ARTHUR: A naked man is funny whereas, with a naked woman, there are different things going on.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Why?
ARTHUR: Well… because of the evil that is Man.
COPSTICK: A round of applause, please. The feminist contingent has arrived.
ARTHUR: Well, I do consider myself a feminist. When I arrived at university in 1974, there was a woman setting up The Women’s Liberation Society. You only had to think about it. Men had been oppressing women for thousands of years and she was absolutely right.
I always thought that the feminist ethos would continue more. For example, the ‘Ms’ thing. Fair enough. Why does a woman have to announce her marital status on a form by being Miss or Mrs? Men don’t have to. So I just assumed Ms would become standard, but it didn’t.
I assumed that the Feminist revolution, for want of a better word, would continue, but then Lad Culture suddenly appeared, courtesy of Frank Skinner and David Baddiel amongst others. And porn was alright.
COPSTICK: Porn IS alright!
ARTHUR: Yeah, but… I’m not suggesting porn should be illegal, but it’s another area of controversy.
COPSTICK: But I’m not talking about the Erotic Review. I’m talking about hard core porn. Proper hard core, you know? Every industry has its sleazy end. I know nothing about the illegal stuff. I’m talking about… The mainstream porn industry is where the one group of people who can turn up on a set with a list of what they will do and what they won’t do is the women. And that list is adhered to.
A very good friend of mine does everything. She does things probably none of the lovely people here could even imagine.
JOHN: Such as?
COPSTICK: Have you ever seen a cream pie?
ARTHUR: Oh, I’ve heard of that one. There’s a woman I know who’s actually quite well-known who said Ooh, I’ve seen this lovely profiterole. I’ve got me eye on it. I didn’t understand what she was talking about, but… she… she doesn’t eat it. Let’s put it like that.
COPSTICK: My friend does double-anal, she does double-pussy, she does cream pie, she does everything.
ARTHUR: With profiteroles?
COPSTICK: Well, there’s somebody there balancing them on a tray on his dick.
JOHN: And then?
ARTHUR: Is this comedy or porn?
COPSTICK: Oh, it’s porn.
ARTHUR: It sounds quite funny, doesn’t it?
COPSTICK: She’ll do all these things, but she doesn’t like anyone playing with her nipples. So, on her list of things the guys are not allowed to do, none of them are allowed to go anywhere near her nipples, no matter what else they are doing… And, if they do, she can stop the scene. The women are not downtrodden in porn… I haven’t convinced you, Arthur?
JOHN: Few people know you’re in the erotic industry.
COPSTICK: I thought we were talking about Arthur.
JOHN: Few people know you were in the erotic industry, Arthur.
COPSTICK: It is the danglies. Little squishy things that dangle are quite funny.
ARTHUR: Well, the testicles and penis are slightly silly things. The rest of your body doesn’t have things hanging off. You look at them and you think What the hell are…
COPSTICK: One wonders what Mother Nature was thinking… And there are an increasing number of chaps in really quite middle-of-the-road comedy shows who, at the end of the show, just randomly get their knobs out.
If I was male and I was going to get my knob out, I would want to know that people were going to have to gasp Whoaaah! but none of them are. Maybe it’s just a comedian thing. They’re all…
Over 50 years ago, comedian Peter Cook’s comedy club was one of the multi-media trio which created the satire boom in the early 1960s.
There was live comedy at Peter Cook’s club The Establishment; there was Peter Cook’s Private Eye magazine; and, on TV, there was That Was The Week That Was – the original pilot for the show had been a series of satirical sketches based on The Establishment Club. When Cook was in New York, performing in Beyond The Fringe, the BBC re-fashioned the show and replaced Peter Cook with David Frost. Cook later half-jokingly complained that Frost’s subsequent success was based on copying his (Cook’s) own stage persona and that his only regret in life had been once saving Frost from drowning.
The original Establishment Club started in London in August 1961 and lasted until 1964. It was at 18 Greek Street in Soho which, before that, had been the Club Tropicana boasting an All Girl Strip Revue. Cook replaced the sign with one saying London’s First Satirical Nightclub. It is now the Zebrano Bar.
And now The Establishment club has been re-started by amiable Laughing Stock record label boss Mike O’Brien, who has a treasure trove of early alternative comedy club recordings… by actor/comedian Keith Allen, with whom I worked at Noel Gay Television around 1989… and by journalist Victor Lewis-Smith who also produces TV programmes.
Victor (an otherwise entirely admirable chap) once threatened me with legal action for uploading onto YouTube a sales tape for a planned documentary by Keith Allen about comedian Malcolm Hardee’s funeral. I thought this was an over-reaction, as what I uploaded was what his company were using to try to generate interest in the suggested programme from TV broadcast companies. The documentary eventually failed to find a buyer and the full footage of the funeral and its aftermath still languishes unseen on a shelf somewhere; it had originally been planned for Channel 4 transmission but the TV station backed-out, I am told, because Malcolm was “not well-known enough”.
But, anyway, this highly creative trio have re-started The Establishment club in Soho.
According to Keith Allen last night: “We’re trying to re-open the Establishment Club at its old premises in Greek Street as a members’ club. The idea is that we will create a room where you can come in and your expectations will be undermined. Anything can happen. It might involve somebody coming up and talking about something very interesting and pertinent and you listening; it might involve you dancing; it might involve you doing anything. Anything is possible. And the time is right, now, to make sure that anything can be possible. Which is why we’re doing the Establishment Club.”
For the moment, though, there are planned monthly performances at Ronnie Scott’s Club in Frith Street.
On their opening night this week – on Wednesday – they had comedians Terry Alderton, Arnold Brown, Phil Nichol and others, plus ex-rogue MP George Galloway saying he thought Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was innocent of the rape allegations he now faces. According to the review in today’s Independent by Julian Hall, a former judge for the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards, “ultimately, this tribute to Pete was a dud”.
I was unable to go to the opening night but did go last night with low expectations and I thought they managed to pull off the almost impossible. They have re-imagined The Establishment for 2012. They have the makings of a very entertaining and potentially even occasionally controversial comedy club here. Except it is not a comedy club.
Miss Behave at the Malcolm Hardee Awards last month
At the Edinburgh Fringe this year, I saw what appears to be the rise of Cabaret with acts and shows like Dusty Limits, East End Cabaret, Lili La Scala’s Another Fucking Variety Show, Mat Ricardo’s Voodoo Varieties, and Tricity Vogue’s Ukelele Cabaret providing more laughs, entertainment and originality than, arguably, most stand-up comedy.
Indeed, the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards Show this year was compered not by a stand-up comic but by cabaret legend Miss Behave and it was more a cabaret variety show than a stand-up comedy show.
So, last night, The Establishment did have two excellent stand-ups on – Scott Capurro and Paul Sinha – but they also had their house jazz band, the James Pearson Trio plus comedian Lee Kern with a video story about Twitter and the astonishingly good (and strangely un-introduced) Dickie Beau performing a red-haired, red-costumed drag act mimed to genuine recordings of an increasingly drunken Judy Garland.
We also had Ophelia Bitz screening a sadly ineffective compilation of early 20th century hard core porn films involving fellatio and cunnilingus (neither erotic nor, to a 2012 Establishment audience, shocking) but – again on the Rise-of-Cabaret theme – performing some stonkingly good songs… In my opinion, anyone who manages to rhyme “cunnilingus” with “music by Mingus” at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club is worth the entire price of admission.
And then we come to what were, to me, the two most interesting ‘acts’ of the night.
The Strypes are an astonishingly good 4-piece rock band from Cavan in Ireland. Keith Allen introduced them as having an average age of 14 though, on Irish TV’s Late Late Show in April, they were said to have an average age of 15. But, whatever, they are very young and very, very talented. Like all starters, they are copying. There are bits of the Rolling Stones, bits of the Beatles, bits of Jimi Hendrix, even bits (I thought) of the Velvet Underground – the shades of the lead singer.
But, strutting and posing and staring, they have an extraordinary presence. Keith Allen introduced them by saying to the audience:
“You know one of them is going to end up on the crack pipe. One of them is going to ‘come out’ and ignore his female fanbase. And one is obviously going to end up on heroin. You decide which one it’s gonna be…”
They have a very strong drummer and a very strong bass player holding everything together. An amazing, charismatic-voiced lead singer. And a lead guitarist to die for, mixing Keith Richard stares with soaring fluid guitar and dropping-to-the-knees Jimi Hendrix moments.
They are amazing. They are copying, but copying from the best with years to develop. They believe in what they act out. They are living the dream.
Last night, The Strypes also performed what was, to my ears, a version of My Generation better than The Who’s version.
The other extraordinary ‘performer’ at The Establishment last night was Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who was sacked in October 2004.
He, like George Galloway, believes that Julian Assange is not guilty of the rape charges. (I am not so sure myself.)
Craig Murray said last night that he believes there is “a really strange alliance between the liberal/Left Guardianista Establishment and the Right Wing Murdoch commentariat to attack Assange. Even suggesting he might be innocent seems to be somehow socially disgraceful, something you’re not allowed to say in the media. I’m pretty convinced he’s innocent.
“I came across Extraordinary Rendition, torturing people to get intelligence, shipping people into Uzbekistan in order for them to be tortured… So I resigned and blew the whistle, which any honest person would do. But I found myself immediately charged with sexual allegations. I was charged with issuing visas in return for sexual favours.
“All of these people blew the whistle and all of these people, in the week following blowing the whistle, were charged with unrelated criminal offences. And that’s what ‘they’ do. All the male ones were of a sexual nature.
“It’s extraordinary that this happens so often to whistleblowers and people just don’t see it. I know, because they did it to me, what they’re doing to Julian. And the media should damn well know it too, but the media doesn’t publish it. What I’ve just said about all these people who, one after the other, have been charged with sexual offences after blowing the whistle… Has anyone read that in the mainstream media? No. Because the bastards will not publish it.”
“Are all whistle-blowers perverts?” someone shouted out from the audience.
“Well,” said Craig Murray, “it’s extraordinary that that narrative could be accepted. I was fighting the government like hell over Extraordinary Rendition and arms in Iraq. In the middle of that fight, did I suddenly decide I was going to blackmail a visa applicant into sex? Brigadier Janis Karpinski – the senior female in the American Army – she blew the whistle on Rumsfeld’s torture techniques – did she actually come home and the very next day decide to go shoplifting?
“It makes no bloody sense. And yet the media accept these stupid narratives. For me, it’s very scary. I don’t think people realise the extent to which the corporate ownership of the media combines with an ultra-corrupt political elite who have poisoned our society.
“I blew the whistle on torture. People were being boiled alive. I mean it. People were boiled alive. I actually got a pathology report on dissidents who were boiled alive in Uzbekistan. They had a factory, in effect. And it wasn’t just there. Mubarak was doing it (in Egypt). Gaddafy was doing the same (in Libya). These dictators were boiling people alive, were torturing people for the CIA, for MI6, who were shipping people around in order to be tortured, in order to get intelligence which exaggerated the strength of al-Queda, which exaggerated the Islamic threat.
“And the reason for that is the government was using that largely invented threat in order to clamp down on civil liberties and opposition at home.
“We are besieged by a single narrative in the media. All we have is social media, the internet, to fight against it and try to build up networks for a wider dialogue. I’m certainly hoping that what you’re doing with The Establishment club will give a chance for people like me – who have got something strange and different to say, something that you don’t get to hear every day on the normal media – to come along and say it.”
I should mention, here, that I do not necessarily agree with everything I quote other people as saying in this blog, but that last bit about The Establishment club I agree with.
Long live The Establishment club!
Though I am old enough to know that hoping is not the same as getting…
I have worked as a researcher and sub-editor for BBC TV News (via their old Ceefax teletext service) and, briefly, in the newsrooms at Anglia TV, Granada TV and ITN. I have known a lot of journalists. But even I was shocked by the News of the World and other tabloids’ amorality.
I don’t mean the telephone hacking scandal which has now seen Rupert Murdoch close down Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper.
I mean the cheap Killer Bitch movie and Katie Price’s ex-husband Alex Reid being caught on camera with his trousers down.
Police corruption comes later in this blog.
In what must have been a moment of madness I financed Killer Bitch without reading the script (look, it was cheap) and I was away at the Edinburgh Fringe for weeks when shooting started.
While I was away, a sex scene was shot between Alex Reid and the lead actress, the director’s girlfriend/partner.
Alex Reid’s chum/manager asked the director if it was OK to have a photographer on set that day – not to take photos of the sex scene itself but just of Alex arriving, being on-set, being glamorous. The director said Yes.
And, of course, when the sex scene happened, click-click-click and off in a corner Alex’s photographer goes to e-mail out his photos.
What the director didn’t know was that the manager guy had, all week, been playing-off the News of the World against The People to get a higher price for the sex scene pictures. The People ran their photos on the cover and in an “exclusive” double-page spread that Sunday.
But the News of the World, unknown to anyone else, had secretly set up a hidden camera in the grotto where filming took place. They took their own photos and ran a single-page ’spoiler’ about “sickening footage” in the “vile and degrading hardcore porn film” in which Alex had been involved in a “disgusting rape”.
In fact, it wasn’t a rape scene at all. Never was. Never scripted as rape (I read that bit later); wasn’t shot as rape; wasn’t edited as rape. I saw the uncut footage when I came back from Edinburgh and it simply wasn’t rape.
But, bizarrely, journalists often believe what they read in tabloid newspapers, so this story about the vile rape scene in a hardcore porn movie (which is wasn’t) quickly spread across the world, sometimes using the same words the original News of the World had used.
The movie, which had only just started shooting and which was months away from being edited, was reviled as “violent porn” by The Times of India, a “vile and degrading movie” on Australia’s Perth Now website and “violent, aggressive… icky stuff” by TheHollyoodGossip.com. Back home, totally unseen, the Daily Mirror slammed it as “a sick movie” with “vile scenes…stomach churning”
Fair enough. Good publicity for a small film, though sadly much too early to profit from.
Two weeks later, The Peopleran a new cover story and two-page spread about how Alex Reid had “returned” to the Killer Bitch set “to shoot more torrid outdoor sex shots”. This had never happened. It was a complete fiction. But The Peoplehad detailed descriptions, actual photos from this supposed second sex scene (they were re-cycled from the original scene) and they even had a direct quote from the director saying, “I can confirm that Alex filmed these scenes within the last seven days”.
The director told me not only that The People had never talked to him about this alleged re-shoot but, at that point in time, he had never actually talked to anyone at the newspaper about the film ever.
Obviously, you expect to be mis-quoted and have your words twisted by newspapers. Now, it seems, it’s common to simply make up entirely fictional stories.
The New York Daily News correctly reported that “the film’s producers don’t seem bothered by the publicity.”
Fair enough. Publicity is publicity.
But just as the Stephen Lawrence affair, to my mind, was not about racism but about police corruption – an investigating policeman was paid-off by the father of one of the accused – the current News of the World scandal is not about phone hacking but about endemic police corruption.
Two days ago, I saw a Sky News double interview with, on the one hand, Brian Paddick, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and on the other ex News of the World journalist Paul McMullan.
McMullan could be seen almost literally biting his tongue off after he said that, if you were investigating police corruption, the only way to find out the facts was to talk to other policemen. As they might lose their jobs by dishing the dirt on fellow officers, they could not be expected to do this for free or for a few pounds and it was not unreasonable to pay them £20,000 or £30,000.
This figure was picked up by the interviewer.
Brian Paddick, who was basically defending the Met, said this was terrible but “clearly everyone has their price”.
This is an interesting thing to say because it is an acceptance by a former senior Met officer that, if the price is high enough, any Metropolitan policeman can be bought.
Yesterday’s London Evening Standard led on a story that “Corrupt Met police received more than £100,000 in unlawful payments from senior journalists and executives at the News of the World.”
It also claimed that two senior Scotland Yard detectives investigating the phone hacking scandal held back: “Assistant Commissioners Andy Hayman and John Yates were both scared the News of the World would expose them for allegedly cheating on their wives if they asked difficult questions of the Sunday tabloid.”
Today’s Guardian says: “Some police sources suggested there was no evidence yet that officers had actually received the payments and what would also be investigated was whether the journalists involved had kept the money themselves.”
Obviously some Met officer here, limbering up for a career as a stand-up comic.
Police in the UK taking bribes? Shock! horror! – And the Pope is a Catholic?
The system-wide corruption within the Metropolitan Police in the 1960s was supposedly partially cleaned-up.
On 4th December 1997, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon gave evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee and said there were around 100-250 corrupt officers in the Met. By “corrupt” he meant seriously corrupt – they dealt drugs, helped arrange armed robberies etc.
Condon is also the man who coined the phrase “noble cause corruption” – the idea that some police justifiably ‘bend the rules’ to get a conviction when officers ‘know’ the accused is guilty but do not have enough proof to convict. So it could be seen by some as “noble” to plant evidence, lie under oath and generally ‘fit up’ any ‘known villains’ when there is no actual evidence which would prove their guilt.
In Stoke Newington the police did, indeed, ‘fit up’ guilty drug dealers who would not otherwise have been imprisoned. But their motive was not to ‘clean up’ the area but to clear away the opposition as police officers were themselves dealing hard drugs. Whether this comes within Sir Paul Condon’s definition of “noble cause corruption” I am not sure.
In 1998, the Telegraph got hold of (and one wonders how) a confidential document containing the minutes of a meeting organised by the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS). It quoted this police document as saying: “corrupt officers exist throughout the UK police service… Corruption may have reached ‘Level 2’, the situation which occurs in some third world countries.”
I once asked someone who had managed a ‘massage parlour’ – in other words, a brothel – how he had avoided getting raided by the police. He looked at me as if I was mad:
“Cos we fucking paid the Old Bill and gave them free services,” he said.
In Britain today, it remains a fact of life – as it always has been throughout my life – that you always have to pay The Bill.
Last night’s TV news shows reported that today the police would arrest former News of the World editor Andy Coulson. Now where would they have got that story from? Only the police would know. And today he was arrested.
Was the tip-off paid-for or was it just a nudge-nudge case of You do me a favour; I’ll do you a favour?