Tag Archives: homosexual

Gay comic Sam See from Singapore is Coming Out Loud at Edinburgh Fringe

Comedian Sam See will be in Edinburgh this August but here he plays the Merry Lion in Singapore.

Scots comic Scott Agnew suggested Sam See from Singapore talk to me.

So we chatted via Skype…


Sam See at home in Singapore yesterday.

JOHN: Your show is called Coming Out Loud. Good title, because the audience knows what it’s going to get.

SAM: (LAUGHS) Dick jokes for an hour!

JOHN: Is there an elevator pitch for the show?

SAM: An openly gay comedian coming from a country where free speech and homosexuality is illegal… Expect dick jokes.

JOHN: Can you say free speech is illegal in Singapore?

SAM: No. In Singapore, I can’t say that free speech is illegal in Singapore. If you criticise the lack of free speech while you are here, you will be… erm… It’s a lovely irony.

JOHN: Is being gay totally illegal in Singapore?

SAM: Yes. It’s 100% illegal. The law itself is as vague as possible. It is basically the old-school English sodomy laws. It is illegal but…

JOHN: So how can you talk on stage about being gay if it’s illegal?

SAM: Because I am not yet popular or famous enough. On stage I always say I am gay. But, if they try to arrest me, I can say it is a character and then they would have to prove I’m gay which… well, good luck to them.

JOHN: So doing this chat with me could get you imprisoned…

SAM: It depends… They would need to prove I have done something untowards with another gentleman…

JOHN: You can say you are gay provided you’ve done nothing about it…?

SAM: Kinda. But, if you are on-stage saying it, they can still fine you or arrest you for homosexual propaganda or propagating that homosexuality is positive.

JOHN: Anyway, Coming Out Loud at the Edinburgh Fringe in August. Why?

SAM: A lot of Edinburgh regulars recommended I should give it a bash – Martin Mor told me: “Come over, Sam, do the full run, go crazy and lose money.”

I guess I have to. It’s the Hajj. It’s the Mecca for comics: we all have to do it once in our life. But I don’t understand how people can do it for 10 or 20 years: a whole month!

JOHN: It’s addictive.

Sam is gearing up for Edinburgh with a tour of South East Asia

SAM: I am doing a whole run shows around Asia before it. I am gearing up to play outside my comfort zone.

JOHN: You started performing comedy in 2012…

SAM: Yes. The comedy scene is Asia is less than ten years old.

JOHN: I presume, if you are gay, you can’t play China?

SAM: I can, actually. I have played Brunei, if you can believe that!

JOHN: Did they reverse the law about stoning people to death if they are gay?

SAM: It’s on hold. The law is technically not in effect but it has not been repealed. In very heavy Moslem areas like Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, I have to be really careful. If I play there, I try to play in embassies like the British or American so I have that clemency of being on international soil.

JOHN: Remembering this is going online, is it just a problem with Islam?

SAM: No. Myanmar is heavily Buddhist and they set people on fire. In China, they put people in re-education camps. There are heavy beliefs in this part of the world: whether religious or atheistic.

There was a chief from the UN who came down to Myanmar to investigate the Rohingya crisis and the chief Buddhist monk of Myanmer called her a slut and threatened to have her raped… Remember this is a man of peace.

JOHN: How do your audiences react to a gay comic?

SAM: They have changed over time. They don’t mind hearing about it; but not too much. When I first started, it was a combination of me not knowing how to tailor the material for the audiences and the audiences not being ready to receive such information. But I have become a more competent performer with time and they have grown with time.

Sam See or Woody Harrelson? You decide.

JOHN: People get pigeonholed. Who do people compare you with?

SAM: I see myself as a much longer-form Joan Rivers, more into storytelling and less insults. 

JOHN: Joan Rivers? So acid-tongued. 

SAM: Yes, acid-tongued, hopefully fast on my feet. But I’ve had comparisons to John Oliver; I’ve had Trevor Noah. For some reason, Woody Harrelson once.

JOHN: What???

SAM: I have no idea why. He is not known for his stand-up comedy!

JOHN: Are there many gay comics in Singapore and surrounds?

SAM: No. I am the one openly gay comedian. There are two who are closeted and one bisexual, but she is more into poetry than stand-up.

JOHN: I presume no-one is admitting to being lesbian?

SAM: None of the locals. There are some expats who come to Asia, do stand-up and say: “I’m proud to be a lesbian.” But then they move on.

JOHN: Things must be getting better. You have been on TV in a weekly Singapore panel show OK Chope!

SAM: No-one had really done the panel show format in the region before. There are variety show formats but not the traditional UK-style panel show. Host, regular panellists and rotating guest panellists.

JOHN: Did it work?

SAM: It was a mess, because it was a topical news show where we were not allowed to talk about news because… well… it’s Singapore.

It was a one-hour show transmitted live, with a zero second delay.

JOHN: Jesus! A zero second delay?

SAM: Yes. I am not kidding.

JOHN: This was actually transmitted? It wasn’t just a pilot?

SAM: Yes, a full season… 7.30pm prime time, before the watershed.

JOHN: Double Jesus!

SAM: We all managed to drink in the afternoon before we shot it.

JOHN: Did the TV company get nervous after Episode One?

SAM: Oh yes. Every week, we would have one of the government censors watching us from a booth. He would give us a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.

JOHN: But, if it’s live, it’s too late…

SAM: Well, too late for the show but not too late to put us in jail.

JOHN: And it ended because…

SAM: We made fun of the then Prime Minister of Malaysia who had been accused of being a thief and we made jokes about it and somehow he watched that episode.

JOHN: And the result was…?

SAM: He called our Prime Minister who took us off the air.

JOHN: So the series ended before it was due to end.

SAM: It happened on the last episode at the end of the season.

JOHN: So was someone being intentionally provocative?

Sam See addresses his audience

SAM: No, that whole segment had actually cleared the censors. It was just that, at the time, Malaysia was having an election, so they needed a scapegoat and a way to look strong. If they can get the neighbouring country to formally apologise to them, it makes them look powerful and in control.

JOHN: Do you have a 5-year career plan that starts in Edinburgh and ends in Las Vegas?

SAM: Well, it starts in Edinburgh and then I am in talks with some folks over in the United States for representation. 

JOHN: Presumably, like performers everywhere, you want to move to the US.

SAM: I don’t know. I think I would like to move to one of the other countries, but I would still make Singapore my home base because (a) it is my home and (b) the tax rates are better. (LAUGHS)

JOHN: I suspect Donald Trump thinks Singapore is somewhere in South America.

SAM: No. He knows where we are, because he started the North Korean treaties here.

JOHN: (LAUGHS) You should play North Korea!

SAM: You joke, but some of us have been thinking about it for a while. You just have to find an embassy that’s crazy enough to go along with the idea and just play it on embassy soil and don’t make jokes about the North Korean government or mention South Korea.

JOHN: Getting in might be a problem. And let’s not even fantasise about getting out. Singapore doesn’t have an embassy there, does it?

SAM: We can enter North Korea visa-free.

JOHN: Really???

SAM: Yes, we can just walk in on a holiday.

JOHN: Bloody hell!

 

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Filed under Censorship, Comedy, Gay, Singapore

Missing blogs, John Gielgud’s gay porn, James Bond’s toilet and Tony Hancock

John fleming - shocked look

Typical reaction to WordPress’ efficiency

My daily blog has not appeared for a couple of days because WordPress, which hosts it, had some technical problem which meant it was impossible for me to save or post anything. And, even if you pay them, they do not provide Support – you have to post on user forums with no guarantee of any response from anyone.

Giving them grief on Twitter seemed to have some slight effect – eventually. To a partial extent. I got this message:

Let us know if we can help with anything! Here’s how to export your content and take it with you.

I replied:

It might have been useful if WordPress could have sorted out the technical problem which means I cannot post any blogs. I might have thought WordPress would be more concerned with their software not working rather than helping people to leave.

After WordPress getting more Twitter and Reddit grief orchestrated by this blog’s South Coast correspondent, Sandra Smith, I got some reaction from a WordPress ‘staff’ member (whom you apparently can’t contact normally) – which was minimal and apparently transient, as I have heard no more from him.

But, about three hours later, when I tried again, the problem had disappeared. I had changed and done nothing. So I can only assume WordPress corrected the fault and never bothered to tell me.

As Facebook Friend Alias Robert Cummins succinctly put it: WordPress is amazingly shit, in all sorts of tiresome and complex ways, which I’d really rather not go into this late in the evening.

That is his real name, by the way – the one he was given at birth – Alias Robert Cummins. It is a bizarre story and one probably worth a blog at some point.

Anyway, the problem was eventually solved (I hope it has been, anyway) with the help not just of Sandra Smith but also the excellent cyber-guy and indefatigable Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show person Stephen O’Donnell.

John Ward toilet accessory with gun, silencer and loo roll

John Ward’s toilet accessory has a gun, silencer and loo roll

In the two days of missing blogs and navel-gazing, the world still turned, with John Ward, designer of the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards getting some publicity in Lincolnshire of all places because today the James Bond film SPECTRE is released and, a couple of years ago, John designed a combined gun-rack and toilet paper holder.

He used to own a gun licence himself: something that never made me sleep easy in bed.

When no new blogs were being posted the last couple of days, the old one getting most hits was last Wednesday’s blog, about David McGillivray’s new short film of a previously un-produced gay porn script Trouser Bar written in 1976 by Sir John Gielgud.

David Mcgillivray (left) during the filming with Nigel Havers

David McGillivray (left) during the filming with Nigel Havers

The film (still in post-production) includes performances by Julian Clary, Barry Cryer and Nigel Havers. One blog reader user-named ‘Ludoicah’ commented:

I’d say with a cast that includes Nigel Havers and Barry Cryer that there is zero chance of this being any sort of a porn film, gay or otherwise, and it is probably, at most, a mildly risqué sketch.

To which David McGillivray replied:

Incorrect. It’s utter filth, liable to deprave and corrupt. I was blindfolded while I was producing it.

Sir John Gielgud’s script was inspired, it seems, by his love of men in tight trousers, particularly trousers made from corduroy.

Last Thursday, the day after my blog on the film appeared, the following was posted (with photo) on Trouser Bar’s Facebook page:

Trouser Bar still - corduroy trousers

Trouser Bar still – corduroy trousers un-creamed by Sir John

I’ve just seen the rough cut. Sir John would have creamed his corduroy jeans at this close-up.

It also quoted Sir John’s letter to Paul Anstee of 19th October, 1958:

“The students at the schools and universities [in Pennsylvania] are a wonderful audience, and a good deal of needle cord manch is worn (very badly cut, and usually only partly zipped!) so my eyes occasionally wander.”

Also posted on the Trouser Bar Facebook page was this quote from a Galton and Simpson comedy script for Hancock’s Half Hour in 1958:

Sid: “Hilary St Clair.” 

Tony: “Hilary St Clair? I bet he’s all corduroys and blow waves”

with the comment:

Even in the 1950s it seems that corduroy was associated with homosexuality.

All this, plus a photo on my blog of Sir John Gielgud with Sir Ralph Richardson in Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land, made Anna Smith – this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent – ask::

I wonder what kind of porn Ralph Richardson wrote?

and to mention:

Tony Hancock. Is this the face of a 1950s criminal?

Comedian Tony Hancock – Is this the face of a 1950s criminal?

I bought a Tony Hancock album last week at a junk shop. A woman wondered to me whether he was a criminal.

“He wasn’t a criminal,” I said, a bit annoyed. ”He was a comedian!”

“He looks like a criminal,” the woman countered, doubting my certainty.

“It was the 1950s,” I said, exasperated. “Everyone looked like a criminal back then.”

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Filed under Blogs, Comedy, Eccentrics, Gay, Internet, Movies, Pornography

Being edited now – Sir John Gielgud’s gay porn film which you may never see

(L-R) David McGillivray, Ethan Reid and Peter de Rome

(Left-Right) David McGillivray, Ethan Reid and Peter de Rome

“So I guess it starts with Peter de Rome,” I said to film producer David McGillivray at the Soho Theatre Bar in London yesterday afternoon.

“Well,” said David, “I met Peter in 2007 and eventually we made three films together, the last of which – Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn – is still going round the world. I’m introducing it in Berlin in a few hours time.”

“How did this lead to Trouser Bar?”

“Peter was a great one for pulling things…”

“Down?” I suggested.

“… out of the bag, that I never knew,” said David. “On one occasion, while we were filming him, he happened to mention that Sir John Gielgud had written him a screenplay – and there it was, in his hand. I never quite worked out why the film had never been made. He wrote it in 1976.”

“This was a porn film?” I asked.

“Yes. Peter de Rome was a pornographic film maker and Gielgud was one of his big fans. He had a lot of celebrity fans, including David Hockney, Derek Jarman, William Burroughs. I also saw letters from Sir John in which he said: Oh, I so much enjoyed that film you showed last week. Please could you show it again.

John Gielgud (right) with Ralph Richardson in No Man’s Land

John Gielgud (right) with Ralph Richardson in No Man’s Land

“So, while he was in New York, appearing in Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land on Broadway in 1976, John Gielgud wrote this film called Trouser Bar, which reflected his interests. Possibly until Gielgud’s Letters were published (in 2010), people didn’t know the extent of his clothes fetishism.”

“I read that he liked corduroy,” I said.

“That was his favourite fabric,” David agreed. “But he also liked velvet, flannel, leather, denim and it was inevitable that, if Sir John was going to write a script, it was going to be set in a menswear shop. And it was.”

“If he liked ALL those fabrics,” I suggested, “it was not so much a fetish about fabrics, more a general fetish on clothes.”

“No,” explained David, “he was very particular about the type of clothes he liked and how they were worn. The letters are full of his observations on men he had found attractive because they were wearing the right trousers.”

“You mean tight?” I asked.

“Tight, yes. But they had to be cut well. He was very particular about the pockets. Trouser Bar, I maintain, is a film of enormous historical interest. Nobody knew he had written it and, if Peter had not mentioned it to me, it could well have been destroyed because Peter died last June and we’re not sure what happened to all his papers. (He lived in New York and in Sandwich, Kent.)

Trouser Bar

“The budget increased. We had to buy all the vintage clothing.”

“We stuck to Sir John’s script very, very tightly when we made the film a couple of weeks ago. He was very specific about the clothes he wanted the actors to wear and, as a result of that, the budget increased enormously. We had to completely fit-out an empty shot as a men’s boutique circa 1976 and buy all the vintage clothing. Only time will tell if it was worth it.”

“How did you finance it?” I asked. “Did you just say Sir John Gielgud’s porn film and people just threw money at you?”

“No,” David told me. “I always finance my own films.”

“How much and how long?” I asked.

“£50,000 and it lasts… well, I don’t know precisely, because it’s being edited at the moment, but… about 15 minutes.”

“You didn’t direct it yourself?”

“No. I’m not a director. I haven’t got a clue. I hired a director.”

Kristen Bjorn…”

“Yes. It’s a made-up name. He said he was given that name when he worked in porn and it was inspired by the tennis player Björn Borg.”

David McGillivray

David McGillivray

“So Sir John Gielgud,” I said, “wrote Trouser Bar as a porn film…”

“Yes.”

“And it has been shot as a porn film…”

“Yes,”

“So it is not going to get a certificate…”

“It’s not going to get shown at all. The Gielgud Estate have come down heavily on me and it will never be shown in this country. They are claiming that they own the copyright on the script, though this is a grey area. I am convinced – and this is all conjecture – that they are determined this film will not be shown and they are using intellectual copyright as an excuse. That’s my opinion. The lawyer who represents the Estate won’t talk to me. The last letter I received was merely a threat: We will take appropriate action if this film goes ahead.”

“So the John Gielgud Estate is…” I started to say.

“It’s not the Estate,” said David, “It’s the Trust. I keep making this mistake. It’s the Trust that was set up in his name to give bursaries to drama students.”

“Who inherited the Estate?” I asked.

David McGillivray at Soho Theatre yesterday

David McGillivray spoke to me at the Soho Theatre yesterday

“Well, his partner was Martin Hensler who was originally on the Trust’s board before he died and I think the lawyer is an executor of the Will, so I think the Trust are his beneficiaries. I don’t know why they are behaving the way they are. I use the word They because the lawyer represents several actors who are all members of this Trust. He has said in an email: We own the copyright of this script.

“My head is on the block. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I am advised they had no jurisdiction over the making of the film, but they can prevent the exhibition of the film in this country, so I’m now looking to premiere it in America, where the copyright laws are different.”

“So why,” I asked, “did you spend £50,000 of your own money on a film that can’t be shown in this country?”

“I didn’t know that at the time. But I think I would probably have still gone ahead, because it’s a labour of love for me. I’m doing it for Peter and also because Sir John wanted this film to be made. It was his private fantasy and he would have loved to see it come to life.”

“Who is in the film?”

“Nigel Havers, Julian Clary, Barry Cryer.”

“Am I going to enjoy it if I ever see it? I’m not gay.”

“I think so. I wanted an art film that would reflect Peter’s work. I think people will appreciate the way it looks.”

“When will it be finished editing?”

The climactic orgy scene in Trouser Bar

Climactic orgy scene in Trouser Bar – as scripted by Sir John

“I’m seeing the first cut next Monday. We are also thinking about making a documentary about the making of Trouser Bar and I hope that will get the publicity I want:  Here is a film made about a film that you can never see. Why is this?

“We can make a film about the film being made, but we can’t use John Gielgud’s name. I have been advised I can’t quote from his letters, I can’t show his screenplay. I think it’s even risky to use the title of the screenplay. But we can talk about the film. So that documentary is the film you will see in this country and I’m hoping that will happen next year.

“I am trying to interest the likes of Nicholas de Jongh to appear in the documentary to talk about Gielgud and his interests.”

De Jongh wrote Plague Over England, a 2008 play about Gielgud’s arrest for ‘lewd behaviour’ in 1953.

John Gielgud as Cassius in Julius Caesar (1953)

John Gielgud as Cassius in Julius Caesar (1953)

Gielgud was arrested, three months after being knighted by the Queen, for ‘persistently importuning male persons for immoral purposes’ in a Chelsea public lavatory.

“What I don’t understand,” I said to David McGillivray yesterday afternoon, “is that, if he was arrested for cottaging in 1953 and it was publicised in the papers then, why did he not just come out of the closet when homosexuality was made legal in 1967? He never admitted to being gay.”

“He was a Victorian gentleman,” explained David, “and – this is my conjecture – I think he felt it was not seemly to ’come out’.”

“But he had already been caught out lurking in toilets,” I said

“But he was ashamed of it,” said David. “Deeply embarrassed. It was something he wanted to forget about. It had caused him trouble. For five years he couldn’t work in America.”

“So,” I said, “he’s embarrassed about being caught cottaging in 1953 and doesn’t want to come out as homosexual after 1967, but then he writes not just any old script or a slightly gay script but a porn script in 1976.”

Sir John gielgud (Photograph by Allan Warren)

Sir John dressed well (Photo: Allan Warren)

“Well,” explained David, “it wouldn’t have had his name on it at the time. He was perhaps somewhat naive. He enjoyed Peter de Rome’s company and they used to go to gay bars together in New York – he was quite open in that respect… but Peter made a film called Kensington Gorey and John said Oh, I’ll do the voice-over – forgetting that he would be instantly recognised because he had one of the most identifiably voices in the world. He didn’t think that through and possibly he didn’t think it through when he wrote this script either.

“I think it’s important we know more about Gielgud the man as opposed to Gielgud, the world’s greatest Shakespearean actor. He was human like the rest of us. He had a jolly good time ogling men in trousers. He was writing constantly to his friends about the delight he took in seeing men in tight trousers. It wasn’t a secret then and I don’t think it should be a secret 40 years after he wrote the script.”

THERE IS A FOLLOW-UP TO THIS BLOG HERE

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Filed under Gay, Movies, Pornography

Lesbians in Brighton, a 101st birthday party, but no news of any stripping

Mrs H on her 101st birthday

Mrs H celebrated at her 101st birthday party in Catford

I went to a 101st birthday party in Catford on Saturday night for ‘Mrs H’.

She was dancing at her 100th birthday, in her youth did a lot of walking and camping and now drinks a bottle of brandy every week. A lesson to us all.

Meanwhile, camping of a different type…

I keep getting mistaken for gay comedy icon Michael Topping. I think it is the eyebrows and the lack of hair atop our heads. We are not mistaken for each other. I am mistaken for Michael not vice versa. It is in the nature of fame.

When I worked at Anglia TV, someone called me ‘Peter’ for two years. I never corrected him; I felt it would have seemed churlish.

Claire Smith in Brighton yesterday

Claire Smith took a selfie in sun-kissed Brighton yesterday

Yesterday, Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards judge and Scotsman comedy reviewer Claire Smith was impressed by Ali Child and Rosie Wakley’s show All The Nice Girls at the Brighton Fringe. It is about music hall entertainers who were secretly lesbian.

Ali came out 18 months ago, after getting together with Rosie, whom she met in (of all places) Lesbos. Elsewhere, Rosie performs as Sinatra-esque  lounge singer Ronnie Rialto and, with Ali, she performs as Behind the Lines.

All The Nice Girls is based on the true story of Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney – music hall singers of the 1920s who had an on/off relationship with each other.

There is a 1922 film clip of them on YouTube.

Claire tells me: “When Ali and Rosie started researching the show they were hoping to find some original sheet music – but hardly anything existed. Then a friend in the British Library found some very old original recordings, so they have recreated the songs from them. The lost recordings also ended up on an album.

Ali child & Rosie Wakley - All The Nice Girls

Rosie Wakley and Ali Child – All The Nice Girls in Brighton

“The songs are lovely, fresh and funny with surprisingly fruity lyrics. Ali and Rosie have done an amazing job of bringing back to life this forgotten bit of entertainment history.”

The man from the British Library was also at the show.

“Ali and Rosie make lesbianism very appealing,” Claire tells me.

Ali Child, Michael Topping and Rosie Wakley (Photograph by Claire Smith)

Rosie Wakley, Michael Topping and Ali Child yesterday (Photograph by Claire Smith)

They must do. Claire also tells me that Michael Topping too thinks the show was “delightful – very warm and intimate and funny”. So much so that he says it has inspired him to become a lesbian.

Meanwhile, I await news of a previously-mentioned strip show in Vancouver.

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Lemonade, opera and poofs: domestic life – at home with gangsters The Krays

Tom Hardy as Ronnie (left) and Reggie Kray

Tom Hardy stars in Legend as Ronnie (left) AND Reggie Kray

Next year, at least two movies are going to be released about British gangsters The Kray Twins – Reggie and Ronnie.

The mooted Rise of The Krays is said to come from the same stable as Rise of the Footsoldier.

Higher profile is Legend, starring Tom Hardy as both Kray brothers and written/directed by Brian Helgeland who won an Oscar for scripting L.A.ConfidentialIt is based on John Pearson’s book The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins, but the movie focusses mostly on Reggie Kray.

Apparently, in Legend, there is a scene in which Reggie Kray climbs up a drainpipe to his future wife Frances’ window with a bunch of flowers in his hands, like some latter-day Romeo courting his Juliet.

“I can’t think of no-one in the world less likely to do that sort of thing,” Micky Fawcett told me when we chatted at the May Fair Hotel in London’s West End.

Mickey, as readers of previous blogs will know, has done that rare thing – written a realistic and unglamourised insider’s view of what life with the Krays was like – in his book Krayzy Days.

Krayzy Days by Micky Fawcett

Living Krayzy Days with Micky Fawcett

“I was surprised,” I said, “when I first heard Reggie was bisexual. I thought he was totally straight and Ronnie was the gay one.”

“Apparently,” said Micky, choosing his words carefully, “before I knew him, as a younger man, he indulged in bisexual activities but, by the time I knew him, he was trying to leave that behind him and he weren’t particularly sexually motivated at all. He didn’t want to be known as a gay – though the word ‘gay’ wasn’t common at that time. He didn’t want to be known as a poof.”

“Ronnie was openly gay,” I said.

“But Ronnie didn’t care,” said Micky. “He was in and out of prison and open about it all. I didn’t know that Reggie was until a fellah I was with said: You know, they’re queer, them two? I said: What? They can’t be. Are you sure? Nah!

“He said: I’m telling you. They are! You’ve only gotta watch. You know. Them young boys around the billiard hall…

“Reggie was trying to get on with his life and then he met Frances (his future wife). Apparently he met her cos he went round to her house to speak to her brother on some unimportant business and she opened the door. She was fifteen and wearing a gymslip and Reggie… fell in love with her… as it were.

“He had an ambition to open a flower shop because the American gangster Dean O’Banion had had one and it was also the done thing to have a beautiful woman on your arm if you were a gangster. He didn’t have one and Frances fitted the bill. He wanted… eye candy, I guess.

“Being a possessive type of person, he wanted to possess her and that got worse and worse and worse. He put her on a pedestal. All he wanted to do was buy her things and make a fuss of her while she wanted to live a life with things that women and young girls normally want – such as children and sex.

Micky Fawcett (left) with Reggie Kray and Frances

Micky Fawcett (left) with Reggie Kray and his wife Frances

“Once Reggie and Frances were married, he couldn’t adjust to that type of normal life. Normal to him was get up in the morning, have something to eat, go out blagging people round the various car sites, getting on with ‘business’ and then, in the evening, go home, freshen up, go out and carry on the same kind of thing but in drinking clubs and nightclubs.

“One day, Reggie said to me: I’m going to have a night in tonight. I’m not looking forward to it, but I gotta have a night in.

“Next day, I asked him: How was the night in?

Oh, he said, I wondered where everybody was. I wondered what you were doing. It was driving me mad. He told me about the list of things he’d bought. He’d bought himself bags of crisps and bottles of lemonade and anything he thought normal people got for something to do in the night-time.

“It was like an experiment for him. I’d never ever known him to have a night in.

Micky Fawcett (right) with Ronnie Kray (left) & boxer Sonny Liston,

Micky Fawcett (right), Ronnie Kray (left) & Sonny Liston

“Ronnie would have nights in, but surrounded by young boys and anything else he could think of. He took a shine to singing. Ronnie liked tenors. He liked listening to them. So he’d get people round and listen to tenors and people would be sitting there listening, frightened to look this way or that way and say: Very nice, Ron. Very nice.

“I walked in there one day when he was playing his music. He said Very good, innit, Mick? and I said Yeah. Who is it, Ron? Mario Lanza?

No, he said. Harry Secombe.” (One of The Goons comedy group.)

“So Ronnie liked to sit and listen to opera?” I asked.

“Yeah,” said Micky, “But Reggie never had nights in. That one night he did have in, Frances would have been sat there and Reggie would have been sat there and they would have been just looking at each other.”

“They didn’t have long conversations?” I asked.

“Nah!” said Micky. “She wasn’t very talkative. I never knew her to hardly talk to anybody. She just looked around wide-eyed, maybe doing her nails.”

“People were justifiably frightened of The Krays,” I said.

Micky Fawcett, with son Michael, talked to me at the May Fair hotel

Micky Fawcett and son Michael met me at the May Fair hotel

“One night,” Micky said, “Reggie and me was sitting in the Grave Maurice pub in Whitechapel – before he married Frances – and Reg said: Mick, can I have a word with you? He said: I was sitting outside Frances’ in me car last night and a car came round the corner and somebody’s dropped her home. I’ve got Johnny Hutton to HPI it (Hire Purchase Investigation – to find out whose car it is) and I’ve got the fellah’s name and address. Can we do something about it?

“I said: Let me check it out first, Reg, eh? and I went home.

“So, about 5 o’clock the next morning, there was a tapping on my window. It was Reggie and he said: Can we do something about it tonight? I must find out. I can’t sleep. He was in a terrible state. It was that possessive thing I mentioned. I said: I’ll go round there and see what can be done. But I can’t go now; it’s 5 o’clock in the morning.

“So we drove around for about an hour or more, talking, with me calming him down. I told him: My mate Stevie Tucker lives down the other end of the road. I’ll drop you off there.

“So Reggie went in and sat with Lou, Stevie’s wife. I got in Stevie’s car and we had a drive round to where the fellah lived.

“I knocked on his door and the fellah came out all cocky – it’s Sunday morning; he’s got no shirt on – What d’ya want, mate? he says.

“I told him: You were seen with Reggie Kray’s girlfriend last night.

“He went: Whaatt!!!???? and he run indoors, shut the door – this is the truth – opened the letter box and said: Speak through here!

“I said: I don’t want your wife to hear.

“He says: I don’t care if me wife hears! Anything you like! I don’t mind! I don’t mind!

“Eventually, I got him to open the door again and he came out and he was crying. I’m sorry, he was saying. I dunno; I dunno.

Alright, I said. Calm down. Calm down. You’ve been fucking warned and you’re getting away with it for the moment. Behave yourself. 

“And he was crying and crying and went back in the house.

“I went back to pick up Reggie and said: What’s happened… That fellah was a friend of her father’s. She’d been round her father’s house and he dropped her off. 

“Then Reggie said a strange thing. He said: She ain’t pregnant, is she, Mick?

“I said: How can she be fucking pregnant? He just give her a lift from her dad’s.

Alright, alright, Reggie says. You sure about that, though, ain’t you?

“The end of it was the fellah’s wife said to somebody else in Upton Park: I’m going to stab that Micky if I see him. Just because my husband got drunk in one of their clubs and made himself a bit of a nuisance, he come round on Sunday morning and  started on him.

Ronnie Kray died of a heart attack in prison in 1995.

Reggie Kray died in 2000 shortly after being released from prison on medical grounds (an inoperable bladder cancer).

Reggie’s wife Frances committed suicide in 1967.

So it goes.

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Journalist Garry Bushell talks about being accused of hating gay men

Yesterday’s now paraphrased blog

Yesterday’s original blog

Yesterday’s blog started as an I think interesting piece in which theatre producer David Johnson remembered Piers Morgan at the 1993 British Comedy Awards reacting to Julian Clary’s joke about “fisting” the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont.

David posted the original fascinating piece (now removed) on his own Facebook page last Monday. I asked his permission to quote it, which is why I did not post my own blog about it until yesterday.

After I had posted yesterday’s blog, very unusually, I added something to it – a further comment which David Johnson sent me. It said (I paraphrase) that it was the Sun’s thuggish columnist Garry Bushell who actually wrote the anti-Clary piece the day after the “fisting” joke incident and who then ran homophobic articles campaigning against Julian Clary, Graham Norton etc.

David said in this added section that he was pleased it was ultimately Garry Bushell not Julian Clary who became unemployable, that Bushell had hardly worked since 2007 and is an active UKIP member.

David has since asked me to remove yesterday’s blog. I have now re-posted the blog with David’s directly quoted words replaced by paraphrased words.

David wanted the blog removed in general, as I understand it, because I told him I was going to ask Garry Bushell questions as a follow-up and (in my view) to allow GB a full come-back. David was also angry because I would not immediately post in public a private message Garry Bushell sent me. Garry Bushell has now given me permission to print the message, though I have cut out one well-known entertainer’s name. The message read:

“I made my peace with Julian many years ago, John, even appearing on his TV show. I’m not sure how your claim of homophobia sits with my consistent support for talented gay artists, from Frankie Howerd and (another well-known entertainer) on. I am not an active member of UKIP and my column is still published nationally. Best wishes Garry”

David thinks I was unreasonable in not printing that immediately in a public forum without first asking Garry Bushell’s permission and, because of that, he has deleted his original Facebook post which was about Piers Morgan. He is also offended that I have allowed Garry Bushell to respond to various claims.

So here, alas without any counterbalancing arguments or facts from David, is what Garry Bushell answered in reply to some questions I asked him:

Q: Aren’t you ashamed of having destroyed Julian Clary’s career for two years? You wrote a piece trying to get Julian banned from live TV. He must hate you.

Journalist Garry Bushell

Journalist Garry Bushell says what he thinks??

A: All I did after Julian’s fisting gag was write an opinion piece reflecting the views of my editor (Kelvin MacKenzie). You have to put the incident in context. This happened shortly after Stan Boardman had been banned not just from live TV but from ITV completely for his Focke-Wulf gag. Des O’Connor’s live show was cancelled because of that row. It seemed that there was one rule for mainstream comedians and another for fashionable ones.

I did later appear on Julian’s TV show All Rise For Julian Clary in the 1990s. I wanted to bury the hatchet. I don’t know what Julian thinks of me, but I don’t hate him. Back at the start I felt that he was a single-entendre act who had been promoted beyond his abilities. I like him and his act a lot more now – I backed him to win Celebrity Big Brother in my column. He was the most entertaining housemate by far.

Q: You hate gays.

A: I don’t hate anyone because of their sexuality and never have done. I first fell out with gay activists over a tasteless joke in my column back in the 1980s and, because I’ve always loved feuds, I took it too far. One of the first people who came to my defence was Patrick Newley who wrote Mrs Shufflewick’s biography – now there was an act!

I’ve worked with gay people pretty much everywhere I’ve had a job, and championed gay acts for decades starting with Frankie Howerd (I was a lone voice in the press campaigning for his return to TV). I adore (the well-known entertainer mentioned in Garry Bushell’s message quoted above). I like Craig Hill. I supported Alan Carr when he first appeared on the scene. I loved Lily Savage (Paul O’Grady’s drag act) – I knew Paul’s boyfriend Brendan Murphy from back when we’d both been members of the International Socialists a long time ago. And, at the risk of the old ‘some of my best friends…’ cliché, I’m still mates with Dale Winton and have been since the mid-1990s.

Q: In your youth, you joined the International Socialists/Socialist Workers Party and wrote for Socialist Worker. I have always thought Hitler was a good Socialist and, after all, he did form the National Socialist Party and did everything in the name of ‘The People’…. So you were always a bit of a totalitarian?

A: I did join the IS and did write for Socialist Worker. But I think the threat to freedom now comes more from the far-Left than the far-Right, although in practice in power there is very little difference between them. It used to be rightwing Tories calling for things to be banned, now it’s the middle class Left. I find it extraordinary that the comrades are so happy to march arm-in-arm with women (and gay) hating clerical fascists.

Q: Now you are an ‘active’ member of UKIP…

A: I’m not an active member of anything.

Q: On talkSPORT Radio, you said homosexuality was a “perversion”.

A: I don’t recall the actual phrasing, but it was a dumb thing to say and I apologise for it. It’s no defence, but I had just come off the phone to my mate who is in Right Said Fred and I’d been winding him up about Fred getting punched by some Russian troglodyte.

Q: You were employed by the Sun as a ‘thug’ journalist. That’s your image, isn’t it? That’s why you get paid.

A: Am I a thug? I don’t think so. I’ve always liked acerbic humour, from Jackie Mason and Joan Rivers to Lily Savage, via Bernard Manning, and I think that if you don’t realise that you might not ‘get’ my column. Male working class humour tends to be abrasive.  My big mistake in the early days of writing the column was to caricature myself; the newspaper ‘Bushell’ was a comic exaggeration of my own views. I stopped doing that a long time ago.

Q: One of my Facebook Friends posted: Someone needs to dig up Bushell’s review of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. The Sun gave him two pages to rant about how AIDS was a luvvies disease and how disgusting it was to see money raised for AIDS research when there was so little funding for proper diseases. It finished with his deathless advice on how to avoid contracting AIDS: “Don’t do drugs and don’t be gay.”

A: All I can remember about that is I used it to slip in a tasteless Jimmy Jones ode – Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, If you’d stuck with fanny You’d still be with us. I think it was over a spread, me versus Piers Morgan. I loved Queen and Freddie was one of the great rock front-men. I do think the early AIDS campaign was misleading but I genuinely regret writing this piece. If I could make amends for it, by doing a benefit gig or whatever I would happily do so, although no doubt some smartarse would then accuse me of chasing the pink pound.

Q: Do you hate women as much as perverts and pooftahs?

A: Love women, don’t know any perverts, although my old guitarist is a transvestite now – does that count?

Q: Did you ever encounter Jimmy Savile?

A: Yes. Horrible bastard, but cunning. You felt like you needed a wash after meeting him but were never quite sure why.

Q: How would you describe your novels?

A: Filthy.

Q: Do you want to create art with your writing?

A: No thanks. I want people to read it.

Q: In my blog yesterday, it was claimed you mounted “a relentless homophobic campaign against artists like Julian Clary and Graham Norton that lasted as long as Bushell was allowed air-time or column inches.” So it backfired on you, didn’t it? It destroyed your own Fleet Street career.

A: My column inches still pop up regularly and vigorously in the Daily Star Sunday, which last time I looked still outsells the Independent On Sunday.

Graham Norton’s late night Channel 4 show was filthy, so I couldn’t work out why BBC1 hired him – especially when they kept giving him flop early evening LE shows to host. He is however the smartest and funniest chat-show host in the country now – something I have been saying for years.

I don’t accept the charge of homophobia. And to suggest I relentlessly campaigned against Julian Clary and Graham Norton is untrue. I relentlessly campaigned against Ben Elton because I felt he was both an unfunny dick and a complete fake.

I’m a TV critic which means I criticise shows and stars who don’t float my boat. I moaned about Jo Brand for decades but as soon as she did something great, as she did with Getting On, I praised it to high heaven.

Tabloid readers like firm opinions. If I said everything was terrific no-one would read me.

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Gay American comic would steal babies

Mike Player: the shock of the funny gays revealed in the US

(This was also published on the Indian news website WeSpeakNews)

The 5th annual Outlaugh Comedy Festival – America’s first gay and lesbian comedy festival – is currently being held in Los Angeles and lasts for another two weeks.

Mike Player wrote the book Out on the Edge: America’s Rebel Comics. He created and organises the Outlaugh Festival.

I asked him how and why it started.

“I lost my mind,” he told me, “which is the only way to get anything done in the U.S. At the time, America had no national queer comedy festival and we (the comedians) were all tired of things like Gay Tuesday Night at Mongo’s Steakhouse. We wanted something that actually meant something.”

I have been to Los Angeles but not San Francisco. I think of the West Coast as being fairly laissez-faire and (in the British use of the word) liberal, but Mike tells me is was not easy for gay comedians even eight years ago:

“In 2004, my comedy group, The Gay Mafia, got kicked out of a club in Hollywood. We were doing a sketch where two retired Navy SEALs were getting married. The straight club owner had a brother who had died in Iraq and he said that portraying Navy SEALs as gay was deeply offensive to him and that he would pull the light cords out if we did the sketch. So, naturally, we did the sketch. We sold out the house and he was too busy helping sell drinks at his bar to pull the plug. But he kicked us out afterwards.”

So gay comedy was not totally accepted even eight years ago?

“I can tell you,” Mike says, “that The Gay Mafia, was reviewed by the LA Weekly without them mentioning that anything we did in the show had any gay content or that the show was gay at all. I heard the reviewer only showed up for the free meal.

“But,” Mike admits, “there was no real resistance to the idea of starting a gay comedy festival. No-one resisted except, oddly, the queer TV and film companies, though we conquered them in the end. The place you find the haters hating Outlaugh is on Netflix where they write homophobic reviews of our movie and TV show.”

Because the even more admirable thing – to me – is that Mike managed to get a movie made about the first Outlaugh and then an 8-part TV series The Outlaugh Festival on Wisecrack. I asked him How come?

“I financed the movie with my own money,” he told me, “which is amazing because I didn’t have any money! But it made all its investment back. With the TV show, for once, I was in the right place at the right time. We had Margaret Cho hanging out with The Gay Mafia and everyone in America worships celebrity more than Jesus. All you have to do is spoon cat food onto a dish in a commercial and people will treat you like you captain a spaceship.

“I was on a conference call with the folks at MTV’s LOGO network and Margaret Cho and my production company associates and we all listened in sad horror while a network executive sniveled and begged Margaret to do anything and be on any shows in addition to Outlaugh.”

“During the production of our TV series Outlaugh Festival on Wisecrack, conference calls happened every day with the production company I worked with, myself as the artistic director, the network and what they call ‘listeners’ who are opportunistic network assistants who actually spy on conversations for some network reason – probably to take over the country. LOGO and other networks have to hear a celebrity commit to a project to prevent celebs from backing out. People have to sign agreements and swear on the Bible – or just the parts that don’t condemn gays.

“Just like straight people, though, queer people in entertainment are mostly out for themselves. In TV and film, it’s all about whose project something is, rather than the merit of the project. I had film people and TV ‘suits’ fighting over who should get credit over what, more than how to make the idea of Outlaugh good. I had to make sure Outlaugh was good myself.”

Even today, Mike tells me, gay comedy in the US is not totally acceptable.

“A lot of the comedy clubs out here,” he says, “have ‘gay nights’ on non-weekend nights and many advertise the comedians as Some Gay and Some Not to get people to attend. I think that’s bullshit. Imagine advertising a ‘black comedy night’ with Some Black and Some Not. There is a sentiment which is fading away that ‘gay comedy’ is not accessible to everyone. Again, bullshit.”

In my British Islander ignorance, I think of San Francisco as being more gay and Los Angeles less so, but Mike tells me I am wrong:

“LA is actually gayer,” he says. “There is more gay theatre and comedy going on here than in San Francisco. I think because all the closet cases finally came out and because it’s chic to be gay now. I wish John Travolta would realize that.”

Inbrook, the New York based entertainment company for which I am a UK consultant, is in discussion about bringing Outlaugh to Britain.

Mike says: “I would steal babies for that to happen!”

“But,” I asked him, playing devil’s advocate: “why should the UK have a gay comedy festival? Isn’t that ghetto-ising gays?”

“No,” he argues. “It’s centralizing gays. There are gay film festivals and gay pride festivals and gay political organizations. Comedy is another major art form that we can rally around to tell our stories and assert our outrage.”

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