Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sex in the early sixties

Poet Philip Larkin famously wrote: "Sexual intercourse began in 1963 (which was rather late for me) -- Between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP."
Sex really was a banned subject when I was growing up, and it's true that it was only when the sixties really got going, around 1963, that the UK began to become what was later known as the permissive society. When I reached adolescence (around 1959 I suppose) there were few outlets for a developing lad. I remember buying paperbooks in W H Smith which were said to include saucy passages, such as Alberto Moravia's Woman Of Rome, and borrowing the still hard to obtain Tropic Of Cancer by Henry Miller from the library (it wasn't on the shelves and I had to make some excuse about studying it for an exam). This was a time when Lady Chatterley's Lover was still banned and it was only when the court case against Penguin allowed its publication in 1960 ("Is it a book you would wish your wife or servants to read?" asked prosecuting counsel) that things began slowly  to change. I would cycle many miles to Crystal Palace where there was a bookstall that sold rather tame photo magazines such as Spick and Span, Beautiful Britons, Harrison Marks' magazine Kamera, featuring airbrushed photos of his partner Pamela Green, and the incredibly boring nudist magazine Health and Efficiency. At the cinema, the most daring pictures were X rated and therefore banned to teenagers like me - the wonderful Brigitte Bardot in 'And God Created Woman' and Anita Ekberg in 'La Dolce Vita' for example. Like others of my age, I would try to look older in order to get in, and I remember succeeding on occasion and getting in to some of these films while still under age.
 Of course, being a curious teenager I wanted more than this. I would occasionally trawl the strip clubs of Soho - Sunset Strip, Red Mill, Dolls' House and the Carnival Club for example, as I recall. To begin with, and slightly before my time, the strippers weren't allowed to move - merely posing like a still portrait. But times moved on, and as many as six bored looking girls per hour would perform sometimes quite imaginative routines in front of embarrassed looking men (and the occasional teenager). Between acts, there would be lengthy and rather dull musical interludes, featuring 'lounge' records by the likes of Dean Martin and Andy Williams. On one occasion - it must have been around Boxing Day 1961 I'm guessing - three of us went into a completely empty club and got a particularly personal show, as we were the only patrons. Afterwards a lady of the night asked us if we'd seen old Bill - and we didn't have a clue what she was talking about! As the sixties progressed, magazines became more daring and I recall glossy mags such as Bizarre Life and High Heels being published, with pictures and stories about leather clad dominatrices. Movies and books quickly became more explicit - hastened, I think, by the salacious stories in the press about Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, whose photos I cut from the papers to drool over.
The girls were not particularly forthcoming in those days, as Philip Larkin alluded to, apart from some of the convent school girls, and the local fair was the place to go to find a bit of skirt who might, if persuaded, go at least part of the way. It was tough being a teenager then, compared with today's society, where titillation is at the touch of a button on a PC and girls know more about sex than we boys ever dreamed of. Whether this is a good thing or not I'm not sure, but if I was still of that age I'm sure I would take advantage if I could. Oh well, such is life!


At 3:36 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm.............what about "Diana Dors in 3D" then?
Gordon F

At 6:12 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Whatever floats your boat Gordon!

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