Saturday, February 03, 2024

Jeremy: a London gay magazine features skinheads (1970)

The fantastic Bishopsgate Institute LGBTQ+ archive has digitised issues of Jeremy, a London-based gay lifestyle magazine from the late 1960s and early 1970s.  A 1970 issue includes 'A lingering look at skinheads' (vol.1, number 8).

'The 'in' music is Reggae and Blue Beat - energetic and uniform, almost monotonous - and the dance steps are simple and regular. The complications of progressive pop and all the with-itness of that world "pisses them off" and can lead to aggro. Big dance halls, like Mecca and Top Rank, are skinhead palaces'

Jeremy included a 'Gay Guide' to London clubs in a period when gay clubs had to be discrete and generally members only.  This issue from 1970 mentions The Toucan in Gerrard Street and The Masquerade and The Boltons in Earls Court the latter's regulars 'a pretty mixed bunch, some stunning, some just stunningly weird, some in semi-drag, some just a drag, but all full of shrill bounce and life'.

Intriguingly The Union Tavern is Camberwell New Road is also mentioned with drag nights three times a week plus 'Reggae (skinhead night)' on Tuesday. Doubt if this was a specifically gay skinhead night, but there was obviously a crossover with the gay scene. The skinhead article describes skins' enthusiasms as 'football, clothes, girls (not always) and music'

The skinhead photoshoot includes one shot taken outside the Union Tavern and the Jeremy Gala at Kensington Town Hall in September 1970 included a discotheque with the DJ  Mickey 'The skinhead from last month's Jeremy'. So can only assume as well Mickey was also DJ at the Union Tavern  skinhead night.

(outside the Union Tavern - I used to drink there and recognise its distinctive frontage)

[When I was at school the term  'Jeremy' was used as a homophobic slur - 'a bit of a Jeremy' etc - which I assumed was related to the Jeremy Thorpe scandal in the 1970s (Liberal MP accused of plotting to have an ex-lover killed). But was the term in circulation before that, associated with the magazine?]

The Union Tavern is now the Golden Goose theatre. The Union Place Resource Centre - a radical community printshop - was a couple of doors down, and I drank in the Tavern after popping down there sometimes. I remember one night meeting veteran council communist Joe Thomas in there, as he died in 1990 I think this must have been in 1988/9.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Union Tavern hosted drag on quite a few nights and memorably on Sunday lunchtimes with quite a mixed crowd including local families.

The stage had an extension, nicknamed "the runway of joy!" by some famous acts....