The Ballad Of Snow White And The Seven Gay Dwarfs

A jealous queen was once obsessed
With mirrors on the wall
And one day made the vain request:
“Who’s the fairiest of them all?”

“Oh mirror give me your answer true,”
When much to her distress
The mirror said: “It isn’t you.
It is the camp princess”.

This put the queen in such a state.
She freaked the princess out.
Who fled from the old bitch’s hate
As she was chased about.

The queen with a malicious smile
Then left that teeny gay,
Who quickly disappeared meanwhile
And wandered far away.

She reached a cottage open wide
And entered with delight.
For there were seven stalls inside
But nobody in sight.

She said: “It’s no good waiting here”
But peeping out she found
That seven dwarfs were lurking there:
It was their cruising ground.

Wanky and Randy went in first.
Then Bashful and then Peepy,
Then Sucky with his raging thirst,
Then Gropey and then Creepy.

The dwarfs were overjoyed to see
A gay so pure and sweet.
And followed in a row when she
Sat outside on a seat.

The dwarfs grew anxious when she said
That Snow White was her name:
The watchful queen, they knew with dread,
Would see her on the game.

The mirror told her all too well.
It pierced her jealous heart;
She mixed a potion, cast a spell
And used her blackest art.

She put the mockers everywhere;
To poison poor Snow White,
She threw an apple in the air:
The princess took one bite.

Alas, the fruit was meant to kill.
The dwarfs each shed a tear.
Thinking her dead when lying still
And placed her on a bier.

In vigil they stood side by side
And silently they wept.
Still wondering if she really died,
or if she only slept.

They heard a horseman far away,
And as he came in view,
They saw a prince handsome and gay
Whose body well they knew.

They welcomed him with great delight
Into that sordid place,
And when he saw princess Snow White
He bent to kiss her face.

The apple fell which did the trick.
To everyone’s surprise.
The gay was neither dead nor sick
But opened wondering eyes.

The queen watched from her miror; she
Was freaked out of her mind
And died in dreadful agony —
A warning to her kind.

“Let every queen give up her crown,”
They cried, “Let’s have no more.
All royalty should be put down.”
And each one cried “Encore!”

They formed a commune from that day,
Which numbered three times three.
And said “Far better to be gay.
And to be proud and free.”

Their gender roles went overboard,
They spurned the ancient lore.
And in harmonious accord
Were happy ever more.

This ballad will be performed as a 10-character mime at the GLF dance at Shepherd’s Bush on December 22, for which it was specially written.

Poem

19720901-09In this world we live in
We have got to give in
To the thoughts and feelings
That we know must be
And it’s not surprising
That we’re realising
In this world of freedom
That we, too, are free

We belong like they do
We’re not wrong – we may do
Things they’ll learn to understand
The reasons for
And our group is growing
They will soon be knowing
That each day our numbers
Build up more and more

The love that once could never speak its name
Will shout about for all the world to hear
The love that once we had to hide away
We will show with pride and build up, year by year
That ‘friend’ we had we can call lover now
The flat we ‘shared’ can now be called a home
The act of sin has let the sunshine in
We are gay and free and we are not alone

Forelock and Foreskin

Fields of Wonder, by Rod McKuen. W.H. Allen, £1.00
Twelve Years of Christmas, by Rod McKuen, W. H. Allen, 80p.

19720901-10Two slender volumes of lyrics from the man who, according to the blurbs, must be something like the eighth wonder of the world. A thousand popular songs he’s written. Academy Nominations have crossed his path and there’s a string of major classical works too. He’s the world’s best-selling poet, it sez here.

The few times I’ve seen Rod McKuen perform (on television) he turned me off like nobody since Michael Parkinson. He was, it struck me, a case where sincerity was at once too much and not enough. Too much to tolerate – that intense gaze beneath the white-blonde forelock, an arm buried elbow deep in sheepdog, the introspective muttering. Not enough – to explain and excuse an inability to sing: to carry a tune, hit a high note, project.

In one of his Christmas verses he writes:-

There was the year I first heard Brel and cried
because I thought I’d never sing that well

Does he think he sings that well now, I wonder. But this seems to be how McKuen casts himself, as a transatlantic Brel, a chanteur in an essentially European tradition. But Brel has musical guts and dynamism, he looks outwards. McKuen looks inwards, the introspective loner in faded jeans, riding the range of the recording studios and babbling, like Falstaff on his death bed, of green fields.

In these sequences McKuen throws himself on the world like an open sore and records the pain and balm that come his way. He is passive from the opening stanza :-

“. . . I travelled not to Tiburon or Tuscany
but battled back and forth
between the breasts and thighs
of those who fancied for a time
my forelock and my foreskin.”

Always he is the innocent: “Fields of wonder/ are the places God goes walking,/ I found them by mistake and I’ve trespassed.” And he makes his position clear:-

Love I wore
As open as a wound
a mad mistake I know
but love, like Lent,
only comes to those of us
who still believe.

We are not, in all honesty, so far away from the wonderful world of Patience Strong (“A smile is a light in the window of the face that shows that the heart is at home”) and even in pain the quiet, consoling voice preludes sleep. He has added a tentative awareness of sexuality to this simplistic view of life (“I have in common with all men/a lump in swimming trunks”), but it seems a faintly embarrassing itch, lost beneath sententious, didactic clumsiness when the message is rammed home.

Only a few of these collected verses are intended as lyrics for music. But they are often ridden with the kind of imagery that sounds probing when murmured through a microphone but which fails to survive reading: “There were fences that I leapt/and some that I slid under,/even when I knew I’d tear my pants.” Now and then, though, McKuen does come up with the goods as here: “The sawdust made/by two lives rubbed together/is as useless in the cover up/of changing feelings/as the kind spread thinly/on the floors of butcher shops …”

Twelve Years of Christmas is a collection of annual messages to his friends between 1958 and 1969. They are summings up of the past year, very personal and idiosyncratic. Ironically, their very intimacy makes them far more immediate and interesting than the pomposities of the bigger sequences. Here, in such verses as The Jazz Palace and El Monte Rod McKuen does indeed nearly approach the quality of Jacques Brel. The style of these Christmas messages is less effortful, the lines more fluent, the experiences more relevant than in Fields of Wonder.