Sunday, 30 December 2007
Cartoonists often get overtaken by the urge to explore a particular theme. If they do it enough, they can either get a book out of it, as Ronald Searle has done on numerous occasions, or if they do it over a lifetime then it becomes their own special topic like Thelwell and horses or Burnett and monks. Not on such a grand scale, Willie Rushton kept returning to the idea of illustrating various gay-related phrases in the pages of “Private Eye” in 1964. Most of these were collected in “William Rushton's Dirty Book” published by Private Eye in 1964. It was dedicated “To Richard Ingrams in the vain hope that he will stop being a Poove”.
On a purely personal note, Willie Rushton is one of my two favourite cartoonists. These aren’t some of his best ones. “Private Eye’s” “Rushton in the Eye” magazine published after his death is a fantastic introduction to some of his best work. Many years ago I put up a website about Rushton at
Saturday, 29 December 2007
LARRY M., 34 YEARS OLD, WHITE, born in Racine, Wisconsin, has lived in New York for nine years, and is presently employed as a ward attendant in one of the city's largest hospitals. The following is a verbatim transcript of an interview recorded there on March 7, 1963:
Q. Good. Well, let's see. . . now you've been a faggot male nurse for what-nine years, I believe?
A. Well, now, wait a minute! Ha-ha. I mean, look. . . well, I don't know what this magazine is you're from-the Realist, you said. I mean the copy you showed me and so on, but there was nothing about that kind of thing. . . I mean, ha, I'm not going to go along with that kind of thing!
Q. Oh well, listen, I didn't mean to be . . . well what do you say-gay"? "Homosexual"?
A. Well, gay, yes, I mean gay is all right. Homosexual-yes, I'm not ashamed of it if that's what you mean.
Q. All right, now let me . . . well listen, what do you mean, "faggot" is . . . I mean you think "faggot" is what? . . . derisive?
A. Derisive, yes, it is derisive-l think it's derisive. . . I think it's derisive.
Q. Well, I didn't mean it that way-I assure you that. . . I was just trying to use words.. . . you know, words of "high frequency incidence," as they say. I mean, semanticists and so on, that's what they say-that that's the word in currency-"faggot."
A. I know they do, I know they do, and it's probably. . . well, they're probably right, that that is the word they use. But, well, I didn't know, you know, exactly how you-well, you know, ha-ha. . . .
Q. But you really think "faggot" is derisive.
A. Well, I think. . . well, I know, I know for example that it's used that way.
Q. What, derisively?
A. Well, derisively. . . maybe not derisively, but patronizing . . . condescending. . . yes, condescendingly. Well, it's that . . . that kind of tolerance. . . you know? I mean liberals use it-the worse kind of so-called liberal uses it!
Q. Is that true? Well, what about a word like "queer"?
A. "Queer"! Oh well, ha! There you're talking about, I don't know what. . . I mean nobody would use a word like that except some kind of . . . of lizard or something.
Q. Yes, well I wouldn't use a word like that, like "queer" . . . or actually I wouldn't use a word like "fairy" either, or "pansy" . . . they just seem, I don't know, archaic or something. But what about "fruit"? I mean I think Lenny Bruce has made "fruit," you know to use the word "fruit," okay, don't you?
A. "Fruit"? Lenny Bruce used it? Well, Lenny Bruce . . . I mean Lenny Bruce uses these words and. . . well, what, you mean he used it instead of "gay"?
Q. Well, he used it, I don't know, he uses it some way, and. . . well, you know, it seemed to make it all right.
A. Yes, well. . . what, you mean he used it instead of "gay"?
Q. Yes, instead of "gay," instead of "faggot"-he uses "faggot," too, you know.
A. Yes, well some people, I mean some people can do that. . . they can do that and it isn't offensive.
Q. Yes, well that's the point-when I said "faggot" I didn't mean to be offensive.
A. Oh I know that. . . I know that now, that you didn't! But you see. . . well, the thing is you'd be surprised at the kind of people who do.
Q. What, here at the hospital?
A. At the hospital. . . well, everywhere, everywhere. . . yes, here at the hospital, yes, this is a kind of . . . of cross-section I guess you'd say.
Q. Well, listen, let's. . . I mean I'd like to ask you some questions about your work and so on, so why don't -
A. Well go, man, go, ha-ha. .. or baby-I don't know what to say. . . I mean you're not going to use our names or anything. . .
Q. Well, I'm not going to use your name. I mean, you know, isn't that the -
A. Well, that's the thing, yes, I mean I can't do that-you have no idea, I mean this is a very tough state, you can't just talk about these things with. . . with immunity. . . impunity? which is it? You're the writer. Ha-ha. Are you a writer?
Q. Impunity. . . you can't talk about them with impunity.
A. You didn't an-swer!
Q. What, about being a writer?
A. Yes! What do you write?
Q. Yes, well, listen, let me interview you, and then. . . you can interview me. Isn't that good?
A. Oh, ho-ho-ho . . .
Q. No, I mean what I'd like to do, you see, is be able to just put this straight down off the tape, without any editing or anything like that, and, well, if we get, you know, side-tracked. . . well, it's going to be all mixed up. You know what I mean?
A. Chrysler wouldn't like it?
A. Chrysler? Didn't you say Chrysler? Your boss!
Q. Oh, Krassner . . . yes, Paul Krassner.
A. Krassner! Yes, Paul Krassner-what's he like?
Q. Oh, well, listen, we can't. . . well, I'll tell you one thing about him, Paul Krassner, he's got this thing about format. . . you know? Tight and bright. "Let's keep it tight and bright!" he's always saying. : . and that's why we've got to stick to this one thing-you know, like your story. . . or I'll be in a real jam with Paul. Dig?
A. Do you call him "Pau1"?
Q. What's wrong with that?
A. Noth-ing, noth-ing! Don't be so touchy!
Q. Well. . . let me ask you now what attracted you to this sort of work?
A. People! I love people-I love to be with them, and to help them. That's what hospital-work is-helping people.
Q. What about being a doctor, did that ever -
A. Oh no-no, no, I don't have the patience for that. . . for that sort of training. It's too. . . technical, and too, I don't know, cold-blooded. No, my approach is different. . . it's more intuitive, more instinctive, and more direct, much more direct-you see, I deal directly with my patient, and all the time. . . the doctor sees the patient, maybe five minutes a day-I see. . . well, I don't see, I'm with, that's the difference, I'm with my patient, all the time, as much as he needs me. The doctor has no . . . no relationship with the patients. I have close. . . warm. . . wonderful, wonderful relationships with my patients! They all love me, all of them-not all, no, I won't say that. . . there are some who, well, you know the kind, they don't want help, they don't know what love is-they cmit love, well, you know the kind. . .
Q. You think they don't love you due to gayness?
A. Due to gayness? Ha, ha. Due to my gayness? Yes! No, I say yes and no! They don't like me . . . it's true some of them don't even like me-some of them hate me, and the feeling is mutual . . . well, I won't say that, I pity them-they don't like me because they're afraid-they're afraid of love, and they're afraid of themselves-and this is especially true of the doctors.
Q. The doctors? The doctors don't like you?
A. The doctors, ha, ha . . . well, I don't get along with the doctors too well-our approaches are different, you see. . . I mean, they don't really care about the patient-and they know that I know it! And they're afraid-they know that my power. . . my love, is stronger, and they're afraid. . .
Q. What, for their jobs?
A. Or for their souls! Ha, ha.
Q. Well, surely some of the doctors like you-I can't see how you could stay on unless-
A. Oh some of the doctors, yes! The really, really good. . . well, great ones, do, yes-they appreciate my work and I appreciate theirs. We respect each other. But how many good doctors are there? One in a billion? Not to mention great doctors-which are practically non-existent!
Q. Well. . . I don't understand-do you mean there aren't any really good ones. . . or any that like you?
A. No! I don't mean that, I don't mean that. What I mean. . . Well, take Dr. Schweitzer . . . I've never met Dr. Schweitzer, but I think he must be a great doctor, and I think. . . well, I know, he would understand what I'm doing. And there are others, right here, not great, but good. . . the best. . . and they like me; they respect me.
Q. Well. . . let's see, how about-
A. Listen, don't get the idea that I'm giving a big buildup to the whole. . . well, whole profession, if you like, of hospital attendants-or male nurse, whatever. . . I mean, don't take me as a typical example by any means. I mean some of the others-well I wouldn't want to say.
Q. Why, what are they like?
A. Well, I'll tell you this much, it isn't because they like people they're there!
Q. What is it? Why is it?
A. Well, they're sadists, a lot of them-especially in the mental wards. . . big, insensitive-well, you've got no idea, what goes on in some of those wards-animals, like apes. . . big cruel apes! They just sit around waiting for someone to blow his stack so they can slam him!
Q. Really? Slam him?
A. That's what they call it-"slammin'." Somebody blows his stack and they yell "Slam him, Joe! Slam that nut!" What it really means, what it's supposed to mean is that you put him in the slammer, like, you know, in a padded-cell, and slam the door-but it means the subduing part too.
Q. And how do they do that?
A. How? Are you kidding? Any way they feel like. With their fists, if they can-that's what they really like. . . I mean the tough ones are proud of their reputations for never using the sap-you know, the leather thing. . . the black-jack. Or they may say "Big Joe had to use the sap!" which means that it was a really bad case if Big Joe had to use the sap! But of course a real nut is as strong as about four ordinary people.
Q. Well. . . but they aren't all like that, are they? Is that just the mental ward?
A. The mental ward. No, there's another kind, the exact opposite -not opposite, but completely different-they work in hospitals to be close to morphine, so they can get morphine. They couldn't care less about hitting anybody-they just sort of step aside. . . I guess hoping the guy will fall out the window or something. And when they have to sap him, they just tap him on the back of the head-no expression, nothing. . . they live in a world apart, some of them have terrible, terrible habits-I mean that would cost them two or three hundred dollars a day if they didn't work at the hospital.
Q. And they get morphine-how do they get it?
A. Oh well, they get it! Ha, ha, they have to get it-I mean they would get it if you. . . if you put it in a safe and dropped it to the bottom of the ocean! They're like Houdini when they go after that-nothing could stop them, nothing! I mean they don't even worry about how to get it-all they want is to be in the vicinity of it, because, if they are, they'll get it! And you know therl1s a lot of morphine in a big hospital.
Q. Well, what do you think. . . I mean, are they good at their work?
A. No! They're like zombies-no feeling, none at all . . . they can't help the patient. Why I have some wonderful relationships in the mental wards-but they don't care, about the patient, about anything. . . they don't even speak to anyone. Not to me anyway -none of them will even speak to me.
Q. But they must do their job. . .
A. Of course! They do their job. They make sure of that, that they do their job! Yes, that's true, they do their job and they do it very. . . well, very thoroughly-I mean, you see, they cannot afford to get fired, so . . . so they do their job very. . . very well, in a way. Very careful and serious-but never a smile or a kind word for anyone. Oh no, they're too serious! Ha! Well, I certainly wouldn't have them in my hospital. I can tell you that!
Q. What, you mean. . . well, do you think about that? About hospital administration? '
A. Yes! That's what I'd really like to do-I'd like to organize my own hospital!
Q. What would you. . . would you have. . . an all-gay staff?
A. What? Ha-ha I No-ooo! Don't be silly! What an idea! Ha, ha, ha! An all-gay hospital! Well, who knows. . . maybe it would work out that way. . . who knows? I mean, one thing I do know, I would not, repeat not, use women nurses!
Q. You would not?
A. No! I would not! And I know what you're thinking, but I don't care, it isn't true, I would definitely not use them. .
Q. Yes. . . well, why not?
A. Why not? For the very simple reason that a hospital. . . a hospital should be . . . clean. . . efficient. . . well-run! With an atmosphere of love and. . . human affection, human warmth! And care for the patient! People who care about the patient! And not just constant. . . bitching about having their period! Or not having their period! Qr having their menopause! Or not having their menopause! Or washing their hair! Or not washing their hair! God!
Q. Is that-
A. Do you know. . . let me just say this . . . do you know that nurses. . . women nurses, are one hell of a lot more trouble than the patients are? That's right. They're always sick-always sick! If it isn't their period, it's something else. Something's wrong with their breast! Or their insides-ovaries! womb! uterus! vulva! tubes! And God knows what else! Christ, if I hear another nurse talk about her goddamn tubes. . . !
A. I know, I know. . . I'm exaggerating. All right, all right, you're right. . . I am. But. . . But! . . . it's only an exaggeration. Do you follow? I mean it is true. . . it's true, but exaggerated. Right? Do you dig? And here's something else, and this is true-most nurses, almost no nurse, in fact, is married. . . they're sexually frustrated, and bitter, baby. . . bitter, bitter, bitter!
Q. Well, can't they make it with the doctors, or the patients? I mean -
A. Yes! Of course! Oh, they do, they do! With the doctors, patients, interns... ward-boys, janitors-anybody! Listen, I could tell you. . . well, that's why you can never find one of them! They're either. . . lying down in the rest-rooms, coddling their period, or they're off somewhere getting laid! In the. . . the broom-closet or someplace! Ha!
Q. Then you don't-
A. Oh listen, I've known some nice nurses, I don't say that. . .there's one here, right here, on this floor-day-nurse . . . a darling, perfectly darling little old lady-she's let's see, how old is [name] now. . . ? She's sixty. . . four. Sixty-four years old! And a marvelous nurse! Really. Marvelous sweet old lady! But, I mean, ha, ha, well, I don't mind telling you it's. . . well, it's a rare thing, a very rare thing!
Q. Yes, well-
A. But listen. . . just a minute-what did you say? Just before? You said why can't they make it with them? The patients and so on-is that what you said?
Q. Well, you said they were frustrated. . .
A. Well, but that's not going to change their. . . well, what kind of hospital is that, for heaven's sake! With the nurses getting laid all over the place! You think they should do that? Ha, ha, you. . . you've got some funny ideas about hospitals!
Q. I didn't say they should do that, I just wondered if they did.
A. And an all-gay hospital! Ha, ha! That's very funny!
Q. Well, you don't think that's. . . what, that isn't even conceivable?
A. Well, you couldn't get an all-gay staff to treat only gay patients, I can tell you that.
Q. But would it be possible to have an all-gay staff? I mean are there gay janitors, for example?
A. Oh, ho-ho! Are there!
Q. Well then, theoretically -
A. Ha, ha! Some of my best friends are gay janitors!
Q. Well, the point -
A. No, no, that was a joke!
Q. Yes, I realize that, I realize that. It's very funny.
A. Ho-ho! You didn't laugh!
Q. Well. . . I did really. I mean I recognize it as a joke. I
acknowledge it as a joke. Ha, ha. How's that?
A. Ha, ha . . . Well, you have some funny ideas about hospitals, that's all I can say.
Q. I don't have any ideas about it-I wanted you to tell me about it. I mean we've. . . you've made certain generalizations, about doctors and so on, so I was asking about that.
A. About an all-gay hospital?
Q. Well, an all-gay staff, yes.
A. Well, it would be a damn good hospital, I can tell you that. Better than any there are now!
Q. Well, what about the . . . wouldn't the gay staff try to . . . try to take advantage of the non-gay patients? While they were asleep, or weakened or something?
A. Ha, ha! Well, I mean if you call love and. . . and-well, what do you mean "take advantage of"?
Q" Well, I don't know. . . it seems like they would.
A. Well, anyway, one thing-you could be sure of getting plenty of attention!
Q. Yes. . ,
A. And I do mean you!
Q. Uh-huh . . .
A. Ha, ha! Now, now, don't take it so person-ally!
written by Tony Hendra, illustrated by Neal Adams, cover by Frank Frazetta
"National Lampoon", November 1971
Broad plotting and a heap of swishy gags, as Hendra plays crass heterosexuality off against simpering stereotypes.
That opera isn't gay enough enough, and instead Gilbert and Sullivan is the level of triviality which Hendra thinks Gay culture will sink to, is a little odd.
"The Merv hasn't changed" poster is a reference to talk show host Merv Griffin, who was long rumoured to be gay, but which was only confirmed after his death.
Friday, 28 December 2007
In “Private Eye", 7 September 1962
A contribution from Jonathan Miller, one of the top young satirists of the early ‘60s, to the early “Private Eye”. This piece though was supposed to have been published anonymously. That it appeared so conspicuously under Miller’s byline elicited an angry letter from him in Washington DC where “Beyond the Fringe” was touring. The letter berated the staff of “Private Eye” as “stupid bloody irresponsible cunts”, because Miller thought he could be mistaken as advertising himself and therefore struck off the medical register.
Like much of the early satire in favour of homosexual reform, there is a tendency for rough irony, with gays themselves receiving a comic elbow in the face as the satirist’s arm is drawn back to plunge at the true target of bigotry. The word “poove” has always been enough to provoke a snigger in the pages of “Private Eye”.
John Gordon, already namechecked here, was the vehemently forthright editor an columnist for the “Sunday Express” newspaper.
From “Sheik Yerbouti”, 1979
Again, here’s another instance of what tries to be a string of coarse gags. When you try to tie them all together they contradict each other though and it all becomes rather scurrilous nonsense instead.
This song has the dubious honour of being one of Zappa’s biggest hits. Because of its lush melody, this song went on to become a #1 hit in Scandinavia. Teens apparently remained ignorant of its crass sadomasochistic content as they danced and romanced at the disco. Zappa would probably argue that the whole point of the exercise is to exploit the tension between sentimental musical hypocrisy, which promotes one false set of societal stereotypes, and this gross social reportage.
A few defences by Zappa critics:
“Bobby Brown” is part of Zappa's politically dubious speculation that women's liberation has turned men gay as they find career women 'would be like fucking a slightly more voluptuous version of somebody's father', as Harry-as-a-Boy puts it in Thing-Fish. The historical actuality is that the rise of feminism has given the opportunity for all kinds of repressed sexual minorities to voice their identities. However, all considerations of fairness are swept aside in an outpouring of scandalous couplets over a lush, vibrant melody. It does not matter what Zappa actually believes - in The Real Frank Zappa Book he talks some half-baked nonsense about the duty of American citizens to breed the next generation - because of his ability to foment all the taboo areas in a single song.
– “Frank Zappa: the Negative Dialectics of poodle Play” by Ben Watson, 1994
"Bobby Brown Goes Down" is a disputable bit of social commentary about sexual confusion that would probably have fit perfectly on Lather. While some have called this song anti-gay, it's not an indictment of homosexuality, but a blatant attack on careerism. Bobby Brown is a preppy, privileged guy who thinks he's "the cutest boy in town”.' He drives a fast car and dresses sharp and acts cool. He gets the attention of all the cheerleaders. Bobby Brown has a simple outlook on his life that could have been shaped by the white-bread values of the '50s. But it's not the '50s anymore - it's the '70s. The emergence of feminism and gay rights has overturned the dominant social order. The road to wealth and power is no longer a sure thing, and Bobby Brown's dreams of getting ahead end up, instead, with him helplessly giving head. His first encounter with a lesbian leaves him desperately unsure of his masculinity. Suddenly, Bobby Brown's means to achieving success come from acts he finds degrading ("I can take about an hour on the tower of power/'Long as I get a little golden shower"). Zappa is saying that Bobby Brown's hyper-aggressive masculinity ("I tell all the girls they can kiss my heinie") was just a cover for his submissive personality ("With a spindle up my butt till it makes me scream/An' I'll do anything to get ahead"). Rather than being a smug assault on homosexuality, Zappa's song confronts our culture's masculine ideals:
When the band performed the song during the 1984 tour, lead vocalist Ike Willis inserted a "Hi-ho, Silver!" partway through. This reference to the Lone Ranger, which cracked up Zappa to the degree that he could barely sing, was an observant bit of improvisation. It came from Lenny Bruce's classic routine "The Lone Ranger;' a satiric jab at the personification of masculine ideals in our heroes. Bruce suggested that once the Lone Ranger doubted his powers, he revealed a submissive side. This leads the townsfolk to speculate that "the Masked Man's a fag!"
– “Dangerous kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa” by Kevin Courrier, 2002
"Sheik Yerbouti" includes several controversial songs, including “Bobby Brown Goes Down” and “Jewish Princess”. The former was attacked by gay rights groups for being homophobic, and by feminists for being sexist. It was both, but Zappa naively believed that if you parodied something, that made whatever you said all right. The song is about Bobby Brown, a college jock who sleeps with a 'dyke' called Freddie. She has been influenced by the women's liberation movement, which is 'creeping all across the nation' like a plague. This encounter turns Bobby into a homosexual and, as this is a Zappa song, he gets into S&M, so that Zappa can sing gleefully about the 'tower of power'. It is basically one of Zappa’s schoolyard get togethers with all the little boys saying dirty words
– “Frank Zappa” by Barry Miles, 2004
Monday, 24 December 2007
Sunday, 23 December 2007
THE NATIONAL GAY ALLIANCE PARTY
The National Gay Alliance Party stands for the principle that gay people are exactly the same as everyone else and should be treated as such, EXCEPT in the matters of:
- what we use our bottoms for
- what we use other people's bottoms for
- the fact that we prefer duller and more bottom-oriented television programmes
- the fact that we would prefer to see something a little different on Page Three of 'The Sun' - namely a bottom
What is it about a gay person that makes them different? Well, not much. The bottoms, of course. And a few other, tell -tale signs. We use soft loo paper. We like to drive black Porsche turbos. We prefer teaspoons to stir our coffee with, rather than the little white plastic twigs that so-called 'normal' people enjoy using. Otherwise, we're indistinguishable from anyone else: the same hopes and frustrations, the same needs and wants, the same willies and bottoms.
OUR POLICIES ARE:
* the abolition of the House of Lords, and its replacement by a House of Bottoms
* an immediate reduction in the number of private bottoms in the NHS
* government grants for the refurbishment of decaying inner-city bottoms
* nationalization of the 'Big Four' bottoms in the City of London
* training of young people to do skilled jobs: particularly where this involves rummaging around in bottoms
* helping the 'old folk' to get their trousers off
* all trade union members to be provided with a secret postal bottom before a strike
* a long, thoughtful look at the European Bottom Mountain
* American cruise bottoms on British soil to be fitted with a 'dual-key' system
The National Gay Alliance Party - we're right behind you
Ha! See it's all about bottoms again. Ha! Oh the wit.
Saturday, 22 December 2007
Editorial by Tony Hendra and Sean Kelly in “National Lampoon” May 1977
In approaching the question of homophilia, or "gayness,” it is important to remember that while it is in execrable taste to make fun of cripples, there is nothing reprehensible about ridiculing Republicans.
So long as homosexuality was understood to be a result of childhood trauma or glandular deficiency, it was hardly a fit subject for humor, and those that indulged in "queer-baiting;' "fag-bashing;' or "fruit-looping" were to be deplored. Now, however, that we are assured by homophiles themselves that the love that dare not speak its name is simply a political act arising from political choices, the practices of queer-baiting, fag-bashing, and fruit-looping would appear to be nothing more than the healthy exchange of opinion in the forum of democratic debate.
The arguably naive question arises whether a man whose chosen form of political expression is shoving his fist up some loved one's rectum is fit to be president. It maybe that, as many gays profess, we have already had such presidents, in the persons of George Washington, Franklin Pierce, et al.; it does not follow, however, that enjoying some Greek qualifies any Johnny-on-the-street to assume high office.
But perhaps we are attacking a straw man. Perhaps, as the Reverend Malcolm Boyd privately emphasizes, frequent and prolonged oral-genital contact between members of the same sex is not a political act, but a religious one. Not, as it were, an unnatural act so much as a supernatural one. But in what sense is giving or receiving a blow job a religious act? Certainly there would appear to be a superficial precedent established in the immortal injunction "take, eat - this is my body"; those words, however, were delivered by and on behalf of the Savior of all mankind. The category does not appear to include Golden Shower Gil or that hot little number in the naugahyde knickers.
In a similar vein, can we say that pederasts should not be school-teachers, coprophiliacs proctologists, sadists policemen, or piss-freaks firemen?
Why cannot Eros be served by a tug on your buddy's nipple-ring? Can love sweet love not as well appear through a hole in the wall of a lavatory stall? May not the friction of two crewcut mons spark the same divine fire that burnt the topless towers of Ilium? Why not indeed?
For the majority, the vast and powerful heterosexual majority of us, these questions remain ineffable. Let us take comfort in the certainty that while the blacks, the native Americans, and the poor we shall have always with us, we shall only have to endure for one generation the puling of this by definition unreproductive minority.
in the “Observer”, 21 September, 1975
The “Observer” is a more liberal newspaper, and so the joke is more at the expense of the dried-up bigot in the far right, rather than the fairly normal looking protestors.
“Lloyd George Knew My Father” was a one-time popular political marching song about the Liberal Prime Minister (1915-1922).
from “Greeting Cards for the Sexual Revolution” in “Mad”, September 1971
"Pansy Yokum" is a character from the cartoon strip "Lil Abner". Barely the level of a gag from "laugh-In", but about the level of cultural reference for the teenage reading base of "Mad".
This prompted a letter from Glenn M Larson of the Homosexual Information Service, in which he asked
“If you sincerely feel that Gay people are less oppressed, less in need of liberation than the socially acceptable minorities, perhaps you should consider this: When was the last time you heard of someone facing arrest and conviction as a ‘practicing Indian or Black’…?”
Which begs the question as to why a grown man was reading what had become an only so-so humorous magazine for adolescents? But at least they did print his letter. In the late '70s when barely an issue went by without some "fag" joke, and even a few approving refernces to Anita Bryant, "Mad" didn't allow any room for comment.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
in “Private Eye”, 7 November 1969
cartoon by Michael Heath
The joke of "Poove Power" is the idea of what a militant gay would be. The fey whoopsiness of the stereotypical homosexual does not go hand-in-hand with the stridency of a Black Panther. Supposedly “Private Eye” writing sessions from this period are mostly people putting on silly voices, and someone else transcribing. So I should imagine it’s a case of Richard Ingrams, Barry Fantoni and co egging each other on to more ridiculous claims for “equality”. The idea of what “equal rights” for homosexuals would be, is what makes up a lot of the jokes about Gay lib through the years. I’m just surprised they didn’t mange to include a joke about Tariq Ali, who was “Private Eye”’s all-purpose revolutionary buffoon of the time.
Of the three items listed in the banner, while “The Boys in the Band” and “Staircase” are films and remembered still, “Jeremy” was a gay lifestyle magazine which was published in 1969 and is now almost totally forgotten.
“Roger Basement” is a pun on Roger Casement, the Irish nationalist who was executed in 1916. A “Black Diary”, purported by the British authorities to be Casement’s, revealed that he had been an active homosexual, and so was used to discredit him in the eyes of nationalist (and therefore Catholic) political sympathisers. Debate still rages as to whether the Diary is genuine. Partly, because it’s quite possible that the British Government were trying to lie and blacken Casement’s character, but also because there are people who still think that being gay is imputation upon Casement’s character from which he needs defending.
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
in "Mad Magazine", January 1969
When I first saw this, I got my dates mixed up and thought this appeared about 6 months after Stonewall. But no; in fact, it dates from 6 months before Stonewall, which means there was already a general sense of gay presence existing in American minds. Homosexuality had already become a fixture of the arts, to the extent that Stanley Kauffman could write his notorious "Homosexual Drama and Its Disguises" in the ‘New York Times’ (23 Jan 1966) accusing gays of writing poisonous screeds about contemporary America. But this photo-shoot means enough people already thought they knew what a homosexual was, for it to be worth the effort of a gag in a mass media magazine like “Mad”.
Stonewall had two effects: one is that it is a high-water mark in gay visibility. Only a few moths later ‘Time’ magazine would go into millions of homes with the October 31 issue devoted to the “Homosexual in America”.
At the same time, Stonewall connected homosexuality to the new radical fight for civil rights in 60s America. For a contemporary report on the immediate struggle for Gay liberation to find some place in the general, rather macho, revolutionary melee of the time, this May/June 1970 issue of ‘The Realist” is very interesting.
As to why the two men are in dresses? It’s a blend of anxiety, confusion and ignorance. People don’t entirely know what a homosexual is or does. Since it’s a man who wants to be with men, then it must be a womanly man, or a man who wants to be a woman. Therefore a man who wants to be a woman would, of course, wear women’s clothes. Secondly, some gay man do dress up in drag, so that confuses the issue. (If some do it, then all must do it, yes?) Besides, transvestism is as big a perversion and a crime in those days, that its unsettling aspect will mean you don’t have to think through the logical consequences: A tranny is a pervert is a fag. Finally, through its unnaturalness, a man in a dress is a way of showing what a homosexual is and does, without having to hint at any of that kissing or sex shenanigans which, being too disgusting to even think about, would get naturally get homosexuals, and you in portraying it, hauled up before the courts. So the common stereotype of a man in drag as a homosexual is a way of finding some means of depicting a gay, while also substituting the dress for some of the real visceral anxieties as to what it is that homosexuals actually get up to. When we get into the later 70s, and humorists can show what gays really get up to sexually, then the transvestite stereotype is used only by a rather sad and old-fashioned minority.
This is inspired by a contemporary advert for Canada Dry:
Monday, 17 December 2007
(transcript from: www.kithfan.org/work/transcripts/three/wordgay.html)
Mark McKinney as an old lady, solving a crossword puzzle in her garden.
I'm all in favor of certain people having their own, you know, lifestyle, but...why did they have to take the word "gay"? It's such a lovely word! They've...they've robbed the English language of a beautiful word. I...they have. I mean, now if I say to one of my friends, or one of my friends asks me, "How is your son or daughter feeling?", and I say "Oh, they're feeling gay"...it's a scandal. I've had to stop using the word altogether. Oh. So they've taken "gay" away from us. What was wrong with "pervert"?
And you can't use the word "faggot" anymore either, you...it used to be a lovely bundle of sticks. On cold winters' nights you'd throw another faggot on the fire. But now they work in restaurants, making your salads, being snotty and still expecting fifteen percent.
"Cunnilingus"? My grandfather drove one across America. With pride. He bought the first one off the lot in 1923. Oh, but now they're all gone, forgotten - the Cunnilingus, the Rambler. Oh. I suppose "Rambler" means something filthy now too, does it, does it mean something...?
Can't use the word "fisting" anymore either, oh no. No, no. But back in the forties the girls and I used to fist every Sunday afternoon. It was a knitting stitch, and a very difficult one. I made a lovely yellow afghan full of tiny, intricate fistings, that won a, that won a grand prize at a, at a jamboree. Yeah. Gave up knitting altogether, though, in 1979, finally found out what the word meant, oh no. No, no. I took that afghan with all that lovely fisting and put it up the poop-hole. Oh, that's, that's what we used to call attic. Now they're all gone, locked away, like those beautiful words.
Well, I guess I'm just supposed to fade away, in silence...or be modern and accept it. Fine. I guess I'll just have a Fuck Off. Oh, that used to be a summer drink, you know.
Some very funny Canadians have the same idea as Fry and Laurie, about 4 four years later.
from “A Bit of Fry and Laurie”, 26 December, 1987
Fry and Laurie sketches have a tendency to be very word obsessed, and there is also a delight in slipping in real or make-believe vulgarities. So the sketch is a typical premise, where two fusty “Dail Mail”-type readers spout ever more graphic homosexual descriptions while wistfully reminiscing about some nostalgic English past.
However this satirising of those who get het up about the loss of the lovely word “gay” does take place against a rather nastier background. The latter part of 1987 saw the build-up of rhetoric about Section 28, and various weasel-words about what place gays should be allowed to take in society. Talk about reclaiming the word "gay" is really as much a wish that that we didn't have anything to call homosexuals so they couldn't even be identified and we wouldn't have to talk about them (oh, why can't they just go away).
Also, faggots aren't allowed to look at my ass while I'm onstage. That's why I keep movin' while I'm up here. Now if you don't know where the faggot section is, you gotta keep movin'. So if they do see it it's quick, and you switch. They don't get no long stare at your shit and start havin' imagination flowin' on my …I know when you're lookin' at it too, because my ass gets hot.
'Cause I'm afraid of gay people. Petrified. I have nightmares about gay people. I have this nightmare that I go to Hollywood and find out that Mr. T is a faggot. Really, he be walkin' up to people going "Hey boy! Hey boy! You look might cute in them jeans. Now come on over here, and fuck me up the asss. Come on! I'm gonna bend over now. Uungh! Aaagh! Hey boy, slow down. You're going to mess around and come too fast and make me get mad. I'll clench up my butt cheeks and rip your dick off."
You know, you know, you know who would be a funny faggot? Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton. Wouldn't they be funny faggots? And Ralph Kramden leanin' out the window there one day sayin' "Norton! Norton, pal! Come on down! I want to show you something. HEH HEH" "Hey Ralphie boy, what do you say there, pal of mine?" "You know Norton, I've been watchin' you. And I know you've been watchin' me, Norton. You're watchin'. I know." "So Ralph, what are you gettin' at?" "Norton my friend, how would you like to fuck me up the ass? I know you want to fuck me, Norton! And you know that I know that you know that I know that you want to fuck me. Now I'm gonna bend over. And when I do, start fuckin'! Here I go!" "Whoooooooooah!” Hummuna-hummunah-hummunah-hummunah-hummunah-hummunah-hu...Way to go there, Ralphie boy!"
I kid the homosexuals a lot, cause they're homosexuals. I, I fuck with everybody, I don't give a fuck . It's like um, I don't mean anything by it. You can hang out with a gay person. You can guys. Don't feel, you know like alienated gay people 'cause they're gay. 'Cause you can play tennis with a gay person. Really, just after the game you say "I'm gonna get a beer, what you gonna do?" "I think I'll go suck somebody's dick." "Well, I'll see you later. Take it easy. You go suck that dick. I'm gonna have the beer."
Ladies are hip to it too. Ladies be hangin' out with gay people. Ladies be saying, "Gay men are the best friends to have. 'Cause they don't want anything from you and you don't want anything from them and he can just hang out and you can be with him and it's fun and you can talk to them" and all that bullshit and they be hangin' out with them.
You know what's real scary about that? That new AIDS shit. AIDS is scary 'cause it kills motherfuckers, AIDS. That ain't like the good old days when venereal disease was simple. In the good old days you'd get gonorrhea and your dick hurt, Go get a shot, clear it right up. Then they came out with herpes. You keep that shit forever like luggage. Now they got AIDS. That just kills motherfuckers. I say what's next? I guess you just put your dick in and it explode (mimes sex and an explosion) and the girl will be on the bed and go "Maybe I should see a doctor about this."
Kills people! And it petrifies me because girls be hangin' out with them. And one night they could be in the club havin' fun with their gay friend and give them a little kiss (lip-smacking sound) and go home with their AIDS on their lips. Get home with their husband and like five years later it's "Mr. Johnson, you have AIDS." He goes, "AIDS? But I'm not a homosexual." "Sure, you're not a homosexual."
Now this fairly notorious excerpt is little more than the aggressive humour of the playground. Murphy has a great youthful energy and charm, with rapport with his audience, and these jokes are a way of bringing everyone together: this is what we really think and laugh at, all the stuff that isn’t safe for TV. Of course, much of Murphy’s act is very externally focused rather then the personal anecdotes and interpretations of the likes of Bruce or Richard Pryor. A strange guttural hooting Mr T and some only so-so impressions of “The Honeymooners” sodomising one another is not terribly advanced stuff. And there’s a weird quality of being vulnerable to homosexual advances, gay panic, while knowing it’s not really right. By this time, using “faggot” is a deliberately offensive move. It’s a way of showing I’ll say what I like about whom I like.
Immediately after this, when Murphy was criticised, he mocked gays all the more for being pissed off for his having mocked them in the first place.
Some years later Murphy would apologise for these jokes in his routine. And we all know the sterling work Murphy has since made in out-reach projects to the transgender community.
Thursday, 13 December 2007
in “National Lampoon”, May 1977
Now here are some cartoons intended to be more scabrous and offensive. Rodrigues always had a very biological turn of mind. So if any cartoonist would show a grown man still attached umbilically to his mother, or looking proudly at his shit like a father, then Rodrigues would be the one. A new and different manner of being funny in awful ways about homosexuals.
Charles Rodrigues was a cartoonist for almost the entirety of “National Lampoon”’s history. His strips were weird, and often very gross. He would do the most awful things featuring dwarves, Siamese twins, amputees, corpses, abortions, people in a coma communicating through farts. The king of bad taste, but I’m afraid I really do like him. He also played around with the form quite boldly. Sometimes he would be half-way through a strip in an issue, get bored, kill everyone off and start a new strip, there and then.
Rodrigues also provided cartoons for the “Realist” and “Stereo Review”. His cartons for “Stereo review” would seem to be very fondly remembered and were collected in "Total Harmonic Distortion" (1988).
in “Mad”, June 1969
Dave Berg offers a fairly realistic assessment of why the word “faggot” gets thrown around so much in teenage years. Berg, far too often, offered cranky old fartism and corny situations rather then real analysis. The word is offensive, but Berg is able to show the unpleasant “sour grapes” aspect of the person using it. The stigma of homosexuality is applied to anything else the user wishes to denigrate. The word “gay” is currently suffering the same treatment at the hands of British youth.
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
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.
Friday, 7 December 2007
Stan McMurtry in “Daily Mail”, 21 April 1987
Sir Maurice Oldfield was "C", director-general of MI6 between 1973 and 1978, died in 1981.
In 1987, Chapman Pincher claimed in “Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason”, that Oldfield regularly used male prostitutes, including rent boys and young down-and-outs. MPs demanded a statement from Margaret Thatcher, who revealed that Pincher had been identified as a potential risk to security in 1980.
And so, with slightly less class, we get the same idea as Cyril Connolly. Connolly parodies Flemings style and the cliches of expertise in a Bond novel, and also explores ideas of frustrated masculinity and sexual power. Mac offers us nothing but the image of the ridiculous-looking transvestite which is tabloid-code for gay. Stanley Franklin in "The Sun" will offer us many more of them
This is unfortunately far too long for me to feature in full. Someone else has also made a later excerpt of this available http://www.thewormbook.com/helmintholog/archives/2004/06/29/bond_strikes_camp.html
A parody by Cyril Connolly of James Bond. M, the head of MI6, convinces Bond to drag up so as to seduce a Russian general. The twist at the end is that the general is revealed to be M. This has all been a subterfuge by M, so Bond will unwittingly seduce him.
Ian Fleming, who was a friend of Connolly, was very appreciative of this parody. W.H.Auden and Christopher Isherwood, also friends of Connolly, were also very appreciative of the parody, since they felt that Fleming had been mocking of homosexuality in some of his Bond novels.
Whether the atmosphere of homosexual spies during 1962 and 1963 inspired Connolly to write this, or whether Connolly was just unpicking some of the machismo of the Bond mythos is a point for debate.
Ever heard of Mata Hari?'
'The beautiful spy?' Bond's voice held derision. The school prefect sulking before his housemaster.
'She was very successful. It was a long time ago.' M. still sounded meek and deprecating.
'I seem to remember reading the other day that a concealed microphone had replaced the femme fatale.'
'Precisely. So there is still a chance for the femme fatale.'
'I have yet to meet her.'
'You will. You are aware there is a Russian military mission visiting this country?'
Bond let that one go into the net.
'They have sent over among others an elderly general. He looks like a general, he may well have been a general, he is certainly a very high echelon in their K.G.B. Security is his speciality; rocketry, nerve gases, germ warfare-all the usual hobbies.' M. paused. 'And one rather unusual one.'
Bond waited, like an old pike watching the bait come down. 'Yes. He likes to go to night clubs, get drunk, throw his money about and bring people back to his hotel. All rather old-fashioned.' 'And not very unusual.'
'Ah.' M. looked embarrassed again. 'I'm just coming to that.
We happen to know quite a bit about this chap, General Count Apraxin. His family were pretty well known under the old dispensation though his father was one of the first to join the party; we think he may be a bit of a throw-back. Not politically, of course. He's tough as they come. 1 needn't tell you Section A make a study of the kind of greens the big shots go in for. Sometimes we know more about what these people are like between the sheets than they do themselves; it's a dirty business. Well, the General is mad about drag.'
M. winced. 'I'm sorry about this part, Bond. He's "so"-"uno di quelli"-"one of those"-a sodomite.'
Bond detected a glint of distaste in the cold blue eyes.
'In my young days,' M. went on, 'fellows like that shot themselves. Now their names are up for every club. Particularly in London. Do you know what sort of a reputation this city has a.broad?' Bond waited. 'Well, it stinks. These foreigners come here, drop notes of assignation into sentries' top-boots, pin fivers on to guardsmen's bearskins. The Tins are livid.'
'And General Apraxin?' Bond decided to cut short the W olfen..ifen.
'One of the worst. I told you he likes drag. That's-er-men gressed up as women.'
'Well, you tell me he's found the right place. But I don't quite see where we come in.'
M. cleared his throat. 'There's just a possibility, mind, it's only a possibility, that even a top K.G.B. might be taken off guard-if he found the company congenial-perhaps so congenial that it appealed to some secret wish of his imagination-and if he talked at all (mind you, he is generally absolutely silent), well then anything he said might be of the greatest value-any thing-it might be a lead on what he's really here for. You will be drawing a bow at a venture. You will be working in the dark.'
M. rapped out the words like a command. '007, I want you to do this thing. I want you to let our people rig you up as a mop pet and send you to a special sort of club and I want you to allow yourself to be approached by General Apraxin and sit at his table and if he asks you back to his hotel I want you to accompany him and any suggestion he makes I request you to fall in with to the
limit your conscience permits. And may your patriotism be your conscience, as it is mine.
It was a very odd speech for M. Bond studied his finger-nails.
'And if the pace gets too hot?'
'Then you must pull out-but remember. T. E. Lawrence put up with the final indignity. I knew him well, but knowing even that, I never dared call him by his christian name.'
Bond reflected. It was clear that M. was deeply concerned. Besides, the General might never turn up. 'I'll try anything once, sir.'
'Good man.' M. seemed to grow visibly younger.
'As long as I'm not expected to shake a powder into his drink and run away with his wallet.'
'Oh, I don't think it will come to that. If you don't like the look of things, just plead a headache; he'll be terrified of any publicity. It was all Section A could do to slip him a card for this club.'
'What's its name?'
M. pursed his lips. 'The Kitchener. In Lower Belgrave Mews. Be there about eleven o'clock and just sit around. We've signed you in as "Gerda".'
'We're sending you off to a specialist in that kind of thing-he thinks you want it for some Christmas "do". Here's the address.'
'One more question, sir. I have no wish to weary you with details of my private life but I can assure you I've never dressed up in "drag" as you call it since I played Katisha in "The Mikado" at my prep. school. I shan't look right, I shan't move right, I shan't talk right; I shall feel about as convincing arsing about as a night-club hostess as Randolph Churchill.'
M. gazed at him blankly and again Bond noticed his expression of weariness, even of repulsion. 'Yes, 007, you will do all of those things and I am afraid that is precisely what will get him.'
Bond turned angrily but M.'s face was already buried in his signals. This man who had sent so many to their deaths was still alive and now the dedicated bachelor who had never looked at a
woman except to estimate her security risk was packing him off with the same cold indifference into a den of slimy creatures. He walked out of the room and was striding past Miss Ponsonby when she stopped him. 'No time for that lunch, I'm afraid. You're wanted in Armoury.'
The Armoury in the basement held many happy memories for Bond. It represented the first moments of a new adventure, the excitement of being back on a job. There were the revolvers and the Tommy guns, the Smith and Wessons, Colts, lugers, berettas, killer weapons of every class or nationality; blow-pipes, boomerangs, cyanide fountain-pens, Commando daggers and the familiar heap of aqualungs, now more or less standard equipment. He heard the instructor's caressing voice. 'Grind yer boot down his shin and crush his instep. Wrench off his testicles with yer free hand and with the fingers held stiffly in the V sign gouge OUt his eyes with the other.'
He felt a wave of home-sickness. 'Ah, Bond, we've got some !hardware for you. Check it over and sign the receipt,' said the lieutenant of marines.
'Good God, what's this? It looks to me like a child's water-'pistol.'
'You're so right-and here's the water.' He was given a small screw-top ink-bottle full of some transparent liquid. 'Don't spill any on your bib and tucker.'
'What'll it stop?'
'Anything on two legs if you aim at the eyes.'
Bond consulted the address of his next 'armourer'. It was a studio off Kinnerton Street. The musical cough of the Pierce Arrow was hardly silent when the door was opened by a calm young man who looked him quickly up and down. Bond was wearing one of his many pheasant's-eye alpacas which exaggerated the new vertical line-single-breasted, narrow lapels, ton-up trousers with no turn-ups, peccary suede shoes. A short covert-coat in cavalry twill, a black sting-ray tail of a tie, an unexpected width of shoulder above the tapering waist and the casual arrogance of his comma of dark hair low over the forehead under his little green ipiglet of a hat completed the picture of mid-century masculinity. The young man seemed unimpressed. 'Well, well, how butch can you get? You've left it rather late. But we'll see what we can do.'
He turned Bond towards the lighted north window and studied him carefully, then he gave the comma a tweak.
'I like the spitcurl, Gerda, we'll build up round that. Now go in there and strip.'
When he came out in his pants, the barracuda scars dark against the tan, a plain girl was waiting in a nurse's uniform. 'Lie down, Gerda, and leave it all to Miss Haslip,' said the young man. She stepped forward and began, expertly, to shave his legs and armpits. 'First a shave, then the depilatory-I'm afraid, what with the fittings, you'll be here most of the day.' It was indeed one bitch of a morning. The only consolation was that the young man (his name was Colin Mount) allowed him to keep the hair on his chest. 'After all, nobody wants you all sugar.'
After the manicure, pedicure and plucking of the eyebrows it was time to start rebuilding. Bond was given a jock-strap to contain his genitals; the fitting of an elaborate chestnut wig so as to allow the comma to escape under it was another slow process. And then the artificial eye-lashes. Finally what looked like a box of tennis balls was produced from a drawer. 'Ever seen these before?'
'Good God, what are they?'
'The very latest in falsies-foam-rubber, with electronic selferecting nipples-pink for blondes, brown for brunettes. The
things they think of! Which will you be? It's an important decision.'
'What the hell do I care?'
'On the whole I think you'd better be a brunette. It goes with the eyes. And with your height we want them rather large. Round or pear-shaped?'
'Round, for Christ's sake.'
'Sure you're not making a mistake?'
The falsies were attached by a rubber strap, like a brassiere, which-in black moire-was then skilfully fitted over them. 'How does that feel? There should be room for a guy to get his hand up under the bra and have a good rime.' Then came the slinky black lace panties and finally the black satin evening skirt with crimson silk blouse suspended low on the shoulder, a blue mink scarf over all and then the sheerest black stockings and black shoes with red stilettos. Bond surveyed himself in the long glass and experienced an unexpected thrill of excitement; there was no doubt he had a damned good figure.
'Well, you're no Coccinelle,' said the young man, 'but you'll certainly pass. Hip-square! Drag's a lot of fun you'll find. One meets quite a different class of person. Now go and practise walking till you drop. Then get some sleep, and after that, if you're good, we'll make up that pretty face and launch you at the local cinema.'
After practising in high heels for a couple of hours, Bond went back to his couch and lay down exhausted. He dreamed he was swimming under water on a stormy day, the waves breaking angrily above him while, harpoon in hand, he followed a great sea-bass with spaniel eyes that seemed to turn and twist and invite him onward down an ever-narrowing, weed-matted gully.
When he awoke it was dark and he fell avidly on the Blue Mountain coffee and club sandwich Miss Haslip had brought him. 'Now we'll start on the face--and here's your evening bag.' Bond transferred his water-pistol, ink-botde, Ronson lighter, gunmetal cigarette case and bill-folder and emptied the contents of his wallet; a vintage chart from the Wine and Food Society, an 'Advanced Motorists" certificate, another from the Subaqua Club, a temporary membership card of the Travellers, Paris, the Caccia, Rome, Puerto de Hierro, Madrid, Brook, Meadowbrook, Knickerbocker and Crazy Horse Saloon, Liguanea, Eagle, Somerset (Boston) and Boston (New Orleans), ending up with a reader's pass for the Black Museum. When he had done, Colin emptied the whole lot into a large envelope, which he told Bond to put in the glove compartment, and handed back the water-pistol and key-ring. 'Try these instead,' and Bond was given a powder-puff, a couple of lipsticks, some Kleenex, a package of cigarettes (Senior Service) with a long cane holder, some costume jewellery and a charm bracelet and a membership card in the name of Miss Gerda Blond for the Kitchener Social Club, Lower Belgrave Mews, S.W.
In a compartment of his evening bag he found a pocket mirror, tortoiseshell comb, enamel compact and a box of eye make-up with a tiny brush. 'When you get mad at someone it's a great relief to take this out and spit on it. The harder you spit, the more - of a lady you'll seem.' Mount showed him how to apply the litde brush, the mascara and black eye-shadow. 'When you don't know how to answer, just look down for a little-lower those eyelashes, that'll fetch them-and make with the holder. And do be careful in the Loo. That's where nearly all the mistakes are made. Now we're off to the Pictures.'
'What are we going to see?' 'La Dolce Vita.'
In the dark cinema Bond noticed a few interested glances in his direction. A man in the next seat put his hand on his knee. Bond knew the drill; a policewoman in Singapore had shown him. You take the hand tenderly in yours and extend his arm across your knee. Then you bring your other hand down hard and break the fellow's arm at the elbow. He had just got it all set up when the lights went on.
'I wanted you to see that picture, it gives you so many approaches,' said Colin Mount. 'You can try Ekberg-the big child of nature-or one of those sophisticated cats. Now off you go. Better take a taxi, that hearse of yours looks too draughty.'
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
John Musgrave-Wood in “Daily Mail”, 27 April 1963
Now, I think this one is:
1. The Navy are so clueless that they think a man in high drag is perfectly normal
but it might just be,
2. The Navy are so clueless that they can't tell a drag act from a real woman
3. The Navy are so clueless they can't tell a woman from a man
See what happens if you over-analyse things
in "Private Eye", 3 May 1963
Most of the cartoon and satirical comment in the wake of the Vassall Inquiry report was more concerned with the government's machinations than homosexuality. The report had exonerated those officals who had not identified Vassall as a security risk. The report had however been been condemnatory of the press's investigations and conduct. Two journalists had been imprisoned when they refused to disclose their sources of information for stories they had written about the Vassall spy case. (Not at all like the Hutton report some 40 years later, then?)
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
in "Timothy: The Drawings and Cartoons of Timothy Birdsall", edited by Michael Frayn and Bamber Gascoigne, Michael Joseph, 1964
The idea that the civil service is infiltrated and overrun by gays, is another one we shall see more of in time to come.
Timothy Birdsall died in June 1963, at the age of only 27. He became famous as the resident cartoonist on "That Was The Week That Was" and was also a regular contributor to "Private Eye". His one, posthumous book of cartoons (from which this is taken) is a wonderful view of early 60s Britain. One can only imagine what he would have made of the whole decade if given the chance.
Monday, 3 December 2007
Illustration by Willie Rushton
"But My Dear" by Peter Shaffer in "That Was The Week That Was", edited by David Frost and Ned Sherin, W.H. Allen, 1963
The scene is an office. A senior official is sitting at his desk,. a junior official is quaking nervously as he hands a letter he has just composed to his pompous and bullying senior.
SENIOR OFFICER: (Taking the letter) Give it here. (Reading) 'To Mr Jenkins.' Good. None of that' dear' nonsense. (Reading) 'Pursuant to your letter. . .' Pursuant?
JUNIOR OFFICER: It's the usual phrase, sir.
SENIOR OFFICER: I don't like it. The word has an erotic penumbra. Take it out.
JUNIOR OFFICER: Yes, sir.
SENIOR OFFICER: (Reading) 'I am hoping for the favour of an early reply.' Favour?
JUNIOR OFFICER: The Oxford Dictionary defines the verb favour as 'to look kindly upon'.
SENIOR OFFICER: (Pouncing) Exactly. I am amazed you can be so naive. Looking kindly upon anyone who earns less than you do is a deeply treacherous procedure.
JUNIOR OFFICER: I'm very sorry, sir.
SENIOR OFFICER: You need some basic training in modern manners, can see that. If a man comes 300 miles to see you with papers, keep him waiting in the hall-or better still the drive, if you have one. If you offer him so much as a sandwich you will be suspected of improper relations; and a three-course lunch spells treason.
JUNIOR OFFICER: Yes, sir.
SENIOR OFFICER : You really are an innocent, aren't you?
JUNIOR OFFICER: I'm afraid I am, sir.
SENIOR OFFICER: Well we must change all that. (Continuing to read) 'Hoping for the favour of an early reply. . . . Thanking you in anticipation.' Are you doing this on purpose?
JUNIOR OFFICER: What, sir?
SENIOR OFFICER: Thanking you in anticipation
JUNIOR OFFICER: Is that wrong, sir?
SENIOR OFFICER: Wrong? It's just about the most sexually provocative sentence I've ever read. It whinnies with suggestiveness.
JUNIOR OFFICER: I hadn't intended it like that, Sir.
SENIOR OFFICER: We're not concerned with your intentions, man-merely with the effect you create. And I can tell you that it's nauseating. You have the correspondence style of a lovesick au pair girl. In more honest days one would have said kitchen-maid..
JUNIOR OFFICER: But, sir -
SENIOR OFFICER: Don't interrupt, or I may lose control. Now understand this: in the Civil Service you will never thank anybody for anything, especially in anticipation. You will simply end your letter without innuendo of any kind. Now let's see what you've done. (Reading) 'Yours faithfully' I don't believe it.
JUNIOR OFFICER: That's normal, sir.
SENIOR OFFICER: Normal? In the context of a man writing to a man it's nothing less than disgusting. It implies you can be UN-faithful!
JUNIOR OFFICER: I never thought of that, sir.
SENIOR OFFICER: You think of very little, don't you? Even the word 'Yours' at the end of a letter is dangerous. It suggests a willingness for surrender.
JUNIOR OFFICER: Then what can I say, sir?
SENIOR OFFICER: What do the Pensions Department use?
They're about as unemotional as you can get, without actually being dead.
JUNIOR OFFICER: 'Your obedient servant', I think.
SENIOR OFFICER: Are you mad?
JUNIOR OFFICER: Sir?
SENIOR OFFICER: Your obedient servant. . . . That's just plain perverted.. People who want to be other people's obedient servants are the sort who answer those advertisements: Miss Lash, ex-Governess of striking appearance. To sign yourself an obedient servant is an ipso facto confession of sexual deviation. And that, as we all know, is an ipso facto confession of treason.
JUNIOR OFFICER: Oh, I say, sir!
SENIOR OFFICER: What do you say? (Looking at him narrowly) I believe you are one of those cranks who believe that there are loyal homosexuals! (Accusingly) I think you secretly believe that the way to stop homosexuals being blackmailed into subversive acts is to change the law so they can't be.
JUNIOR OFFICER: Well, it had crossed my mind, sir. Amend the law and the possibility of Vassalls is lessened.
SENIOR OFFICER: Sloppy, left-wing sentimentality! The only way to stop a homosexual being blackmailed is to stop him being a homosexual. And the only way you can do that is to lock him up in a building with five hundred other men. That way he can see how unattractive they really are. Now take this pornographic muck out of here and bring it back in an hour, clean enough to be read by a six-year-old girl, or John Gordon. And leave out everything at the end except your name:, a bare signature, brusque and masculine. What is your name, by the way?
JUNIOR OFFICER: Fairy, sir.
SENIOR OFFICER: I don't think somehow you are going to go very far in Her Majesty's Service. Good morning.
However, the arrest and trial of
John Vassall in late 1962 and early 1963 suddenly made the British public more aware of homosexuality. Since Vassall's homosexuality was the crucial reason for his being blackmailed, and therefore could not be left out of news accounts, reporting of these events in public opened up the possibility of being able to discuss homosexuality. Indeed, in this light, homosexuality became a matter of national importance. Its discussion in this way, however, only served to confirm ideas about the vulnerability of homoxosexuals in society, as explored a year earlier in the ground-breaking film "Blackmail",(1961).
While the defection of Guy Burgess and Burgess Maclean when they were about to caught as double agents in the very early 50s had homosexual aspects, that information was kept hidden from the public at the time. This was because 1) not everything was known at the time by investigators 2) homosexuality would not have been mentioned to the public in that repressed time anyway 3) homosexual revelations in the British foreign and secret services would have been deeply discrediting and humiliating in the court of international opinion.
It would only be when Anthony Blunt was revealed as being part of the same spy ring that there would be a torrent of homosexual spy jokes.
Most of the concern over homosexuals from this period in the 60s therefore splits into two approaches:
1. Homosexuality’s currently illegality only serves to make practicing homosexuals vulnerable to blackmail, and forces poor homosexuals into a twilight, shadowy world.
2.Homosexuals are pervasive and everywhere, hidden away in plain sight, doing good only knows what, and weakening the sinews of the national character. Of course, when cartoonists and comedians try to show these hidden gays, they are still reduced to using the same clichés as usual. Which begs the question of how they could have gone unidentified in the first place? But it’s all a joke, so who cares?
So homosexuals are either: deserving of sympathy as pathetic cases, contempt as natural traitors, or ridicule as sissies.