Congratulations to Dangerous Minds pal, the great Paul Krassner, who was given the PEN Oakland’s Reginald Lockett Lifetime Achievement Award this weekend. From the Berkeley Daily Planet:
PEN Oakland director and poet Gerald Nicosia introduced Paul Krassner as founder of The Realist, cofounder of the Yippies, confederate and editor for Lenny Bruce, and the author of a half-dozen books. Nicosia added a little-known note from Krassner’s long counter-cultural resume (which includes the accolade, “Court Jester to the Revolution”). During a stint as a radio DJ in New York, Krassner got into trouble for broadcasting advice on safe and professional abortion services. Krassner’s advocacy drew the attention of the authorities and resulted in a New York court trial. This trial, Nicosia noted, eventual lead to the historic Supreme Court ruling, Roe versus Wade, which legalized the choice option for America’s women.
Krassner was the crowd’s favorite. The applause that erupted as he hobbled toward the podium quickly gave way to a standing ovation (and what better way to salute a stand-up comic?). Despite turning 78 in April, Krassner still radiates the same boyish exuberance that has endeared him to readers and cabaret crowds for more than five decades. Krassner’s only concession to age would appear to be the sturdy cane he leans on, but his bum leg is not a sign of aging — it’s the legacy of a police beating he sustained in the Sixties.
As the author of “Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut” and other counter-culture classics, Krassner admitted some embarrassment at receiving the honor. “After spending most of my life as an iconoclast,” he said, he found it strange that he has come to be “treated as an icon.” But he expressed his deep appreciation for one aspect of the award. “I’m thankful that his plaque is not being awarded posthumously.” Krassner spoke about his current project: “Writing my first, long-awaited (at least by me) novel.” He related how he had complained to a friend that writing a novel is such an intense, creative process. “Why is it so hard?” his friend asked. “You’ve spent your whole life making thing up.” “Yes,” Krassner replied, “but that was journalism!”
The cost was a nervous breakdown - contemplating the wallpaper: “Just rocking to and fro, you know, the days merging, the seasons coming and going.” It’s David Hoyle talking to London’s Time Outmagazine back in 2006. Hoyle is a performance artist, actor, and writer, he was talking about the cost of being The Divine David - his caustic alter-ego.
“In a way the Divine David became the patron saint of decadence and nihilism and all the rest of it, and it’s hard for that not to affect your own actions,” Hoyle recalls. In the end, he felt, the character was doing him more harm than good. “As much as I used to say, ‘Oh yes, you have to be very sure of your identity to be doing all this business,’ I don’t think I actually was. If you’re used to creating aliases and camouflage and all that sort of palaver, eventually you have to peel it all away and work out who you are.”
The Divine David Presents first appeared on British TV screens in 1999, and offered a series of his thoughts, views, pastiches and whatever came into his head about lile, sex and everything in between. Television was never to be the same again for The Divine David pushed boundaries and challenged perceptions - wait, that description is the kind of media cliche The Divine David would hate - let’s just say he fucked with his audience, and sometimes he fucked with himself, as he once explained to Joe Coleman:
DD: I’m very suspicious of actors and actresses… anything that I do as Divine David is not acting, it’s being. When I say something like ‘I’d like to stab you in the neck’, I really mean it. I said I wanted to rip people’s spines out so they could make attractive pendants and earrings…
IW: David has done a performance where he tried to rip his own spine out on stage…
DD: I just decided ‘I’m gonna do it’, I had Siouxsie and The Banshees singing Through the Looking Glass: “even the greatest stars dislike themselves in the looking glass”. I was laughing my head off. I broke a glass and thought “I’ll shove in it my back and try to rip my spine out”, so I just got it and shoved it in… there were people being sick… it challenged their ideas of themselves to such an extent. But I think that, ultimately, can be quite liberating.
His TV series on Channel 4 brought him some mainstream success, but Hoyle was “mired in drink and drugs,” and to save himself, decided to kill off The Divine David in an ice-show spectacular at the Streatham Ice Arena in London. He then moved back to Manchester, “At the end I was pretty burnt out.” And that’s when the breakdown happened.
Hoyle was born in Blackpool, the seaside city famed for its lights, its shows, its candy rock, its kiss-me-quick hats and its Tower. As a gay child, living in Blackpool was “horrendous. Going to school everyday was like “was like walking to your death on a daily basis. Knowing that you were going to get assaulted, knowing that you didn’t have anybody to talk to.” As he told The Times there was no one to turn to, even his teachers were unsympathetic:
“They would watch as my bag was emptied out of the window, three storeys up. They would allow it because they believed that by subjecting me to violence it would make me heterosexual. Your life is a nightmare but you can’t tell them why, because what you are is so massively wrong that what people are doing by assaulting you is the right thing. You should be assaulted for being a homosexual. That’s what was going on in my mind.”
Hoyle coped by turning his pain into comedy. At 17 he made his stage debut at a working men’s club, the Belle Vue.
“I created this character who was the illegitimate offspring of the Duke of Edinburgh and Dorothy Squires. His name was Paul Munnery-Vain, taken from the pulmonary vein in your heart.”
He was a success, and you know the rest was…as they say, and started Hoyle onto his brilliant career.
Then in the 1990s, Hoyle developed the Divine David, a “queer cultural terrorist,” who satirized the lifestyles many of his audiences held dear - gay-community narcissism, the chauvinism of drag artists, sexual politics, celebrity culture and sex. Hoyle was not just mining the world around him, but using up large chunks of himself - and it came at a cost.
Six years after Divine David’s death-on-ice, David Hoyle returned to “straight” performance, and world domination with more brutal, brilliant, emotionally charged and bitingly funny shows. As the writer Paul Darling recently commented, “David Hoyle is a political/comic/philosophical/poetic GENIUS and we’re lucky to have him.”
And here’s where it started with Hoyle as The Divine David.
More Divine David and Bonus Clips of David Hoyle at home after the jump..
Lately I’m more inclined than I’ve ever been—am I mellowing with age or have I just been worn down?—to feel zen about the fact that I live in a country where the stupidest people are on the ascent everywhere. It used to bother me, but now I’ve come to realize that there is not a damned thing I can do about it.
I just think it’s better for my health this way.
Full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark planned in Kentucky (USA Today)
The UK and Australian pressings of Band of Gypsys featured this cover, with puppet versions of Hendrix, John Peel, Bob Dylan and Brian Jones. (What would be the meaning of this grouping?)
Band of Gypsys was a short-lived “jam band” blues-rock project that came to fruition—and was dissolved—shortly before the death of Jimi Hendrix in 1970. The Band of Gypsys live album was his last release during his lifetime.
Band of Gypsys consisted of Hendrix, his old army pal, bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles. They recorded very little studio material and performed live very few times, including four legendary shows that took place over two nights at the Fillmore East. commencing on New Years Eve of 1969. Before the month was out, the Band of Gypsys was no more, disbanding after a disaster at Madison Square Garden.
The Fillmore performances heard on the album were videotaped using a B&W half-inch open reel recorder, the then new Sony Portapak, from two different angles and forms the basis of this 1999 film, Hendrix: Band of Gypsys.
Dangerous Minds pal, Chris Campion writes from Berlin:
“With all the sensitivity you’d come to expect from the creator of The Day The Clown Cried.”
Witness the enigmatic short “BOY” made in 1993 by Jerry Lewis. Part of a portmanteau film produced by UNICEF with different filmmakers (Jean-Luc Godard made one, too). Here’s what Temple of Schlock had to say about it:
BOY is the story of the only white Jewish-looking kid in an otherwise all black world. In school, the teachers applaud the efforts (all excellent) of the other students, but Boy cannot excel. His teacher seems to be teaching the entire class, but it appears that Boy just can’t grasp the lessons. For this, he is ridiculed and humiliated by all.
That the entire scene (and the remainder of the film as well, except for one line at the end) is pantomimed recalls a similar scene from THE PATSY (1964)—a flashback to Lewis’s character being humiliated at a school dance by all the other students. Ahhh, that old Lewis bag of psycho-autobiographical tricks sure comes in handy.
In the end, the punchline is that Boy’s family is black, too. I have no idea what the fuck this is really all about and I doubt anyone else does, either. No one save for Jerry Lewis himself, that is. Presumably it would have to mean… something, wouldn’t it?