Weekend links 373


Untitled (2011) by YDK Morimoe. Via Jim Post at Dennis Cooper’s.

For The Climax Of The Night by Total Leatherette is almost certainly the only album you’ll see this year with autofellatio cover art. Faux Fox gives a taste of the new album, while an earlier piece, Squeeze Hunk, features a Tom of Finland-style video. And speaking of which, Dome Karukoski’s feature film, Tom of Finland, is released in the UK this week. Related: Tom of Finland coffee.

• The death of playwright Joe Orton in 1967 prompted yet more 50th anniversary articles this week. Mentioned here before, and better value than all the textual appraisal, is the BBC’s 70-minute TV documentary from 1982, A Genius Like Us: A Portrait of Joe Orton, which includes interviews with family, friends, colleagues and Orton’s biographer, John Lahr.

• Two skulls, 50,000 postcards and a book that took 50 years to finish: Stuart Jeffries visits artist Tom Phillips.

• New at the Internet Archive: 25,000 78RPM records. You can never go wrong with Duke Ellington.

Lock Your Door and The Reformation of St. Jules: Algernon Blackwood filmed in 1949.

Redemption, an exhibition of art by Fay Pomerance (1912–2001) at Ushaw College, Durham.

• At Dirge Magazine: Daniel Pietersen on the myth of the sunken city.

• Mix of the week: FACT Mix 613 by Aaron Dilloway.

Laetitia Sadier’s favourite albums.

• RIP Hywel Bennett

Sunken City (1961) by Les Baxter | Ys (1971) by Alan Stivell | Atlantis (1971) by Deuter

A Genius Like Us: A Portrait of Joe Orton


Last week’s reading was the script of Joe Orton’s Loot after finding one of the first published editions of the play. Reading a play is never the same as seeing it performed, of course, but it’s still very funny, and many of its digs at police corruption haven’t dated at all. There is a film of Loot but it’s poor stuff, with Richard Attenborough miscast as the belligerent Inspector Truscott. Much better is Douglas Hickox’s film of Entertaining Mr Sloane (1970) which appeared shortly before Loot, and which is worth seeing for Beryl Reid reprising her stage role as the unfortunate Kath.


Orton’s brief career—a mere four years from complete obscurity in 1963 to his death at the hands of partner Kenneth Halliwell in 1967—is explored in A Genius Like Us: A Portrait of Joe Orton, a 70-minute BBC Arena documentary from 1982. Anyone who’s seen Prick Up Your Ears (1987)—Stephen Frears’ Orton biopic with a script by Alan Bennett—will be familiar with the train of events. Pamela Brighton and Nigel Williams’ film interviews some of the real people who appear in Prick Up Your Ears, notably surviving members of Orton’s family and Orton biographer John Lahr. In addition there’s a substantial contribution from Kenneth Williams, a close friend of Orton and Halliwell’s who was also badly miscast as Inspector Truscott in the first disastrous performances of Loot. Between the interviews there are some scenes from a lacklustre TV performance of Loot, a stage performance of What the Butler Saw, and bits of Entertaining Mr Sloane.


Previously on { feuilleton }
Malicious Damage
Joe Orton Online
Joe Orton

Weekend links 158


Pan II (2012) by Fredrik Söderberg.

• “Aubade was a surprise success, selling some 5000 copies and going into a second printing and an edition published in America.  Martin was immediately a minor celebrity, being interviewed for articles that couldn’t mention what his book was actually about.” Rediscovering the works of Kenneth Martin.

• “I can’t stand covers which imitate other covers, or which slavishly look like whatever their designated genre is supposed to look like.” Ace cover designer Peter Mendelsund is interviewed.

• At The Outer Church Isablood & Henry of Occult Hand are interviewed about their mixtape.

I’d decided to pay my respects in an unorthodox way, by time-travelling into the period of Thatcher’s pomp, when she occulted the light, alchemised the bad will of the populace and did her best to choke the living daylights out of the awkward, sprawling, socially coddled essence of metropolitan London. Hers was a tyranny of the suburbs operating from a position of privilege at the centre: she might have invested in a Dulwich retirement property, but she couldn’t sleep in it.

Iain Sinclair visits Tilbury on the day of the Thatcher funeral. Related: Iain Sinclair and Jonathan Meades in Conversation, Oxford Brookes University, March 2013.

Ormond Gigli’s best photograph: women in the windows in Manhattan. See it full size here.

Balzac and sex: How the French novelist used masturbation to fuel his writing process.

• At Dangerous Minds: Kenneth Williams and John Lahr discuss Joe Orton in 1978.

• Yet more Bowie: Sukhdev Sandhu reviews Ziggyology by Simon Goddard.

The Spectacular, Wild World of Tenjo Sajiki and its Posters.

• In 1967 Susan Sontag made lists of her likes and dislikes.

Stephen Sparks on fin de siècle author Marcel Schwob.

Day Jobs of the Poets by Grant Snider.

James Turrell’s Ganzfeld Experiment.

The Pan Piper (1960) by Miles Davis & Gil Evans | Panorphelia (1974) by Edgar Froese | Pandora (1984) by Cocteau Twins

Malicious Damage


I was going to title this post “Fucked by Monty” but thought that might give the wrong impression. The phrase was one of several titles added to the cover of The Collected Plays of Emelyn Williams by Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell when they were happily defacing the books of Islington Library, London, in the early 1960s. Despite the outrage of the librarians at the vandalism most of the defaced books were put aside and are now prized items in Islington’s collection. This week the library announced an exhibition of the books, Malicious Damage: The crimes of Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell. The Guardian has a gallery of the covers here (and there’s more at Joe Orton central), rare examples of what might be called “guerilla collage”.

In addition to tarting up boring cover designs, Orton and Halliwell also typed their own descriptions of some the books’ contents. Gollancz volumes were apparently good for this since the publisher left the inside of their famous yellow dust jackets blank. John Lahr in Prick Up Your Ears gives an example from a Dorothy L Sayers novel which is also read out in the 1987 film adaptation:

When little Betty Macdree says that she has been interfered with, her mother at first laughs. It is only something the kiddy has picked up off television. But when sorting through the laundry, Mrs. Macdree discovers that a new pair of knickers are missing she thinks again. On being questioned, Betty bursts into tears. Mrs. Macdree takes her to the police station and to everyone’s surprise the little girl identifies P.C. Brenda Coolidge as her attacker. Brenda, a new recruit, denies the charge. A search is made of the Women’s Police Barracks. What is found there is a seven inch phallus and a pair of knickers of the kind used by Betty. All looks black for kindly P.C. Coolidge…. What can she do? This is one of the most enthralling stories ever written by Miss Sayers.

It is the only one in which the murder weapon is concealed, not for reasons of fear but for reasons of decency!

READ THIS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. And have a good shit while you are reading!

Alan Bennett wrote the screenplay of Prick Up Your Ears and that line about “It is only something the kiddy has picked up off television” could well have been one of his own. Orton said that when the pair ended up in court the greatest outrage was shown not towards their obscene amendments but to simple bits of Surrealism such as the adding of a monkey’s face to the cover of Collins Guide to Roses. Schoolboy humour is understandable but don’t dare do something that makes no apparent sense.

Malicious Damage is a free exhibition and runs until January, 2012.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Joe Orton Online
Joe Orton