Editorial

The protracted soul-searchings by Appeal Court judges over the Andy Warhol television documentary, followed by a series of raid on ‘pornographers’ by the police have put the question of what is obscene and what isn’t back into the centre of public attention – where it ought to stay for a good while longer so that it may be resolved.

The trouble is that the time it takes the law to make up its mind as to what is offensive – and is therefore the basis for a criminal charge – makes the court the wrong place for it to be decided whether something should be available to the public or not.

Publish and be Damned

The situation in this country now is that you can publish whatever you like – and the court will make its mind up later whether or not you are to be damned. And that situation is, quite obviously, not good enough.

Society must decide, once and for all, what it is going to allow. The choice, quite starkly, is between all or nothing.

If the answer is nothing, then we have opted for a society that doesn’t want to develop.

It’s a truism to say that standards have changed over the last so many years. The only reason they have changed is because society has developed organically. The moral censors and porn-breakers are usually fighting a rear-guard action.

To change organically society must accept new ideas constantly.

Stagnant Society

That’s why a society that refuses to allow certain things to be published, because they offend the standards of those judges and censors of our moral taste and behaviour, is a stagnant society. Judges and censors are usually ageing, middle-class and totally out of tune with the times they live in, not seeing outside their own cloistered world.

In fact, society has set up these censors precisely to halt change, without realising that it is the worst possible move as far as its own interests are concerned. By doing this, society has surely shut the door on an organic change.

A closed-doors society cannot keep itself away from the influences of the rest of the world.

Eventually, either those who censor will find the ground eroded from under their feet or the members of the society they control will refuse to be ruled by out-moded laws any longer.

Gang Warfare

These considerations are quite apart from the allegations made by the porn-swoop police that the ‘pornographers’ were involved in underworld gangster warfare. The gang allegations are more than a mere side-light on the whole subject of pornography. It is a product of the very system that censorship is intended to protect.

There will always be a need for what is described as ‘pornography’ and while society goes on denying people what they want to see, the porn-biz is going to be very big business, a high-profit business, where a contact magazine that sells wholesale for 10p retails to the public at £1. And it’s that sort of high-profit business that attracts the less honest to cash in on the great titillation bonanza.

By its absurd practice of attempting to clamp down on sexual publishing – and then only after the event – society builds up not evolutionary, but revolutionary pressures and opens the way for racketeers, who will, naturally enough, be prepared to join battle to carve themselves a monopoly out of this multi-million pound trade.

There’s one answer that relieves the law of the burden of wasted hours spent in finding out whether or not a girl’s breasts are offensive to a judge; a solution that avoids the massive costs of such court cases and destroys the semi-gangster sub-culture the underground porn-market creates. The answer to all these problems is quite simple: scrap censorship as we know it now.

New ‘Porn Laws’

Let people see anything they want to. They’ll get to see it anyway, by hook or from crook. Perhaps it would be necessary to extend the existing system of movie-censorship in a modified form to cover all areas of publishing.

The sanest way to censor would be for something that is to be published to be passed as fit for people under or over a certain age. Above that age anything should go. It would need a censorship board to deal with those areas of publishing not already affected by censors, but once a publisher had his work passed as fit for adults, he would be sure there would be no possibility of prosecution.

This, surely, is the only way to get out of a situation where we are beset by cranks on one hand and people (we are told are gangsters) on the other.

Still At It

LONDON: It was reported in GN13 that Chelsea police were using agent provocateur methods of entrapment in the vicinity of The Coleherne public house in London’s Earls Court district. We reported in that issue that Michael, a 34-year-old carpenter, had been fined £25 for mistakenly inviting a plainclothes police sergeant back to his home.

Unfortunately we have to tell you that the police are still at it.The latest victim of this widely condemned practise of using agents provocateurs, is Peter, a 26-year-old German student. For at Marlborough Street magistrate court recently, a police officer claimed that Peter had approached him and two other men in Coleherne Road and had extended invitations to go back to his flat.

Peter at first denied the offence, but later pleaded guilty and was conditionally discharged for twelve months. The German student, of excellent previous character, said in his defence that in Germany it was in no way illegal to extend such invitations in the street, and that he was not aware that the law was different in this country. He most certainly is now.

The Chelsea police must be using some very attractive guardians of the law to protect the public from these major crimes. So be extra careful about who you are friendly to in this particular area.

Further developments in this pitiful situation will appear in the paper.

Watch Out

LONDON: Although denied by the police that the practice of using agents provocateurs in Earl’s Court is happening at all, it is apparently becoming standard police procedure in that area.

The scene of these activities, which have been widely condemned, is in Wharfedale Street, which runs directly behind the popular Colherne public house. A GN newsman had heard rumours that plainclothes police officers would be in action behind the pub after ‘closing time’. This information came from two, usually reliable, independent sources, both of whom overheard the conversation of a group of five plainclothes officers.

The rumours turned into reality, for in court last week, a 34-year-old carpenter admitted persistently importuning men for a homosexual purpose. He was fined £25.

Sergeant William Smith told magistrate Mr John Hooper that after speaking to two men in Wharfedale Street, Michael (the carpenter) then approached him and asked, “Do you want to come back to my place ?”

“You weren’t in uniform, I take it?” the Marlborough Street magistrate asked him. Supposedly not, and Sergeant Smith sounds as if he must be rather attractive.

When asked by Gay News if agent provocateur methods would be a regular occurence from now on in Wharfedale Street, the station officer of Chelsea Police Station first replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about”.

After having the question explained in more simplistic terms, he then stated, “These methods aren’t being used. Apart from that, there’s no comment I can make”

Gay News ventures to suggest that those people who may be in Wharfedale Street, or the near vicinity, late at night, should take the utmost precautions to ensure that they are not entrapped by these dubious means.

Any developments in this situation will appear in this paper.

I’m No Pervert

All I want is sympathy, because I am no longer a filthy pervert, after a lifetime of fervent dedication and grinding.

On June 10th last I left the Picador Club in Manchester and en route to my bus-stop, called into the cottage on High St. The place was not empty, neither was it interesting, so after a slash I left by the back exit. Once outside I was approached by a dirty looking dosser who asked if I could suggest anywhere for him to spend the night.

As I am in Manchester GLF and was wearing my badge openly, I could hardly refuse to help him crash somewhere. So off we went, me making sure he wasn’t a mugger or some odious being and him making the odd grunt.

Having decided to try the trusty and lovely Steve as a possible solution, I changed direction to go towards his place. After about half-an hour I wanted to piss again, so I nipped under a bridge near the Union Hotel. In midstream I was grabbed and told that two pigs (the speaker being one of them) had followed me for thirty minutes from High St cottage.

They trumped up a charge of gross indecency even though the dosser was some 70ft away from me (can you imagine the kind of cock he must have had?)

At Bootle St the usual insults were hurled – I had annoyed them by refusing to go to the police station until one of them threatened to “throw me in the fuckin’ canal”. I was called a poof, a pervert and homo etc, all of which I am – I do them exceedingly well.

One of the pigs was so resentful of my obvious talent and ability that he said he’d like “to cut the bollocks off all queers”. The dosser was found guilty, in the station, of having the same surname as one of the arresting pigs – so he was duly smashed about the head.

I was told that my GLF badge, manifesto and some leaflets would be sufficient to convict me. The dosser was told that he didn’t have a chance because of previous convictions (all 19 of them for het sexual offences). All a load of crap, obviously, as was the statement that if this nasty pig (a mere constable) opposed my application for bail I wouldn’t get it.

“Plead guilty” they said, “get it over with cheaply and discreetly and with no chance of remand in custody” – so the dosser did and was remanded at Risley for two weeks for probation reports.

I pleaded not guilty and after several appearances before magistrates eventually reached the Crown Court. The jury couldn’t reach a majority verdict – in my opinion because the judge’s summing-up was slightly biased against me.

Re-trial four weeks later in two sessions: prosecution on Friday, me (starring) the following Monday. I said I was gay and had a previous conviction for soliciting and that I was in and supported actively GLF.

The prosecution asked me if I knew High St cottage was a homosexual lavatory. I explained that a lavatory has no sexuality, het or homo, and the judge told the prosecution how to say what he had intended “was it frequented by homosexuals”.

I told him that all gays use lavatories. After stressing that the facts as stated by me were contradictory to those alleged by the pigs, the prosecution said “so in fact these policemen have told the court a pack of lies?” I said that I agreed entirely.

In summing up the Judge (Steele) said “Let’s get down to brass tacks – the policemen allege that the defendant was tossing off another man and the defendant says how could he when he and the other man were some considerable distance apart.”

The Judge also gave a brief resume of the history of the law regarding gays, with particular reference to the barbarity of some aspects and sent the jury out. Fifteen minutes later the jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty and I was discharged.

One gay voice has destroyed the grunting of two pigs – so we are getting somewhere. So all gays, “Fight hard enough and you will win”:

Many thanks and much love to the lovely gays who gave me moral support, brandies and rigs throughout, and to the two navvies from the public gallery for the congratulatory slap on the back.

John Probert

ED: While the term ‘pigs’ used in this news item is not necessarily the terminology which would be used by the GN collective, it is the policy of the paper to reproduce worthy articles as we receive them. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate John Probert on the outcome of his court experiences and to further commend him for taking the course of action he took, as all too often gays take the easy and faint-hearted way out.

Offensive Badge

LONDON: Julie Frost, one of the GN editors and members of the paper’s editorial collective was stopped and questioned by Chelsea police, who after asking him for his name and address, took a ‘Glad to be Gay’ badge away, calling it an “offensive weapon”.

Julie was walking home to Lennox Gardens from a GLF discotheque. He turned into Pont Street and was stopped by two policemen.

The police asked Julie what he had in the carrier bag he was carrying. In it they found a copy of GN9, a GLF diary he’d been given for the GN office and his cheque book

When he was asked his name and address, Julie gave it to them. The National Council for Civil Liberties told him the next day that he should not have given his name and address. The NCCL’s legal department told Julie to complain to the Commissioner of Police at Scotland Yard against his treatment at the hands of the Chelsea Police.

The police questioned Julie about the paper in his bag and about his working for GN.

The NCCL said that, strictly speaking, Julie could bring an action for assault against his person by the policeman who removed his Glad to be Gay badge, saying it was “an offensive weapon”.

The Commissioner now has that complaint and Julie is waiting for his reply.

Mental Check For Gay

JERSEY: Assistant magistrate Sir Graeme Finlay sent a gay for a ‘medical check’ after he had refused to stop interrupting the police case against him, calling the case a “bloody farce”

Twenty-nine year-old David, of Oxford, and another man, Edward, were charged with ‘gross indecency’ after police had arrested them in the island’s Weighbridge cottage.

Det Sergeant D. M. Watkins told the court that he and another policeman were on duty on the cottage roof keeping an eye on gay activity under them. When the sergeant reached the bit of his evidence saying that David and Edward went into the cottage, David shouted what the local press described as a ‘four-letter word’ to describe the ‘evidence’.

The Assistant Magistrate told David to shut up and control himself. But David shouted: “This is a load of rubbish. It’s a bloody farce.” and Sir Graeme walked out of the court in disgust, while David was removed to the cells.

The detective tried to chat David into apologising for his behaviour, but he stood his ground and refused.

When Sir Graeme deigned to return to the courtroom, he said he wasn’t prepared to go on with the case “under these circumstances.” Then David was brought back into the dock and stood there with his hands in his pockets. Sir Graeme said he was going to order a medical report to be made on David because he didn’t know whether he was fit to plead, David just shook his head and grinned.

When David and Edward were remanded until the next hearing, Edward was given £20 bail and David was remanded in custody.

Return Of The Biograph Review

Hello dears. As I said in my brief note in the last edition of this ‘Times’ of the other world, I thought that there was a good chance that I would be able to carry on with my Biograph Review. Well, everything went according to my little plan, and here we are with a sparkling new feature on the Bio.

No thanks either to Mr Wheelan, the cinema’s manager. Luckily for me my friends at the ‘Times’ and the ‘Observer’ have helped me overcome the problem of obtaining the forthcoming programme. Thank you boys, I’ll settle up with you later, at my place. I sincerely hope that Mr Wheelan turns a colour when he sees this, serves him right for being such a big meanie.

Before I commence with my review, I must unfortunately offer fans of the Bio a word of warning. Recently our ‘friends in blue’ have been visiting our little Bio and making a considerable nuisance of themselves. Goodness knows why, I’ve never seen anything going on there that would startle me. Mind you, I have occasionally been given a turn by the size of some people, however they manage to sit down in those little wooden seats I just don’t know. To be serious though, I suppose the ‘guardians of the law’ have nothing better to do. Maybe now that the weather has become chilly, the criminals aren’t committing so many robberies, or else ‘lily law’ is feeling the cold a little too much and wants an excuse for a warm up. Anyway dears, take care. Better to be safe than sorry I always say, so keep a watchful eye open even if you are totally captivated by the delights showing.

Back to the silver screen. On 2nd November for three days, Marlon Brando and Richard Boone star in Night Of The Following Day. Lovely actors, both of these men, and they perform well together in this moving film. Support is our own Kenneth Williams, ably assisted by Phil Silvers, in Follow That Camel. It sounds rather rude but Ken should make it interesting enough to watch.

Sunday 5th November, for one day only, has Burt Lancaster, being ever so hulky, in a western called The Scalphunters. He shares the credits with super Shelley ‘Bloody Momma’ Winters. The naughty and puzzling My Wife’s Husband completes the bill. French comedy star Fernandel and Clair Maurier are the principal actors. A good laugh if you like a bit of the continentals. It’s also Bonfire Night this Sunday, but if you ask me, it is a lot safer to be in a cinema than taking part in the Gay Fawkes celebrations. I like a good bang like anybody else, but I feel a lot better about it if I know that the fireworks are only in responsible hands.

The shocking, but thought-provoking Soldier Blue is the major attraction for three days on Monday 6th November. The beautiful Candice Bergen and luscious Peter Strauss star in this violent saga from the ‘old west’. Second feature is Charro, which is one of those forgettable movies made by Elvis Presley. But his hips are still a treat.

The truly underrated Downhill Racer, starring Robert Redford and Gene Hackman is one half of the programme on Thursday 9th November. That Robert Redford, ooh! It’s a skiing epic with a moral or two. Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis are together in The Out Of Towners, which is also being shown. I haven’t seen this before but it sounds fun.

Sunday fare on 12th November is Operation Kid Brother, starring Neil Connery. It’s nothing very special, but the support feature, Trunk To Cairo is much more interesting. Two recently deceased movie stars, Audie Murphy and George Sanders are in the leading roles. The film is an exciting thriller.

The double bill of the fortnight is on Monday 13th November, when Carnal Knowledge and Catch 22 are being shown. The former stars sexy Jack Nicholson and the latter, Orson Welles. A very generous programme this, if not a little exhausting.

Well, my lovelies, that is what’s in store for you during the next couple of weeks at the Bio. Mind you heed what I mentioned earlier. I’ll let you know when things get back to ‘normal’. And I hope that none of you, including Mr Wheelan, think I have been too malicious with my words.

Before I go, thanks for all your letters, some of you are ever so kind. I might take some of you up on your offers too, but I’m rather busy still with the person I spent my recent holiday with. Love you all though.

Secret Dossier On Gay Teachers

The police have openly admitted keeping secret dossiers on schoolteachers whose private lives they think to be ‘corrupt’. And they are angry that they cannot act against these teachers.

In a recent issue of The Police Review, the semi-official organ of Britain’s policemen, the magazine complained that police involved in this private-lives work did not have enough legal protection.

The magazine said: “It may be that the information – in police possession – would not support a prosecution; it may not even relate to a chargeable offence, or it may be a matter of strong suspicion without proof.

“In one force, a schoolteacher was seen frequently loitering near public toilets and another was known to have a private library of obscene books.”

What the big-brother cops do usually is to report on this sort of nasty habit to the education authority that employs the teacher only if he (the teacher) commits a criminal offence.

What they don’t like is the fact that if the reports were made without a prosecution the teachers could sue the public eyes for libel.

The magazine adds on the cottaging teacher and the one who had a library of wank-material: “As there was no prosecution in either case, one presumes that the (education) authority remains unaware and the teachers continue to be in charge of young people.”

The Police Review stretches its moral tests to take in foster parents, adoptive parents and medical staff.

But in a rare flash of fairness The Police Review says it isn’t fair to wreck someone’s career by whispering in his employers’ ear. That, the magazine says, would be “contrary to natural justice.”

Instead what the police would like to do, it says, is to take the ‘deviant’ public employee aside and make him an offer he can’t refuse, so he either changes his behaviour or resigns.

Somehow the magazine has forgotten entirely the old forgotten rule of British justice that you’re not guilty until proved so.

Gay News Goes Under The Counter

LONDON: Kensington police sent out an inspector early the other day to make sure the newsagents on their patch weren’t selling anything naughty, so Gay News went under the counter at several newsagents, even though the paper is on no-one’s list of proscribed publications.

The National Newsagents’ Association has told its members to be cautious about displaying Oz Comix, Curious Male, In Depth and several other publications, but not IT, which currently has a phallic front cover, or GN.

All the same, after the visit from the Kensington police heavy whose job seems to go through newsagents’ magazine racks, some of the newspapers that are as yet unaffected by any back lash action have disappeared from police sight to be sold on request only.

Seized

GLASGOW: A street-seller for the City’s Black Box alternative newsagency was arrested for a breach of the peace for selling IT, Gay News and Black Box’s own paper, Spike.

The seller the police arrested was Leslie Twycross. Galsgow’s Provost is reading all three papers to see if there’s anything worth busting him any more on.

Earlier this year a Black Box seller was arrested for selling IT and another alternative paper. The provost could find nothing wrong with them.