LONDON: Clearing the television documentary on Andy Warhol which he and two other Appeal Court judges had barred from being shown on ITV, Judge Denning tried to give the programme his seal of disapproval by saying it shows “the perverts and homosexuals who surround Mr Warhol”.
Not only did Lord Denning confuse “perverts” and “homosexuals” but he found that the programme was “dreary and dull. Taken as a whole, however, it is not offensive.” That was his verdict after he’d seen the television programme made by photographer David Bailey which he and another Appeal Court judge banned without bothering to see some weeks ago.
Lord Denning may have been prepared to make a volte-face in the light of public opinion about the court’s television censorship, but he was determined to get a last word in on the subject.
He said: “I speak as I find. The film struck me as dreary and dull. It showed the sort of people, perverts and homosexuals, who surround Mr Warhol and whom he portrays in his works. Taken as a whole, however, it is not offensive.
“Viewing it piece by piece, there are some incidents which seem to be inserted in an attempt to liven up the dullness; but this attempt did not succeed as far as I was concerned.”
Whether Judge Denning watches the programme or not is immaterial, what is important is that the court got rapped over the knuckles rather sharply by Sir Peter Rawlinson, the Attorney-General, who said it had no right to issue an injunction against the broadcasting authorities on the strength of a private complaint.
Ross McWhirter, the shocked and somewhat disappointed would-be hero of the ban-Warhol attempt, should have complained about the showing of the programme through the Attorney-General, Sir Peter said. And if though there was a breach of the law regarding broadcasting standards in the screening of a programme, it was up to him to get the injunction against the authority concerned. In this way he scotched the clean-up-TV-campaigners’ hopes for more and more successful court actions against TV companies.
QUOTES: Ross McWhirter: “I have received donations towards my (legal) costs in advance of today’s hearing.”
Mary Whitehouse: “The case is a beacon to the silent majority.”
David Bailey: “If the judges had liked it that would have been really something to worry about.”
Jimmy Vaughan, Warhol’s European agent: “I’m delighted. It’s a victory against humbugs.”
FOOTNOTE: Four days later Andy Warhol’s Trash opened at the London Pavilion, two years after the cans of movie arrived at Vaughan Films, and minus 23 seconds.
It has taken two years to get the British Board of Film Censors to agree to give Trash an X-certificate.
The 23 missing seconds include a fraction of the scene in which drag starlet Holly Woodlawn masturbates with a beer bottle, a fraction of a scene where Joe Dallesandro injects heroin into his arm and a little of one of the movies infrequent fucks.
Only one of the London film critics (Alexander Walker of the Evening Standard) realised that Holly Woodlawn, the glamourous heroine, is a well known Warhol factory transvestite.
BRISTOL: Bristol Gay Awareness took its message to Clifton College, Bristol, recently. After a showing of the Gay Liberation Front movie Come Together, everyone divided up into discussion groups.
Members of the Bristol group felt that the evening was very successful in that they were able to put over the problems faced by gays in society to an understanding audience.
Perhaps other public schools and the gay groups near them, should do the same.
◉ Teacher Cleared
PRESTON: At the Crown Court here a former Southport teacher was found not guilty of ‘indecently assaulting’ a 15-year-old boy pupil.
The judge directed the jury to clear Peter, who now lives in York, of the charge. Peter denied the charge.
◉ Reading Students Back Gays
READING: Students at the university here have passed a motion declaring their support for moves to have gays’ rights discussed at the next conference of the National Union of Students.
This makes the third time that students have tried to get the NUS to take a stand on gay rights. The Reading motion was proposed by Goff Sargent, of Reading Gay Alliance, who was interviewed about this by the Reading Evening Post.
Goff said the NUS represented 24,000 gay students who were isolated and met with discrimination.
He told the Evening Post: ‘“Under the 1967 Sexual Offences Act the age of consent is 21. For heterosexuals it’s 16.
“There should be no discrimination between the ages of consent.”’
He said being gay was like being black.
‘“White people never understand what it is like to be black.” ’
The next NUS conference is on February 24 and students want to hear discussed the need for counselling and befriending gays, the provision of social facilities for gays and the creation of sexual equality. “It is no longer a clandestine activity,” Goff said.
RGA, which started as a student gay group, is now a town-and-university group. There are now more town members than university members.
What problems do Reading’s gays face? Goff said: “There is no great problem of harrassment as they have in London, but there is a general air of hostility, which means that many homosexuals are isolated. It’s the usual syndrome where he can’t mention it to his best friends and parents.”
◉ A Wilder Wiltshire
CHIPPENHAM: A group of gay people is forming in this Wiltshire market town. Initial Contact: Bob Illingsworth, Phone Box (Somerset) 2881. – BGAG.
◉ Stage Bans Gay Ads
LONDON: The Stage, the theatrical newspaper, has refused to carry a travel firm’s advertisement on the grounds that the ads refer specifically to gays.
When Gay News asked The Stage for an explanation, a spokesman for the paper said: “I’m not allowed to comment on this. But we’ve had so many veiled references, you know, that we’ve just had to start cracking down.”
We’ll report further when the managing director explains the Stage’s position of sexual discrimination in its advertisements.
◉ Dilly Goes On Record
LONDON: The Save Piccadilly campaign is giving away a 45 rpm record as part of its propaganda blitz to try to get the Greater London Council to shelve plans which will wipe out humans from London’s largest tourist attraction and gay-cruising spot.
Both sides of the record are written by Mike Klein (music) and Alan Wakeman words). The record, performed by Everyone Involved, a community rock group, is being given away.
If anyone wants a copy of The Circus Keeps On Turning/Motor Car Madness, all they have to do is to go along to The Almost Free Theatre, Rupert Street, London W1 and ask.
Nigel Stewart, Gillian Dickinson, James Asher, Mike Klein and Richard Oscar Lanchester, who make up Everyone Involved, made the record for nothing as their contribution to the Save Piccadilly Campaign.
Co-writer Alan Wakeman was partly responsible for the GLF-supporting record ‘Come Together’ which was given away last year.
About 2,500 copies of the Save Piccadilly record have been pressed.
◉ Northern CHE Gays Evade Subs Payment
LIVERPOOL: Liverpool CHE group has found that less than one-fifth of its 170 members have paid the additional local subscription of £1 over their subscriptions they pay to belong to CHE nationally.
The local sub, the latest Liverpool newsletter says, is to entitle members to go to the group’s meetings at the Archway Club.
Membership of the Archway Club does not entitle people to attend the CHE meetings held there. The club is a new meeting place for the group which finds that some members are put off coming to meetings because they are now held in a gay club
But, the newsletter says, ‘trust us; the Archway is a relaxing, pleasant, safe place to be and especially on our own nights, is reserved exclusively for CHE. And being a club means that you can unwind before the meeting with a drink, and stay on afterwards for a chat or a dance – until 2 am if you wish.’
The group has also negotiated with the club’s management to get cut-price membership of the club for its members. Liverpool CHE members who show their cards can now join the Archway club for £1.50, rather than the standard £2.00 club membership fee.
◉ York Honours Sir John
YORK: The university here has granted an honorary degree to Sir John Wolfenden, chairman of the committee which produced the then-daring report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution.
Sir John, director of the British Museum, is a former vice-chancellor of Reading University.
His committee’s report did much to lower the temperature of opinion against gays in Britain, and thus made the 1967 Sexual Offences Act possible.
The committee was the first serious attempt to study the problems gays face and, whilst its findings may appear dated now, it was seen in its time as a great step forward.
◉ Thanks … But
LONDON: Gay News’ news section depends, to a large extent, on information sent in by local groups. If there’s a heavy bias towards a few groups, it’s because we get information from them, and therefore know what’s happening around Britain. Meanwhile thanks to Bath Gay Awareness, Leeds Gay Lib, Chilterns CHE, Liverpool CHE and Reading Gay Alliance for their newsletters/bulletins/ arrows etc.
If we don’t mention what you’ve been doing, it’s because you haven’t told us. Just type it – double spaced, please – and mail it to the News Deskette at Gay News, address is still 19 London Street, London W2 for now.