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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