Your Letters

Please note that any letters received by us at Gay News are liable to be published unless you state otherwise.

Scandalous Behaviour

Woodsetts, nr. Worksop,
Notts

Dear Gay News,

I have been going to write to you for some time but have kept putting it off through laziness. What has at last impelled me to shake off my torpor is the appalling and scandalous action of Mr Martin Stafford as reported in Gay News no 11.

As a fellow member of CHE’s Executive Committee, I am well aware of the petulant and selfish attitude that he adopts. But I am horrified that even he could go to the lengths that you have reported. To disagree with your policy of publishing contact ads is one thing; but to go over to the enemy in this way is something that ought not even be considered by someone holding any official position in an organisation such as CHE. I am absolutely sure that the overwhelming majority of CHE members will join with me in condemning such action in the strongest possible terms. I must congratulate Gay News for its objective (even kindly) reporting of the episode. It is time that CHE took some firm action to put Mr Stafford in his place as the squalid little nuisance that he is.

On the same subject, more or less, I find it very sad that so many of our brother and sister homosexuals, while looking for and expecting sympathy and understanding for their own problems find it so difficult to be sympathetic and understanding of those of others. Typical is the letter of VJM of Dublin in GN 11. What is so awful about camping it up in female clothes that a repressed pederast finds so hard to accept?

In the meantime, it’s an ill wind … etc. I have at last got round to telling you what a good job you are doing and sending you the small donation and the cigarette coupons that I have been meaning to do for some time.

With congratulations and all good wisnes tor continued success.

H. E. (Ike) Cowan

Good News, Bad News

London WC1

Dear Friends and Lovers,

Congratulations on what must be the very best issue of Gay News yet (No. 11). What with one of my very favourite people on the cover and that splendid interview with Shuff, I sat transfixed in the laundromat long after my knickers had finished tumbling dry. Mrs Shufflewick is certainly the best drag artist working today, a comedian of genius. The interview proved that the success of such articles (which only come off now and then) lies in asking the right question at the right stage in the conversation. So congratulations to Shuff’s interrogators.

Now the bad news. I felt that Peter Homes’ report of the German gay movie at the NFT was inadequate and rather silly. The event was not, I agree, as important as all that. But it was interesting and both the film and the audience’s reaction had messages for us that deserved a rather more serious discussion than that offered.

Finally, your reporter with a cold who couldn’t stay on for CHE’s evening show after the fair has embarrassed me considerably. I certainly did not conceive the one-act musical that was put on, nor did I take part in it. In fact my only contribution to the evening was to appear in a five-minute sketch. Credit where credit’s due, etc — so thank Rex, Michael, Marie and Gavin for the show.

Lots of love,

Roger Baker

Forced to be Free

National Federation of Homophile Organisations,
65 Shoot-up Hill, London, NW2 3PS

Dear Friends,

I don’t consider myself to be “Britain’s number one homosexual”; I simply told the London Medical Group audience that I had publicly been referred to in that way at another recent meeting, so I had no objection whatever to telling them that I was gay. This was in response to a “come out” challenge to the panel by a gay visitor in the audience. I added that the Chairman had set us an impossible task by asking for a “dispassionate and objective” account of homosexuality, because everybody in the world speaks from his or her own personal subjective sexual viewpoint, and I was no exception. But I hoped that having told them I was gay myself would not preclude my hearers from accepting that what I had to say was the result of knowledge gained through ten years’ professional work and responsible experience of running the Albany Trust. We have to scotch the absurd notion that only the “straight” can speak authoritatively about the “gay” (or vice versa).

This little episode did, however, cause me to reflect about “coming out”. It is good to be able to: but not everyone yet can without running considerable social and professional risks. Isn’t it somewhat unfair for those who are in a more fortunate situation not to recognise this? To taunt a panel of three professional people, only one of whom (myself) was able to publicly lay homosexuality on the line without almost inevitable and immediately damaging repercussions in their own sphere of work, strikes me as oppressive. It’s utterly wrong, of course, that such repercussions should still happen, but until we have all done much more to put society right in this respect, each one of us must surely be left to decide how far, and in what ways, we can come out. I have fought as hard as anyone for gay liberation and other civil rights causes; but I would resent being “forced to be free” a la Rousseau.

What those who still feel bound to remain “in the closet” can do, however, is to make the work of those of us in the various homophile groups and publications more effective by seeing to it that we aren’t starved out of existence. The entire homophile movement is in a state of chronic financial crisis that threatens its continued life. I hope all your readers will carefully consider the urgent needs of the Albany Trust, the NFHO and its member organisations, GLF, Gay News, and the various other homophile publications and see to it that if they can’t yet come out of their closets, they do dig deeper into their pockets so that we can all do more to make 1973 a year that is safer for gay people to come out in.

Love and Peace,

Antony Grey,
Chairman

Slagging Julian

Queenies Castle
Sussex

Dearest Darling Gay News.

Much though I love your newspaper, I have just one teensy-weensy complaint. I refer of course dears, to our little friend Julian Denys Grinspoon. Really, I don’t know why he bothers! He doesn’t give anything worth having; and what a pseud name!

Well really, loves, who wants to know what films are on at our dear old Bio? No one ever goes there for the films, do they? One gets enough carnal knowledge from just sitting there; and as for active participation, well I don’t think I need tell you old queens anything about that! Jules makes such a fuss just because some silly duchess at the cinema wouldn’t give him what he wants. Then he makes a big thing about telling us about all the people he eventually got it from (the programme of course). As if we want to know about his private life anyway.

The double-entendres are just too much personally I don’t like that sort of thing. He’s always doing things behind people’s backs just to get his own way. That sort of thing was illegal you know! So, why do all you lovelies at Gay News waste your space (and time) on him? Anyway, loves, he’s so camp and that’s one thing I cannot stand!

Thanks for your mag.
Lots of love,
A straight reader and friend,

Sebastian

Call to All Gay Sisters

Dear Gay News,

This is really a call to all lady gays. I fervently agree with the letter from Sappho (GN10) and I sing in chorus “where have all the ladies gone?”

I’m sure I am not the only female reading this wonderful newspaper. But the guys rule the waves once again, don’t let them hog all the paper. I know lots about them and have seen plenty of their arses. How about giving me a little of what I want. Let’s have a few of our lady friends saying something about themselves. I don’t see why we couldn’t have a sexy little ladie’s page if we tried hard enough. But there is only you who can bring that about, so write in and say something – anything! Like, where a few of you lovely ladies hang out! I’m a fresher to London and am still looking for lots of friends and a tour around the gay places. So don’t keep your info to yourselves, let’s all know about it. I’m looking for an opening – don’t keep me waiting! Write and tell me, and lots like me I’m sure, where we can meet some of you lovely ladies.

Love to you all,

Lynne

ED: Please get in touch with us Lynne, you forgot to put your name and address on your letter. Without your address we cannot forward any letters to you.

No GLF At CHE

London W6

Dear Collective.

May I bring this information to the attention of your readers. Going down to the CHE London Information Centre to do my lunchtime stint on the rota on Monday, November 6, I was told by the office manager that on the previous Sunday a decision was taken by the London Management Committee of CHE to remove all GLF literature in LIC.

The reason given was that LIC had too much of a left-wing flavour, and that GLF literature was too much in evidence. I observed that other gay literature including one of full frontal nudes was untouched by this censorship.

LIC exists surely to provide first information, on CHE, then information on all other gay organisations regardless of any political, religious or any other basis. I certainly was not aware that GLF dominated the diplay, nor was I conscious of the left-wing flavour of LIC — whatever sinister spectre that term conjures in certain narrow minds. It is sad to see this rage over gay-red-under-the-bed getting the better of some of our brothers and sisters, or is there some deeper motive behind this first move? Whatever the reason I am sure this decision is a bad one and must be resolutely opposed. Group Chairmen, please note.

Teck Ong

Truer Homosexuality

Durham

Dear Gay News,

The article in a recent Gay News about so-called pederasty prompted me to get my thoughts on the subject in order and write this.

Basically I’m bisexual. At the moment I’m more heterosexually than homosexually inclined, but this is more because of ‘supply’ than ‘demand’. As far as the homosexual side of my sexual make-up goes I could be defined as a pederast, because I’m chiefly attracted to guys in an age-range of about 15—22. I doubt whether I could get it on with anyone older than this. I’ve thought about the reasons for my choice, and they’re something like this.

Physically and mentally, I’m a pretty fair balance between masculine and feminine. I’m also 19 (so that makes half my sexual make-up illegal but I don’t care, it’s the law that’s wrong), and I’m attracted to similar people. Maybe this is truer homosexuality than that seen in many couples where the butch/bitch syndrome is their basis. Anyway, there’s an elusive blend of masculine hardness and slimness with feminine softness which really turns me on. Quite a lot of guys in this age-group have it, and so do some women; the only trouble is, all the guys are straight! So I do the next best thing and go with women…

I’ve written mainly about physical characteristics; but before anyone writes a nasty reply, I do take mental characteristics into account, indeed very much so. however I can’t get it on with a guy or chick unless I fancy them. What a hangup!

Chris

Letterette Of The Month

Sidcup, Kent

… Thanks a lot … great reading … love the ads … love it all … Happiness is egg shaped … and so am I.

EL

Gay Movie

46, Cavan Drive, St Albans, Herts.

Dear Gay News,

I am in the process of finishing a gay film ‘Love Of My Own’ and I would like to hear from interested parties, in getting it on celluloid. Script-writers, film-directors with experience, actors, non-actors, and people with finance. This film calls for actresses (not in drag). I would like any gay director of a company to give permission to use the board room, and also anyone with a large house with swimming pool, so come on, let’s really make this film for 1973.

RL

Your Letters continued on page 6.

In All Probability It’s The Movie Maker Who Is Perverse

If anyone wanted to know why West Germans have been denied the sight of It Is Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse But The Situation In Which He Lives, a couple of showings the movie got at the London’s National Film showed that it’s probably for the good of gays in Germany and also for the majority of the TV audience, which is, presumably, heterosexual.

There are quite a few Germans and if they believed that gays lived a form of Rake’s Progress (or should it be The Three-penny Opera?) as it was portrayed in this movie they might do everything they could to make sure that Amendment 175 of the constitution of West Germany, which makes homosexual acts legal among legal consenting adult males, and all that stuff.

The NFT showed the movie on two successive nights, and on both nights they got a full house (it’s probably the first time the NFT’s commissionaire has ever seen a queue) and although Volker Eschge, the assistant director wasn’t allowed to finish his piece which tended to go on and on, by shouts of boredom from the audience, no-one who missed Herr Eschge’s summation of the director Rosa von Praunheim – who’s male, by the way – missed much.

On the second night, either the audience was more tolerant or Herr Eschge had severely curtailed his speech on the relevance of Marxism to a sexual revolution.

The important bit he said was that the movie was shot as a simulated documentary about 1967 and planned as far back as the first stirrings of the USA Gay Liberation Movement – the riots in the Greenwich Village Stonewall. Which put the movie into perspective. Even if no-one was admitting it, it was made as a piece of pro-gay propaganda made to show how society forced the homosexual into a degrading life-style.

As Derek Malcolm said in the post-movie discussion after its second showing: “It shows that Rosa von Praunheim knows nothing about the gay scene.”

Whether Mr Malcolm, who writes about movies for The Guardian, knows all that much about the gay scene is immaterial, largely because he found the movie’s fundamental flaw. Every scene looked like a cheap back-of-the-lot Hollywood Western set. Cheap fittings with any little bits of effort put into it so hard they stuck out a mile.

It’s true that this sort of garish gay scene did exist before Amendment 175 was passed. At a time when German gays were totally disorganised. So the movie preaches that they should join their local groups and become militant gays, equating sexual and social revolution with a political revolution.

It’s true that you can’t have the former without the latter, but the unprocessed propaganda that the movie came out with was more likely to get the millions of German gays retreating into their closets with their Bullworkers, iron crosses and elevator shoes, as well as turning the majority of society against gays.

It Is Not The Homosexual… followed one Daniel on the broad path through the bar scene, the rent scene, and, after freaking out of leather, and into drag to being talked at by six well-meaning nude gentlemen who were doing all they could to cover their naughty parts.

The plan of the movie is probably – it’s not so obvious as to be able to say that this is what it’s about definitely – the degradation of Daniel through his contact with the Berlin gay world. Unfortunately the only English language print was made for showing in the USA, so we had a lot of references to ‘faggots’, ‘leather-freaks’ etc. And that sort of categorising doesn’t do anyone any good.

During this scene there was a mysterious large bottle of Coca-Cola being passed from one end of the group to another.

So, basically, It Is Not The Homosexual… is about another time, another place and none of it is helped by the fact that it’s made with all the expertise of a ten-year-old psychopath turned loose with a Super-8 camera and a roll of Kodachrome II.

Herr von Praunheim won’t let the movie be shown unless there’s a discussion after it. So George Melly tried to get people discussing the movie one at a time on the first night the movie was shown.

Come the second night and Mr Melly (of The Observer) had been replaced – according to plan – by Mr Malcolm, Roger Baker of CHE by Bernard Greaves of CHE and Denis Lemon of Gay News by your faithful reporter.

Regrettably the movie is to be shown at last on German TV in January. Pity really, as the direction and the acting are both so wooden as to make Crossroads look like a masterpiece of movie-making.

Stop Press

Is It Not the Movie-Maker who is Perverse?

British gays are more “uptight” about talking about their sexual experiences than homosexuals in any other country, according to Volker Eschke, the assistant director of It is Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But The Situation In Which He Lives, after the movie, shot for German television and rejected from being shown several times, had been met with a hostile reception at London’s National Film Theatre.

It Is Not The Homosexual is an intentionally amateurish-looking movie that shows cottaging, gay bars et al in their horrible reality, and counterpoints it with a Masters-and-Johnson commentary that puts down gays with the usual generalisations about our being unable to have lasting relationships.

The movie ends with a discussion between the boy whose progress we have followed from his arrival in Berlin to trade and some of his more liberated friends who tell him that gays must unite to claim their rights to live within society.

The movie’s director, Rosa von Praunheim, made It Is Not The Homosexual to try and get German gays to unite into GLF-style groups. Since it was made it has apparently spawned something like 28 gay groups in Germany.

Unfortunately radical GLF members of the audience at the NFT shouted, whistled and jeered as assistant director Volker tried to explain the movie’s aims and the way it was meant to work, so that we never heard that. I only learned it in the green room after the show.

It Is Not The Homosexual was intended as a shock report on how society has forced gays to live to be shown to a general television audience.

But perhaps because we were denied the introductory talk by the radicals’ hostility, or perhaps because the English commentary was unfortunate in its naivete, I’m not sure that showing the movie to an audience of ‘straights’ on national television would make them any more understanding.

A full review of the movie will appear in GN11.

Undergrinspoon Movies

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.

The ICA is a haven for us gays with weekend doubles of Andy Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboys (1968), My Hustler (1965) and Chelsea Girls (1966) showing regularly along with Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1964), the gay movie that started all the gay movies.

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.

Peter Holmes

Forthcoming Attractions

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.