It is thought that this, coupled with Wojtowic’s problems about his own sexuality, led him to embark on this venture.

None of the hostages were hurt; all of the money was recovered. Wojtowic is now awaiting trial; bail has been set at $250,000.

Thanks to: The Advocate

Front cover, issue #6

What Have I Got to Lose

19720901-01On Wednesday, 23rd August, there were more recorded murders than ever before in one 24-hour period in one city. This total does not include the shooting of Salvatore Naturelle by an F.B.I. agent at Kennedy airport after he and John Wojtowic had held up a bank in Brooklyn and had attempted to arrange a getaway by jet, using seven hostages whom they had held for several hours as bargaining counters. The place was New York City.

In such a city, on such a day, it is perhaps surprising that both major London evening papers devoted their headlines to the story in most editions from noon onwards. They did so not only because the gunmen might have got away with eleven and a half thousand pounds, not only because they held seven hostages and said they would not be afraid to kill them, but because the gunmen were gay and had said so.

John has fought in Vietnam. He has been married. He had also been through a form of marriage ceremony with Ernest Aarons after leaving his wife. One of the conditions he imposed upon the police in attempting to arrange his getaway was that his gay wife should be brought to him from psychiatric hospital where he was undergoing treatment. Clearly John was a man under considerable mental strain himself, and this was probably one of the factors which led him to act upon the information from one of the bank’s employees in attempting to steal the $29000.

John and Salvatore had been on the point of leaving the bank with the money when the police arrived. They seized seven hostages and retreated inside the bank, from where John conducted negotiations with the police and interviews with the press. He said that they would not be afraid to shoot any of the hostages, since the Supreme Court had declared the death penalty a ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ (thus banning it under the US constitution). “What have I got to lose? The Supreme Court did away with the chair . . . What have I got to lose? I am a homosexual. I told the cops to get my wife – he’s a male . . . I told them if they bring him here I will release half the hostages.” But Ernest refused to join John, saying that John “doesn’t love me any more”. Under the circumstances. John was clearly right. What did he have to lose?

John’s mother, like most mothers, believed that John was being led astray by Salvatore . . . “He’s not a mean kid he’s not the type that would hurt anybody.”

Eventually the police brought a limousine to the bank, driven by an FBI agent, to take the robbers and their loot and hostages to the airport, where a twin engined jet was waiting for them. They were escorted by a 21-car motorcade.

At the airport. Special Agent Richard Baker approached the limousine as it drew near the waiting plane. Engaging the occupants in conversation, he drew their attention away from the agent/driver, who turned and shot Salvatore through the chest, killing him. (Who needs the Supreme Court to exact a death penalty?) John then gave himself up, and the money and hostages were recovered intact.

The most amazing thing about the robbery, taking place as it did in a crime-ridden city was that it received such wide and urgent coverage in the London press . . .







Did you notice? Our own, non-medical, non-derogatory term for ourselves used without obvious explanation or apology. It seems so petty a point to have arisen from such dramatic and painful occurrences, but nevertheless, so important. Is it also petty to point out that the press made no attempt to connect homosexuality with gun-toting and bank robbing – after all, we’ve been bracketed with criminals for a long time. Perhaps all the effort over the years does have an effect on people after all.

Such a pity, too that one daily paper should choose to belittle the whole thing the following morning by calling it a ‘farce’ and ‘exotic’. I do not share their sense of humour.

I feel sorry for John and Salvatore and Ernest. Perhaps I’m not supposed to.


19720901-14John Wojtowic, the gay bank robber, has said under questioning that he got the idea for raiding the Brooklyn branch of the Chase Manhattan bank after meeting one of the bank’s executives in a New York gay bar.

The executive told him the best time to stage the raid would be 3pm, since the armoured car would not call to collect the days money till 3.30pm. However, on the day in question the car had called in the morning, so there was less money than John expected.

It is expected that police will be questioning the bar’s customers to discover who the executive is, if he exists.

John was also accompanied on the raid by Donald Matterson, aged 18. Reports of what has happened to him are somewhat confused, but he appears to have escaped on foot when he saw the police arriving on the scene.