David Sedaris is one of my favorite writers, and I love absurdly bad smut. So when you have a best-selling author (and National Public Radio darling) reading some of the worst, most unsexy erotica ever written (in his trademark voice, natch), ladies and gentleman, that is comedy gold.
And Sedaris really commits to it! This was recorded for a Dutch Television show (which may be why they can’t spell his name correctly).
Jean Genet wrote Our Lady of the Flowers while in prison in 1942. It was published anonymously the following year, and sold around 30 copies. It wasn’t until after the Allied Forces liberated France in 1944 that the bulk of the copies were bound and sold.
Due to its sexual content Our Lady of the Flowers was sold as high class erotica, but Genet never intended it as such. It would take until the book had been revised and reprinted by Gallimard in 1951 that Our Lady of the Flowers received the critical accolades it richly deserved - even if Jean-Paul Sartre described it as “the epic of masturbation.”
‘I’d just rented a little cottage, a country retreat, in Hungerford in Berkshire, and my next door neighbor - it was one Sunday morning and we were listening to Round the Horne, we all did on those Sunday mornings - and my neighbor across the fence leaned over and said.
“Oh hi, I think this book might interest you.”
And it was Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers. And I began to read it, and as soon as I began to read it I could already see it on the stage, and I could see myself as Divine, the central character. And two weeks later, we opened it.
Only someone of Kemp’s incredible talents and vision could have produced Flowers, and the production put Kemp and his dance company literally “on the map.” Since then, Kemp and Co. have performed Flowers all across the world to incredible acclaim.
In 1982, a video was made of the Lindsay Kemp Dance Company performing Flowers at the Teatro Parioli, Roma. It is rarely been seen since, and the video is a incredible treat for anyone interested in dance, performance and theater.
On August 9 1979, German punk diva Nina Hagen caused what was dubbed “the scandal of the year” on the Austrian youth culture TV talkshow Club2 when she demonstrated several optimal positions for female masturbation.
The (fully-clothed, sorry!) action takes place towards the very end, just after the hour and 28-minute mark, when she gets into a heated argument about female orgasms with one of the guests. I don’t speak German, but it’s pretty clear for all to see who loses the debate and it’s not Nina!
The guy sitting next to her is Ferdinand Karmelk, the father of her daughter, German actress Cosma Hagen. The duo perform a sort of unplugged version of NunSexMonkRock‘s “Future is Now,” here.
The host of the show was was obliged to step down over the incident.
A rare and brief interview with Pier Paolo Pasolini on the set of his notorious film version of De Sade’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. As ever, Pasolini’s is uncompromising in his views of film-making and politics, which are still relevant today.
There is a lot of sex in it (Salò), rather towards Sado-Masochism, which has a very specific function - that is to reduce the human body to a saleable commodity. It represents what power does to the human being, to the human body.
All my films start from a formal idea, which I feel I must do. It is an idea I have of the kind of film it must be. It cannot be expressed in words, you either understand it or you don’t. When I make a film, it because I suddenly have an inspiration about the form of that particular subject must take. That is the essence of the film.
As I shoot this film, I already have it edited in my mind. Therefore, I expect a greater professional ability from my actors. So, this film I’m using 4 or 5 professional actors. But even the ones I have collected from the streets, I use them almost as if they were professional actors. The lines have to be said properly, the way they were written, and all in one take. They must have the correct facial expression from the beginning to the end of the shot, etc etc.
My need to make this film also came from the fact I particularly hate the leaders of the day. Each one of us hates with particular vehemence the powers to which he is forced to submit. So, I hate the powers of today. It is a power that manipulates people just as it did at the time of Himmler or Hitler.
I don’t think the young people of today will understand this film. I have no illusions about my ability to influence young people. It is impossible to create a cultural relationship with them, because they are living with totally new values, with which the old values cannot be compared.
I don’t believe we shall ever again have any form of society in which men will be free. One should not hope for it. One should not hope for anything. Hope is invented by politicians to keep the electorate happy.
It was then purchased by what is now Syfy, who never aired the series (for reasons you won’t wonder about, if you’ve seen it) despite them paying a fair whack of money for it. Eventually it came out on DVD (Netflix also has it).
In any case, this segment, “The Best of Both Worlds” was going to be the first thing viewers would have seen in year two, but I ended up shuffling that around a bit after several people warned me not to come on that strong and that I might want to ease into it with the C4 lawyers, so it ended up airing towards the end of the second series. When that episode did air (dealing with themes explored in Adam Parfrey’s Apocalypse Culture II book) there were tons of angry letters and viewer complaints. One memorable letter accused me of trying to “create mass social deviation” using the airwaves (the best compliment I’ve ever received, btw). I was later told that criminal fines were levied on a broadcaster who showed that episode in Thailand due to the piece on transsexual porn.
The thesis of the piece—and it’s something that was also written about by George Petros (who you’ll see in the segment in an interview that we shot in my then apartment in the West Village) in a provocative essay titled “The New Hermaphrodite”—is that what seemed to then be an eye-popping explosion of “chicks with dicks” porn, was not really something being marketed towards gay men at all, as might be expected, but at straight men, as a sort of “kink.” Gia Darling, a well-known director of transsexual pornography who I interviewed says this explicitly to me, that gay men are not even remotely interested in seeing depictions of femininity—especially the sort of hyper-femininity associated with transsexuals—in their porno. So who was renting all of the shemale porn that started coming out in the late 1990s then?
When the answer to this actually dawned on me—before I knew there was a question, I should say—I was walking around lowlife XXX video stores on “The Block,” Baltimore’s sleazy red light district at 7 am on a Saturday morning in 1998 (it’s actually two blocks long and at the time, still a pretty seedy spot). Perhaps a little explanation is necessary: that very weekend was one of those times in my life where my bank account went from having like $200 in it, to having quite a bit more by the following banking day. But this was the weekend before that money got deposited into my account and I found myself staying in what might be charitably have been described as a “crack hotel.”
I had taken the train to Baltimore to see Joe Coleman do a lecture (Hasil Adkins also performed) and I think I had an overly optimistic idea of what sort of reasonably priced accommodations I might find in the downtown area. The shithole I stayed in didn’t even have towels and the bed sheets (which I used as towels in the morning) smelled strongly of Pine Sol. Two morbidly obese women with their hair in curlers sat outside the place on the sidewalk on lawn furniture watching a B&W TV and chain-smoking. The clerk who checked me in did so from behind a two-inch thick bullet proof window. It was a fucking dump. The worst.
The second I woke up, I made to get out of there, but there’s not a whole lot to do in downtown Baltimore in the very early morning hours (at least not that I knew of) and so I ended up getting coffee at a 7-Eleven and wandering around until the bookstores and record stores opened. Then I bumped into “The Block.” Having read about it in one of John Waters’ books, I knew exactly where I was when I laid eyes on “it.” So I walked in—and then rather quickly out—of the stores and the strip bars that were open at that time of the morning. “The Block” lived up to its depraved reputation, but there was something I noticed that, at the time, seemed quite remarkable…
In every Baltimore porn store, there was a disproportionately high percentage of the floor space—25 to 40%—devoted to “shemale” DVDs. Mostly straight porn, then the transsexual porn and only then a very small amount (5-6%) of gay porn. Baltimore, if you’ve never been there, is more or less a hillbilly and poor black city (that doesn’t describe the entire city, no, but it will suffice). Even at that early hour, these places were pretty crowded. The men who were perusing these wares were all working class guys, the sort of dudes who carry lunchboxes to work with them. As “normal” as you could get. Why all the interest in “chicks with dicks” (at 7am) and yet the apparent disinterest in the “regular gay” DVDs?
It seemed to me that the answer to that question would make good television.
Another thing that’s worth mentioning about this piece is a sort of “oh duh” epiphany I had when I was doing some interviews at Gia Darling’s apartment. Alyssa, Gia’s downstairs neighbor (who I assumed, until I was told otherwise, was a biological female and Gia’s zany “fag hag” friend) was trying to explain something to me about the difficulty for her to find a straight boyfriend because she wasn’t herself interested in being with a gay man (in fact, she seemed to look down on the idea with great disdain).
Later, when we were editing the piece and I was watching the raw interview footage, I could hear myself not quite getting what she was trying to communicate to me, like it just wasn’t computing in my brain, and Gia can be heard off camera trying to patiently explain it to me. It seemed to make a lot of sense to cut it around Alyssa’s poignant remarks because I didn’t want the piece to seem lurid or unsympathetic (For the record, I wholeheartedly agree with what Gia Darling says towards the end about the daily heroism of a transgender person. It made me happy to be able to include that part).
When the show aired and I sent videotapes to all the participants, I was pleased to see how positively Gia, Alyssa and everyone else felt about the piece and how jazzed they were to be able to say the things they got to say on network television.
Shot and edited by Nimrod Erez, music by Adam Peters and Chris Brick (Family of God). (Don’t blame me for the distorted audio or the typo, it’s not my upload).
I wonder if Mark Thompson had anything to declare when he went through customs en route for his new job at the New York Times? Probably not.
And now he is ensconced as CEO at the NYT, I wonder if Thompson has anything to declare over the Jimmy Savile scandal that has engulfed the BBC?
Even so, I can’t help thinking that this is not the end of the story, for I find it hard to believe that Thompson knew nothing about those stories regarding Jimmy Savile, or was not at least aware of them. It now appears that I am not the only one who thinks this. Allegedly former BBC journalist, Keith Graves, finds it hard to believe, as he, or someone commenting under his name, posted on the Daily Mail:
Mark Thompson says that during his time at the BBC he “never heard any allegations” about Savile. During his years in the television newsroom, culminating in a period editing the flagship evening new, rumours about Savile being ‘into little girls’ were rife as were often crude comments about hims and his behaviour. It is inconceivable that those rumours, which were, I recall, often discussed in the BBC club bar by news staff, did not reach his ears.
- Keith Graves, Valencia, Spain, 28/10/2012 13:27
Even Mike Hollingsworth, the man who first employed Thompson as his assistant at the BBC, said in the Daily Telegraph, Thompson would have had to been “tone deaf” not to have heard rumors about Jimmy Savile.
“He must be mad denying that he’d heard anything about Saville. We had all heard the rumours. You would have to have been tone deaf not to have heard them…
“I know that Mark has a strong Catholic faith, but it wasn’t as if this was something that people would whisper about when he came into a room – he is a man of the world. You just have to look at the programming he put out when he took over at Channel 4 to see that he wasn’t in the least bit squeamish when it came to all kinds of discussions about sex.”
This incredulity from former colleagues has only increased the growing disquiet over the “baggage” Thompson is perceived to be bringing to his new job at the New York Times, as one of the paper’s editors, Margaret Sullivan wondered in a blog:
“How likely is it that [Thompson] knew nothing?....His integrity and decision-making are bound to affect The [New York] Times and its journalism – profoundly. It’s worth considering now whether he is the right person for the job, given this turn of events.”
The questions hinge on what Thompson knew about the Jimmy Savile scandal, when he was Director General at the BBC. It’s an important issue, one that saw his replacement, George Entwisle (or “Incurious George”) resign his position over not knowing about a Newsnight item that led to a gross libel against an innocent man. If Entwistle was considered guilty for not knowing about the serious allegations broadcast by his flagship news program, then where does that leave Thompson, who claims he knew little or virtually nothing about a planned Newsnight investigation into abuse allegations involving Jimmy Savile?
What little Thompson did know he dismissed in a letter to Conservative MP, Rob Wilson:
“What did happen is that, at a drinks reception late last year, a journalist mentioned to me the existence of the investigation and said words to the effect of “you must be worried about the Newsnight investigation?” This was the first I had heard of the investigation…Although I recall hearing at the time of his death that BBC Television might do something (a tribute) about Jimmy Savile in due course, again I had not been briefed about the programmes themselves. I assume they were commissioned and broadcast by BBC Vision, the BBC’s television arm, in the usual way.”
The joyful hedonism of the 1960s was in part a response to the trauma to the Second World War. The same way the twenties swung after the first great conflagration. And like that decade, it was primarily the white, upwardly mobile, metropolitan, middle class that enjoyed the sex, the drugs and the rock ‘n’ roll.
London may have been swinging in 1967, but for the rest of the country not a lot changed. It would take until the 1970s for most of the country to get a hint of what London experienced. The most important changes, apart from pop music and American TV shows, were the legalization abortion and de-criminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults - both of which set the scene for bigger and more radical changes in the 1970s.
Yet, as so many of the media are Baby Boomers, the love of all things sixties ensures TV fills its schedules with documentaries on that legendary decade. 1967: The Summer of Love is better than most, as it covers the cultural, social, and political changes that the decade brought. With contributions form Germaine Greer, Donovan, Nigel Havers, Bill Wyman, John Birt and Mary Quant, together with some excellent color archive, this documentary is a cut-above the usual retro-vision.
On the cusp of stardom, a young David Bowie models a Michael Fish dress on the cover of Curious - the ‘sex education magazine for men and women.’ He wore the same outfit on the cover of his 1970 album, The Man Who Sold The World.
Bowie stands next to clothes designer Freddie Buretti, who would design some of the early Ziggy Stardust costumes. Bowie tried to make a star of Buretti with his side-project band Arnold Corns, recording a version of “Moonage Daydream” with Buretti. The band failed, Buretti returned to designing clothes, and Bowie recorded Ziggy Stardust.