Jimmy Pursey, The End of An Ego ?
- James Timothy Pursey (AKA: Jimmy Pursey)
Protect Our Children has challenged the planned visit of a British sex offender scheduled to perform at a concert in May. Jimmy Pursey, a member of the Punk group “Sham 69″, is slated to appear May 25th, at a music festival called “Punk Rock Bowling 2012″, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 2002, Pursey received a “Caution” from police in Weybridge, U.K., for committing an Indecent Assault on a teenaged girl. The British “Caution”, which has no corollary in the U.S., allows offenders to avoid trial if they agree to admit guilt and register with the police. They are also listed on the United Kingdom’s “Registry of Sexual and Violent Offenders”.
Correspondence sent to John Morton, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.), renewed the group’s objection to the practice of granting visas to foreign nationals who have been registered as Sex Offenders in their homelands. The March 14th letter calls the practice “a slap in the face” to victims of sexual abuse.
In a response dated March 26, Deputy Director Peter T. Edge, said the Department of Homeland Security takes the allegations seriously, and has forwarded the information to the D.H.S. field office.
In 2010, the Brevard County charity joined other child-advocacy organizations in protesting Pete Townshend’s performance at the SuperBowl in Miami. The group, which informs local citizens about convicted child molesters, mailed a sex offender advisory to residents living in the vicinity of the stadium in Miami Gardens.
Immigration officials were also notified that permitting foreign sex offenders to enter the U.S., is in conflict, with the “Moral Turpitude” clause, found in American immigration law. Townshend, a member of the British rock band: The WHO, received a Caution in 1983 after his arrest for paying to access child pornography.
THIS INCIDENT DID TAKE PLACE, THE GIRL WAS UNDERAGE, THEREFORE LEGALLY A MINOR, AND SUFFERED TRAUMA AS A RESULT WITH LIFE LONG CONSEQUENCES NO DOUBT.
THIS BAND FULLY AND UTTERLY CONDEMNS SUCH BEHAVIOUR AND WISHES TO MAKE IT KNOWN THAT JIMMY PURSEY IS NOT PART OF THE OFFICIAL SHAM 69 LINEUP IN ANY WAY. WE ALSO WISH TO MAKE IT KNOWN THAT HE IS NOT PART OF THE STAFF OR ANY SUBSIDIARY OF THIS BAND.
ALONG WITH MANY FANS, BE THEY PUNKS, SKINS OR WHATEVER, WE TOO HAVE KIDS OF OUR OWN AND SOME HAVE GRAND KIDS TOO. AS SUCH WE DO NOT TREAT THIS AS A LIGHT HEARTED MISTAKE AND NEITHER DID THE GIRL’S PARENTS, ADDITIONALLY NEITHER WOULD YOU IF IT WAS YOUR CHILD OR FAMILY MEMBER.
THIS GIRL WAS A MINOR, AND THOUGH SOME PEOPLE MAY BRUSH THIS OFF WITH A BLIND VIEW IN SUPPORT OF THIS MAN, WE WONT.
SEEING AS WE DO HAVE SOME LYRICAL CONNECTIONS HOWEVER, WE, THE OFFICIAL SHAM 69, HAVE DECIDED THAT IN RESPECT OF OUR MORAL BELIEF AND SUPPORT WE WILL MAKE A DONATION FROM EVERY SHOW WE PERFORM, BE IT UK OR WORLDWIDE, TO THE NSPCC’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHILD ABUSE, AND WILL DO SO UNTIL WE RETIRE AS A BAND.
SO STAY TRUE AND STRONG AND WE’LL SEE YOU DOWN THE FRONT.
Hurry up Harry, get that Sham 69 plaque erected
1:46pm Saturday 23rd September 2006
By Yvonne Gordon
A plaque has finally been erected at The Watermans Arms in Hersham to seminal 1970s punk rockers Sham 69.
The band which which was formed in 1975 had several hits, including Hersham Boys, Hurry Up Harry and If the Kids are United.
Hersham residents association chairman, Andy Pinnick said the plaque was put up outside the pub, on Hersham Green, as a tribute to the band’s role in putting Hersham on the map. He said: “The band played there regularly when it was starting out in the mid-1970s, because all its members came from Hersham village.
“We originally wanted a blue plaque but found out from English Heritage that you had to be dead for at least 20 years! We thought green was the best colour.”
The plaque, which was funded by £200 from community donations and £100 from the residents’ association, is made of enamelled steel and is oval-shaped, 20ins by 14ins.
Pub landlord, Tony Blenkinsop, who went to school with the band’s frontman Jimmy Pursey, said although he didn’t live in the village any more, the group had made a big impact.
He said: “The cover of the band’s first album, Hersham Boys, was photographed outside The George Pub in Hersham Road, opposite our old school, Rydens. All the Hersham boys were in the picture.”
The residents’ association began discussions about the plaque in November but there was a delay after controversy caused by Pursey admitting he accepted a police caution in 2002 after forcibly kissing a 16-year-old girl in a Weybridge newsagents.
Pursey said the incident was “exaggerated”.
It’s no Sham: Hersham Boys honoured despite assault
2:07pm Thursday 4th May 2006 in
Locals will erect a plaque in tribute to Hersham punk rockers Sham 69 despite its controversial lead singer admitting to a caution for indecent assault.
The work of frontman Jimmy Pursey will be honoured along with band members Dave Parsons, Rick Goldstein, Dave Tregenna, Albie Slider and Mark Cain.
Their 70s hit Hersham Boys which contained memorable refrain “Hersham Boys, Hersham Boys, laced-up boots and corduroys” is credited with putting the town on the map.
Plans by Hersham Residents’ Association (HRA) to erect the plaque were put on hold last month after it emerged police cautioned Pursey in 2002 after he admitted he was involved in an incident in a Weybridge newsagents with a 16-year-old girl when he forcibly kissed her on the mouth an incident which left her so traumatised she left her job.
Pursey said the incident was exaggerated and added the plaque should be more about the music than the person behind it.
Since a meeting of HRA last week, members and locals have come up with the cash to fund the £300 plaque.
The plaque will go outside the Waterman’s Arms in Hersham Green and will be in place in the next three months.
Andy Pinnick, chairman of Hersham Residents’ Association, said: “Some of the people in Hersham have known Jimmy throughout his life.
“He is a little bit impulsive and over the top but he is not malicious.
“His behaviour was inappropriate and we are not condoning it but there needs to be an element of understanding.
“There is more to him than the negative headlines.” Pursey recently beat more than 600 entrants to win Virgin Radio’s competition to write the unofficial song for the England football team for the World Cup finals in Germany.
His single, which will raise cash for the Teenage Cancer Trust, will be recorded later this month and released to coincide with the start of the tournament in June.
More about the Walton Hop peodaphiles
September 10, 2001. The Old Bailey trial of the pop mogul and former pop star Jonathan King, in which he is accused of a series of child sex offences dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, begins this morning. Back in July, Judge Paget decided, for the purposes of case management, to have three trials instead of one. So the jury will hear only the charges that relate to the years between 1982 and 1987. There are six within this time frame – one buggery, one attempted buggery, and four indecent assaults on boys aged 14 and 15.
I have been having an email correspondence with Jonathan King for the past nine months, and last night he emailed me to say, “I think you know, young Ronson, that whichever way it goes for me you could have an award-winning story here, if you’re brave. You can change the face of Great Britain if you do it well. Good luck! JK”
I have just returned from New York, and in the canteen on the third floor of the Old Bailey – in the minutes before the trial is due to begin – Jonathan King comes over to make small talk about my trip. “Did you bring me any presents back?” he asks. “Any small boys? Just kidding! Don’t you think it is amazing that I have retained my sense of humour?”
He smiles across the canteen at his arresting officers. They smile faintly back. Jonathan has always told me about his good relationship with the police, how kind they were to him during his arrest, and he looks a little crestfallen at their evident withdrawal of affection. “The police are far less friendly than they were,” he says. “Quite boot-faced, in fact.” He pauses. “And there doesn’t even seem to be a senior officer around. I’m getting quite insulted that I’m so unimportant that only constables are allowed anywhere near the case.”
He looks at me for a response. What should I say? Yes, his crimes are so significant and he is so famous that it would seem appropriate for a more senior officer to be in attendance? In the end, I just shrug.
There are half-a-dozen journalists here today covering the case. In the lobby outside the court, Jonathan approaches some to shake their hands. “Who’s the gorgeous blonde with a TV cameraman?” he whispers to me. “Sorry if this ruins my image.”
“I felt terrible about shaking his hand,” one reporter says a little later. “I felt disgusting. I was standing there thinking, ‘What’s he done with that hand?’ I should have refused to shake it.”
“I just asked my solicitor if it’s unusual for the accused to make a point of shaking the hands of the press and the prosecution barrister,” Jonathan says as we walk into court. “He said it was absolutely unheard of!” Jonathan laughs, and adds, “You know, I fully intend to change the legal system just like I changed the pop industry.”
And, at that, we take our seats. The jury is selected, and the trial begins.
On November 24, 2000, Jonathan King was charged with three child sex offences, dating back 32 years. In the light of the publicity surrounding his arrest, a dozen other boys (now men) came forward to tell police that King had abused them too, during the 1970s and 1980s. Some said he picked them up at the Walton Hop, a disco in Walton-on-Thames run by his friend Deniz Corday. Others said he cruised them in his Rolls-Royce in London. He’d pull over and ask why they were out so late and did they know who he was. He was Jonathan King! Did they want a lift?
He told the boys he was conducting market research into the tastes of young people. Did they like his music? His TV shows? Were they fans of Entertainment USA, his BBC2 series? He asked them to complete a questionnaire – written by him – to list their hobbies in order of preference. Cars? Music? Family and friends? Sex?
“Oh, really?” Jonathan would say to them. “You’ve only put sex at number two?”
And so they would get talking about sex. He sometimes took them to his Bayswater mews house, with its mirrored toilet and casually scattered photos of naked women on the coffee table. Sometimes, he took them to car parks, or to the forests near the Walton Hop. He showed them photographs of naked Colombian air hostesses and Sam Fox. He could, he said, arrange for them to have sex with the women in the photos. (Sam Fox knew nothing about this).
Sometimes, within the bundle of photographs of naked women he would hand the boys, there would be a picture of himself naked. “Oh!” he’d say, blushing a little. “Sorry. You weren’t supposed to see that one of me!” (When the police raided King’s house, they say they found 10 overnight bags, each stuffed with his seduction kit – his questionnaires and photos of Sam Fox and photos of himself naked – all packed and ready for when the urge took him to get into his Rolls-Royce and start driving around.)
He told the boys that it was fine if they wanted to masturbate. And then things would progress from there. Some of the boys reported that his whole body would start to shake as he sat next to them in the Rolls-Royce. And then he “went for it”, in the words of one victim. None of the boys say that he forced himself on to them. They all say they just sat there, awed into submission by his celebrity. The boys all say that Jonathan King has emotionally scarred them for life, although almost all of them returned, on many occasions, and became the victims of more assaults.
Later, Jonathan King will spend his last weekend of freedom – the weekend before the guilty verdicts – recording for me a video diary of his feelings about the charges. At one point, midway through this 20-minute tape, he hollers into his camera about this perplexing aspect of the case. “They kept coming back to me again and again and again, although this vile behaviour was supposed to be taking place!” He laughs, as if he’s delivering a funny monologue on some entertainment TV show. “Why on earth would anybody do that? I’d be out of that house as fast as I possibly could! I’d make damned sure I was never alone with that person again. Mad!”
When the police asked Jonathan why all these boys – who have never met or even spoken to each other – had almost identical stories to tell, he replied that he didn’t know. I am determined to ask at least one victim why he continually went back for more.
The defence argues that the police actively encouraged claims of emotional scarring when they interviewed the victims, because, without it, what else was there? Just some sex, long ago. The danger, says the defence team, is that if Jonathan is found guilty, the judge will sentence him not only for the acts themselves, but also for the quantity of emotional scarring the victims claim to have. And how can that be quantified, especially in this age of the self, when the whole world seems to be forever looking to their childhoods for clues as to why they turned out so badly.
“Jonathan King,” says David Jeremy, the prosecution barrister, in his opening remarks to the jury, “was exploiting the young by his celebrity.”
When I first heard about King’s arrest, I looked back at his press interviews for clues, and found a quote he gave Music Week magazine in 1997: “I am a 15-year-old trapped inside a 52-year-old body.”
I talked to some of his friends from the pop industry, and one of them said, “Poor Jonathan. We were all doing that sort of thing back then.”
I attended an early hearing at Staines Magistrates’ Court. Jonathan King arrived in a chauffeured car. The windows were blacked out. Two builders watched him from a distance. As he walked past them and into the court, one of them yelled, “Fucking nonce!”
He kept walking. Inside, he noticed me on the press benches. We had appeared together on Talk Radio a few years ago and he recognised me. On his way out, he gave me a lavish bow, as if I had just witnessed a theatrical event, starring him. Outside, the builders were still there. They shouted “Fucking nonce!” again.
My email correspondence with Jonathan began soon after this hearing. In one email, he asked me if I would consider it fair if, say, Mick Jagger was arrested today for having sex with a 15-year-old girl in 1970. I agreed that it wouldn’t be. He told me that he was being charged with the same crime that destroyed Oscar Wilde – the buggering of teenage boys – and we perceive Wilde to have been unjustly treated by a puritanical society from long ago. I wonder if the reason why we look less kindly upon Jonathan King is because he sang Jump Up And Down And Wave Your Knickers In The Air , while Oscar Wilde wrote De Profundis.
In another email, he wrote about Neil and Christine Hamilton, falsely accused of rape while being filmed by Louis Theroux, whom Jonathan sees as my great competitor in the humorous journalism market. He wrote, “Louis EVERYWHERE . . . but who on earth would want to cover the Hamiltons, famous for doing NOTHING. Still, I do hope The Real Jon Ronson will have the balls, courage and integrity to take up the crusade (whatever the outcome) that it is GROSSLY unfair for the accused person/people to be smeared all over the media. Over to you, Ronson (we don’t just want a Theroux treatment, do we?)”
Later, in court, some of the victims say that Jonathan had a trick of making them feel special, as if they could do anything, as if they could make it big in showbusiness, just so long as they stuck with him (and didn’t tell anyone what had happened). Has King got legitimate grievances against the legal system, or is he simply trying to seduce me in the same way he seduced the boys?
His Jagger analogy, I presume, was alluding to some covert homophobia at the heart of the case. But perhaps the real contrast lies somewhere else. Mick Jagger (or, indeed, Bill Wyman) wouldn’t have needed to pretend he was conducting market research into the tastes of young people. He wouldn’t have needed to have promised them sex with Colombian air hostesses. But Jonathan did not, intrinsically, have much pulling power, so he did need those extra little touches. Perhaps the real contrast, then, is one of aesthetics.
The Walton Hop closed down in 1990. There were complaints of noise from the neighbours. But the Hop’s home, the Walton Playhouse, still stands. Jimmy Pursey, the lead singer of Sham 69, was one of the Hop’s most regular teenage attendees. He went dancing there every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday night throughout the 1970s. One day, shortly before the trial began, Jimmy gave me a guided tour of the Playhouse. “It’s so hard to explain to people who see in black and white the colour that existed in this club,” he said. “The Playhouse was a theatre for fringe plays and amateur dramatics. But on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays it would become paradise.” Jimmy took me through the hall, and towards the stage.
“It was inspirational,” said Jimmy. “This wasn’t table tennis. This was dancing. This was testing out your own sexuality. Normal people would become very unnormal. It was Welcome to the Pleasure Dome. It was everything.”
He leapt up on to the stage, and took me to the wings, stage right. We stood behind the curtains. “This is where the inner sanctum was,” said Jimmy. “From here, Deniz Corday [the manager of the Walton Hop] would have the best view of the teenagers who were a little bit bolder, a little bit more interesting.”
“Bolder and interesting in what way?” I asked.
“People like me,” said Jimmy. “If Deniz liked you, you’d be invited backstage and get a little bit of whisky added to your Coca-Cola. Backstage, you see. And you’d go, ‘Oh, I’m in with the big crowd now’. That’s all there was to it with Deniz.”
“And Jonathan?” I asked.
“He’d drive into the Hop car park, and come backstage from the side,” he said. “And we’d all be going, ‘God! There’s a Rolls-Royce outside with a TV aerial coming from it! Ooh, it’s got a TV in the back and it’s a white Rolls-Royce!’ Because you’d never know if it was the Beatles.”
“But it wasn’t the Beatles,” I said.
“No,” said Jimmy. “It was Jonathan King.” He laughed. “A very big difference there!”
The Beatles lived on St George’s Hill, in nearby Weybridge, and were often seen driving around Walton in their Rolls-Royces. The Walton area, in the 1970s, was London’s playpen, full of pop moguls and pop stars, letting their hair down, doing just what Jimmy said the teenagers at the Walton Hop did – being “unnormal”. In fact, a disproportionate number of celebrities who are now convicted paedophiles hung around backstage at the Walton Hop, this popular youth club, during the 1970s and 1980s. There was Jonathan King’s friend, Tam Paton, for instance, the manager of the Bay City Rollers who was convicted of child sex offences in the early 1980s. (It was Paton who first introduced Jonathan King to the Hop – they met when Jonathan was invited to produce the Rollers’ debut single, Keep On Dancing.) Chris Denning, the former Radio 1 DJ, was another Hop regular – he has a string of child sex convictions, is currently in jail in Prague, and was friendly with King and Paton.
For Jimmy Pursey, the trick was to pick up the girls who were drawn to the Hop to see the Bay City Rollers, while avoiding the attentions of the impresarios who orchestrated the night. “It was fun with Deniz Corday,” said Jimmy. “Deniz would say, ‘Oh Jimmy! Come here! I’d love to suck your fucking cock!’ Deniz was a silly, fluffy man. Then there was Tam Paton.
I remember being back here having one of my whisky and Coca-Colas one night, and Tam turned to me and he said, ‘I like fucking lorry drivers’. Chris Denning was more reckless. One time he placed his penis within the pages of a gay centrefold and showed it to my ex-bass player, who proceeded to kick the magazine, and Denning’s dick, and yell, ‘Come on, Jimmy, we’re fucking out of here!’ But Jonathan King was more like a Victorian doctor. It wasn’t an eerie vibe . . . but Jonathan had this highbrow, Cambridge, sophisticated thing about him. The Jekyll and Hyde thing. There wasn’t much conversation with Jonathan. And with Jonathan, you’d always had these rumours. ‘Oh, he got so and so into the white Rolls-Royce’. And they’d always be the David Cassidy lookalike competition winners. Very beautiful.”
“Would he make a grand entrance?” I asked.
“Oh no,” said Jimmy. “It was never, ‘Look at me!’ He never went out on to the dancefloor at all. He was much happier hiding backstage up here, behind the curtains, in the inner sanctum.” Jimmy paused. “The same way he hid behind all those pseudonyms, see? He’s always hiding. I think that’s the whole thing of his life. He always says, ‘That was me behind Genesis! That was me behind 10cc! That was me behind all those pseudonyms.’ But what do you do then, Jonathan? Who are you then, Jonathan?”
Jimmy was referring to the countless pseudonymous novelty hits Jonathan had in the late 1960s and 1970s – The Piglets’ Johnny Reggae, for instance, and Shag’s Loop Di Love. These came after his hugely successful 1965 debut, Everyone’s Gone To The Moon, which was recorded while he was still a student at Cambridge. (Before that, he was a pupil at Charterhouse). It was a remarkable career path: a lovely, plaintive debut, followed by a string of silly, deliberately irritating hits.
One of King’s friends later suggests to me that it was his look – the big nose, the glasses, the weird lop-sided grin – that determined this career path, as if he somehow came to realise that it was his aesthetic destiny to play the clown. But one cannot categorise his career as a downward spiral from Everyone’s Gone To The Moon onwards. In fact, he has sold 40 million records. He’s had a hand in almost every musical movement since the mid-1960s – psychedelic, novelty bubblegum pop, alternative pop, Eurovision, the Bay City Rollers, 10CC, the Rocky Horror Show, Genesis, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, the Brit awards, and so on.
Within two years of leaving Cambridge, he was running Decca Records for Sir Edward Lewis, with his own West End offices and a Rolls-Royce parked outside. “Genesis,” he once said, “would have become accountants and lawyers if I hadn’t heard their concealed and budding musical talent when they were 15 years old.”
He is at once seen to be the quintessential Broadway Danny Rose – the buffoonish loser who was forever nearly making it – and also a powerful multi-millionaire whose influence is as incalculable as it is overlooked. He’s hosted radio shows in New York and London, presented the successful and long-running Entertainment USA TV series for the BBC, written two novels, created a political party – the Royalists – and published The Tip Sheet, an influential online industry magazine that, he claims, is responsible for bringing the Spice Girls, Oasis, Blur, Prodigy, R Kelly, and others “exploding on to musical success. We find and help break new stars around the world.”
In 1997, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by the Music Industry Trust. In a letter read out at the ceremony, Tony Blair acknowledged King’s “important contribution to one of this country’s great success stories”. A galaxy of stars – Peter Gabriel, Ozzy Osbourne, Simon Bates – came out to praise him, although no galaxy of stars is willing to do the same now that he’s been accused of paedophilia.
Nonetheless, he seems to delight in being the man we love to hate (theatrically speaking: he is mortified when he thinks his arresting officers really do hate him). “I love to infuriate,” Jonathan told me over coffee in his office, shortly before the trial began. “I deliberately set out to irritate.”
“Of course,” I said, “should you be convicted, people will hate you in a very different way. This is not a good climate in which to be accused of paedophilia.”
“Well,” he shrugged, “it’s not as though I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Oh I’m such a nice person. Will everybody please be nice to me.’
I know I tend to provoke extreme reactions, so I’m not at all surprised when they arrive.”
There was a short silence.
“So you see what’s happening now as a continuation of your public image?” I asked him.
“Absolutely,” said Jonathan. “And it is so. And it would be absurd not to regard it as so.”
“But there’s a difference between bringing out a novelty record that nobody likes and being accused of buggering an underage boy,” I said.
There was another silence. “Let’s not discuss it further,” he said.
September 11, day two of the trial, and things are already looking hopeless for Jonathan King. The first victim – now a painter and decorator from the suburbs of north London – takes the stand. I’ll call him David. Jonathan approached David in Leicester Square when David was 14 or 15. Although David had no idea who Jonathan was, he quickly told him he was famous. “It was exciting,” says David.
Jonathan gave David the questionnaire, the one that ranked boys’ hobbies in order of preference. He filled it out. Jonathan invited him back to his house and asked him if he and his friends masturbated together. Jonathan showed him pornographic movies on a cine projector. “We were talking about masturbation,” says David. “He told me to relax. He undid my trousers. He tried to masturbate me, which didn’t arouse me at all. He told me to do it myself, which I proceeded to do. I felt very awkward.”
David returned to King’s house on three occasions. Similar indecent assaults occurred each time. Later, Jonathan wrote David a series of letters. “He made it sound like I would be famous,” says David. The prosecuting barristor asks David to read one of these letters to the jury. “‘Maybe you will go on to be a megastar. Now I am in New York. I will call you when I next hit town. In the meantime, keep tuning in on Wednesday at 9pm for Entertainment USA, the greatest TV show in the world.'”
David says that Jonathan King has emotionally scarred him for life. He says he cannot hold children. He says it makes him scared and uncomfortable to hold and play with his girlfriend’s little boy.
After lunch Ron Thwaites, Jonathan’s defence barrister, begins his cross examination of David. His tone is breathtakingly abrasive. “We are going back 16 years because you decided not to make the complaint until nine months ago,” he says. “You’re not asking for sympathy for that, are you?”
“I was the one that was assaulted,” David replies, shakily.
“Do you think it’s easy for a man to be accused of a crime after 20 years,” says Thwaites. And then: “Are you interested in money?”
“I am nervous up here,” says David. “You are putting me under pressure. I was sexually assaulted by that man over there.”
“You must have been fairly grown up to go to London on your own,” says Ron Thwaites. “You can’t have been a boy in short trousers, crying for your mother.”
And so on.
We are unaware that, during this cross examination, New York and Washington DC are under attack. That night, I receive an email from Jonathan: “Makes whether or not I put my hand on a teenager’s knee 15 years ago seem rather trivial, doesn’t it? Are you dropping KING for the World Trade Centre? Boo hoo!
“What do you think of the jury? A lot of ethnic variation which,
I think, is probably a good thing. Not Ron’s best day, but not terminal! See you tomorrow. Love JK.”
A week later, Jonathan posts an extraordinary message on his website, kingofhits.com: “Well, it’s been a fascinating couple of weeks. Not many people are fortunate to discover first hand exactly what Oscar Wilde went through! This week is the crucial one for me – keep praying. And just one oblique thought . . . when you look at the teenagers from 15 years ago who grew up to be terrorists who killed thousands in America, wonder what changed them into mass murderers. Then wonder what turns other decent teenagers into mass liars.” Of course, they didn’t turn out to have been lying.
King’s demeanour remains cheerful throughout our time together. “I am living in clouds and happy flowers and love and beauty,” he tells me one day. “And if I go to prison, I shall enjoy myself.”
Even on the one occasion that Jonathan all but confesses to me – “I’m sure you’ve got skeletons in your own closet, Jon. ‘Honest guv! I thought she was 16!'” – he says it with a spirited laugh.
When the Guardian’s photographer takes Jonathan’s portrait early one morning before a day in court, he is frustrated to report that during almost every shot Jonathan stuck his thumbs up – as if he was doing a Radio 1 publicity session – or grinned his famous, funny, lop-sided grin into the camera. This was not the image anyone wanted. We were hoping for something more revealing, sadder, perhaps, or even something that said “child sex”, or “guilty”. But Jonathan wouldn’t oblige.
One day during the trial, I hear a story about Larry Parnes, Britain’s first pop mogul. He discovered Tommy Steele and Marty Wilde. Like many of the great British impresarios back then, he based his business judgements on his sexual tastes. “If I am attracted to Tommy Steele,” he would tell his associates, “teenage girls will be, too.” Parnes’s West End flat was often full of teenage boys hoping to be chosen as his next stars. If he liked the look of them, he’d give them a clean white T-shirt. Once he’d had sex with them, he’d make them take off the white T-shirt and put on a black one.
Wham!’s manager Simon Napier-Bell – who was once invited by Parnes to put on a white T-shirt – has said that the great difference between the British and American pop industries is this: the American impresarios are traditionally driven by money, while their British counterparts were historically driven by gay sex, usually with younger boys – and that British pop was conceived as a canvas upon which older gay svengalis could paint their sexual fantasies, knowing their tastes would be shared by the teenage girls who bought the records. I wonder if the pop impresarios who seduced young teenage boys at the Walton Hop saw themselves not as a paedophile ring, but as the continuance of a venerable tradition.
Deniz Corday is desperately worried that the Walton Hop, his life’s work, is about to become famous for something terrible. “Jonathan didn’t want me to talk to you,” he says, “but I must defend the Hop with all my life.” Deniz is immensely proud of the Hop. There is Hop memorabilia all over his flat, including a poster from a Weybridge Museum exhibition, “The Happy Hop Years 1958 – 1990. An Exhibition About Britain’s First Disco: The Walton Hop”.
“Every day, someone comes up to me in the supermarket,” says Deniz, “and says, ‘Thank you, Deniz, for making my childhood special.’ Some say the Hop was the first disco in Great Britain. It was terribly influential. Oh dear . . .” Deniz sighs. “This kind of thing can happen in any disco. The manager can’t control everything.”
Deniz says that he knows it looks bad. Yes, an unusually large number of convicted celebrity paedophiles used to hang around backstage at the Walton Hop. But, he says, they weren’t there to pick up boys. They were there to conduct market research. “Tam Paton would play all the latest Roller acetates and say, ‘Clap for the one you like the best’. Same as Jonathan and Chris Denning. It helped them in their work.”
Deniz turns out the lights and gets out the super-8 films he shot over the years at his club. Here’s the Hop in 1958. Billy Fury played there. The teenagers are all in suits, dancing the hokey-cokey. “Suits!” laughs Deniz, sadly.
The years tumble by on the super-8 films. Now it’s the mid-1970s. Here’s Jonathan at the turntables. He’s playing disco records, announcing the raffle winners and grinning his lop-sided grin into Deniz’s super-8 camera. He’s wearing his famous multi-coloured afro wig.
Now, on the super-8, two young girls are on stage at the Hop, miming to King’s song, Johnny Reggae. “These were the days before karaoke,” explains Deniz.
For a while, we watch the girls on the stage mime to Johnny Reggae. It turns out that Jonathan wrote it about a boy called John he met at the Walton Hop who was locally famous for his reggae obsession. David Jeremy – the prosecutor at the Old Bailey – says that Jonathan’s “market research” was simply a ploy, his real motive being to engage the boys in conversations about sex. But I imagine that the two endeavours were, in Jonathan’s mind, indistinguishable. I picture Jonathan in the shadows, backstage at the Hop, taking all he could from the teenagers he scrutinised – consuming their ideas, their energy, their tastes, and then everything else.
The super-8s continue in Deniz’s living room. Here’s Jonathan again, in 1983, backstage at the Hop. He’s put on weight. He doesn’t know the camera is on him. He’s holding court to a group of young boys and girls on a sofa. You can just make out little snippets of conversation over the noise of the disco. He chews on a toothpick, looks down at a piece of paper, turns to a boy and says, “Who’s phone number is this?”
He spots the camera. “It’s Deniz Corday!” he yells. “Look who it is! Deniz Corday! Smile at the camera!” He lifts up his T-shirt and Deniz zooms in on his chest.
“In 32 years,” says Deniz, “we never had one complaint about Jona-than and young boys, and suddenly, after 32 years, all these old men, grandfathers some of them, come forward and say they’ve been sexually abused and it’s been bothering them all their lives. I think there’s something deeply suspicious about it. Jonathan’s a really nice guy and definitely not a paedophile. Anyway, I think it should be reworded. I think a paedophile should be someone who goes with someone under 13.”
The clothes and hairstyles change as the decades roll past on the super-8s, but the faces of the 13- to 18-year-olds remain the same. They are young and happy. Deniz says that, nowadays, we have an absurdly halcyon image of childhood. He says that the youngsters at the Walton Hop were not fragile little flowers. They were big and tough and they could look after themselves. He rifles through his drawer and produces some of the police evidence statements. He reads me some excerpts. “‘There was a crate of Coca-Cola kept backstage, and it was people like Jonathan King and Corday who hung around there. If you were invited back there you would get a free coke with a shot of whiskey.'”
Deniz pauses. “Now how ridiculous can you get? I’m going to give the kids of the Hop a shot of whiskey with a coke?” There is a silence. “Well,” he says quietly. “If I gave them a little bit of whisky once in a while, they’re not going to put me in jail for it. I used to call it ‘coke with a kick’. Anyway, we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about Jonathan. Have you heard of any charges against me?”
“No,” I say.
“Exactly,” says Deniz. “This is about Jonathan. Not about me.”
Deniz continues to read. The victim making the statement describes life at the Walton Hop and how Jonathan – a regular visitor – once went out of his way to talk to him. “‘I was obviously excited to be talking to Jonathan King. He offered to give me a lift home, which I accepted. This was the first of many lifts King gave me, and I recall that he always drove me home in a white convertible Rolls-Royce. It was an automatic car and the number plate was JK9000. We talked about music, and he often told me that he needed a young person’s point of view. King drove me home on a couple of occasions before he eventually assaulted me. The first assault occurred at a car park, which was situated on the left-hand side of the Old Woking Road. Next to the car park was a field and a wooded area. King seemed familiar with the location. I believe he had been there before. I was sat in the front passenger seat and King was in the driver seat. I noticed that King had started shaking, and I presumed that he needed the toilet.'”