Tag Archives: Julian Clary

David McGillivray’s autobiography: if you are in it, be afraid… be very afraid

David McGillivray has been described as “the Truffaut of smut” and (by Jonathan Ross) as “a comedy legend”.

He has appeared in this blog at various times – in 2015 touting Trouser Bar, his film of an allegedly hard-core alleged script by the late Sir John Gielgud… alleged, that is, by everyone except the worried guardians of the estate of Sir John Gielgud.

Lawyers’ letters, threats and phrases ensued.

In 2017, he was in this blog touting Doing Rude Things, a reissue of his book on dodgy soft-core porn films.

He has a bit of previous in touting.

When not anguished, people enjoyed the book launch party

When I arrived for this week’s launch of his autobiography Little Did You Know: The Confessions of David McGillivray, people who had already bought copies were feverishly skimming through the index to see if they were mentioned. 

“A huge amount of those people,” David told me, “will have wanted to check for libel. Some sighing with relief when they found they weren’t included.”

Comedian Julian Clary’s approved cover quote for the book is that it is “a meticulous account of a life so sordid I think each copy should come with a complimentary sanitary wipe”.

The book’s press-release says David McG’s autobiography was “eagerly-awaited”. I think it might equally be said its publication was “desperately feared”. I can do no better than quote from the possibly understated PR blurb:

McGillivray (left) and Clary in Chase Me Up Farndale Avenue, s’il vous plait in 1982 (Photograph from Little Did You Know)

“The grandson of an acrobat and briefly the UK’s youngest film critic, McGillivray wrote his first film when he was 23, then moved on to a succession of cheap shockers and skin flicks. After Prime Minister Thatcher dealt killer blows to the UK’s independent film industry, McGillivray found alternative employment in radio, TV and theatre, becoming Julian Clary’s long-serving scriptwriter. Around the year 2000 he put these careers temporarily on hold to dabble in another form of exploitation, but one closely associated with the more secretive side of show business.

“In this sensational memoir, McGillivray takes us through the cocaine-lined world of London’s media industry, the tragic heights of the AIDS epidemic and the sinful celluloid backstreets of Soho… McGillivray hosted London’s wildest parties at his home. They were attended by some of the biggest names of stage, screen, music and fashion. The revelations of what went on under the figurative noses of law enforcement agencies and the literal noses of McG and his high-flying guests are not for the faint-hearted.”

Julian Clary introduced David at the book launch thus:

“It makes my love life seem like an afternoon at the W.I…”

“I thought I put it about a bit in my youth, but this makes my love life seem like an afternoon at the Women’s Institute… McG has said on several occasions that he will never work again once this book has been published, but I don’t think we should get our hopes up. I suspect some seedy project will catch his eye soon…. (maybe) a long-lost lesbian porn script allegedly written by Mother Teresa… You will know and understand David better after you have read this book, but you may cross the road when you see him coming.”

The next day, David and I had a chat in the sinful celluloid backstreets of Soho – well, in the pleasant environs of the Soho Theatre Bar in Dean Street.


McGillivray talked in the sinful celluloid backstreets of Soho

JOHN: You had trouble getting this book published.

DAVID: Oh yes. 

JOHN: When did you start it?

DAVID: 2000. So many re-writes; so many lawyers. Libel was a huge problem in the early editions. It was very stressful. I got very fed up with the process and put the idea on the shelf in 2015, but then I met the publisher Harvey Fenton of FAB Press and I thought maybe it was his cup of tea, because he is the man who gave us Cinema Sewer and Satanic Panic.

It has taken another 2 or 3 years. Now the book comes out officially in the shops on 1st August but, if you pre-order, you will get signed copies sent to you from 1st June. After so many versions and God knows how many lawyers, apparently it will now leave me legally in the clear. There is a disclaimer at the front to tidy up any loose ends:

DISCLAIMER

The inclusion of a person’s name or likeness in this book does not imply that the person has at any time bought, traded or accepted as a gift an illegal drug from the author or has used an illegal drug from any source. Some names and identifying features have been changed.

“It will leave me legally in the clear…”

JOHN: People in the film business? The theatrical business?

DAVID: (LAUGHS) Oh yes… all media. It’s been a colourful life and I’ve indulged in all manner of things in my 71 years.

JOHN: Knowing a lot of it was unrepeatable for legal reasons, why did you start it?

DAVID: I thought there was a story about what was going on at the turn of the century and, while everyone seemed almost supernaturally obsessed with the end of 1000 years and convinced that planes were going to fall out of the sky, I thought there was something else going on. I knew there was something else going on, because it was going on in my living room every Friday night for five years. So I wrote about my own life, particularly around that period, 1998-2003. But the lifestyle I was indulging in those five years stretched back to my teenage years, so I thought I might as well write about my entire life.

JOHN: You said: “…going on in my living room”.

DAVID: That is the essence of what the book is about.

JOHN: Your living room?

DAVID: Yes… Well, it was mostly in my basement. It was a four-storey house in a very charming crescent in Kings Cross.

JOHN: At the time when it was gentrifying…

McGillivray: a life of unbridled glamour

DAVID: When I moved there in 1995, it was still very rough indeed. By the time I left two years ago, it was completely unrecognisable. The old community I knew had completely gone and the rest of the street was virtually rented out for Airbnb. I didn’t like that.

JOHN: So, parties in your basement on Friday nights for five years… Details?

DAVID: I don’t know where to begin… I was a party animal and all that that entails.

JOHN: What does it entail?

DAVID: An enormous amount of activity every Friday night.

JOHN: Activity? Only Fridays? What happened on Thursdays in your basement?

DAVID: Nothing.

JOHN: You are a tease.

DAVID: I’m a wicked tease. Well, I used to be in the exploitation movie business. I want people to buy the book and be surprised.

JOHN: “Used to be”?

DAVID: Well, I haven’t done any of those sort of films since 1977.

David McGillivray & Nigel Havers at the Trouser Bar location

JOHN: What about Trouser Bar – the one allegedly – ooh, err – definitely not written by John Gielgud?

DAVID: I think it is a work of ar…

JOHN: Arse?

DAVID: Art. It’s not an exploitation film.

JOHN: What happened in your house on Saturday mornings?

DAVID: Hangovers and Oh God! Why did I do it? conversations.

JOHN: You are being reticent, but the book is over the top.

DAVID: It’s excessive, yes.

JOHN: But detailed and true. You kept diaries.

DAVID: From the age of 12. I have diaries from 1960 to today and haven’t missed a day.

JOHN: Can worried participants in your life expect a sequel?

DAVID: Almost certainly, yes, because a lot has happened since 2015 and you have blogged about some of those incidents. 

“…and the film WILL be made.”

JOHN: Regrets?

DAVID: I don’t regret anything I’ve done at all. One should only regret the things one hasn’t done.

JOHN: Any other films on the horizon?

DAVID: I’m still trying to find a director for The Wrong People – based on the novel by Robin Maugham. It’s a quite expensive feature film; one I can’t finance myself. I bought the film rights. More controversy: “It’s unfilmable” and all that. At the moment, nobody will touch it with a bargepole. But I WILL get a director for it and the film WILL be made.

JOHN: That sounds like a threat.

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Comedian Julian Clary and tell-all hack McG linked via sexploitation horror film

I get sent loads of PR bumph (I feel you can never get too much) including the generic PR interviews that are sent out to one-and-all in the media to plug upcoming events. Indeed, I wrote one myself a few months ago to plug a comedian’s UK tour.

The idea is that local papers etc may run the full PR interview as if they themselves had conducted it. Or edit or cannibalise it for quotes, facts and photos.

I never use these PR interviews myself.

Why bother? If I’m interested, I will chat to the person myself.

However here – below – is the exception.

PR man Greg Day is plugging the fact that the Horror Channel in the UK will be screening cult director Pete Walker’s 1976 horror and sexploitation movie Schizo this Saturday. And today Greg sent me his PR interview with the film’s screenwriter David McGillivray who has occasionally turned up in my blog before – notably in 2016 to plug his would-be notorious gay sex film Trouser Bar.

David McG is publishing his inevitably scandalous, tell-all autobiography Little Did You Know in a month’s time and I have already arranged to chat to him the day after its press launch.

But I won’t be asking him about Schizo… So here, as a teaser, in its full glory, is the PR Q&A for Schizo:


SCHIZO – “When the left hand doesn’t know who the right hand is killing!!”

Q: SCHIZO is unusual in your body of work with director Pete Walker because the concept and narrative were not of your choosing. How much of a problem was that for you?

A: Huge. I thought the script that we re-worked was terribly old-fashioned and this led to big arguments with Walker that ended our relationship.

Q: You often play a cameo in the movies you’ve written – You’re ‘Man at Séance’ in SCHIZO. Any particular reason?

A: I liked to write myself parts so that I could observe Walker at work. He was an extremely talented exploitation director who influenced the remainder of my career.

Q: SCHIZO exhibits many Hitchcockian references and Pete Walker cites Hitch as a hero. Is he for you too?

A: Yes, of course. Psycho is one of my favourite horror films.

Q: You’ve written many films for many people in so many genres, but what’s your own personal favourite?

A: My first film for Pete Walker, House of Whipcord. It was very exciting because it was the kind of film I’d dreamed of writing.

Svengali – The Rocky Horror that got away

Q: Just prior to SCHIZO you wrote a pop opera in the Rocky Horror vein for Pete Walker titled SVENGALI based on George du Maurier’s Gothic melodrama. Do you regret that project being shelved?

A: No, it would have been a disaster. Walker realised this and cancelled it almost before I’d typed the final page of the script.

Q: Your autobiography Little Did You Know is published in June. Rumour says it’s not your typical memoir though, so what’s it all about?

A: I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say that after its publication I will never work again.

Q: Your love/hate relationship with Pete Walker is common knowledge. Are there any more scandalous revelations about that in the book?

A: Oh yes…

Julian Clary – Never knowingly understated

Q: You write a lot of the material for a comedian. How did that business relationship begin and is this the nearest you can get to the Golden Era of the British sexploitation film you so brilliantly essayed in your book Doing Rude Things

A: Writing smut for Julian Clary is my day job. I enjoy it immensely. I have written for him for something like 37 years. In Julian’s latest show, which tours the UK before playing the London Palladium on 8th June, unsuspecting audience members are subjected to so-called ‘Heterosexual Aversion Therapy’. If you sit in the front row, you deserve all you get.

Q: You’ve announced your next film project is The Wrong People based on the novel by Robin Maugham. So you have no intention of retiring from the film industry just yet?

A: I love movies. I am fresh from a meeting with a director who bravely has chosen to take on this project. But, in all likelihood, it is so controversial that probably it will finish both our careers. If Little Did You Know hasn’t finished mine already.

Q: Finally, SCHIZO receives its Horror Channel premiere on Sat April 27th. Will you be watching?

A: I’m pleased Horror Channel viewers will get the chance to see it, but will I be watching? Certainly not. I can’t bear to see my own work, which is all dreadful.

David McGillivray – the soon-to-be-autobiographer – never a man to mince his words

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Corduroy LPs, a gay film & the luvvie… Who? – We dare not speak his name…

The energetic and saintly David McGillivray.

Cough, cough. I have a cough. I am now on antibiotics.

But, earlier in the week, I went to yet another launch by film producer, critic and cult movie aficionado David McGillivray.

Last week, he was launching a twice-the-original-length re-publication of his book Doing Rude Things – The History of the British Sex Film.

I blogged about it.

This week, he was back in the same upstairs rooms of a North Soho/Fitzrovia pub in London, launching the soundtrack of his controversial gay porn film Trouser Bar –  “It’s the sexy package you’ll want to fondle. A green vinyl LP lovingly wrapped in haute couture corduroy complete with lavishly illustrated insert, Paisley hankie, badge and (director) Peter de Rome‘s visiting card.”

I blogged about the film in October 2015, when it was being touted as hard-core, and in March 2016 when it was not – just well-promoted – and was first screened.

Among those appearing in cameos in Trouser Bar are Julian Clary, Barry Cryer and Nigel Havers.

This week, as last week, David McGillivray gave a speech to the assembled, definitively eclectic, audience. He said:


Composer Stephen Thrower (left) with David McGillivray and the corduroyed soundtrack LPs. (Photograph by Alex Main)

My only purpose in being here is to lament the fact that two people who should be here can’t be here.

One is the alleged writer of the screenplay.

(LOUD LAUGHTER FROM THE AUDIENCE) 

I appreciate that response. Obviously, there’s probably nobody in this room who doesn’t know who I am referring to, but I still can’t say his name. Isn’t that marvellous?

The other person is the man for whom the alleged writer wrote the screenplay – the great erotic pioneer Peter de Rome.

How both these men would have loved both Trouser Bar and Stephen Thrower’s musical score!

Over the past year, it has been my enormous pleasure to tell the story of this collaboration throughout the world. Next week, I will be telling the story yet again in Buenos Aires – How exciting is that?

The story starts a long time ago, in 1976, when the alleged writer of the screenplay was appearing in a play on Broadway in New York. The alleged writer was a huge fan of pornography and he wrote in a letter to his friend that, while on tour with the play, he had seen in Washington the film in which Linda Lovelace was fucked by a dog. Those are his actual words.

Now, he did not say whether he liked that film but he did say, in a letter which I’ve seen, how much he admired the work of Peter De Rome.

And that is why, one day in his hotel in New York, the alleged writer wrote the screenplay of Trouser Bar. And that is his title, as well.

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

I worked on three films with Peter De Rome.

During the production of the first, he presented me with this screenplay which had been written for him in 1976. It was still in the envelope from the hotel.

Astounded is not a strong-enough word as far as I am concerned.

For the rest of Peter’s life, I tried to get him out of retirement to make this film. But, alas, he was absolutely adamant. He was fed-up with filming. He found it tiresome.

I failed.

So, when Peter died in 2014, there was nothing else for it – I had to make it for him.

I honestly assumed that, when I contacted the John Gielgud Charitable Trust – and, due to the vagaries of English law, I CAN refer to that organisation – I honestly thought they would be delighted that we were making a film based on the only known screenplay written by the alleged writer.

David McGillivray & Nigel Havers at the Trouser Bar location.

How wrong I was!

They were furious and litigation proceeded over a period of three years.

When they found out that we were due to start production – now, this is something I have never ever told the people involved in the production of the film until tonight – they threatened to sue me AND everybody involved.

Well, it was like a red rag to a bull. 

We went into production the following week.

I assumed that the film would never be released and I was quite happy to leave it on a shelf until every member of the Trust was dead. But the reason we are here tonight is because of two very important people, one of whom IS here.

Brian Robinson of the BFI during the shoot.

He is Brian Robinson of the British Film Institute who suggested that we could release the film without a screenplay credit.

The other person is my indefatigable solicitor, who isn’t here.

That is the reason the film premiered at the BFI, Southbank.

After the premiere, more than one person came to me and said: You must release the music on an LP, preferably corduroy-clad.

I said: It’s not going to happen, because how can it?

Well, I reckoned without the composer Stephen Thrower.

Because of his skill and determination, here is the record.


You can currently hear samples from the soundtrack online.

David McGillivray is, as ever, energetically promoting it…

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Why would you re-issue a 25 year old book about dodgy soft-core porn films?

David McGillivray first turned up in this blog in 2013 feted for his highly-admired work on cult sex films, horror movies and scripts for Julian Clary pantos etc.

At the time, he said: “My films are not art. They’re just product designed to give people a bit of a thrill in whatever way is possible.”

He turned up here again in 2016, talking about his gay porn film Trouser Bar, which featured cameos by Julian Clary, Barry Cryer, Nigel Havers et al in a script that was definitely not written by Sir John Gielgud. Oh no. Not at all. Wipe the very hint of that idea from your soiled mind.

David McGillivray talks to the throng (Photo: Yak El Droubie)

Now he is back here again, in two crowded-to-overflowing upstairs rooms of a pub in NoHo or Fitzrovia or whatever you want to call it in London…

…launching a reprint and update – the new edition is twice the length of the original – of Doing Rude Things – The History of the British Sex Film, his book on dodgy and, frankly, not always 100% well-made soft-core porn films.

Why?

Well, this is what he explained to the assembled throng of well-dressed and (mostly) respectable-looking fans of dodgy British soft-core sex films in the room above the pub:


Doing Rude Things could define David’s career

When I was about 10 or 11, I found my father’s ‘glamour magazines’ in the bottom of his wardrobe.

When I say ‘glamour magazines’ you all know what they were – and they were called ‘art studies’ in those days. I was intrigued by them.

I thought: I’m obviously not meant to see these. He obviously hid them so that I wouldn’t. And so I became intrigued.

I reckon that discovery dictated the rest of my life and certainly my career.

Who could have thought that, in 1992, Pamela Green who, of course, featured prominently in all the magazines, would write the foreword to my book Doing Rude Things?

Pamela Green in Peeping Tom, the now critically-lauded film which destroyed director Michael Powell’s career in the UK

And then, another 25 years on, here we are in the Blue Posts pub, just a stone’s throw from Newman Passage, the main (opening) location of Peeping Tom which, of course, Pam starred in.

When the book first came out in 1992, I think most of the films I talked about had been forgotten. And I also think that the reason today we know films with titles like Secrets of a Door-to-Door Salesman and The Ups and Downs of a Handyman is basically because of me.

This might not really be the case!

But please humour me – I’m 70 years old and I deserve it!

The films had been forgotten but subsequently, after the book went out of print, they were kind of re-discovered and suddenly there was a film of the book and the films turned up on television for the first time, were issued on video for the first time – and I like to take credit for that.

The 1992 edition of Doing Rude Things

By the time the book had come out in 1992, I had already been working in soft porn for about 20 years – I had written porn films and I had written a lot of reviews of the films, because nobody else wanted to see these films.

As a result, I wrote a series of articles for a magazine called Cinema, which became the basis of the book Doing Rude Things.

After that went out of print, several people came to me and said: Why don’t you re-issue it? And I said No to basically everyone.

My feeling was that I couldn’t think of an audience for a re-print of the same book.

But, 25 years down the line, a publisher came to me with a new proposal for an updated edition and, by that time, life had changed.

Back in 1992, the internet DID exist, but nobody was using it.

By 2016, when I started working on this book, there was an entire community online – young and old – all sharing notes about these TERRIBLE films. Suddenly, there was a new audience for this genre.

So that is why the book has come out again.


There is a video online of David talking about his film Trouser Bar

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Now screening: a gay porn film with no script not written by Sir John Gielgud

Producer David McGillivray at Soho Theatre yesterday

Producer David McGillivray met me at Soho Theatre yesterday

“So what we are talking about here,” I said to David McGillivray in the Soho Theatre Bar yesterday afternoon, “is a script that you filmed – a sleazy, gay, hardcore porn film and you have conned some very respectable performers like Nigel Havers and Barry Cryer and Julian Clary into appearing in this filth.”

“Yes,” said David McGillivray. “Mea culpa. Up until very recently, I did maintain that this was a gay, hardcore porn film and it got us a lot of publicity, for which I’m very grateful. I have subsequently admitted that it could now be passed with a U certificate.”

“Was that always the case?” I asked. “Or have you edited it?”

“The script that I saw ,” replied David, “did not have any indication that the author wanted unsimulated sex in it and therefore we didn’t have any. The possibility is that, when the unknown author saw Peter de Rome’s films, a lot of them would also have been soft core. So this is the kind of film we think that the unknown author would have wanted to be made.”

“And can you confirm,” I asked, “that the unknown author was Sir John Gielgud?”

“Of course I can’t,” replied David. “The author is unknown.”

“Can you confirm,” I asked, “that the author was NOT Sir John Gielgud?”.

“I can’t,” said David. “No. I have to accede to the Trust’s demands not only that Sir John Gielgud, for example, did not write the script but also that the script in all likelihood does not exist.”

David and I talked about the film for a blog last October headlined:

BEING EDITED NOW – SIR JOHN GIELGUD’S GAY PORN FILM WHICH YOU MAY NEVER SEE.

Trouser Bar

Faithfully filmed word-for-word from a non-existent script

“People are perfectly at liberty,” David McGillivray said yesterday, “to conjecture who the author may be, but I couldn’t possibly comment.”

“As I understand it,” I said, “last year the John Gielgud Trust were saying that the script they saw was one you could not legally film because they owned copyright on it. But now they are saying that the script they saw did not exist.”

“We are getting,” said David, “into the realms of Alice in Wonderland because, when we spoke last for your blog, I assumed that the film would never be shown, because the Trust had accused me of infringing their copyright.”

“And,” I checked, “at that point, they had seen the script.”

“They saw the script in 2012,” said David.

“This is the script that they say doesn’t exist?” I asked.

“Yes. And I can prove that they saw it, because it’s all in writing. But then, after you and I spoke last year, there was a most extraordinary volte-face. After a considerable silence and having seen the film, the Trust maintained that Sir John did not write the script and that it did not exist.

“My lawyer wrote back and immediately conceded everything and told them that the film would be released unattributed. We re-edited it – we put a caption on the front, we removed all references to the author who was previously alleged to have written the script and…”

“What does the new caption at the front say?” I asked.

“It says that this film is being distributed on the condition that its screenplay is unattributed. It is now credited to ‘a gentleman’… and that is the version that will be screened in London this Sunday at NFT1 if we do not get an injunction served on us.”

“You feel,” I asked, “that you might get an injunction for illegally making a film from a script that does not exist?”

“Anything is possible, John. Every time I switch on my computer I expect another surprise.”

“Why have you not credited the script to Alan Smithee?” I asked.

“It’s probably a copyright name, isn’t it?” asked David. “There were lots of possibilities of who this film could be credited to.”

“The Sunday screening,” I asked, “is during a gay film festival at the NFT?”

Trouser Bar

Trouser Bar – gay porn – coming soon

“Yes. And I want you to be the first to say that it is so appropriate that a film called Trouser Bar is playing at a festival called Flare. We will also be screening one of (director) Peter de Rome’s shorts – one of his most beautiful, called Encounters –  and we will be showing an extract from a film I made about Peter in which he talks about the script that doesn’t exist. The film will then go on tour in the UK in the Spring and I have just had a request from San Francisco. Ultimately, it will come out on DVD.”

“Will some of the cast be at the screening on Sunday?” I asked.

“Barry Cryer has said he will come.”

“Steady,” I said. “Steady.”

“I am very grateful to the Trust,” said David. “Although they have caused me so much stress, if it had not been for them, I would have been faced with trying to sell a soft core sex film written by somebody today’s audience has never heard of. But, thanks to the Trust, thousands of people now know who the alleged author is and they want to see the film. It is what is known as the Streisand Effect.

“If the Trust had done what I wanted, which was to support me, I would have paid a substantial amount for the rights and there would have been no controversy. Now it is a scandal and I think I have been very lucky.”

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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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David McGillivray: from cheap sex films to horror movies, art and panto scripts

David McGillivray accosted yesterday by Halloween ghoul

David McGillivray (left) yesterday with a Halloween ghoul

David McGillivray is only a few years old than me, but I first became aware of him when I was in my late teens or early twenties and he was writing excellent film reviews for the British Film Institute’s Monthly Film Bulletin.

He quickly got involved in the 1970s British sex film industry, writing such epics as I’m Not Feeling Myself Tonight and The Hot Girls, then shifting into horror scripts for quickie film directors Norman J.Warren and Pete Walker and, later still, writing and producing his own films.

“I used to love being scared when I was a child,” he told me yesterday – Halloween – in Soho, “and I greatly enjoy frightening other people. I’ve only really ever been interested in sensation.”

“What was your best film?”

“Shorts or long?”

“Both.”

“Of the shorts, I’m very fond of one called Mrs Davenport’s Throat, which I made in Lisbon in 2005. It’s got a surprise ending that I don’t think anyone’s ever guessed.”

“You wrote and produced that?”

“Yes. It was inspired by those people at airports who stand holding cards with people’s names on. In my film, the eponymous Mrs Davenport goes up to a chauffeur who is holding a sign saying MRS DAVENPORT and goes off with him and we find out what happens to her. It’s not a pretty sight.”

“You said that with a smile.”

“It’s good fun.”

“And your favourite feature film?”

Exactly the sort of film young David wanted to write

Exactly the sort of film young David McGillivray had always wanted to write

“I never watch any of my films apart from House of Whipcord. That was my first big one for Pete Walker. I saw it again at a horror festival in Edinburgh about two years ago and thought it stood up quite well.

“I was a very young writer – I was 25. I read an outline of the story and it was exactly the sort of film I had always wanted to write and Pete Walker got together a marvellous cast. It was terrifically exciting for me. Suddenly here I was part of the film business that I’d always been so fond of.

“I think House of Whipcord is Pete Walker’s best film, though some people prefer Frightmare.”

“He seemed to suddenly disappear off the radar,” I said.

“He just decided to stop working,” explained David, “and nobody really knows why. He had the money to continue and he could have gone on making films. He didn’t completely disappear: he ran a chain of provincial cinemas called Picturedrome for a while but now, as far as I know, he really is completely retired. I haven’t seen him since 1992.”

“Is he worthy of rediscovery?” I asked. “Or are his films just tacky?”

“I have said,” David told me, “that he was Britain’s most talented exploitation director. As soon as a Pete Walker film starts, you know instantly it’s his. He had a very distinct style. He was a talented storyteller. He knew how to include the exploitation elements. I think it’s a great shame he isn’t still working. He just decided he didn’t want to do it any more. He didn’t need to make money; he was very rich.”

“Rich from the films?” I asked,. “Or rich independently?”

“Rich from property,” said David. “He made a lot of money from his early films: little 8mm ‘glamour’ loops sold either by mail order or in newsagents, often under-the-counter.”

“Soft-core?” I asked.

Not as successful as the sex films

Not as successful as Pete Walker’s sex films?

“Oh yes, all very soft core. They were basically striptease films. He made a lot of money from those and then his early full-length sex films made money. There were several people in the same market – Harrison Marks and Stanley Long were two rivals. Pete’s early sex films were very successful. Then he started making his so-called ‘terror’ films, which were less popular. All of those people made a fair amount of money out of nudie and sex films.”

“When you were young,” I asked, “did you want to make art films?”

“No,” said David firmly. “I never wanted to do anything arty and I never have done. I’ve got no ability, I’ve got no taste, no style. I’m a hack.”

David’s current film production company is called Pathetique Films. It uses the slogan Curiouser and Curiouser.

“But you appreciate arty movies, so you have taste,” I told him.

“I’ve got no ability. I really haven’t,” he replied.

“But,” I said, “you can write and you’ve seen enough movies to know what images need to be edited together to have an effect, so you can work backwards and know what material has to be shot to create the end result you want.”

“This is like a conversation I was having yesterday, about the difference between art and design,” David said, holding up a teaspoon. “What is this? It has been designed to look good, but is it art or is it just design?… It is design.

“My films are not art. They’re just product designed to give people a bit of a thrill in whatever way is possible.”

“But what you’re describing,” I argued, “is a Shakespeare play – a commercial product that’s aimed at a specific audience – almost lowest-common-denominator. Shakespeare was creating something to give the plebs in the pit a laugh. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are there to give people a laugh in Hamlet; there’s blood all over the place in Macbeth; there are things flying around and thunderstorms and a shipwreck (or is it two?) in The Tempest. I’m sure if I went in a time machine and watched Shakespeare plays as seen by the original audience, it would be like watching a down-market farce or an exploitation movie.”

“Well, yes,” David agreed. “Shakespeare’s plays were aimed at ‘the ordinary folk’ and wouldn’t have been considered Art in their day. Maybe one day, long after we’re dead and gone, the public will decide that my films are Art.”

“But the public didn’t decide Shakespeare is art,” I said, “It was people who wrote books about him. Critics decide. Critics would say The Tempest is art and the movie Forbidden Planet is a commercial Hollywood science fiction product, but the film is based on the play.”

“Well,” said David, “I would call Forbidden Planet art, because it’s a wonderful creation and it works and it scared the living daylights out of me when I was 7 or 8. When the footprints appear in the sand, made by the invisible monster, I was so frightened I remember distinctly I couldn’t look at the screen and I hid my face in my school cap. That film had an enormous effect on me and it’s a very artistic endeavour indeed.”

“But looked at objectively,” I said, “Shakespeare  is basically lowest common denominator sex, violence and comedy – much like The Bible in that respect. Reviewers thought Hitchcock’s Psycho was unforgivably down-market, repulsive and sadistic when it was released, yet people would probably think Psycho was a work of art now.”

“Definitely,” agreed David, “Well, any film by Hitchcock.”

“Or Michael Powell’s film Peeping Tom,” I said. “It was said at the time to be obscenely sadistic and it destroyed his entire career. But now it’s Art. I avoided seeing it for years because Time Out said it was a simile for the voyeurism of the cinema-going experience – It sounded unbearably arty and a load of wank. But, when I saw it, it IS a great film and, arguably, Time Out was right.”

“It’s not bad, is it…” said David.

“You must want to write Art,” I told him, “You want to create things and you want to create the best possible thing you can and that is Art and, if it has a big effect on a big audience like Harry Potter, then all the better, surely?”

“This is a very vexed issue,” replied David, “and goes back to what is and isn’t Art. I’ve really only ever wanted to create something that is going to have some sort of an effect on people. I don’t want to create something that’s going to be ignored, that’s going to sit on a shelf and not be seen. I don’t particularly mind what the critics say. I don’t care if they hate my stuff – and a lot of them do. All I want in years to come is for people to watch my films and enjoy them in the same way I enjoy the most rubbishy, churned-out second features. If I can create anything like Night of the Demon or, indeed, Night of the Eagle, I’d be very, very happy.”

“Well,” I said, “everyone’s making B films now – the Star Wars movies, the Indiana Jones movies, Quentin Tarantino’s movies. They’re all basically making crappy low-budget B films on a big budget – Crap becoming Art.”

“Yes,” agreed David, “they’re making wheat out of chaff.”

“They’ve making wheat out of chaff for chavs,” I suggested. “What are you making next?”

David McGillivray yesterday, by a rubbish bin in London - He suggested the bin

David McGillivray yesterday, by a rubbish bin in London’s West End  – He suggested the bin

“It’s panto time,” said David. “It’s a very busy time. This year I’ve contributed to four. I don’t write them, I only re-write them depending on who’s in them. My regular employer is Julian Clary – I’ve re-written his pantos for several years and, through him, I’ve met other people like Nigel Havers. I’m just finishing re-writing Robin Hood, which is in Plymouth this year. And I’ve re-written part of Snow White for Gok Wan in Birmingham. I love panto. I think that’s my true forte.”

“You knew Julian Clary before the pantos?”

“Yes, I’ve worked with him for 31 years. I’ve never written an entire show. He’s known for his improvisation. He Julianises what I put together as, indeed, do other comedians I’ve worked for.”

“Such as?”

“Paul O’Grady, Greg Proops, Angus Deayton…”

At this point, a man dressed in a white Halloween costume and wearing a Scream movie mask came into the restaurant where we were sitting.

“That is an example of the opposite of what we were talking about,” said David. “That is Art turned into crap… Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream now turned into one of the worst franchises in horror movie history…”

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