Friday, December 11, 2009

65 My Life so Far by Jonathan King: Review. Mr Vile Pervert's extraordinary fate



Oh, JK! How could you? Or rather, how could you not?

What with all the celebs you've fucked, discovered, promoted, befriended, detested, wanked, created, re-invented, guided, supported and, yes, fucked again with your self-proclaimed 8" phallus over the decades, how could you not have had an index compiled for this monster-sized tome of star goss that is your autobiography? It took me half an hour to find the Madame Arcati mention on p570. And then I only found it by deductive reasoning.

Please, please get one done for a future reprint! Listen to a gnarled old index-loving clairvoyante.

So, here it is. Mr Vile Pervert's extraordinary life story, told as a breathless, occasionally careless, romp. I thought I'd speed-read it but a lot of the time I couldn't. I kept on returning to many pages thinking: Did I get that right? Did Jonathan King actually write that as a 13-year-old boy he was having (or had) "passionate encounters" with 65 boys at his public school, Charterhouse? And later, did I read that a sexually passive male friend of his relished being bare-backed by loads of men at gang-bangs, over 1,000 one weekend? In Holland? Belgium? Or was it over one year?

And was JK really once an annoyingly ubiquitous national institution whose influence ran through most branches of showbiz? - contributing to the careers of 10cc, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, the Bay City Rollers, Scott Walker et al: why, he even helped bring the The Rocky Horror Show to the masses. You may have to re-read the book just to grasp the full scale of his victories: the popstar (as JK and under his many aliases), the pop promoter, the pop producer, the stage impresario, the TV star, the Eurovision-meister, the tabloid columnist, the blah blah blah. And then the full scale of his spectacular fall from grace.

65 My Life so Far is for certain no apology, no penance or mea culpa, for his conviction and imprisonment for sexual offences against male minors. He proclaims his innocence, gives the legal definition of a paedophile (which he persuades me he is not), castigates the cops. And it is to his credit that he doesn't try to bolster his denials by cleaning up his epic cock and cunt lives as an unashamed bisexual. He is at least a kindly tart and make no mistake. At one orgy, while he's cock-arsing an Adonis, he finds a moment to help the blow-jobbing codger at the front adjust his dislodged false teeth. Earlier in life King says he bedded 12 girls in a row while his first hit Everyone's Gone to the Moon held the No1 spot - the single that later would enchant his unlikely devotee, Miss Marlene Dietrich, no less.

Such uninhibited frankness is almost unheard of in celebrity autobiography, and for King it's a risky strategy. The messageboard moralists, the slaves to tabloid scripture, will seize on such detail as further proof of his criminal deviancy. I'd rather view him as a horny unapologetic libertine, a brazen Lord Rochester-type with a crooked smile - one of life's mavericks who always broke or bent the showbiz rules as he pioneered and innovated - and one brought down by a strange prosecution stuffed with greys and blurs.

Even the late Mirror/Sunday Mirror/People editor Richard Stott, an intolerant and vindictive tabloid bruiser of the old Fleet Street school, harboured doubts about the rightness of King's conviction.

As you'd expect, King's book will offend in many other ways. I have reported already on his revelation of John Lennon's bisexuality. His Jimi Hendrix story, that the star admitted having sex with a female minor, will enrage fans. Bolan and Bowie worshippers will also be irked. Heather Mills won't like his fondness for Macca. The sheer industrial quantity of celebrity cock-cockery tends to confirm King in his pluralistic view of human sexuality: that our puny, day-to-day assumptions and expectations bear little resemblance to the rich pubic reality. For certain, he is, like Gore Vidal and other erotic adventurers, a case study for future field workers in the realms of cocking and cunting, same and other.

His book is not perfect. No index - and no guiding chapter titles, just numbers! And I'm sure it was Leslie Howard who co-starred in Brief Encounter, not Trevor [Yes, I know now JK's right!]. But did I misread it? And ... and ... his time at Cambridge starts but never exactly finishes: he just goes up and then ... becomes a popstar. Cambridge kind of fizzles out in the chronicle, a prized but expendable lucky charm on his chunky career bracelet.

King is another one of those Zeligs, like Nicky Haslam - he's been everywhere, knows everyone. And thanks to clean social habits, still remembers. If he remains the sharp-tongued smarmy bighead of lore - even by his own testimony - he also comes across here as big-hearted, broad-minded and resourceful: "I was meeting some fascinating people in Belmarsh," he writes of the jail, "terrorists, rapists, murderers."

If you have any kind of showbiz pulse, King's book is an absolute must. But best leave the bourgoeis morality at the door.

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39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Probably the filthiest book review I have ever read.

Anonymous said...

It most certainly was Trevor Howard who co starred in Brief Encounter, you really need to do your research rather more thoroughly.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should be scribing for the TLS.

Anonymous said...

It's _Trevor_ Howard who played opposite Celia Johnson in David Lean's "Brief Encounter", actually. Leslie Howard died in 1943 and that film is dated 1945.

Ahem... Is it just me or does your review of Jonathan King's book intentionally suggest that the author might be an unbearable boaster?

Madame Arcati said...

Absolutely right, I stand corrected. Leslie was a Gemini, by the way. And you have to find ways to get people in ...

Heh heh.

veritas said...

"Probably the filthiest book review I have ever read."

absolutely. I'm ordering a copy asap.

Michael Allen said...

You've been told about Trevor/Leslie. Interestingly (well, interesting to me, anyway), the little actress who appears as the waitress in the station tea-room is still with us. She's the only survivor of the cast, I believe. Her name then was Margaret Barton, now Margaret James. I recently attended a charity showing of the film in Wimborne, Dorset, where she made a gracious introductory speech.

Brief Encounter, should anyone care, portrays an England and a style of living/loving which is now totally foreign to the one we enjoy (?) today, as the JK book proves, with knobs on. Extraordinary to think that I have lived long enough to see it all happen. Perhaps I should keep faith with Dr Pangloss, but by golly it's hard sometimes.

Madame Arcati said...

That's fascinating, Michael. Do you think Margaret James would do an interview with me? I could always get rid of the cock pics so she doesn't get frightened and then put them back up again when she cooperates. I feel that's the way to go.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't you correct your review where you reveal your ignorance of Brief Encounter, you nasty person.

Madame Arcati said...

No, I'll keep it there because it's the one thing that will get people writing in, quite apart from the topic of JK himself.

Rumpy-Pumpy-Hole of the Bailey said...

You've changed your tune. Sometime back you wrote you had no problem with King's conviction and jailing, but now it was time to move on, or something like that. Now you seem sceptical about the case against him. Is this another example of Madame Arcati changing her mind for no good reason?

Madame Arcati said...

Having read up the case I am surprised he was prosecuted at all. JK puts his side in the book, as he has done elsewhere; and I'm not going into it here. But the nature of the evidence against him is suspect in my view.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievably disgusting. The sexual practices you describe are beyond any normal person's imagination. King's book sounds a complete cesspit of filth.

The late Yoko Ono said...

Is Jonathan's book really all about sex and nothing else? That would be quite sad. I prefer to think Madame's review is somewhat biased.

Madame Arcati said...

A good part of my review deals with his career. So I wonder where your mind is, dearie.

Anonymous said...

I am reading JK's book and I am more fascinated by the non-sexual stories. I love the fact that Alan "Botney" Yentob of the BBC was hostile to Eurovision even when JK made a success of it.

Madame Arcati said...

Why would I be interested in the BBC or Alan Yentob? The very name alone conjures up the drear of bureaucracy: an office-bound functionary who pops up on the TV only because he's in a position to get himself there via paperwork. When I read a book I home in on what matters, the most interesting elements: Yentob is just cultural mulch.

Jonathan King said...

Thank you Madame for a perceptive and intelligent review. I hope the book is more an accurate depiction of the past 65 years than a glossy portrait of myself. I do consider myself fortunate to be in a position where I can be honest - I have nothing to lose. Indeed I don't think I emerge in a sympathetic light; I've admitted to some disgraceful behaviour. But I was there and I have tried to describe the time and characters accurately. As such I hope it is more valuable than a superficial assessment may imply. And most of all - entertaining.

Blithe Spirit said...

I must not have any kind of showbiz pulse, MA darling. Your review does put me off. I find it was written in haste.

I like JK's speaking voice, the cadence with which he talks and I like his writing style (besides, he's so smart), so I would look forward to read stories by him, but the way you put what the book is about doesn't seem to reflect any thing I would be willing to read about - except his side of the pedophilegate matter. In fact, it is not so much about what it is "about" as to how he tells it - again, his style and what would make it a treat to read his story.

He has discovered, promoted, created, re-invented, guided, supported popstars? We know that; JK's accomplishments and inventiveness are part of history and are out there to stay and for all to see (ooka shaka, ooka shaka, ooka ooka ooka shaka, genius way to pep up a tune that otherwise would have gone into obscurity and never been remembered again - heh, heh).

Couldn't you at least partly lay out one anecdote? It can't be that not one struck you outstanding. If you claim the book is just too large to mention specifics or quote an interesting passage, I say it wouldn't be the first time you have broken down reviews/ interviews in several parts. I'm sure you could have run by JK if it was ok to print one little (tiny) piece a couple of times.

As to star goss, I'm fed up of reading stories such as Bianca getting furious with Mick for finding him in bed with David Bowie, so it's not why I would read the book either. I don't read the rags; all that supposed drama bores me silly. I suppose you do well in name-dropping who he mentions in the book and I can appreciate, as you say, frankness, but I don't think I would be offended by the promiscuity as much as disgusted by it. I have never found appealing the stories of Rock Stars and groupies when they're just about going: "done him and him and him, and her"... I've said before I find pornography boring and pitiful; I'm not interested in numbers and gross descriptions (Good grief! What other 13-year-old child has had 65 "passionate encounters", let alone with 65 different people? That is just sad - no emotional attachment to anyone ever?). I'm more into erotic writing. I sure hope the stories are told in a more interesting, exciting or even humorous way than what comes across here (that denture anecdote could be funny!).

I do agree though that, when I read a biography, having an index to refer to would be most helpful because it would save me the trouble of making one of my own as I go (I too like to find easily where it was that someone was mentioned). I'm also grateful for glossaries if a lot of contemporary lingo is used - those who are too young or not insiders would get a better feel of the times.'

Madame Arcati said...

A review is always a personal response and no reviewer can anticipate every reader's personal preference: I really don't think people come to Madame Arcati for a balanced treatment of anything in particular: I have my interests and approaches and either you like them or not. If you like JK's writing then the book - all 600 or so pages of it - is there to be bought. Plonking anecdotes in my review would dilute the essence of Arcati - and I can't have that, dearie.

Jonathan King said...

Thank you for your kind comments Blithe but I have to tell you - it takes courage even to mention my name in the meejah these days and I really appreciate Madame's support but I also find her individual and unusual approach to life hugely enhancing and entertaining and she seems to have the ability to spot many aspects lurking below the surface; a rare skill indeed.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Green Goddess said...

Darling MA. Don't you ever dare dilute anything I love you just the way you are, oh but then I AM you, right? Brilliant review...am ordering it.

Madame Arcati said...

Dear "Murky" - if you are going to make allegations then at least try to supply some evidence. There's a good boy.

Madame Arcati said...

Yes, I am Farah Damji. She dresses left (btw I told Nirps I want him to talk about his thick cock) xx

Green Goddess said...

BITCH!
I was only telling you what I had heard. Not what I actually know. Nirpal and I are like brothers...

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Blithe that you should have included stuff about JK's actual contribution to music. He has after all sold tens of millions of records. Madame has a tendency of using all her friends to serve her own ends (rhymes). She, or rather VO, is highly solipsistic and probably bonkers.

On another matter, your pal Roger Lewis is in the Sunday Times today accusing Duncan F of turning Herefordshire into Old Compton St after dark. Perhaps Duncan should review JK.

Madame Arcati said...

But you don't have a cock darling. Come to terms with it!

Green Goddess said...

I know but I WANT one. That would make me complete. Think of the fun we would have!

veritas said...

"Unbelievably disgusting. The sexual practices you describe are beyond any normal person's imagination. King's book sounds a complete cesspit of filth."

God..I get more excited by the day as this book approaches in the post.

Sorry Blithe Spirit but I never believed that Jagger slept with Bowie. Mick has better taste and wouldn't be seen in the sack with someone with green rotting teeth.

Anonymous said...

"This post has been removed by a blog administrator."

Oh crap! Sounds like I missed something juicy here! :-(

Anonymous said...

Has anyone read this book yet? Does it dish the dirt on what Simon Cowell and King got up to in the 1980s? I heard that King had been paid off by Cowell to leave out all the interesting stuff about their clubbing exploits together…if there’s no mention of Cowell, Maurice Oberstein, Tom Watkins and Iain Burton then it’s a whitewash!

Madame Arcati said...

Simon Cowell is shown to be loyal, standing bail. No mention of clubs. So yes it must be a whitewash!

Anonymous said...

It's refreshing that Arcati did not regale us with history. She gets straight to the point, namely, what people think of King now and what he has to say about himself. A review is not a promo or PR exercise.

Jonathan King said...

I hate clubs and have never been to one with Simon. Or Obie (who is mentioned several times). Or Iain Burton (also mentioned). Or Tom (there wouldn't have been room for the two of us - besides, he was a friend of Janet Street Preacher). Nothing has been left out. I'm there in all my shocking glory (and sometimes deeply ashamed of my behaviour). I think the open minded reader will find it honest, outrageous, revealing and hopefully funny.

Duralex said...

Simon Cowell, Maurice Oberstein, Tom Watkins, Iain Burton, tabernak! Who the hell are these guys? I have no doubt Jonathan King's book is very funny, but for Brits only!

Madame Arcati said...

Simon Cowell's one of the most famous men in the US. Bloody French Canadians - need to get out more.

veritas said...

Is that the lawyer Maurice Oberstein ?

Anonymous said...

I have a picture of Jagger and Bowie all snuggled up together on a couch with a glass of wine with Bowies arm wrapped around Jagger and his hand on Jagger's breast. As for Lennon OLD news and what is even more unreal is how people could not see the love affair going on between Lennon & McCartney. Blind as bats, the public.