By Barry Kavanagh, 17 October 2000
I mean the Christic Institute themselves pretty much got stamped into
They lost their lawsuit, did they?
Well, they had the lawsuit thrown out, because the judge said they hadn’t got enough evidence. [Laughs]. They’d got an aerodrome full of evidence but the judge was not really working to that kind of agenda. When I went over to visit them, in I don’t know ’85 or ’86, whenever it was, the day after I left Washington they blew up the car of the head of the Christic Institute, I think it was a guy called Father Bill Ryan, they blew up his car. About a week before I’d got there someone had blown a hole through the wall using military explosives in the middle of the night and gone through some files. Like, you know, this was real. They got stamped out of existence by CIA lawsuits. We got a letter – you see, I did it as a piece of music as well with an electronic musician called Gary Lloyd, who’s almost done some stuff with Iain Banks –
– You mean it was spoken word with –
– Spoken word with music. Gary did the music. We brought it out on a label called Codex, I think it’s still available. Codex, they’re a record company from Brighton, and we brought it out as a spoken word piece, the whole of Brought to Light. But I know that Gary at one point was talking to Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys and I think that Gary was hoping that maybe Jello would put it out on his label.
Was it Alternative Tentacles?
Yeah, Alternative Tentacles. We got a very nice communication back from Jello Biafra more or less saying “Look, I think it’s great but the CIA have just completely stamped the Christic Institute into the turf, destroyed them with lawsuits. If they can do that to the Christic Institute they can certainly do that to Jello Biafra,” and so he reluctantly kind of declined, it was a bit too hot for him to handle. So Codex brought it out over here. I believe that Bizarre magazine made it one their CDs of the millennium, which was nice. Yeah, so you know, the information’s still out there. And I mean, these days, do I still keep an eye upon what the CIA are doing in the world or the intelligence community? Not really closely. I just assume that almost any shit that happens has probably got one of these kind of half-arsed Men from UNCLE set-ups behind it. You know, one of the main things I learnt with Brought to Light was that yes, there is a conspiracy but the conspiracy is largely done by people who are corrupt and stupid. You’ve only got to look at the CIA plots to get rid of Castro. You’re not dealing with realists here.
Cigars that blow up.
And they were planning to stage the Second Coming in the Bay of Pigs, with a firework display and a loudspeaker taking the part of Jesus to tell the no doubt superstitious and backward Cubans that Jesus was on hand and that they should renounce Castro.
They believed this was going to work. This was the same as the exploding cigars; the chemicals to make Castro’s beard fall out, thus robbing him of his virility in the eyes of the Cuban people; these were all serious plans! So yeah there is a conspiracy, there’s lots of conspiracies.
But there’s also a systemic corruption where the police might take on informers and they might end up protecting criminal gangs and so on. And with double-agents and triple-agents you end up with total chaos.
You do! The thing is, that’s exactly it: chaos. If you’ve got one conspiracy going on in the world, that might be something to worry about but that conspiracy itself will have a couple of sub-conspiracies going on within it and there are probably in the end more factions than there are people. It’s a chaotic situation. Nobody’s in control. You’re not talking about conspiracy theory, you’re talking about fractal mathematics. [Laughs] When the maths gets complex enough, then it’s a kind of bronco that nobody can successfully hold onto, you know?
In Brought to Light, just on your little biography there it says you did something called AARGH, Artists Against –
– Rampant Government Homophobia. Yeah this was – what year was this? About ’88? The Clause 28.
Oh, I remember that.
Well, you would remember it then, I don’t think they have got rid of it still, have they? I mean, they’re still having these fucking huge debates. I thought it had just dropped out of existence completely but then I see that they’re having these huge debates up in Scotland because everyone’s upset because the government want to get rid of Clause 28 and they see Clause 28 as being the only fragile bulwark between their precious children and this army of homosexuals who out to corrupt them, you know? Yeah but when Thatcher brought that in, in ’88, at the time I was part of – there was kind of – there was me, there was my wife and there was our girlfriend and we were all kind of living together quite openly as a different sort of relationship. It lasted for two or three years. At that time obviously we were a lot closer to the lesbian and gay scene and when we saw this legislation coming down we thought it was pretty alarming because there actually hadn’t been any legislation that had specifically legislated against one particular sub-group before.
This was Nazi legislation, especially when you’d got enthusiastic Conservative councillors talking about “gassing the queers” being the only ultimate solution to the problem, then it was a bit nerve-wracking. So what we decided to do was mobilize as many famous friends as I could dig up and put out a benefit book with all the money going to the organization for lesbian and gay action.
So it wasn’t an organization in itself?
It wasn’t an organization in itself, no, it was just a magazine. The response was great. We had Frank Miller, Robert Crumb, Dave Gibbons, Art Spiegelman, Howard Cruse, Brian Bolland, Hunt Emerson, just everybody, Neil Gaiman, everybody chipped in and I think we made somewhere like pushing twenty grand for the organization of lesbian and gay action, who actually, we didn’t even like that much, because they were sort of –
Were they militant themselves?
Ah, they were militant, bigoted, half-arsed. When we actually met them they didn’t even like the fact that – I mean it was Phyllis and Debbie who went to deal with them – the fact that Phyllis and Debbie said that they were bisexual. This, you know, “Huh! Accepting money from bisexuals!” I think one of them said “We’ll be allowing men in next!” However, once we raised the seventeen, twenty thousand, whatever it was, they were very different.
They loved you then?
Oh, they loved us then. But we kept up a kind of frosty contempt. We said “Here’s your seventeen thousand but please understand that the way that you’ve treated us throughout all this says an awful lot about problems that you ought to look at within your own structure.” [Laughs] Yeah. You know. It was a worthwhile thing. I’ve still got some copies of AARGH floating around upstairs somewhere. It was a nice Dave McKean cover.
It was a cool little magazine.