These days we’re used to seeing public figures like Sarah Palin and Scott Walker punked, but in the early 1980s, the avenues for media hacking just did not exist the way they do now. The infamous “Thatchergate” tape—an audio collage constructed by Crass bassist Peter Wright (aka “Sybil Right” and “Pete Wrong”) of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan “talking” about nuclear weapons and the sinking of the HMS Sheffield as a deliberate attempt to escalate the conflict in the Falklands War was one of the first. The “Thatchergate” tape was an event back then, especially in the squatter/anarcho-punk crowd that I was a part of in London at the time. To hear about Crass perpetrating the hoax of Ronald Reagan getting “caught on tape” threatening to nuke Europe (to show Russia who was boss!) was nothing short of a blow against Moloch!
Today, there are a little more than 2000 items that come up on Google for “Thatchergate” and most have nothing to do with Crass. This story should be a lot better known, it’s one of the greatest pranks in history:
From San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 1983.
Washington. A fake tape of a purported conversation between President Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was circulated in Europe this spring, possibly by the KGB, the State Department said yesterday.
“This type of activity fits the pattern of fabrications circulated by the Soviet KGB, although usually they involve fake documents rather than tapes,” the department said in a written response to reporter’s questions.
The department said that although the recording is of “poor quality,” a technical analysis revealed that the voices were those of Reagan and Thatcher.
But the department indicated the voices were spliced together and said they were not part of an actual conversation.
“We checked with the White House, which advised thay no such conversation took place,” the department said.
The President’s part in the recording apparently was lifted from his Nov. 22, 1982 speech on nuclear disarmament,” it said. “We are not sure where Mrs. Thatcher’s remarks came from.
The department said a copy of the tape was received by the U.S. embassy in the Netherlands a week before the British elections.
The tape dealt with the Falklands crisis and U.S. missiles in Britain, the department said.
It said, “From the drift of the tape, the evident purpose was to cause problems for Mrs. Thatcher by blaming her for the sinking of the British destroyer Sheffield and also for us by stirring trouble on the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) issue.”
The Sheffield was sunk by Argentine forces last year during the war with Britain over the Falkland Islands.
Britain and the United Staes took part in a NATO decision to install intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe late this year as a counter to similar Soviet forces if an agreement on restriction such weapons is not reached.
The State Department said the tape-recording was sent with a covering letter from an anonymous person to Dutch journalists.
It is said an analysis by the language experts “suggests that the author was not a native speaker.”
The Reagan administration has contended for some time that the KGB has contended for some thime that the KGB has a forgery factory producing false documents to mislead target audiences.
It was also written up in The Sunday Times, on January 8, 1983
How the KGB fools the West’s press.
THE TAPE is heavy with static and puntuated with strange noises, but through it all can be heard the authentic voices of Ronald Reagan on the telephone: “If there is a conflict we shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays within its borders.”
At the other end of the telephone is Mrs. Thatcher. “You mean Germany?” she asks increduously.
“Mrs. Thatcher, if any country endagers our position we can decide to bomb the problem area and so remove the instability.”
If this is not hair-raising enough, we hear Mrs. Thatcher virtually admitting that she had the Belgrano sunk to end any chance of an agreement with Argentina. “Oh God!” says Reagan.
The whole conversation is fake. Both voices are real but the words spoken have been doctored, cut, rearranged and then expanded on the transcript of the tape. Every word from Reagan is extracted from his lengthy presidential address on nuclear strategy. When, for instance, he seems to swear at Mrs. Thatcher, he is in fact coming to the end of his speech and quoting a hymn: “Oh God of love, O king of peace.”
The tape surfaced in Holland just before last year’s British general election, but it never quite overcame the suspicions of Dutch journalists. They declined to publish the juicy exclusive, sent to them anonymously. But other journalists across the world have fallen for an increasing flow of such stories based on “authoritative” cables, memo and tapes. The State Department in Washington says they are all products of an increasingly sophisicated Russian campaign.
“They have accelerated their efforts and they have fine-tuned them,” claims Larry Semakis, deputy director of a State Department team that monitors what the Russians call “active measures.” He admits that “no one can specifically prove in a court of law that Soviet hand was on this or that item.” But he says there is a pattern in the use of forgeries which points unmistakably to the Russians.
The State Department believes that “active measures” are the responsibility of the KGB’s first directorate; that some forgeries go as high as the ruling Politburo for approval…
“[W]hich points unmistakably to the Russians”? I don’t think so…
Then one year later in The Observer newspaper on, Sunday, January 22, 1984, it was revealed that…
‘Soviet’ faked tape is rock group hoax
A TAPE recording, purporting to carry details of a secret telephone conversation between Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan, has been revealed as a hoax manufactured deliberately by an anarchist rock group.
The recording was taken to newspapers throughout Europe—including The Observer—but, apart from one Italian newspaper, nobody had been taken in by the hoax tape until it appeared in the Sunday Times earlier this month.
That newspaper described it as part of a KGB propaganda war. Unfortunately the tape was recorded not in Moscow but in an Essex farmhouse.
The New York correspondent of the paper reported that the State Department believed the tape was evidence of ‘an increasingly sophisticated Russian disinformation cam- paign.’
The real authors of the hoax tape, the anarchist punk rock group Crass, said that they had been ‘amused and amazed’ that the tape had been attributed to the KGB.
The recording first appeared in the offices of a number of Continental newspapers shortly before the British general election last year.
A covering note said it was a recording of a crossed line on which was heard part of the two leaders’ telephone conversation, and that the person who sent it wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
Key lines in the tape include Mr. Reagan apparently asking why the Belgrano was sunk during the Fallrlands war, when Secretary of State Haig was nearing a peace agreement. Mrs Thatcher appears to reply: ‘Argentina was the invader. Force had to be used now, punishing them as quickly as possible.’
Mr. Reagan then says: ‘Oh God, it is not right. You caused the Sheffield to have been hit. Those missiles we followed on the screen. You must have, too, and not let them know.’
Later, in a discussion on nuclear strategy, Mr. Reagan is made to say: ‘If there is a conflict we shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays within its borders.’
The tape was first brought to The Observer by a Belgian journalist last June. We concluded, like most of the other newspapers, that it was a fake.
The quest for the real hand behind the tape led to an isolated farmhouse in north Essex, where the eight members of the band live with their children.
Reluctantly the members of the band, who sport names like Joy Be Vivre, G Sus and Sybil Right, admitted faking the tape. They showed how they had put it together over two and a half months, using parts of TV and radio broadcasts made by the two leaders, then overdubbing with telephone noises.
‘We wanted to precipitate a debate on those subjects to damage Mrs. Thatcher’s position in the election. We also did it because of the appaling way Tam Dalyell was treated over the Belgrano debate,’ they said.
‘We believe that although the tape is a hoax, what is said in it is in effect true.’
And there was more: From The Associated Press, Sunday, January 25, 1984
And still more…
Crass ‘KGB tape’ hoax (Sounds, January 28, 1984)
CRASS have been uncovered as the perpetrators of a bogus tape of a telephone ‘conversation’ between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
The tape was originally circulated last sammer before the General Election and was claimed to be a recording of a crossed line between the two leaders. Needless to say it is not complimentary to either statesperson.
During the coarse of the ‘conversation’ Thatcher replies to Reagan’s question about the Belgrano by saying: “Argentina was the invader. Force had to be used now, punishing them as quickly as possible.”
And later in a discussion aboat nuclear strategy Reagan says: “If there is any conflict we a shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays with stays within its borders.”
Most newspapers recognised the tape as a fake but the Sunday Times attributed it to KGB propaganda a couple of weeks ago and last Sunday’s Observer took considerable delight in tracking the tape back to Crass’s HQ in Essex.
Invoking the spirit of one of Reagan’s predecessors, George Washington, they explained that the tape had been put together from TV and radio broadcasts overdubbed by telephone noises.
They justified their actions by saying: “We wanted to precipitate a debate on the Falklands and nuclear weapons to damage: Thatcher’s position in the election. We also did it because of the appalling way Tom Dalyell (almost the only MP to raise any awkward questions over the Falklands affair) was treated over the Belgrano debate in the House of Commons.
I recall hearing at the time that Jane Pauley did a story on this on The Today Show in the US, but can find no record of that online, sadly… To this day, the members of Crass have never been able to figure out how the tape was traced back to them.
Pretty much there are only two ways to hear the “Thatchergate” tape: In the Crass song, “Powerless with a Guitar” you can hear a bit of it. It was also included at the end of a “God Told Me to Do It” mix by David Tibet which you can download at the excellent Kill Your Pet Puppy blog (where I got most of this information from and has audio interviews about “Thatchergate”). Since it’s not ideal listening—the conceit was that it was recorded due to crossed wires, so there is a ringing phone noise throughout (a nice touch)—here’s a transcript of the “Thatchergate” tape in full:
Thatcher: Own business!
Reagan. I urge restraint. It’s absolutely essential or the area ‘be “through the roof”.
Thatcher: Look, our objectives are fundamentally different. Al Haig…
Reagan: Secretary Haig….
Thatcher:. Doesn’t seem to be able to find a solution.
Reagan: Why eliminate “Belgrano”? You directed this. The Argentinians were then going…. Secretary Haig reached an agreement.
Thatcher: Argentina was the invader! Force has been used. It’s been used now, punishing them as quickly as possible.
Reagan: Oh, God, it’s not right! You caused the “Sheffield” to have been hit. Those missiles we followed on screens. You must have too, and not let them know. What do you hope to gain?
Thatcher: What I said before -“Andrew”- ....As “cruise” go in, I want incentives at all levels….
Reagan: There’s a deal….a third more submarine ballistic missiles, and you will see that the United States forces remain deployed. The intermediate range missiles are U.S. defence. You proposed building them in Europe. Build up the economy. They don’t work, they’re social programmes…. The United Kingdom is a….er….little nation….
Thatcher: You still need those nations, and you’re given long term international markets.
Reagan: We are supported by our allies, whether they want, or not.
Thatcher: I, I don’t understand you….
Reagan: In conflict, we will launch missiles on allies for effective limitation of the Soviet Union.
Thatcher: ‘Mean over Germany?
Reagan: Mrs Thatcher, if any country of ours endangered the position, we might bomb the “problem area”, and correct the imbalance.
Thatcher: See, my….
Reagan: It will convince the Soviets to listen. We demonstrate our strength….The Soviets have little incentive to launch an attack.
Thatcher: Our British people….
Reagan: London! ....
Thatcher: I think….
Reagan: Let that be understood…
I’m pretty sure this guy isn’t human. He’s an art form!
(via High Definite)
Chicago-based singer/composer Thomas Negovan has recorded the first new songs on an Edison wax cylinder since the 1920s as part of an ambitious art and music project cheekily titled By Popular Demand:
While a number of other musical acts have toyed with anachronistic ideas and themes, this record may be the first to truly act as a time machine to the early days of recorded music. Thomas Negovan’s debut solo album By Popular Demand features 8 original songs recorded using the most archaic of techniques: the wax cylinder. By stripping the music-making process of the gluttonously infinite possibilities of the digital age, By Popular Demand relied on the intimacy of the singer, his instruments, and the wax cylinder recorder. This meant no overdubs, no equalization, no editing, and most notable of all: NO ELECTRICITY. Using the most sophisticated recording techniques of 1911, By Popular Demand by name possesses a quality that is retro enough to be charming and ridiculous enough to be entertaining.
The album was recorded in two grueling one day sessions, requiring Negovan to use the sheer power of his voice and 12-string guitar to move a small sapphire needle across wax cylinders. By utilizing the bygone artistry of wax cylinder recording popularized at the turn of the century by Thomas Edison, Negovan’s decision to bypass modern digital method makes for a sound that is undeniably haunting and organic.
The record itself comes in three versions with limited pressings. The retail version features marbled black and translucent red vinyl housed in a sleeve overlaid with work by colloidial photographer Greg Martin. The other two are deluxe versions, pressed in both black lacquered and red translucent vinyl, with hand silkscreened sleeves adorned in artwork by Cursed Pirate Girl creator Jeremy A. Bastian.
By Popular Demand features the debut single “The Divine Eye,” to be released on wax cylinder in a limited edition of 50. The single is a first of its kind since 1924: recorded AND released on wax cylinder.
Negovan is performing in Los Angeles on January 25th at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery to celebrate the release of By Popular Demand. He explains how the recording was accomplished and you can see one of the tracks being recorded, in the video below:
One of the weirdest villains in the history of comic books was the formidable He-She. A creation of writer and artist Chuck Biro, the part man/part woman baddie appeared in the pages of Crimebuster comics featuring crime fighter Chuck Chandler. The series ran from 1942 to 1956.
Crimebuster had no super powers. Chuck Chandler decided to fight crime (Nazis, specifically) after his parents were murdered by Iron Jaw, who was Crimebuster’s main recurring nemesis and a really pretty nasty bad guy.
Want to read the whole exciting comic featuring He-She? Go here.
On occasion, Francis Bacon settled outstanding restaurant or bar bills with one of his paintings. It didn’t always satisfy the creditor, as a certain London restaurateur, not taken with the Irishman’s work, sold each painting on as quickly as he received them. What then would this dear gentleman make of the news that a single portrait by Bacon is expected to reach £18m at auction?
Described as “seductive and sexually charged,” the painting shows one of Bacon’s famous muses, Henrietta Moraes, slightly tipsy, lying naked on a rumpled, stained bed, in some Soho apartment. The image was based on one of a series of photographs Bacon commissioned from Vogue snapper, Colony Room habituee and chronic alcoholic, John Deakin, who ensured he took enough photos to hock around as under-the-counter porn at ten bob a print.
Though he lived an exclusively gay lifestyle, women were central to Bacon: they were his muses, who loved, nurtured, inspired and developed his talents. Indeed, Bacon surrounded himself with strong women, almost replacements to the mother who had been callously indifferent to her son’s brutal beatings, when caught as a child dressing-up in her clothes, and flirting with the stable boys.
In moments of fancy, I think Bacon had the hawk-like look of Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple, especially when all glammed-up for a night on the piss. I can imagine him solving an Agatha Christie, or board game mystery—Professor Plum, in the library, with a candle-stick - for there was the shadow of country house and prim maiden aunt (doling out make-up tips to younger girls, and at night reading Mrs Beeton recipes in bed), at the heart of him.
These grim childhood beatings opened Francis up to the delights of S&M—he fucked all the grooms who had horse-whipped him, and fantasized about his father (whose purple face screams form so many Popes, or glowers from under blackened umbrellas)—and a long life of violent relationships with his lovers.
Even so, it was the women who shaped him.
“Portrait of Henrietta Moraes” (1963)
Previously on Dangerous Minds
More on Francis Bacon’s women, after the jump…
Andy Warhol’s Kiss is probably the artist’s earliest film work that was screened in public. Harkening back to the time when Hayes Office censors would not allow lips to touch and linger for more than three seconds in Hollywood films, with Kiss, Warhol decided to shoot male/female, female/female and male/male snogs that went on for three minutes. The concept was likely also influenced by a 1929 Greta Garbo film called The Kiss which apparently was screened at Amos Vogel’s influential Cinema 16 experimental film society right around the time that Warhol bought his first Bolex film camera.
The Kiss films were started in 1963 and shown in installments during weekly underground film screenings organized by Jonas Mekas. Eventually a 55-minute long version of Kiss was assembled. Among the participants were Ed Sanders of The Fugs, actor Rufus Collins from the Living Theatre, sculptor Marisol, artist Robert Indiana, as well as several of the outcasts and doomed beauties who would come to comprise the Factory’s “superstars.” The woman who you see kissing several guys, is Naomi Levine, who probably also came up with the concept (many of the kisses were also shot in her apartment). Andy Warhol referred to Levine as “my first female superstar.”
I’m not certain we should be thanking special makeup effects artist Kevin Kirkpatrick for creating these IRL prosthetic busts of Beavis and Butt-Head. This is going to give me nightmares!
I can’t unsee them!
01: Devo - “Mechanical Man”
02: Venetian Snares - “Boarded Up Swan Entrance”
03: Serena-Maneesh - “Ayisha Abyss” (Lindstrom Remix)
04: Jason Forrest - “New Religion” (Brad Laner Remix)
05: Third Eye Foundation - “Universal Cooler”
06: Space Needle - “The Sun Doesn’t Love Me Anymore”
07: Verbena - “Silver Queen”
08: Joe Potts - “Airway”
09: The Photon Band - “Superstard”
10: Nudge - “Blue ScreenBuy”
11: Jessamine - “I’M Not Afraid Of Electricity”
12: Totalrod2 - “Whisper 70”