Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Summer 2005

Warren Allen Smith

Stateside Gossip

by Warren Allen Smith

A just-issued video-disk, Beatles’ Biggest Secrets, tells “the untold story of a cultural phenomenon” where backstage it was sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Interviews in the gossipy documentary are filmed with people who knew the Liverpool musicians: Bryan Barrett, who helped them get hash; Tony Barrow, their 1963-8 press officer; Sid Bernstein, their US concertmaster; Tony Bramwell, a school friend; Tony Crane, a radio journalist and sixties Liverpool musician; Royston Ellis, the poet who before they became the Beatles showed them how to get high by sniffing the inside of a Benzedrine nose inhaler and with whom Lennon had a threesome, the girl in between, inspired by Ellis’s poem with the line, “I long to have sex between black leather sheets and ride shivering motorcycles through your thighs”; Horst Fasher, Hamburg club manager and boxer who saw the sexually adventurous Lennon having sex with a transsexual; Bill Harry, a sixties music journalist and author on books about the Beatles; Sam Leach, Liverpool concert promoter who said Lennon of course knew Epstein was gay; Albert Maisels, filmmaker who travelled with them during their first US visit; Mary McCartney, Paul’s mother, and his stepsister Ruth McCartney, who said fans sent Paul gum to chew and send back to them, socks for him to wear and send back unwashed, even ladies’ underwear; Rosemarie McGinnity, the Hamburg barmaid who said they could choose whatever groupies they wanted for sex; Paul Saltzman, the photographer who met them in India; Tony Sheridan, who explained why they shoplifted socks and needed items because they had so little money in Hamburg; Alistair Taylor, Epstein’s assistant who handled some of the finances; Jürgen Vollmer, their friend in Hamburg; Klaus Voormann, an artist who drew pictures of how the group’s living accommodations included their having to wash in the men’s bathroom, during which a stranger might come in to pee; and Allan Williams, their first manager who tells which of the group had the pox.

Mae Pang tells how for over a year she slept with Lennon, asked by Yoko Ono to do so to take him off her hands. Brian Epstein is depicted as having been bowled over by Lennon, “liked a bit of rough”, and purposely took him to Barcelona in hopes of their having sex. We’ve not heard the end of the Beatles yet!

He gave me that look from across the bar, we approached each other, and our hands had no trouble finding the sensitive areas. He said his mother was dead, that he’d been raised on an Indiana farm by his aunt and uncle. I said I’d been raised in a small Iowa farm community, that my dad was a grain dealer. We laughed about wishing we’d known each other then when loneliness was a way of life.

We both said we were not at all into religion, although he said he knew about the Friends, and I knew about Unitarian humanists. He didn’t tell me what kind of job he had, nor did I volunteer that I was a teacher at this time in the 1950s.

Now, your place or mine? Well, neither had a place. We slipped away into a dark area of the Julius bar in Greenwich Village, holding hands and balls. He explained he’d come to the city to become an actor; I said I’d come to attend Columbia University and get a job teaching, and we kept drinking until we got woozy. I remember the feel of his hard erection and my failure to tell him the reason I had to leave: to get home to my Costa Rican companion.

As to who the handsome Midwestern chap was that I met when in my thirties, I’m unsure. Arriving home, I told my companion I’d just met a twentysomething with playful eyes. He wasn’t happy, told me about having had a fight with someone, and we fell asleep, both a little angry at each other.

Jimmy Dean died fifty years ago. Born in Marion, Indiana, in 1931, he was killed in a road accident in Cholame, California, 30 September 1955. His mother died of cancer when he was nine. In 1951, with $30 earned from a Pepsi TV commercial, Dean came to New York and spent two years playing bit parts in TV dramas.

In the 1950s he played an Arab street boy in André Gide’s L’immoraliste, one who seduced a husband as well as his wife. Dean caught Elia Kazan’s eye and was flown back to Hollywood to star in John Steinbeck’s classic East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956). But his claim to fame came when he played the role of Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), working with co-stars Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo.

In Britain’s Guardian (14 May 2005) Germaine Greer wrote that few would have guessed Dean was gay when he was in his prime, that his studio had him photographed often in public with starlets. But scuttlebutt around Broadway at the time was that he was definitely gay. My never-to-be-answered question is whether or not he ever drank at West 10th and Waverly Place in the Julius bar.

Marlon Brando and Wally Cox were known lovers, but the dirt about Marlon keeps flying since his death in July 2004. In his will he deeded a Polynesian island sanctuary to his pal, child-molestation defendant Michael Jackson. Now the co-executor of his will, Jo An Corrales, who was fired twelve days before he died at the age of eighty, has filed a $5 million wrongful-termination lawsuit. She claims he often exposed his genitals to her, made her watch porn movies with him, introduced her to people as having “the biggest teats you have ever seen” and “the perfect mouth for oral sex”, and had “terrible fixations on” and sexual escapades with minors. Brando, a non-believer, is unfortunately not around to defend himself.

“Good evening, godless sodomites,” comedian Jon Stewart said in a recent videotaped greeting featured at the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) media awards dinner in Times Square. Present was one of the group’s honorees, Alan Cumming, who attacked New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg for having challenged a judge’s ruling in support of gay marriage. Also present, according to Daily News columnists George Rush and Joanna Molloy, was Billy Crystal, who was lauded for his portrayal of gay son Jodie Dallas, TV’s first openly gay character on the 1970s TV series Soap. Speaking of having risked being “pinkballed” in Hollywood, he said, “Understanding is vital in a modern society. If you see a rather manly person in women’s clothes – it might not be a lesbian. It might be Camilla Parker Bowles.” Just one of those oh-so-galha events.

At the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, a 250-item Malcolm X exhibition has opened and will run until the end of 2005. Malaak Shabazz, one of Malcolm’s daughters, told reporters that the exhibition, which coincides with the eightieth anniversary of his birth in Omaha, throws “a shadow on all the historians who have paraphrased my dad. You can’t paraphrase or rewrite an icon or human being.” It does not, however, include details brought out in Bruce Perry’s 1991 biography, Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America. That book describes the fiery twentieth-century leader who founded his own movement after being suspended from the Black Muslim movement by Elijah Muhammad.

Malcolm’s living on what today is called the down-low allegedly included having sex with men for money. Perry mentions Malcolm’s being with Willie Mae, a gay transvestite. Malcolm also is said to have worked for a Boston bachelor, William Paul Lennon, who paid him to sprinkle talcum powder onto Lennon’s body and bring him to orgasm. Size queens, note: according to another daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, her dad wore size 14 shoes.

Edward Albee’s Canadian-born companion, Jonathan Thomas, died in April. The playwright described Thomas as a painter who worked in wood, polymer resin and steel to create a series of abstract, African-inspired totems. He died at the age of 59 of bladder cancer.

At Sixes and Eights, a gay Manhattan club, Easter was celebrated with a live naked Jesus on a cross. At midnight there was a colorful cockfight, but no animals were harmed, just bruised appendages. And at 1 a.m. there was a “second coming”. Patrons at the Chrystie Street bar found the entertainment delightfully sacralicious.

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Created : Sunday, 2005-08-14 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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