Sam Green, the 32-year-old Liberal Councillor in Durham, who fought and won his election in spite of making the point that he was an active member of GLF, is under attack from the ruling Independent Party, and in fact has announced his decision not to fight the forthcoming county elections.
The cause of the uproar, a Granada TV ‘World In Action’ documentary featuring Sam in his triple role as psychiatric nurse, councillor and Gay Lib Activist, was to have included a face-to-face interview between Sam and his fellow councillors in the Durham City council chambers. Granada’s team have already interviewed Sam, but wanted to include comment on social attitudes to homosexuality from other council members.
However the general purposes committee banned the offending camera from Durham’s hallowed halls, and Sam was accused of using the programme to further his political career. Councillor Ron Stitt, spokesman for the Independent Party said: “I absolutely deplore this, I will discuss it openly but I will not allow the city council to be a little hub in a big wheel to expound councillors’ private lives. I consider what he does in his private life is his own concern and no business of the council.”
Oddly enough, Sam agreed that cameras should be kept out as a matter of overall policy but states: “I am not doing it for political gain, and to prove it I have decided not to stand in the forthcoming Durham County Council elections, in which I was a prospective Liberal candidate. I was making the programme to help other people. The Gay Liberation Movement is very important to me.”
The programme’s producer, Brian Blake commented that he was not disappointed, and that it would make no difference to the final programme, which could be screened any time within the next two months.
What Durham Does Today, New York….?
Although the Gays of the world can’t exactly be said to be united, at least there are signs that they’re beginning to think alike. And the thinking seems to be ‘If you can’t beat the establishment, join it and attack from the inside.’ In Durham, Sam Green has achieved fame as probably England’s only self-avowed homosexual Councillor, and now in New York John Owles, a former President of the Gay Activists’ Alliance is running on the Democratic ticket for a seat on the 43-member Council, New York’s legislative body.
This has only been made possible because of the political pressure which homosexual organisations in America have brought to bear on the ‘straight establishment’ and because of the changing attitudes towards gays which has been one of the benefits of the ‘permissive society’.
“I’m a candidate who happens to be gay and I’m seeking to bring gay people into the political process because oppression of gays can only be ended through political action.” he stated at a fund raising meeting. Other aims include removing all barriers to sexual acts betweeit consenting persons, and to end discrimination in all its insidious forms against homosexuals.
The usual arguments between moderates and activists within the Gay Movement then developed. The moderates’ objections to the fact that Osley’s supporters did not include any ‘straights’, that the problems of the poor, the drug addicts, and crime in the streets are more important that the gay issues were answered by the activists, who claimed that gay people suffered more than any minority within the city.
James Osley countered with the fact that he was just as concerned as any ‘straight’ with the quality of life in New York, and that he would stress many issues unconnected with homosexuals, and that he’d include the ‘straights’ in his campaign at a later date.
James admits that his chances of election are slender, even though his district, which includes Greenwich Village, is probably one of the most liberated and liberal in New York.
“But even if we should lose,” he said, “this campaign is going to be extremely important. Because we’re going to get a lot of people talking openly about what we stand for – civil rights for gay people. And that’s what counts.”
Boys are for sale in this city. Twelve year old boys are selling themselves for 10 dollars at Times Square. Pimps are selling teenagers for 50 dollars every night at 53rd Street and 3rd Avenue. Lonely runaways are met at the Port Authority Bus Terminal by pimps, lured away by the promise of a free meal, and then beaten into prostitution. Boys, kept high on ups and heroin, are exhibited in a Christopher Street restaurant; ask and you’ll be told their prices. And for 100 dollars a call service will deliver the type of boy of your choice.
This is the world of chicken hawks, those men who enjoy sex with boys not much older then 16, and their chickens, those boys who out of desire, fear or pain, submit. It is a world of prostitution, beatings, drugs, and white slavery. And it is a world of big dollars, pimps living well off their stable. The high spending chicken hawks include a well known professional athlete, a television newscaster, a high church official, and numerous actors.
The centre of young male prostitution in this city is Times Square between 7th and 8th Avenues. Every afternoon groups of young boys, boys mostly aged 11-14, can be standing around Times Square store fronts. These boys largely Puerto Ricans, are for sale. You can go up to them or they will go up to you, it is that open. Business is conducted right on the street. A price is named and a boy will disappear into a movie theatre with a john, or for more money, into one of the cheap hotels near the Port Authority building.
These boys, the 10 dollar an hour boys, are independents. They are into the scene for usually one simple reason: the money. The word has spread around the South Bronx that money can be made by allowing yourself to be used by an old man in a movie. Ten dollars can be made for 10 minutes work. So each afternoon and evening, groups of boys come down to Times Square and hang around. The money is good, so no one complains.
Soon, though, these kids either leave the scene or are forced to work for a pimp. The pimp promises to get you more johns at higher prices. If you need a place to stay, the pimp will put you up. The pimp will house you, use you, sell you to his customers and then pass you onto another pimp when he tires of you. What happens if a boy wants to leave a pimp? He cannot. It is impossible. Thirteen year old boys are forced to become addicts, are chained to their beds, are beaten, are disfigured by lighted cigarettes. When a boy works for a pimp, he works until the pimp decides to let him go.
Since the most requested commodity by chicken hawks is a new face,, the pimps are always looking for new boys. The pimps stand like vultures around the Port Authority bus terminal waiting to descend on runaways. A young boy need only to get off the bus, a knapsack on his back, walk a few confused steps in the big city, before a nice man will offer him a free meal and a place to stay. Too often the boy accepts. By that night the boy has been broken in. He becomes the victim of what is called on the street, the rape artist. The boy is beaten. Perhaps he is drugged. And he’s working. All the money he makes goes to the pimp. All the child receives is a few meals and enough to keep him too stoned to resist. He is now part of the stable, a chicken sold from john to john until the pimp tires of him.
Since last June, Captain Kenneth Gussman and a special squad of six men from the police’s Public Morals Division have been trying to crack down on this business of selling boys. Working with Assistant District Attorney Robert La Russo, Captain Gussman’s squad has been responsible for 64 indictments. A look at the arrest sheets reveals the following:
A 15 year old pimp arrested for selling two boys. The boys are aged 12 and 13.
A pimp aged 14 booked for selling another 14 year old.
A pimp aged 19 booked for selling a 16 year old.
A pimp aged 17 booked for selling a 17 year old.
And the list of child pimps and prostitutes grows.
The Captain’s squad has also arrested the older professional pimps. These men freed on bail, can be seen hanging around Times Square most every evening. For example:
Hollywood Al, a seaman indicted for promoting prostitution, endangering the welfare of children, sodomy and sexual abuse. Hollywood Al gets his street name from his sunglasses. He is known to every chicken hawk in the city. He can be found on Times Square any afternoon or evening.
Ace the Spade, a black pimp, indicted for selling a 12 year old. Ace specialises in white runaways.
Cigar Murray, who runs a call boy operation out of the Village hotel he manages. Cigar Murray was indicted for promoting prostitution.
Sideburn Eddi, indicted for sodomy, sexual abuse, endangerment of the welfare of a minor, and unlawful imprisonment of a child. Until his indictment Sideburn Eddie was a psychologist at Kings Park hospital where he worked with disturbed children. Sideburn Eddie was finally arrested after allegedly keeping two brothers locked in his apartment for days. The brothers, according to the police report, were repeatedly raped by Sideburn Eddie and other men. How did the boys get to his apartment? They were taken from their Brentwood, Long Island, home by a friend of their father who promised to take them for a ride. The “friend” delivered them to Sideburn Eddie. The brothers are aged 11 and 14.
“What we are talking about” Captain Gussman emphasises “is not homosexuality between consenting adults. What we are making thfe arrests for is prostitution and imprisonment. Boys are being sold against their will. That’s the filth we want to clean up off the streets.”
It is a cold and very late night in Times Square, but the street still loudly lit with neon – is not empty. I walk down the street and eyes follow, wondering, hinting.
Am I a tourist or customer, these quick glances demand. In front of a theatre, I am finally approached. A black man with a large grey hat and shiny glass rings on his fingers does the talking. Behind him stands a young boy wearing purple pants, sneakers and a light corduroy jacket. His shirt collar is turned up to protect him against the cold.
The boy has blonde hair parted in the middle. His face, that nicely tanned, is that of a child – fresh and soft. He tries to disguise his age by puffing on a cigarette. The boy stands under the movie arcade, hands in his pockets, shivering. He is not wearing winter clothes.
His tan, his clothes, suggest Florida or California. How long has he been in New York? It is impossible to tell. He doesn’t talk. Behind the boy stands another black man.
He is not so fancily dressed. He also does not talk. He only stares. The four of us stand in the cold. The smoke from the boy’s cigarette drifts up into the neon lights.
“It’s cold out here. Why don’t we talk downstairs?” the man with the hat offers.
I follow the trio into the Subway at 42nd Street. Two transit patrolmen see the two black men and the blonde boy walking ahead of me. They look, but they don’t stop the boy. They don’t ask him where he’s from, what he’s doing out so late at night. The two transit cops continue walking, talking to each other.
They lead me to an underground penny arcade near the trains. The man running the place says hello to the man wearing the hat. There is a long line of target machines, 10 cents for 25 shots. No one is using the machines. We stand next to them.
The light down here is very bright. In this stronger light I see the black man’s coat is frayed at the cuff. His rings are a clear purple glass and catch the light as he moves his hand. The othef black man silently and quickly moves behind me. I move away. I don’t want him behind me. He realises this and moves away. The boy lights another cigarette. He does not talk. He puffs on the cigarette and starfcs down the sights of a rifle attached to a machine.
The man with the hat breaks the silence. “My rent is due tomorrow. Gotta pay my rent. Gotta make some money somehow. Got any suggestions?” he asks me. “What do you think?” I ask. The man with the hat laughs. “I got a little friend here, a nice little chicken, who’ll help me earn the money. Got any suggestions?” he repeats.
It’s a Tuesday night in Times Square.
Nevada is a chicken hawk. He spends 300 dollars a week buying boys. I met Nevada in his Upper West Side apartment. He is a tall, handsome man with thick red hair and dark eyes. He talks slowly and with a slight Boston accent, the city where he was born and attended college. He has lived in New York for the past fifteen years, working as an accountant by day, and living the life of a chicken hawk by night. I sip red wine and listen.
“You know, I’m not like most of the other chicken hawks. You don’t find many people like me around, I take care of the kids. I take them out to dinner. I give them 20, 25 dollars. I care about them. Look, you know what those kids on the street are looking for? Love and affection. If I find a kid on 42nd Street I treat him well. I tell a kid I’ll give him a place to stay but I’ll tell the kid right off, he’s gonna have to do something to earn his keep.”
“You know why 42nd street is full of kids’ Do you know why the runaways are coming off the buses? I’ll tell you why: it’s because something went wrong at home, and they‘re just looking for someone to take care of them. One summer I kept 17 kids at my apartment up here. Do you know what they cost me in food? I make sure all my chickens are well fed. I spent something like 750 dollars a month on food that summer. And then I had to give the doorman all kinds of tips to shut him up. Every time he’d threaten to call up the cops. I’d have to hand over another picture of the President.
“If I don’t get the kids off the buses, do you know who gets them? The rape artists will grab them. Let me tell you a story about one of them, about Steve, the rape artist. I get a call from this scum and he tells me to meet him at his house. He says he has a nice chicken for me. When I get there I find this kid tied to a bed. He’s been tied to this bed for four days already. Steve tells me he’s been raped 17 times. He says the kid resisted at first so he beat him, and just to teach him a lesson, burnt his initials on the kid’s back with a hot cigarette. I spoke to the kid. He was some poor 13 year old from Baltimore. You know why he ran away from home? Get this – he got a bad grade in Mathematics and was afraid his father would beat him. I mean a guy like Steve the rape artist is sick. I don’t see why people make such a fuss about me and my little chickens. I’m just looking for a nice boy. I’m willing to pay for a new face. What I’ll pay depends on what the boy will do. What kind do I like? I like sweet boys. My ideal boy has blonde hair and blue eyes. But I’ve been with all kinds. I would never go to bed with a coloured person though. I don’t consider myself a bigot…”
“You can buy any type of boy in this city, if you’re willing to pay. It’s no problem. On 42nd street the Pimps like Hollywood Al will take care of you. On 53rd and 3rd the scene is more expensive and older. The boys hang out down there in a restaurant when it’s colder. Usually there’s a row of expensive cars along the curb. The pimps make a deal and the boys disappear into the cars. If you want to buy a boy there, you see Mike “Nary” Muscles. He’s the big pimp. He handles johns from all over the city, shipping boys out to the Queens or Brooklyn. He’s a weightlifter or something. Upper East Side chicken hawks like this guy we call Rockefeller come by in their fancy cars. They get a high class crowd on 53rd Street.”
“Or if you want, you can get your chickens in the Village. Super Sam keeps his flock in a restaurant on Christopher Street, too. They’re just looking for a place to stay. Look, there’s even a number where you can call up and get a boy delivered to you. They say it’s a massage service. You can’t believe how big this thing is. Why there’s even a place in Connecticut where they take kids and make them pose for pictures.”
“The only problem is that there are just not enough new kids. New York makes kids too tough too soon. A lot of us chicken hawks, and the pimps too, drive up to Philadelphia to a place on 17th and Walnut on weekends to look for new faces. Or we go to the meat market in Baltimore. Or we hang out in Jersey City. The kids in other cities are much sweeter, much looser. They’re doing it all for the fun.
“Look, I’m not like the others. I never forced a kid to do anything. You’ll never find a kid who’ll say anything bad about me.”
Soon Nevada tells me I must leave. He is expecting a guest and he has to check on the roast in the oven.
Later that night I see the trio again. They are standing in a coffee shop underneath the Port Authority terminal. I watch them from the other side of the glass. The black man with the hat is talking to a tall man with glasses and lots of curly hair. The tall man is looking at the boy. The boy is kicking an empty paper cup across the coffee shop floor. The other black man is standing by the door, hands in his pockets.
The conversation continues. Hands are shook. Is money exchanged? Quickly the black man opens the door and the tall man and the boy with purple pants walk out together. The two black men remain inside the restaurant and order something. The boy follows the tall man, still kicking the paper cup as he walks towards the subway.
How easy is it to call up a pimp and buy a boy? Last weekend I tried a number in the Village and spoke with a well known pimp. This pimp has been twice indicted by the grand jury and is presently free on bail. The conversation went as follows:
H.B.: Hello, M, I’m Bob. I’m in from Baltimore for the weekend and I’m looking for chickens.
M.: Who gave you my name?
H.B.: A friend. Look do you have any chickens or not?
M.: Where are you?
M.: Can you meet me uptown?
M.: OK. Meet me at 5 o’clock tonight at 42nd Street. At Grant’s. It’s a big restaurant. I’ll find you. I’m certain I’ll be able to take care of you.
Reprinted with love and thanks from “The Village Voice”, Greenwich Village’s community newspaper.
ED: Whilst realising that the above feature could be interpreted as being a piece of sensationalism, we believe that it will be of interest to many readers. It is a factually written article about a social phenomenon that was first examined by GN in Roger Baker’s review of ‘The Dilly Boys’ in our last issue. As always, we hope to receive your opinions about the subject of prostitution in the gay scene.
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.”
NEW YORK: The Gay Activists’ Alliance has written a letter to the three US television network Standards and Practices Committees, asking for a meeting to discuss, with reference to codes of practice, the recent rash of anti-homosexual remarks, jokes and characterisations on the networks.
Signed by the alliance president Bruce Voeller, the letter charges that the practices chieftains have not been ensuring that shows ‘contain no slighting or offensive references to minority groups’.
The letter says: ‘We have no objections … to humorous remarks or skits dealing with homosexuality and depiction of homosexual characters on television … But sniggering “fag” and “dyke” jokes won’t do nor will the suggestion that the mere fact of homosexuality is hilarious. In short, we do not object to jokes that deal with our lives – but our lives themselves are not a joke!’
The alliance has cited as acceptable the sketches on the Burns and Schreiber comedy specials (ABC television) dealing with a homosexual son and his father and a homosexual drunk at a bar asking a heterosexual couple what they do sexually. Also, a bit on the Mary Tyler Moore segment in which two women are after the same man, who, it turns out to the great relief of one of the smitten, turns out to be gay.
ROCHESTER, N.Y.: An enlightened American Judge gets this month’s award for diplomacy. Faced with the problem of sentencing a gay convicted of first-degree assault he “reluctantly” placed him on probation because of fears that the man – 29-year-old Michael Dodd — would be “dehumanised if not killed” if sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
The case was dealt with recently by Judge David O. Boehm at Munroe County Court. Before passing sentence he asked prison officials about the potential danger to a homosexual inmate.
“They were very candid,” said Judge Boehm. There had been stabbings and fights over this situation yet all the prison officers could do was to give verbal instructions to the prisoners.
Judge Boehm said he just couldn’t see throwing Michael into that situation.
“It would be cruel and unusual punishment. He’d become an object of barter there, completely dehumanised, if he wasn’t killed.”
Judge Boehm placed Michael on probation on condition that he sought psychiatric help and stayed away from the victim of the assault.
He told Michael that if he violated any condition of parole, it “will be clear indication that you’re not concerned, as I am, with what might happen if you’re sentenced to prison.” Judge Boehm added: “I resent the fact that we have no alternatives. This is a heck of a thing and the public ought to know about it. I resent the fact that another person may come up who’s a homosexual and he may have a more serious crime and I’m stuck.”
Right on Judge Boehm and here’s hoping your views come to the notice of your English colleagues.
New York City police seized Fred Halstead’s SEX GARAGE, a gay porno film, at the 55th Street Playhouse on April 14th. It is called ‘seizure’, but if you saw it happening you’d probably call it by some other name.
What happened was this; NY city police served the management of the cinema with a subpoena made out in the name of Moon Enterprises, demanding that the film be shown to court officials to determine whether it was of a distinctly abusive and debasing nature, and therefore illegal and outside the broadly legal spectrum of pornographic film shown in dozens of theatres in NY. But Moon Enterprises is the former, not the current, tenant of the Playhouse, so the subpoena was invalid.
The judges reaction to all this was to throw up his hands and say, “Work it out with the District Attorney”. And that means de facto that the film can go on playing for months (or as long as the customers keep paying) before the jury ever gets hold of the case. In the meantime, the film is doing very well indeed at the box-office and in its first week grossed over $20,000 (over £8,000)
In their more or less regular raids of pornogrinds, police have been leaving the explicitly gay theatres untouched. But a perceptive look at Halstead’s Sex Garage, a sado-masochistic (S-M) film, and its co-feature L.A. Plays Itself which was not seized, explains the change in policy. Both are films which begin with a gay S-M consciousness toward their subject matter.
It’s not that homosexuals are anything new in movies. John Schlesinger’s films have frequently portrayed male homosexuals from the point of view of straights, or, worse even, from the point of view of homosexuals who look self-denigratingly at themselves through some imaginary version of heterosexual ‘eyes’. This can lend the films the air of reporting (in the true liberal fashion) on the cutting edge of changing sexual mores, while still holding up their characters as curiosities. Billy Wilder too has featured faggots in many of his films. Again, they’re seen from a straight point of view, but Wilder has had the decency to never hold his own characters up to ridicule. As a straight dealing with gays, he has consistently been compassionate or left well enough alone.
What Halsted has done is to make a radical demand; homosexuals must recognise that their own view of themselves is the only one with which they can comfortably carry on their lives. They must get over that self-destructive impulse to accept the thought-controlling prejudices of the straight world. Further more, they must begin to show the straight world that a homosexual consciousness is in fact part of their (the straights’) everday world too. It is present everywhere. It is interpreting the billboards which sell commodities and line the streets of Los Angeles (Birmingham) and every other American (British) city. It is giving new erotic meaning to casual gatherings in the city’s parks.
Sex Garage is like a homosexual La Ronde (the Ophuls film, remade by Vadim). In the butch environ of an automobile repair shop shop a girl seated in a Mazda gives a young stud a blowjob. Intercut with her sucking are shots of details oft are shots of details of the car. Can he be fantasising these while she works on him? The stud then turns around and screws the chick. This scene is intercut with shots of a Mercedes Benz. Now clearly a Mercedes is more desirable as a commodity than a Mazda.
Sex Garage and L.A. Plays Itself represent therefore a very radical threat to the heterosexual domination of Planet Earth. The films, apart from their arousing pornographic intent, (and God knows they could stimulate a myopic mule, including the one sitting next to me in the theatre… ‘Excuse me sir, thats my leg’) constitute a liberating rallying-cry to homosexuals.
Is Halsted implying that one type of sex-act is preferable to another in some absolute scale of sexual values? But the Mercedes actually arrives at the garage, and from it steps z another boy, a masochist. Roughly the stud fucks him, during which he entertains masturbatory fantasies of a motor-cycle, which in fact arrives on the scene moments later.
What is happening here is simple. Halsted has played with certain cinematic editing conventions, making unclear the function of the motor vehicles in the film. They can be representing either fantasies or actual vehicles by which people connect together in the far-flung parts of L.A. as they run from one orgasm to the next. All of this builds to the film’s final shot of masses of cars bumper to bumper on the freeway. All are driven by actively-fantasising men and women, passing their days linking orgasm bumper to bumper with orgasm.
The seizure of Sex Garage is based on a rather primitive notion of the effect that film has on viewers: that the viewers can accurately penetrate the metaphors which enshroud the ‘real’, that they are powerless to resist the ‘message’ that is hidden there, that once having received the message their behaviour (bereft of other stimuli) is determined by it and accords with its dictates.
The above article was written by Mitch Tuchman and is taken from a recent issue ofCinema Rising. Many thanks to them both.
What follows is a section of a letter (received by a member of the Gay News collective) which reviews the films in a different and possibly more personal context. Many thanks to Manus Sasonkin for his permission to print this part of his letter.
An Afternoon at the Cinema
‘In the afternoon, I attended, for the first time – ever – a cinema which was showing a double bill of gay ‘pornography’. The films, Sex Garage and L.A. Plays Itself, were virtually interchangeable, except that Sex Garage had been photographed (appallingly) in black and white, whereas L.A. Plays Itself had been photographed (no less appallingly) in glorious colour. There was no attempt made in either film to tell a story; neither was there any attempt made to create (let alone develop) any characters. Both films displayed extremely pretty young men, copious amounts of masturbation, detailed accounts of fellatio, and the occasional anal penetration. My favourite episode (which was from Sex Garage) involved a comely young stud standing in a shower-bath, masturbating, whilst the sound track issued Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire in the piano transcription of the late Dame Myra Hess.
Elsewhere the bodies were all attractive. and the activities which the bodies performed caused me to feel wistful and just slightly covetous; but the impersonality of all the encounters – the total lack of human (as opposed to physical) contact – depressed me, and caused me to feel nobly justified in hailing declined the attentions of a Piccadilly Cruiser on my recent visit to London. Seeing the films helped to convince me that, for me at least, sex without human involvement is futile, barren, unrewarding, and – in the last analysis – more frustrating than gratifying.’
It is unlikely that either of these films will be shown in the British Isles, however, as is obvious here, different people react differently to ‘gay’ films. And it occurs to us, with further relaxation of censorship, if seems likely there will be more films with a more explicit ‘gay content’.
There have been in the last few year a number of films on general release portraying the homosexual stereo-types, and in the showing ofSome Of My Best Friends Are…the first attempt to cash in on gay audiences in this country.
We of the collective have varying ideas as to the possible good that may come from these developments in the cinema, and would like to know how you feel about and react to this.