Tuesday, 11 December 2007

24 Faggots: Lenny Bruce

From “The Essential Lenny Bruce”, open gate Books, 1973
These routines, circa 1963, from quotes by Paul Krassner in “The Realist”

You know, it's really weird. You've heard, no doubt, that Rock Hudson is a faggot. Course you've heard it. I've heard it, and everything's in the papers:
‘Rock Hudson 's a fag. He's a fruit.'
'Yeah, Rock Hudson 's a fag. A fag.'
I started thinking about it. I mean, he doesn't look like a faggot to me. Then I find out there's two hookers, who don't know each other - East Coast, West Coast - that balled him. So if he gave up some bread for some trim, well, then he just can’t be a faggot.
Double gaited? No. That's some bullshit some faggot made up. I mean, I never did meet any cat. who was double gaited. You dig chicks, or you don't, man.
It's very possible that Rock Hudson is very sexual. He's just probably a very horny cat - makes it with guys, chicks, mud, sheep, anything: his fist. He's a real baisser - that could be, couldn't it?
Like all of us: me, you, you - put us on a desert island for five years, no chicks, you'll ball mud. Emmis. You have, man. Knotholes.
'Are you kidding? -"What are you doing next to that tree, you slob you? What are you doing? Schtupping a tree!’
'It's my tree.'
'Your back'll get crooked.'
I challenge this audience. I challenge your manhood. I will give you - hear me well (and the owner will back me up) - one thousand dollars. I will pay for the lie-detector test. The daddy of the polygraph is here in. this town. His name is Reed. Now if it's good enough for Brinks and Powers, it's good enough for you and me.
You take the lie-detector test. The purpose is to stop casting the first stone: you cannot cast the first stone if you're' stoned in front.
I challenge your manhood. Because if ‘homosexual' means - like the cliche, no such thing as being a little pregnant - if faggot means ever involved with a homosexual, active or passive, then I just know I'm looking at a room full of fags. Isn't that weird? Whether you were two years old or six years old, any time that scoutmaster or gym coach jacked you off to a Tillie and Mack book, your Uncle Donald wanted to kiss you, or that truck driver that jacked you off when you were hitchhiking on Merrick Road, or you were experimenting and playing doctor - that's it, Jim: you're a sometimes fag.
That's the worst thing you can call us, right? Goddamn, man. It really bugs guys to call them faggot. .

Faggots. . . Dig. Isn't the argument against pornography - selling pornography, making it available to the public? That the man is happily married, or he's just a happy cat, and you come along with some matter the predominant appeal of which is 'to his prurient interest. And what you're doing;. you're entrapping him. You're inciting him. Something that the guy wouldn't be thinking of ordinarily - you're getting him horny. You're getting it up, and you're not getting it off, and you're creating a clear and present danger. And it's worthless, and so that's the objection to it. And that's a valid objection.
But when I hear about faggots who get arrested in toilets!
'How'd you get arrested in a toilet?'
'Oh, I accosted a peace officer:
'Well, that's certainly no concept of reality, I mean, you certainly –‘
'Well, I didn't know he was a peace officer.’
'What do you mean?'
'Well, he didn't have any uniform on.’
'Well, he wasn't wearing a costume, was he? He wasn't wearing a low-cut gown - '
What a low-cut gown to a faggot must be is like tight Levis with a padded basket.
'- I mean, he wasn't wearing Levis and leaning up against the urinal like that - sultry -like that, was he? Cause if he was, that's bullshit, then. Cause he was appealing to your prurient interest, then. And entrapping you. You can't do that.'

It's a funny thing, all the different stages that we've all gone through. My generation was so - well, me, phew! Such hang-ups about ever being called a faggot that I'm amazed at any guy who can go into a public toilet and do anything but piss and leave!
Guys who can wash their hands are amazing to me. I just unbutton, psshhhhht! up! out!
'Wait, I want to talk to you!'
'Not in here - are you kidding?'
Cause if somebody said
'What are you doing in that toilet?'
'I dunno, ah, uh, heh, heh . . .'
'What were you doing in there! Did you make?'
'Yeah, I did, ah . . .'
'Alright. But don't hang around here. O.K.'


A few cartoons and routines this week featuring THAT six-letter word.

Given the period when Lenny Bruce was performing, faggot is about the only word he could use. He’s too early for “gay”. And since Lenny Bruce uses a sort of hip street-preacher spiel, then homosexual is just too high-toned a word for him to use without some irony. So “faggot” it has to be, even when most of these routines are actually sympathetic. Of course, being sympathetic then, doesn’t mean that he gets away with harbouring, with what seems to us oh-so modern sophisticates, some rather strange ideas about what it means to be gay.

Lenny Bruce posed as gay to get out of army service. He first became a noted comic when performing at Ann’s 440, a gay club in San Francisco.

When these routines were published in "The Essential Lenny Bruce", Rock Hudson's name was blanked out. However, when Hudson died, Krassner quoted a section in issue #99 of his "The Realist" reminding everyone of Bruce's shtick.

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