Sunday, 29 June 2008

150: Keith Hampson 6 - JAK

in “The Evening Standard” 15 May 1984

Most of the editorial cartoons about the whole affaire d'Keith Hampson either relate to the police (which I’ve already exhumed) or touch instead upon embarrassment by association for Michael Heseltine (which just don’t really fit my brief). If the issue is homosexuality though JAK will usually try his hand. And so, here’s an attempt at a cartoon about gay MPs. But fuck me sideways through a hedge if it’s not as impenetrable as the Pope’s back passage.
Unless there was some other news item at the time I’m unaware of, I can’t for the life of me see the need for closeted MPs to go around as members of the KKK. Do you? Although that they need to be sheets with the letters “MP” blazoned upon them conspicuously for us to have even the faintest clue as to what’s going on, is only a further indication of this cartoon’s epic-three-and-a-half-hours-with-a-ten-minute-comfort-break-cinemascope-in-full-sound-"o"-rama fucked-uppedness.
Oh yes, and the Rastafarian looks a touch to much like a golliwog for my comfort, too.

149: Keith Hampson 5 - Punch

in “Punch” 23 May 1984

A joke much the same as the one here but without the emphasis on criminal activities. Instead the idea that there is a growing gay world. Note though the rather small roster of names they can draw upon, simply because there are so very few names which people will know and recognise as homosexuals. This is why Oscar Wilde crops up so often. Well other than for reasons of sheer lack of imagination.

148: Keith Hampson 4 - "The Gays"

by Michael Heath in “Private Eye” 18 May 1984

Part of the operating assumptions of Heath’s “The Gays” is that heterosexuals never appear. It is a wholly insular gay world. Which, if you were based in one of the big cities by the early 80s was a not wholly untrue possibility if you really wished. So for comic purposes, if there’s one gay MP in this new ghetto then there must be many more. A few of the MPs serving at this time would later come out, or a larger number suffer rather embossing scandals of their own. The Division bell, as also referenced in this piece about Driberg, is the bell rung in the vicinity of Parliament, and nearby premises often frequented by MPs, to indicate that a vote is shortly to be cast and they need to return to the main chamber.

Friday, 27 June 2008

147: Keith Hampson 3 - Edward McLachlan

in "Punch" 23 May 1984

For reasons I can’t be going into, Michael Heseltine had the nickname of “Tarzan”. This therefore means that McLachlan can have his effeminate civil servant identify himself (rather assertively by the looks of it) with a girl’s name. This is, of course, a comedy homosexual, and not an accurate representation of Mr Hampson. Indeed, all the cartoons talk around the incident, but there are no actual direct references to Keith Hampson in all of the bits and pieces produced at the time. It’s all rather allusive gossip. Although it all builds on that “civil service is absolutely infested with ‘em” ethos. Note as always the lipstick and the eye-shadow. Ho hum.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

146: Keith Hampson 2 - Private Eye

cover for “Private Eye” 18 May 1984

Just to add to the scandal, Hampson was not merely a Conservative MP. Oh no. he was also the Private Secretary to Michael Heseltine, the Secretary of State for Defense. Hampson, of course, resigned.
Poofs? Check. AIDS? Check. A little ahead of the wave there, Private Eye boys. All in the worst possible taste.

This also explains the comment about “The Ministry of Defense” in Stanley Franklin’s cartoon of 28 September 1984.

145: Keith Hampson 1 - Michael Heath

Michael Heath in the “Spectator” 27 October 1984

A silly joke and nothing more. "Arresting" - ho ho, indeed. Produced in October 1984, when Hampson was on trial.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

144: Police - Mac

by Stan McMurty (Mac) in "The Daily Mail, 16 May 1984

So Mac offers us fusty burly gay police offers in drag. As usual.
There’s a certain unintentional irony here. Mr Hampson, a happily married man, claimed to have gone into the club out of “devilment”. When in there, he had been attracted to a female plain-clothes police officer, who he thought might have been a drag queen, but in the process accidentally touched the male plain-clothes policeman. An everyday story, I’m sure you’ll agree. However this wasn’t revealed until much later. Mac offers us male officers wearing female garb, because his gay men always wear female garb.

143: Police - Marc

by Marc Boxer in "The Guardian" 15 May 1984

Police entrapment was now a commonplace. And so Marc can have his characters toss off this rather jaded observation of the current state of affairs. This is all inspired by the particular case of Keith Hampson (see below). What may be even more interesting is the three characters on display: a slightly paunchy but twinkly-eyed clone in check shirt, what I assume is supposed to a Radclyffe Hall-type lesbian, and the dinner-jacketed policeman in the background. This is a very odd selection –particularly since Marc is usually prided for his observation of social styles and groups.

Keith Hampson, the Conservative MP for Leeds, was arrested by a plain-clothes policeman at the Gay Theatre Club (a male striptease show) in Berwick Street, Soho on 3 May 1984.
Hampson was charged with indecent assault but after much media attention the charge was eventually dropped in October. This incident provoked an outcry by many against the practice of police entrapment. Even Tories defended Hampson, and an editorial in “The Times” claimed that the public might wish “to see even homosexuals fairly treated”

Sunday, 22 June 2008

142: Police - Michael Heath 4

in "Private Eye" 23 March 1984

in "Private Eye" 28 December 1984

141: Police - Michael Heath 3

in "Private Eye" 10 August 1984

in "Private Eye" 5 April 1985

Saturday, 21 June 2008

140: Police - Stan McMurtry

by Stan MacMurtry (aka “Mac” of the “Daily Mail”) in “Punch” 16 December 1981

A temporary diversion from cruising in toilets and police persecution. This is from a 2-page spread, “Four Minute Warning”, about the last minutes before nuclear annihilation. And so: a belated declaration of love. Why policemen? Why in front of the Prime Minister’s residence? Maybe inappropriateness of lovers combined with the sombre propriety of the backdrop to kick up the surprise of the gag. But here it is. Make of it what you will.

Friday, 20 June 2008

139: Police - Michael Heath 2

As awareness grew about police patrolling cottaging, there also grew an awareness about police entrapment, where plain-clothes police would entice gay men.

in “Private Eye” 2 November 1984
Although this one might possibly be in relation to some revelation about gay policemen?

in “Private Eye” 16 November 1984

138: Police - Michael Heath 1

From Michael Heath's long-running strip "The Gays" in "Private Eye". When I was first browsing through these strips I thought they were just casually put together examinations of the new cliches about modern gay life. It now looks as though many of them were inspired by current topical events and scandals. I suspect that if anyone cared to read through copies of "Gay news" from the same time they could pin-point dozens of allusions to particular accounts.

in “Private Eye” 9 September 1983

in “Private Eye” 1 June 1984

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

137: Police - JAK

Raymond Jackson (JAK) in the “Standard” 20 August 1981

It’s that man JAK again. And he’s actually using the cliché tagline from the end of my waffle about “In Sickness and In Health”. Well, it seemed inevitable somebody would immortalise it in print. And JAK is just the sort of man to really mean it, too.

This cartoon is produced in response to Livingstone’s speech at the Harrow Gay Unity Group in August 1981 where he said “Everyone is bisexual”, and which also provoked various humorous squibs such as this "Private Eye" cover.

We’ve seen other bits and pieces about gay policeman, (including this later one by JAK too) but I think at this time in the early 80s there’s an ever so slightly nastier undercurrent. Aside from all the details of a police locker room that looks more like a drag queen’s changing room is an assumption that, despite how frivolous and effeminate all this seems, homosexual men really do need policing. There’s no mention of cottaging and sex, but since it these activities which make gay men are criminals, then policemen at this time would seem the natural opposition to be homosexually co-opted for maximum satirical effect.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

136: Cottaging - David Austin

And here are a few cartoons dancing around the idea of cottaging by David Austin (March 29 1935 - November 19 2005)

in "The Spectator" 30 October 1982

Note the jeans, cropped haircuts and moustache. Unlike Heath, whose “The Gays” strip was running at this time, Austin has got the casual clone-about-town look of this time down. “W.C”. is water-closet, another name for toilet, if you don’t already know. And we’ve seen a similar take on the same joke in Not the Nine O’Clock News’s “Gay Christian Sketch” – since of all the possible malapropisms or verbal stumbles, “come out of the toilet” is too close to an allusion on cottaging to be accidental.
The tension in the joke lies in the use of the phrase "coming out of the closet", the strong allusion to sx sex in toilets, and the overall mood of the piece as harmless wistful nostalgia.

in "Private Eye" 18 June 1982

There did indeed used to be a height requirement for policemen in the UK. My father's friend was a bit too short and it's aggravated him for the last forty years.

What cottaging also does in the public mind is take homosexuality from a realm of having been theoretically criminal, as it was in the past – just to be homosexual was illegal - and now gives it a description as a criminal activity which can monitored and judged. Pre-1968 it was all a little too metaphysical as crimes go, and polite society wasn’t paying attention to what was going on in toilets. The cartoons we saw by Larry from the 60s about police chasing down gay lovers were rather ridiculous. Now that the condition of homosexuality is legal, it is those specific activities taking place in toilets constituting “gross offences” which can be policed. Complementing its illegality, as far as public distaste goes, sex and toilets only heighten the unpleasantness of each other.
And so starting from here we have gay men and policeman tied together for comic effect for the next decade or so.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

135: Cottaging - Michael Heath

I haven’t really got much to say about these. Here are some cartoons about wanting or having sex in toilets.

The ‘70s in Britain had seen two contradictory trends about homosexuality develop together. The first was the burgeoning of a forthright sexual identity asserted by openly gay men. The other trend, picking up at the end of the decade was a succession of immense scandals, in which the homosexuality of the individuals involved was not merely a salacious spice, but some integral element which had underpinned their other actions (Thorpe, assorted spies). These two conflicting concepts of sexuality and shameful furtiveness combine to find some magical expression in cottaging. Suddenly, being a gay man means you enjoy hiding yourself away in toilets, not gay clubs, looking for immediate and anonymous sexual gratification.

Of course I do simplify, and it’s in the nature of cartoons to want to look for the most extreme representation. And indeed, how much is a straight cartoonist really going to know about gay clubs. Harvey Kurtzman’s “Annie Fanny” instalment wasn’t terribly successful, although Christopher Browne’s “The Baths” in “National Lampoon” will do a slightly belated but better job.

Well, maybe I had a little something to say after all.

Michael Heath in “The Spectator” 4 July 1981

“The Romans in Britain” was a contemporary play running at the National Theatre. It featured a notorious but simulated male rape which incensed Mary Whitehouse into provoking a case against the National Theatre for “procuring an act of gross indecency”. “Gross indecency” being the legal term for what the two chappies in the toilet cubicle might otherwise be engaged in if they weren’t having a consenting conversation about contemporary drama.

Michael Heath, “The Gays” in “Private Eye” 29 January 1982

Michael Heath in “Punch” 9 February 1983

And this one is about the absolute absence of sex. A typical downtrodden, miserable dumpy sad-sack Heath-man gets a valentines slid under his cubicle door. Possibly some association between anonymous sex / anonymous Valentines.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

134: Tom Driberg 6

in “Punch” 20 march 1984

It’s a common comic practice to exploit some famous name’s associations for instant recognition (i.e Sylvia Plath – British Gas Spokeswoman for 1963). In 1984, some seven years after the publication of “Ruling Passions”, it’s still Tom Driberg whom the humorists of “Punch” think of when they’re searching for the celebrity whose name will best encapsulate and evoke predatory homosexual lavatorial fumblings. Some reputation and legacy.

Monday, 9 June 2008

133: Tom Driberg 5 - Peter Cook

From "Monday Morning Feeling" in “The Daily Mail”, 27 June 1977


I am sorry Tom Driberg, or Lord Bradwell as the old snob became, has left out all the really juicy bits from his autobiography “Ruling Passions”, the highly enjoyable story of a poof with a sense of humour who spent a great deal of time picking up working-class lads in public lavatories. He tells us almost nothing of his infinitely more interesting activities with his colleagues in the Labour Patty, not to mention his dealings with certain prominent Tories. Being a man of wide-ranging interests it would not surprise me if he'd been on more than nodding terms with members of the Liberal Party.

As a matter of fact, a predilection for working-class youths is probably as good a reason as any for joining the labour movement. Alas, I was too middle-class for Tom and he never made the remotest pass at me - apart from one rather lingering handshake when he delivered his excellent crossword to “Private Eye”. At his burial, there was a very dignified Mass. When the body had been sprinkled with Holy Water and the black cloth removed from the coffin, the Red Flag was revealed. I don't think this joke was up to Tom's real standards. I had been hoping for a naked working-class lad to spring from under the shroud and shout some slogan for Gay Lib.


Despite the use of the rough-and-ready language typical of the ‘70s, this is a largely affectionate memoir by Cook, the proprietor of “Private Eye”. Certainly, the humorists and satirists of “Private Eye” are a lot more charitable and understanding towards Driberg than the moralising journalists who reviewed “Ruling Passions” ever were. Maybe they found him ridiculous and unreliable, and they’re far from respectful, but they acknowledged he was he was part of real life. Thier jokes about the satisfactions of lust are hoteful. The newspaper reviewers of “Ruling Pasions” also knew Driberg personally, but they chose instead to pour from a height of disgust such venomous obliquy and condemnation as to bury what remained of him under a reputation as a filthy sexual offender in stark 20-point newsprint.

The gibe about “Liberals” may be either a sarcasm about the uselessness of the Liberals, or an allusion to the revelations of homosexual intrigues surrounding Jeremy Thorpe slowly trickling out for the last year or so.

132: Tom Driberg 4 - Auberon Waugh and Nicolas Bentley

from "Auberon Waugh's Diary" in “Private Eye” 28 October 1977

A group of Tom's friends are getting together for a Tom Driberg Memorial Lavatory, or "cottage" , as he called it, to be built on the Westminster Embankment - scene of so many romantic encounters.
Designed as a Puseyite Oratory, it will provide a convenient meeting place for MPs to sharpen their social awareness and generally to practise compassion with like-minded tramps and derelicts of the neighbourhood. It will be equipped with copies of the Bible and Karl Marx and a Division Bell in every cubicle.


An ironic encapsulation of so many elements of Driberg’s character.

The illustration is by Nicolas Bentley. Offering two gentlemen with bouffant hair and high heels, handbags and hands upon hips. The slightly rougher nature of the gentleman just zipping his jeans up is probably in tribute to Driberg’s particular tastes. And of course the suggestion that sex is happening just off sight.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

131: Tom Driberg 3

- Barry Fantoni in “Private Eye” 8 July 1977

I hope it isn’t really necessary that I have to point out that this is a play on words involving the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” but I just have anyway.
Driberg was indeed known to a younger of journalists with whom he was friendly as “Uncle Tom”. And it was “Ruling Passions” that gave everyone the word “cottaging” where previously it had been only a minority sport. Such admirable frankness.

130: Tom Driberg 2

-Marc Boxer in “The Times”, June 1976.
Reprinted in “The Times We Live In”, 1978.

Hey look, it’s a cartoon about homosexual toilet-solicitation in the pages of the “Times”. (Well, its about an agent looking for equally salacious gossip in hopes of garnering a new bestseller. So, some satire of the rapacious nature of literary agents in there too, if you want.But you don't get one without the other.)
Boxer had tried a cartoon about a piece of gossip about Jeremy Thorpe as gay toilet graffiti a couple of years earlier and it had been struck down. Of course, it may have been fear of the mountainous Lord Goodman taking action on Thorpe’s behalf that got that one censored.
But prior to this, I can’t find a single cartoon among the couple of hundred or so I’ve got from the ‘60s and ‘70s that hint at naughty toilet activities.
Thanks, Lord Bradwell.

129: Tom Driberg 1

in "Private Eye" 20 August 1976

Amidst all the typical puns and boys’ humour about homosexuals are a few facts:
The first that most people knew about Driberg’s homosexuality was when he had the unusual honour of being outed in his “Times” obituary.
The vigorously socialist Driberg had been made a peer, becoming Baron Bradwell of Bradwell-juxta-Mare in 1976.
There is some associational punning in “Gladwell” since Tom Robinson’s song “Glad to Be Gay” had hit the charts earlier in the year.
Much Gay Lib and Campaign for Homosexual Equality propaganda at this time was about how homosexuals were just like everybody else.

Driberg had a long association with “Private Eye”, being one of the elderly mischief-makers of previous generations that its editors liked to collect in its early years. Driberg liked to spread salacious gossip but he was too unreliable to be truly trusted, though he tried to tip them off to Jeremy Thorpe’s inclinations. As “Tiresias” Driberg contributed to “Private Eye” one of the most difficult yet obscene crosswords ever attempted: “Seamen mop up anal infusions (6)” = ENEMAS; “Stiff enough to transmit electricity" (8) = ERECTION; “Sounds as if you must look behind for this lubricant" (5) = SEBUM.
One piece of gossip, is that Richard Ingrams as editor of “Private Eye” forbad any member of his staff to travel alone with Driberg for fear they would succumb to his sexual predations.

Tom Driberg primer

Tom Driberg had a fascinating life, leading an exciting continent-spanning career in which he knew many of the best and most interesting people. But, as far as this blog is concerned, our particular interest is going to be the consequences of the revelation of his almost fanatical devotion to sucking strangers off in toilets, and so adding one tiny sexual activity more to the acknowledged facts of life.

When it comes to toilet-trade, nowadays Joe Orton is the unabashed king of cottaging. But it was the publication of Driberg’s posthumous memoir “Ruling Passions” in 1977, that first pushed the goings-on in the nation’s public conveniences under the populaces’ nose. Tom Driberg was such a prominent figure of mid/later 20th Century that his memoirs were guaranteed to be a significant event. He had been a Member of Parliament and been one of the hearty beasts of the Labour Party, he had been a successful journalist and columnist, and he moved in every social circle imaginable. Peers, the great politicians and writers, leading criminals and homosexuals, Fleet Street hacks and satirists, Communists and clergymen – Driberg knew and mixed with them all. However, the general public did not know the half of this. Of course, certain more respectable circles tired to overlook Driberg’s less salubrious contacts; while those on the more criminous side of the divide who benefited from Driberg’s acquaintance also sought to avoid broadcasting this fact for Tom’s sake. So on both sides there was a policy of managed silence and discretion, let alone taking into account those powerful figures in politics and the media who could protect him. Tom himself was the very soul of indiscretion, which was why he got others to protect him. This was why Driberg’s homosexual and voracious cottaging (which nearly got him arrested on numerous occasions) had remained an open secret for so many years. Those who knew knew, everyone else didn’t. Cottage was something that grubby little men you didn't know got arrested for, and it was reported in rather veiled language in the backpages of the newspapers, so no-one really had to know what was going. No-one nice and polite really had a chance to be offended by unseemly knowldge

In his last years Driberg began to write his memoirs, thereby giving the willies to many leading public figures, but he died in 1976 before he could properly finish them. Then in 1977 the existing manuscript was published as “Ruling Passions” to multitudinous horror. In it he revealed not only that he was a practising homosexual, but quite shockingly how he went about practising it. Like the dullest biography of any major politician, it was only to be expected that “Ruling Passions” would be plastered over the review pages of the country’s foremost newspapers and magazines. What wasn’t expected was that amid so much typical recounting of early political and social adventuring and the swell of 20th century history, would be threaded so much avid recounting of past lavatory pick-ups. Cottaging might have been a grubby secret, but it was now a grubby secret familiar to everyone who picked up the newspapers and magazines for the next couple of weeks.

Because it was so blatantly and scandalously newsworthy, it was now one more weapon in the arsenal of comedians and cartoonists, where previously it would have been beyond the pale (I have some censored cartoons relating to the Jeremy Thorpe affair to prove this). This acknowledgement of cottaging is Driberg’s great bequest to British life. When Orton’s biography and journals were published, Driberg had already played the role of John the Baptist as regards the strange mating habits of consenting males in toilets.

Where too often representations of homosexuals in the ‘70s in Britain were either refined aesthetes who knew Wilde, Gide and assorted Bloomsburries, or else fey, swishy overly-styled but unsexual creatures (as seen in Puns 1 and Puns 2), suddenly gays come out of the Water Closet. Some small veil of taste and reticence had been forever ripped away and some new area for rough comedy was now available. Whatever the links between homosexuals and toilets may have been in some minds previously, Driberg made it a common coin.

Tom Driberg (22 May 1905 – 12 August 1976)

128: Puns 2

The other visual-punning trick used by cartoonists is to take something that almost sounds like “gay” and then illustrate comedically it as interpreted through a matrix of homosexual signifiers, or if you prefer just make it look as though it actually were gay, i.e “Oklahomo”.

- Michael Heath in “Private Eye” 7 March 1975

So we get “Gay the Gorilla”. Guy the Gorilla was one of the most famous animals at the London Zoo from the 1940s-‘70s.

- Michael Heath in “Private Eye” 28 October 1977

Bonfire night is November 5 in Britain, when effigies of Guy Fawkes are burnt in to celebrate his unsuccessful attempt to blow up Parliament. It used to be a common feature of life that in the days leading up to Bonfire Night children would parade their dummies, importuning passers-by, “Penny for the Guy?”

- Barry Fantoni in “Private Eye” 9 November 1979

Richard Ingrams, the editor of “Private Eye”, either forgot that he had already run the joke once or else thought it such a great gag that it deserved repeating.

See how in all three it's the same thing about the eyes and mouth which indicates that they're gay.

127: Puns 1

We’re seen cartoonist literalise some phrase for comic effect, i.e “Roaring Poof”
A similar technique is, when some word of longstanding use acquires a new trendy or slangy meaning, to illustrate old phrases in this new light. So humorists and comics exhume quotes and sayings featuring the word “gay” but now give it an obvious homosexual twist or flourish. What follow all date from the 70s, when the public and the humorists who serve it had distinct ideas as to what distinguished this newly emergent and proud socio-sexual demographic. Who knows, 30-40 or so years ago this may have seemed strikingly novel, although today it seems rather laboured. Even as a boy in the early ‘80s, Larry Grayson’s catchphrase of “What a gay day!” seemed to be more of a Pavlov’s bell rung for the more lumpen propulace than anything actually entertaining.

from “Photopoetry” in “Mad” June 1972

- Edward McLachlan in “Private Eye” 13 July 1973

The Gay Gordons is a Scottish highland dance, alluding to the Gordon Highlanders regiment. So here it’s male couples with effeminate eyelashes, making pursed lipsticked pouts at each other, turning vigorous highland dancing into something more intimate and sissified. “Oh God! Not again!” could be a reaction to homosexuality, or that these Gay Gordons appear again and again. If you like, and given McLachlan’s style of humour, there could even be a suggestion that they’re all gay and they’re all called Gordon.

- Nick Baker in “Private Eye” 24 January 1975

Since “South Park”, a gay dog probably now means to most people an actual homosexual dog. But it did used to have the meaning of being “a dashing young blade about town”. Here, in the ‘70s, when Mr Humphries is the foremost gay representation, we get a beribboned and lipsticked dog with over-styled hair, sauntering on its hindquarters so it can hold one paw on its hip and the other outstretched rather limply, whilst swinging a handbag.

And if only to prove that this appropriation of the “Gay Dog” phrase is not just a one-off, here’s a little bit of dialogue from the original broadcast of “The Goodies” 1971 episode “Kitten Kong”, excised from the 1972 Montreaux Award-winning version. The Goodies have become pet sitters (transcript from )

As Graeme opens the door to take the kitten out for his exercise, there is a loud barking and he slams the door shut again.
"What's that?" he gibbers, "What's that monster on the landing?"
"That's a Great Dane," says Tim.
"It's as big as a horse!" protests Graeme, adding "I'm not going out there - it looks fierce."
"Well it isn't," Tim assures him, "In fact that's its problem. It's not terribly butch."
"Isn't it?" asks Graeme.
"No," confirms Tim, "As a matter of fact it's ..."; he whispers in Graeme's ear.
"It's not is it?" asks an amazed Graeme.
"As a row of pink tents," assures Tim.
"You mean a Great Dane that's ..." says Graeme
Tim completes the sentence, "A bit of a gay dog!"
"Will you get off ..." says Graeme.

- “Kitten Kong”, 12 November 1971