Tag Archives: Piers Morgan

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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The night comedian Julian Clary joked that he had “fisted” politician Norman Lamont at the British Comedy Awards

DAVID JOHNSON, ON WHOSE ANECDOTE THIS PARTICULAR BLOG WAS ORIGINALLY CENTRED HAS ASKED ME TO DELETE THE BLOG, WHICH I HAVE REFUSED TO DO – I THINK IT IS A FASCINATING INSIGHT INTO A VIVIDLY REMEMBERED INCIDENT. HE TELLS ME HE HAS ALSO WITHDRAWN PERMISSION FOR ME TO USE HIS DIRECT WORDS – ALTHOUGH, AS HE POSTED THEM ON FACEBOOK, I THINK THEY ARE IN THE PULIC DOMAIN… STILL, ANYTHING FOR A QUIET LIFE, EH?… SO WHAT HE WROTE HAS BEEN PARAPHRASED BY ME… NOW READ ON…

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Piers Morgan’s TV guest was unexpected

Piers Morgan’s two faces: sympathetic TV ear + tabloid teeth

Last weekend in Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, he interviewed Julian Clary, whose TV career faltered in 1993 – well, in effect, it stopped for two years – when Julian appeared on the televised British Comedy Awards show and came on stage joking that he had been “fisting” the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont.

The incident is on YouTube:

Jonathan Ross’ scripted introduction says: “To crown the King or Queen of Comedy, who better than the man never known to go for a single entendre when a good solid double would do? Please welcome Julian Clary…” – so the viewing public was warned (in the unlikely event that they did not already know), that Julian Clary was known for making sexual references during his act.

The result of Julian’s unscripted “fisting” reference, however, was ‘public outrage’ – or was it?

The illuminating memory below was posted last week by theatre producer David Johnson on his Facebook page (SINCE DELETED). David’s productions this year have included shows and tours by Fascinating Aida, Stewart Lee, Piff The Magic Dragon, Rubberbandits, Alexei Sayle and Sandy Toksvig.

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David wrote that he had watched the ITV1 Life Stories interview of Julian Clary by Piers Morgan.

He said he found it difficult to watch because of Piers Morgan’s  own personal involvement in what had happened at the 1993 Comedy Awards. He said Piers Morgan – who was Showbiz Editor of the Sun at the time – was responsible for the ‘public outrage’ that started in the following day’s issue of the Sun.

David had been in the press room of the London Studios on the night of the British Comedy Awards.

He was sitting next to Piers Morgan in the room. The ITV Duty Log (of viewer’s complaints) was being relayed to a small adjoining room.

To put what happened into context, David pointed out that Norman Lamont had actually been booed by the Comedy Awards audience when he had gone on stage to present an award.

When Julian Clary made the “fisting” reference, everyone in the room laughed and, according to David,  Piers Morgan observed that most viewers – particularly Sun readers – would not actually know what the word “fisting” meant.

Some complaints did come in from viewers – but about a joke over (David thought he remembered) a puppy. No viewers complained about the audience booing Lamont nor about the actual Julian Clary “fisting” joke.

However, near the end of the Awards show, comedian Michael Barrymore (who, at that time was at the height of his popularity) mentioned Julian Clary’s joke and accompanied it with a fisting mime.

“We’ll have to run it now!” David remembers Piers Morgan saying and Piers rushed off to phone the Sun newsroom.

The next morning, remembered David, the Julian Clary story was spread over the front page of the Sun.

Several months later, Piers Morgan was promoted to become the News Of The World’s youngest ever editor.

Now, here on ITV in 2013, was the person who had caused Julian Clary’s misery – Piers Morgan – appearing to sympathise with his victim.

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Julian Clary in 2008

Julian Clary knew nothing of it

When I read what David Johnson had written, I thought to myself: Why on earth did Julian Clary agree to go on the Piers Morgan show – even though all this happened 20 years ago?

Comedy writer Jim Miller asked that very question on David Johnson’s Facebook page. He posted:

“Well, Julian must have known that it was Morgan who ‘hounded him and made him miserable and suicidal’. Yet he chose to do the interview with Morgan. I don’t get your point, other than that everything is for sale in pursuit of a little telly exposure?”

In response Julian’s friend, writer, producer and film critic David McGillivray posted:

“Actually he didn’t. He found out when I emailed him David’s revelation yesterday.”

* * * *

THAT WAS THE ORIGINAL BLOG, AS POSTED. BUT THEN THERE WAS A FOLLOW-UP MESSAGE FROM DAVID JOHNSON WHICH WAS ADDED SEVERAL HOURS LATER…

In this additional piece, David Johnson said it was the Sun’s thuggish writer Garry Bushell who actually wrote the piece which was published the next morning. Bushell’s piece argued that Julian Clary should be banned from live TV. David said this started off a homophobic campaign against artists including Julian Clary and Graham Norton and that it lasted for as long as Garry Bushell was writing for the tabloids.

He said that Garry Bushell’s defence of himself in 2005 – “This isn’t about homophobia. It’s about a fair deal for fellas. We watch telly too” was only to be expected and that he was glad to realise it was Garry Bushell himself – not Julian Clary – who ultimately lost out and became unemployable because of his material. David said Garry Bushell had barely worked since 2007 and was an active UKIP member.

MORE EXPLANATION ABOUT THE CHANGES TO THIS BLOG IN THE FOLLOWING DAY’S BLOG HERE

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The DVD which puts the art into Mr Methane’s fart (& Piers Morgan’s face)

Mr Methane does a sound check with Yuri before the filming

A film about cakes and farting which surprisingly seems to have slipped under the radar of world critics is a 12-minute movie of variable title directed by Swiss film maker Yuri A.

According to one official description of the film, it was titled simply “S” in 2007:

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S is like life: short and shitty. No market research, no demographic segmentation, nothing but imagination and attitude. 100% analogue. A bad film, but good enough for you. Cakes evoke in general only good feelings, while farts, some of the most commonest substances around, shock, repel and offend. But the consequence of a culinary dish is always a fart. It can not be repressed.

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I first became aware of the film in 2004, when my chum Mr Methane, the world’s only professional flatulist, flew to Zürich to make an appearance in a project with the working title Cakes & Farts. Afterwards, he issued some publicity:

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Mr Methane Arsesists With Cakes & Farts Film Project.

Mr Methane has recently been working with award-winning Brazilian born film maker Yuri A on her latest project “Cakes And Farts” a 10 minute short film about eating cakes and farting. As well as Mr Methane, the film also stars Flin an 8 year old child and Maria the Butt Dancer.

Mr.Methane says: “I enjoyed taking part in the film very much, Not only did I get to grunt a few out, I also got to eat a selection of nice tasting cakes as well. But it was all in the name of Art and Public Education.”

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Then, last November, there was more news from Mr Methane:

“For many years,” he said, “I lost the scent in terms of what was happening with this project. In fact once a few years ago, while doing a Google search to see if it had ever been  released, I came upon a YouTube-type video of a lady plonking her G-stringed backside into a chocolate cake before removing herself from the same and farting at the camera with a proximity that was too close for comfort.

“This, for some strange reason, reminded me of Piers Morgan blowing raspberries with his face covered in melted chocolate. I was scared and gave up hope of ever seeing the film in its finished form, so it was nice to hear from Yuri A a few weeks back with news that the film is now available on DVD under the title of Fart Adventures.

“If anyone is looking for another Mr Methane Lets Rip comedy DVD, then this isn’t it. This is a high-end art film about a bottom-end subject. It is produced on 16mm film and seemingly shot in the high-key, high-contrast, super-saturated hues of children’s’ advertising.”

At the time, Mr Methane pointed out that Fart Adventures was retailing for 59 Swiss Francs – around £40 per copy – excluding postage and packing.

“Maybe,” he told me, “they are hoping that the bottom has not fallen out of the fart movie market. I’m not exactly sure who is going to buy such a high art production on DVD at a time when DVDs themselves are not selling and when they do a Lord of the Rings  Trilogy (Theatrical Edition Box Set) for £7.99 – £10.99 on Amazon.”

The DVD: surprisingly not yet a bestseller

The Fart Adventures DVD, with the subtitle Rectum Spectrum, is currently available for 39 Euros (£31.44p at the time of posting) and includes not just Cakes + Farts (12 mins) but also Farts (4 mins), Definitions of Art (5 mins), Shit (6 mins) and UNKO (8 mins) with this explanation:

“The title of ‘Unk’ (or “UNKO”), an invented monosyllabic word intended to function through its acoustic qualities and associations, strongly recalls both Dada poems and babes’ speech.”

 So there you have it: the DVD which puts the art into Mr Methane’s fart.

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Lewis Schaffer on the death of American comic Patrice O’Neal

(This was also published by the Huffington Post and, in a shortened version, by the comedy industry website Chortle)

The American comedian Patrice O’Neal (born ‘Patrice Oneal’) died on Tuesday this week, a month after suffering a stroke at the end of October. I did not know him and neither, it seems, did former Daily Mirror editor, now TV’s Mr Showbiz, Piers Morgan.

On his CNN chat show, the lovely Piers said:

“It’s been a sad day for comedy, with the death of Patrice O’Neal… She died of a stroke today. I want to take a quick look at Patrice on Jimmy Fallon, just to remind everyone just how funny she was…”

He then ran a clip of Patrice who was, very obviously, a man.

In October, I remember hearing about Patrice’s stroke from London-based American comic Lewis Schaffer.

He actually did know Patrice O’Neal and was very, very upset indeed when he told me about what had happened. So, after watching the Piers Morgan clip on YouTube yesterday, I phoned Lewis up and asked him what Patrice was like.

This is what Lewis told me:

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Patrice O’Neal with Lewis Schaffer's son in 2001

He often stayed at my flat in London when he came over. We did group shows at the Melbourne and Edinburgh festivals and we worked together at the Boston Comedy Club in New York, where I was house MC.

When someone famous dies, everyone says they were his friend and they knew him well but I really was Patrice’s friend. I am not saying he was my friend. I would have liked if he thought of me that way. But I was his friend. I knew him pretty well. But I don’t remember anything about him; not really.

I remember him sitting by the washing machine. I remember that argument we had on the stairs with Keith Robinson in Australia and Patrice was so loud the theatre staff locked themselves in their office and were about to call the police. I remember his screeching, booming laugh when he heard that a reviewer had called me “witty”. I remember him holding my tiny baby son in his Green Mile hands and thinking of his joke: “I don’t like to hold babies. I’d be watching the football game and my team would score a touchdown and…”

You’re asking the wrong person. It’s all a blur. Here I am in the confines of my flat and no-one is saying anything nice about me because I’m not dead yet. Poor Greg Giraldo died. It makes you want to fake your own death to get to hear a nice word.

Patrice was a really good guy.

I’ll tell you what I liked about him: he admitted his insecurities – like a Jewish guy. He knew he was a fat, ugly guy; I’ve seen him naked – not a pretty sight, but his face grew on you.

When I knew him, he was not a winner yet but his appeal was growing. He remembered what it was like before girls liked him. And I think that grounded the guy. Maybe that’s what we had in common –  I started comedy late and knew life away from comedy.

And the other thing was he was not afraid of me back in New York and a lot of people were afraid of me.

Patrice was black. I am white. I grew up at a time – the 1960s and 1970s – and in a place – segregated New York – where I did not have a chance to befriend many black people. As a matter of fact, I did not know many white Christians either. Nearly everyone in my hometown of Great Neck were white Jews.

There is a lot of tension between blacks and whites in America. I used to fear black people… with reason because, for example, black kids stole my bicycle (I saw them do it) and a year later, when I was 13, black kids mugged me in Central Park. I used to think that black people were not as smart as white people because whenever I spoke with them they seemed to have a hard time putting a sentence together.

It was when I met Patrice that I understood. It was not that Patrice was smart – though he was, of course. It was that he was emotionally honest. He made me realise that a lot of black people were afraid of people like me. Or wary of me? Or leery? Is that the word? Black people were sometimes afraid of me because I represented ‘The Man’ to them. I looked like a successful guy. Maybe it was a class thing. Maybe they thought I was better educated than them. I wore a blue blazer and a white shirt. I always looked neat and moneyed even when I “didn’t have a pot to piss in”, as my father would say.

A lot of these black guys, they didn’t know white guys. They couldn’t tell that I was running scared. I made them nervous. This mutual distrust affected the way we understood each other – and the way we acted.

But Patrice was not nervous. He was not afraid of admitting he was afraid of white people. He was not afraid of admitting he was afraid of women, relationships, his health, or getting caught making love in a creaky bed. By admitting his fears he empowered himself and disarmed me. I felt comfortable around him.

What Patrice did on a personal level he did in comedy. His honesty disarmed the audience.

When we worked together in New York, he was not famous at all. He hadn’t been on TV at all.

After I left America, comedy kind of exploded for a certain type of comedian.

The comedians I had started with and worked with in New York suddenly went on TV – and he was one of them. He went on the roasts and the ‘shock jock’ radio shows. But even then he wasn’t really famous. I think it was that he was too honest. My girlfriend thought he was misogynistic and I guess he seemed that way. But I remember how gentle and loyal he was to his Liverpudlian girlfriend, Melanie. You gotta walk on tippy toes around women if you want to make it big and his feet were too big for that.

He was unique. That’s what everyone always said about him. He was unique. He’d tell these stories – almost shaggy dog stories – about things happening. They would start off with a statement of why he didn’t litter or why he didn’t make love to his wife at his ma’am’s house. Then he would extrapolate… It was almost an English style, or Richard Pryor. I can’t explain. I feel I should call him up, but he told me not to call him again: that doesn’t mean he wasn’t my friend.

The thing about us as comedians is this…

We don’t go to the same office or factory every day. We’ve got different gigs in different places. We rarely see each other; like ships that pass in the night. But we know who’s out there and what they’re doing. And, when one person dies, it’s like we’ve all… it comes close… it’s like a brother: you get used to not seeing someone but you know he’s out there, so it’s okay. But now you know his “ship” ain’t come bump into your ship… He’ll never… be around again.

To me, he died twice.

He had the stroke about a month ago and, for a comedian, that’s death. It would have been horrible if he had come back ‘slightly’.  Because he was so full-on. I loved him.

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