Beat Instrumental

Beat Instrumental - September 1973

Beat Instrumental
(September 1973)

Originally Published: September 1973

What a drag!!

Leo Abse's sensational Holy War against Alice -- 'One man's decadence is another man's servant'

Alice Coooper: musician, showman, drag artist, drunkard, and executioner -- both of plastic dolls and remaining taboos of the Western world.

At each of these stages in Alice's career, he's been denounced by the appropriate critics and moralists. In the beginning he wasn't a good enough musician. After that, theatre and rock didn't mix, and then neither did women's clothing, make-up, and alcohol.


So now folks, what's left? You guessed it, guerilla theatre. Not since the end of the fox-hunting season had the hue and cry been raised so loudly, by so many, to so little avail and for such flimsy purpose.

It was a bright day at the end of May, you'll remember, when the last big attack on Alice was launched. Leo Abse, Labour M.P. from Pontypool and arch-liberal had finally had enough -- of either Alice Cooper or a publicity drought.

Summoning the Press, he announced that he would ask the Home Secretary to ban Alice Cooper from Britain. According to May 23rd edition of the Daily Mirror, Mr. Abse was appalled at Cooper's 'Peddling the culture of the concentration camp. Pop is one thing -- anthems of necrophilia are another.

'Cooper's act,' Abse went on, 'is an incitement to infanticide. He is deliberately trying to involve these kids in sadomasochism.'

Now, before you run out to stab your little sister, read on; before you decide not to entertain certain thoughts or cross certain lines, find out who drew the lines.

Mr. Abse, of course, has drawn the line. A well-respected politician and snappy dresser, Mr. A. was fierce in his support of the repeal of the anti-homosexual laws in this country.

A true champion of freedom of expression? Well, sometimes. But an expert on decadence...?

In the July 6th edition of The Daily Telegraph Magazine, on p. 15 there's a lovely picture of Mr. Abse's wife, in the garden of their super home in St. John's Wood.

Mrs. Abse is in the background; the foreground belongs to her manservant, John Barker.


John Barker, of course, is only his real name; his stage name is Justin Dee. Under that alias, according to the Telegraph, he performs 'in pubs and clubs...when he's not dusting', as a drag artist.

A DRAG ARTIST? But, don't drag artists incite the 'kids' in the audience to dress in women's clothing?

What of the future armies if drag artists succeed, who will defend our shores: Tommys in skirts, Marines in minis?

No, probably not. After all, the drag artist's act is only entertainment; it's an act, as old as Imperial Rome. There's more to inciting decadence than a superb impression -- either of a woman or an execution!

It's really pretty clear-cut; one man's decadence is another man's servant. As we said earlier, it's a case of drawling lines, and there's nothing wrong, with lines -- as long as they're straight!


Fortunately, Alice is unlikely to be banned from the kingdon, but it seemed unlikely that we'll see him before the late Autumn.

When the band do come back, let's hope that we can, for once, appreciate the theatre and music of nihilism for what it is: theatre, and music, not a call to arms for a Holy War on toddlers (of any age). C.M.