Graham Chapman interview

04-197208XX 0704-197208XX 06The interview took place during an evening spent by most of the collective at Graham’s home; consequently the discussion was somewhat wide-ranging and occasionally rambled into some rather odd territory. What follows is an edited version, which we hope covers most of the important ground we went over that night.

Denis Lemon: Gay is no better than straight, but isn’t it true that gays are possibly in a far better position to see things that heterosexuals can’t; because they are somewhat outside straight society they can see better the cracks in our society.

Graham Chapman: Well, heterosexuals are oppressed too, and I think there’s a very good case for a Heterosexual Liberation Front, because women….it’s a Women’s Lib thing really, isn’t it? And Women are very, very oppressed. They are certainly not equal human beings at the moment, and that is very unfortunate. It’s particularly unfortunate for all of us, because we all have mothers, and our mothers, in the position of being oppressed, in turn oppress us. push us with all kinds of views we shouldn’t really hold. In fact, I think mothers as such, as produced by our society, are probably responsible for most of the wars we’ve ever had. Because they teach us to be so butch, they teach us to be aggressive towards little Johnny next door – it starts right from the cradle and goes on forever to the extent that we eventually go to war against another nation. Whereas they should have been teaching us to love – but they’ve never been taught to love. They are oppressed by their menfolk, they are made to feel inferior… that their own job is to do the washing-up, provide a home, things like that. And the men are made to feel terribly butch. The little boys are taught rather differently from the little girls, by their parents; taught to reject affection.

I saw a programme on television today about deaf children… and at one stage they were asking the little girls whether they had kissed the little boys and whether they had particular boyfriends, and things like that ooh, aren’t we being like adults the girls always said, “He’s my boyfriend, I’ve kissed him,” and the little boys were all saying, “No. no she hasn’t, no, ugh. awful, cissy’’, and all that kind of thing. What a pity! Why shouldn’t a little girl kiss a little boy. Why not a little boy a little boy, or a little girl a little girl?

We build into ourselves at a very early stage this awful business of sexual orientation — no wonder problems arise later. Little boys grow out of kissing their fathers very early, far too early; a little boy should be able to kiss his father until he dies.

This stupid masculine image we try and put on ourselves – butch, go out and fight, all that — that’s what’s ruining the fucking world. Little boys, unfortunately, aren’t brought up on love, on the whole. I mean, they are to a certain extent, but it’s a very limited love, isn’t it?

Doug Pollard: I think they’re turned out of the family far quicker than girls are, if you see what I mean. Men are turned to look outwards, away from that, whereas girls are taught inwards, towards their mother and the family structure.

G.C.: Which they’re beginning to reject, fortunately.

D.L.: Boys have a master plan arranged by their parents first the school, then the rush into “O” Levels and “A” Levels and then into university – “Otherwise you’re not going to make it”. The girl is usually left to make the best of what she can, and so accepts her role as a hairdresser or a Woolworth’s shop-girl.

G.C.: A sideline on that is, that in mv experience as a doctor, as far as women are concerned. they are always far more honest sexually You know, the oodles of women I’ve interviewed for gynaecological, midwifery, or even VD reasons, they’re always much more honest than the men. The men are afraid, they won’t he honest, and also you feel embarrassed about asking a man whether he’s ever had VD or a homosexual experience, whereas a woman, on the whole, will be much more honest about it and have less fear sexually. Men have a lot of fear sexually. I suppose it’s largely to do with the fear they may never be able to raise a beat, or their cock’s short, or something like that, which is a ludicrous fear, but men do have that, it’s built into them, it’s part of their male ego that they have to be the butch one.

Because of his early education, the little boy is a little boy, and he’s going to be a man. and, you know, mother gets a bit angry if he cries when he’s knocked out a tooth on some stupid train or something he’s been pushing around in the yard. Mother says you shouldn’t cry because you’re a little boy, and you’re going to be a man.

That all builds up inside people eventually, people are pushed to the point of being afraid to express emotion – and we should be capable of expressing emotion and we should never be afraid to do so.

We must also be intelligent at the same time, there’s no point in rushing round screaming all the time, and that’s where it works out to the disadvantage of ladies, because they don’t have the inhibition on emotions and on the whole aren’t taught to hold back. They can cry if they want to, they can break down and have hysterics. They should have a bit more of the “shouldn’t do this, shouldn’t do that”, perhaps. I don’t know. Maybe the two things should just blend together and you shouldn’t treat children as being different sexes at all. I think that’s the ideal situation, actually, because children aren’t different sexes, and experience, going to bed with a man and going to bed with a woman is totally similar — absolutely totally similar.

Richard Adams: But do you enjoy them equally, in retrospect?

G.C.: No – obviously I prefer men. I did enjoy women a great deal, but than I found, partly because of their… the way they want you to live, which on the whole is a kind of middle-class way to live… that I couldn’t live with that. And anyway, I don’t quite know why, but I prefer men physically. I’ve no answer to that. I don’t know why. But I do. But a woman, because of the way she’s taught in her early life, is very conservative. Maybe this is something innate, because the woman on the whole is the person who brings up the family, and she is therefore more conservative. On the whole women are conservative in every way, politically too.

Maybe that’s what makes them behave in that way. you know, “You mustn’t do this, you mustn’t do that, you ought to get a nice steady job, you ought to cut your hair shorter, and you ought to… ”, you know.

This isn’t unkind, is it?

R.A.: Is that what you reject?

G.C.:… women’s conditioning? Entirely. I’m very pro-women’s lib, I really am, ’cos that would be homosexual liberation as well, it really would. “Let my son do what he wants”.

Elephants Are Homosexual

D.L.: The GLF people at Spare Rib – they were very down on it because it wasn’t very radical, preaching, and they seemed to miss the point that not everyone has got their head in exactly the same place as they have, and that what is important is to let people know gradually, to inform them. And that’s the importance of Spare Rib.

G.C.: If you scream at people, nobody listens. You have to do it – I’m not saying calculatedly gently – but you have to do it intelligently. You have to have good arguments, reasonably publicly set out, and if you’re going to get the parents of the current generation to see anything at all of what you say, they have to see something in your arguments. And if they can. perhaps their children will too. We also have to appeal to the children. I think GLF’s primary concern at the moment, however, is with themselves, and trying to start a revolution that will never happen.

R.A.: The revolution is over.

G.C.: It hasn’t happened. Their concern should be with getting a bloke that’s worried about latent homosexuality, though he probably doesn’t know he’s even worried about it. in

Huddersfield, reading something in a magazine, and then saying, well, there are other people

like me, so I needn’t commit suicide. That’s where their concern should be, ‘cos there’s a lot of people in this country now commit suicide, because they think they’re homosexual, and are worried by it. And that should never, never happen, because it’s a nice thing to be.

It’s a perfectly normal state of being – in the animal world too. Elephants are homosexual, apes are homosexual, snakes are homosexual, and in fact worms positively always are, and absolutely no-one… well, I think even Mary Whitehouse wouldn’t worry about worms.

GLF ought to be trying to get the country as a whole, the world as a whole… they should be trying to get the message over “Gay is Good”. I mean, that’s their slogan. But although I agree with the aggressive element in it, in that it gets gay noticed, because you come up against police, authority and so on (and a certain amount of aggression is necessary in any revolution, and in a way we do need gay revolution), at the moment they are going about it the wrong way. They are too inward looking, they’re looking only at themselves, and thinking, and that has been the problem with homosexuality throughout the history of humanity. They look inwards and they think “We are different”. That’s exactly what GLF are doing, and that’s exactly what they mustn’t do, they must accept that they are normal. and go out and tell people that they are normal, not that “I am strange”. Therefore, if you are trying to tell people that you are normal, you don’t rush around in strange painted faces, and be aggressive at women’s liberation meetings you can do that, but you don’t have to be so aggressive that you alienate people who are on the point of changing their minds. GLF at the moment has become meaningless, it’s helping nobody, and that’s what they should be doing, helping people. That’s what we should all be doing. GLF was, but it isn’t now

R.A.: It should also be asserting itself. The Spare Rib incident was an assertion – and an extreme form of assertion.

G.C.: I’m all for extreme forms of assertion.

But GLF, as it stands at the moment, can’t afford to do that because it’s membership is so limited. They should be outreaching, not inwardly searching. What they should be doing is using their own kindness, and their own homosexuality for helping other people. Now, that whole element has gone, they don’t do that any more. They’re much more interested in themselves, and that is the appalling thing that happens with homosexuality, unfortunately, because of repression.

D.L.: In a way that’s accepting the myth that they’re trying to break.

D.P.: But they also seem to be saying that they arc different, and therefore somehow better.

G.C.: Which of course is nonsence. Everyone’s exactly the same, which is what I’m saying… they have to over react, they have to say O.K. I’m a homosexual, and then wander round with a handbag and go MNWEEUMP! (untranscrihable word and unprintable gesture). There’s no point to it, they’re not, not saying they’re homosexual, they’re saying they’re freaks -and homosexuality isn’t anything to do with being a freak. It’s a perfectly normal state of being. And they musn’t try to persuade people that they should be totally homosexual at the expense of loving ladies, that are quite nice things really. If only because… well, the basest remark would be to say that they give birth to nice boys. They are rather nice creatures really. I like them.

Martin Corbett: If only they’d wash the makeup off their faces.

G.C.: Oh, I hope they will, and a lot of liberated ladies do.

Algy, Biggies & Ginger

D.P.: And so-called liberated men put it on. G.C.: Well, that’s a contradiction. People from GLF have attacked me once or twice for things we do in “Monty Python” that refer to people being gay. All we are doing there is just using the word, not making any reference to it, whether it’s good or bad or anything. We don’t care, any of us, anyway. But just using the word. You know, we did a thing about Algy, Biggies and Ginger, and Algy was a pouf. We found that kids had been joking about that in the schoolroom; they no longer do the things they used to do in my schooldays, of sniggering about people that might be “queer”, or someone touching them up in the showers, or “One of them”, you know, words like that. They’re open about it and they don’t mind. That’s exactly right.

R.A.: But do they still find it amusing? I hope so.

G.C.: Funnier. But not in the same way. You see, they found it amusing because they think they know more than their teachers, they think that they’re broadminded. That’s a turn-round. I think. They’re more broadminded than their parents, and they don’t particularly mind any of their friends touching each other up or anything like that.

M.C.: Are you going to do any more Monty Python’s? And what’s the future, for the coming year?

G.C.: We’ve got another thirteen Monty Python’s coming up in September, we’re doing a show for Bavaria TV. We re doing a Monty Python film, an original one this time, not like the last one. which was made totally for the States but got shown over here, which was rather a pity. The other things are more personal . . . I’m writing a play, and hope to finish that off by November. I never really know my future for more than a few months in advance. I know it for about a year in advance at the moment.

M.C.: Every interviewer asks this question, but … if you want to direct Shakespeare or anything.

G.C.: No, I don’t. I want to write, that’s all.

I don’t want to perform, become a great star, or anything like that. It’d be a total bore, and the risk isn’t worth it. I’d like to write … on the psychological side, I suppose. Not that I know anything about psychology, or psychiatry.

M.C.: That doesn’t matter, neither do most psychiatrists.

G.C.: No, exactly, they don’t. I’ve spoken to a lot of them — no worries there.

D.L.: In the States “Monty Python” is becoming more well-known. In England you don’t hide your gayness (and you don’t exploit it cither). Do you think that your openness could be harmful in the States?

G.C.: I will never go there. I have been once, about seven years ago, for about six months, and I’ve no desire to go back. I don’t see how I could. Until recently, I couldn’t. I’d have to have said I was a pouf on the visa forms, and I wouldn’t have been allowed in. I’ve no desire to go there, because I don’t think it’s particularly a centre of anything that’s valuable at all for our society. And we’ve nothing to learn from their mistakes, they’re all mistakes that have been made before – there’s nothing you could learn from them that you couldn’t learn from knowing your own past, even in the school playground, and they’re still at that stage. They’re still at school. I think they’re appalling people, on the whole.

We then broke off the interview in order to have a few drinks and a meal, in the course of which Graham made some comments which deserve noting. We discussed the lack of communication between the various movements which work for gay people and the people they are supposed to be for — namely, the majority of gay people. Denis commented that this was a problem which CHE felt as acutely as GLF, to which Graham said “No, the problem there is that it doesn’t exist! That’s why I spoke of GLF being a good thing, because — CHE? Nobody’s heard of it. Which was why GLF was so good in the beginning.” We also talked some more about Americans, and then about Australians, about whom Graham said “I have never been to bed with Germaine Greer. You can quote me – I think I could’ve, ‘cos I was going through a hetero stage at the time.”

D.L.: Do you think that people ever really meet each other inside the gay clubs and pubs? G.C.: Well, I certainly meet other people in gay clubs and pubs. I think casual contacts are Fine, and that’s one of the things about the homosexual world actually that is admirable. People can meet each other, and have a very quick fuck (or a very quick mutual masturbation or whatever), and nothing else bothers them. They’re quite happy, they’ve had sexual stimulation, and they don’t have to see one another ever again. But unfortunately some people are devoted totally to that kind of ’recreation’ better than football, I suppose but it’s a pity that so few of them get together and form a union based on some kind ol love which is more than just a sexual love.

Sex is a great way of meeting people, because you go to bed with someone, or have it off with them, you know something kind of intimate about them, and used properly, that is a very good way of getting to know someone and eventually to love them. And that’s the most important thing: being able to love someone. and for them to love you. For you to be able to be mutually dependent. Whether it’s one person or two people or more. I’m very deeply entrenched in the teachings of Christ (and Karl Marx, but basically the New Testament teachings of Christ) – that love is the single most important thing, and the most difficult to achieve; love for another person. Because we mostly love ourselves. I hope would always try and love someone else more than myself.. . but fuck knows, I can’t … at the moment. I don’t know how to. You’re not really loving yourself unless you love someone else, you’re destroying yourself. I’m sure that’s true.

Well-Known Loonie

D.L.: A lot of non-gay people pick on the point that gay people never have lasting relationships, that gay people are very flippant, and use this to back up the argument that homosexuals are immature.

G.C.: I think a lot of that is because they are jealous that gay people can have a quick wank in the bushes with someone else,or whatever. There’s no likelihood of a family arriving without notice – which I hope abortion laws and so on will get rid of from the point of view of women’s liberation. I notice it among my own friends – “Why is it that Graham, who’s been happily married to the same boy for seven years, can go off for a night occasionally with someone else, whereas I can’t, because I’ve got j a family”, and there’s a jealousy there, which is sometimes quite marked. Of course, the answer is that they can, if they’re honest with their wives and their families. I’ve a family, of a kind, of people who live with me. Mind you. I’m a well-known loonie, so it doesn’t really matter. I hope I’m a kind loonie, that’s all.

What that jealousy is based on is a fear of “But if I do this, then she will do that, in order to get back at me”. And that’s not love. That’s nothing to do with it. But, as I said earlier, it is tremendously difficult actually to love someone else. Bloody difficult. But that’s what we’ve all got to get round to.

It all comes back to stupid old Jesus Christ. He was a nice old bloke, really. I don’t like God. very much but I do like him. I’ve only read the doctored gospels, not the direct translations, but the truth still comes through. Incidentally, he never said anything about homosexuality, which is rather nice of him.

It got rather battered in the Old Testament. And by St. Paul afterwards. But St. Paul was a well-known loonie.

We then went on to talk about communication of ideas, theatre, humour, people “We must all realise we’re all shades of things, not necessarily just one thing or another, and if we are. then we’re dead. We’re a mixture of lot’s of subtle shades, and there’s no reason why we should become one thing or another for the rest of our lives.” And about where Graham was born — “Leicester — the most boring town in the world ”, and his time at Cambridge — “…one of the most childish places in the world.”

G.C.: Not long ago I went back to Cambridge to speak at the Union, specifically because it’s a place I abhor, where their up-and-coming politicians go to speak. I’ve always hated the place. So I went dressed as a carrot, in complete carrot costume, with a rather large thing hanging down between my legs, yellow tights – the only thing you could see was the front of my face. And when it was my turn to make a speech. I said nothing. Just stood there. Stood there and said nothing. And that was my comment on the whole bloody business of people standing up and debating, trying to be clever, and eventually becoming politicians – fucking mess, the’re a load of bloody idiots, and none of them have any social conscience.

I had to go on standing there beyond the point where it became embarrassing, in order for it to get embarrassing again. So I carried on standing there for a whole ten minutes, saying nothing. They laughed initially, be cause of the costume. They were all expecting some enormously witty remark to come out, apparently, to explain all this. But it didn’t Then they all started laughing again, thinking. “Good gracious! He’s gone on far too long. How witty. He’s going to come out with some tremendous line in a minute.” Well, I wasn’t going to stand there all night, so I lay down and rolled across the floor to Ivor Cutler -who had been sitting through the whole thing with his fingers in his ear, until I came on NOT to speak, when he listened intently – I rolled over to Ivor and hissed “Get me out of this. Ivor.” So he stood up and read out a poem, which nobody understood ( I didn’t). They were all totally bemused by what was going on. Then at least, I was able to go and sit down, in my carrot costume. It was a wierd evening. It really was.

By this time the alcohol had been flowing freely for some hours; and the rest of the tape of this interview is somewhat confused. There is not necessarily any connection between the above two statements.