Friday, 29 May 2009

260: Your Ad Here - Walter Jenkins

from “Your Ad Here” by Michael O’Donoghue
in “National Lampoon”, October 1972

One of a series parodying actual 1960s advertising, on the line of what if the adverts had actually referred to current 60s events, rather than the usual style of commercial blandishments, exploring the discrepancy between the different media representations of the 1960s, what the 60s thought it was and what actually happened, as a means of making stronger satirical attacks upon the 1960s both culturally and historically. This one parodies the campaign for Ronrico Rum.

Anyway, the guy caught with Walter Jenkins was actually a 60 year old man named Andy Choka.
Walter Jenkins was probably the most high-profile American gay sex scandal for decades, until George Michael was likewise found in a public toilet. (Not that this is the sort of thing that gets mentioned in 1200 page high school American history text books). On October 7, 1964 Walter Jenkins, Lyndon B. Johnson’s closest aide and advisor, was arrested for having sex in a YMCA toilet in Washington, D.C. It was splashed all over the nation’s newspapers a week later on 14 October, barely weeks before the 1964 Presidential Election. It remained a hot topic until other international events knocked it off the front pages. Again, as had happened in England, because of Jenkins’s high position in the government there was also a public inquiry as to whether his homosexuality meant that he constituted a national security risk.

You can read a detailed current news report:,8816,897301,00.html

This slightly later article from the February 1956 “The Realist” argues that response was largely tolerant, and might herald greater liberation for homosexuals in America (it didn’t), and also is an early instance of airing many of the crude gay gags that have since become so woefully tiresome:

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