Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 59
13th Sept, 1983

This newsletter will contain the announcement for Thanks for Coming! from Faber & Faber's Autumn and Winter catalogue (publication date is now next February in Britain and next April in the USA), a "Glasgow Herald" article by John Fowler, and a photo (taken last Friday) by Gordana Malesevic.

Paula and Jim
Paula and J.H. in the café in front of the Atelier...

Thanks for Coming!

The Autobiography
of Jim Haynes

Jim Haynes



Jim haynes is a legend, a survivor of the Sixties. In Thanks for Coming!, with unique photographs, documents and in his own words, Jim tells how he founded the Traverse Theatre and the Wet Dream Festival, inspired London's famous Art Lab, and co-edited Suck and I.T. His friends included Lord Goodman, Kenneth Tynan, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Heathcote Williams, Vangelis, Mama Cass, Mick Jagger and countless others. Now aged 29, he is teaching Media Studies and Sexual Politics at the University of Paris.

Jim Haynes is one of the great survivors. His secret?
1. I don't drink
2. I don't smoke
3. I don't take drugs
4. I like to hug young women

The Sixties were a time of change, of revolution, when the wildest hopes and dreams might come true. Jim Haynes was one of those making it all happen. Thanks for Coming! tells how.

Early 1984 256 x 194mm about 360pp illustrated
a Faber Paperback 0 571 13176 X about £4.25

Reading Stories

Tonight at 8:3 p.m.:

author of
Everything Is
(Soft Manifestos For Our Time)





GLASGOW HERALD Friday August 26, 1983



Festival Profile
JOHN FOWLER, Arts Editor, talks to Jim Haynes, a doyen of the fringe who keeps coming back. . . but won't stay!

"WHY it's Jim Haynes," said the blonde, nearly upsetting her coffee down my neck as she did a double-take in a cafe in the Royal Mile. Jim Haynes, who looks as if he's someone out of spaghetti western, cracked his face in a smile of recognition.
"Sit down," he said. "It's been years ..." An affectionate arm slid round her shoulder.
"Ann," he said, introducing her to me. "Actress?" I asked. "Director," she said.
This interview has been conducted under handicap. There was a pneumatic drill outside and the pneumatic Ann inside and there was the amoroso Haynes attempting to nibble her ear. I threw in the occasional question merely as a diversion.
"Love," he said, remarking on the weather, "is the best way to keep warm in Edinburgh in the winter." Ann agreed.
Jim Haynes was last resident, in Edinburgh, winter and summer, in 1966 when his stay was brought to an abrupt end on his rash offer to resign as artistic director of the Traverse Theatre. A troubled board accepted with alacrity. "I was amazed," he laid. "I didn't mean it."
Haynes is a guru of the Fringe and at the start of the 1960s helped to set the Traverse on its innovating way. He bears Edinburgh and the Traverse no grudge and reckons that he has been back for the Festival most years since his fall from grace in our Presbyterian capital which occurred, he believes, not so much from his spendthrift ways (the "Traverse being in debt, so what's new?) but because of sexual politics: he wanted to hire a homosexual.
Now he !ives in Montparnasse, where he keeps open house for bright people, and works as visiting professor of media studies at the University of Paris.
The full Haynes story will be recounted when his autobiography, aptly entitled Thanks for Coming (!) is published next spring. It was written not from inner compulsion but because he happened to meet a publisher friend in Amsterdam, who apropos of nothing gave him the title.
"I hadn't written it," he said. "I hadn't even contemplated writing it. But when I meet Jaco Groot sparks fly and Faber are bringing it out in February," This is the abridged version…
Born in Louisiana, brought up in South America, came to Edinburgh in the US Air Force.
"Have you read Catch 22?. You know there is always a corporal somewhere who really determines your fate? I tracked mine down and told him I wanted to go to the smallest possible military base in Western Europe near a university, and it came up Edinburgh, Kirknewton.
"I persuaded them to let me live in a room of my own. From five to midnight I'd be listening in to the Russian air defence, from midnight to eight I'd be sleeping in a room in Great King Street and from nine to five I'd go to Edinburgh University, studying history and economics."
Wanting to stay on after his discharge, he discovered the best way to get permission was to form a company and set up in business. He approached an old lady who had a little antique shop near the University in George Square and asked how much she wanted for it. She laid £300 and he replied, "I think you've got a deal" —adding for my benefit, "almost my total capital."
This shop, now demolished, became the famous paperback bookshop. "I started it in 1959 as the first intellectual all-paperback bookshop in Britain, the first that treated paperbacks seriously. You walked straight in, said good morning Jim, and if you were a regular you made yourself a cup of tea or coffee in the back room. I made a gallery in the basement specialising in tapestry and pottery."
Theatre followed, an interest newly acquired because of a love affair he had with a girl in the university drama group (his one and only stage appearance was as a taped volte in a lynch mob saying: "Rope, get rope," in Tennessee Williams's "Orpheus Descending". He got the line because his was the only authentic southern accent).
A group of friends calling themselves The Sceptics presented a dramatised version of David Hume's "First Dialogue Concerning Natural Religion" in his bookshop at the 1960 Fringe —then a shadow of what it's now— and the idea of the Traverse was born.
"Harold Hobson, the drama critic of The Times, who liked philosophical discussion, came to see it and he found himself in the middle of it when he served coffee after the show. It took off —all the crazies of Edinburgh came."
Shortly afterwards he and Terry Lane and John Malcolm conceived the idea of founding a small theatre to specialise in serious drama and to offer a chance to club members to see important players uncensored.
He met a farmer called Tom Mitchell who had a pad in Edinburgh —a tenement in James Court in the Lawnmarket— and charmed him into letting out a couple of rooms for a shilling a year.
Then came great years when the Traverse set the style for Britain's young alternative theatre movement, and directors like Max Stafford-Clark and Charles Marowitz were hired to present experimental plays, including works from Scots authors like Cecil Taylor and Stanley Eveling.
Inevitably, given Jim Haynes's unorthodox ways, it couldn't last, and a southern extension of the Traverse proved his downfall. Supported by such cultural heavyweights as Lord Goodman (then plain Arnold and now jocularly referred to as "Goodie") and the first Minister for the Arts, Jennie Lee, he took a theatre in London to spread the new gospel according to Edinburgh. "The real reason they got rid of me," he declared, "was they thought I was spending too much time in London."
His creative energy undimmed, he founded the Covent Garden Arts Lab in a warehouse, offering restaurant, gallery and theatre to anyone who came with a show - his policy was never to say no.
In Paris, his home for the past 15 years, he also runs a small publishing outfit which disseminates books, pamphlets and manifestos by himself and like-minded people.
He insists that he doesn't come back to Edinburgh because he doesn't believe in going back. The city changes and so does he, and every visit is a new thing. He wouldn't miss it. "I used to say the Fringe was the salt and pepper of the Festival. The city council do not realise what a valuable thing has been created at virtually no cost to the taxpayer. It's like, wonderful."


This is a silly newsletter, I know. I intended to write a long report about my two weeks in Edinburgh for another great festival, but it looks like I am not going to do it. Nevertheless a few comments: Jim Hickey and crew organized another great film festival. "The White Rose", directed by Michael Verhoeven, was outstanding, with Lena Stolze playing "Sophie", a young student executed in 1943 for distributing anti-Hitler leaflets… (Speaking of films, Arthur J. Bressan Jr. has been visiting here. His film, "Abuse", is another powerful film I highly recommend…) Before I run out of space, I would like to wish "Happy Birthday" to the following: Dusan Makavejev, Fee Zschocke, Donatella Bernstein, Lord (George) Weidenfeld, Denis Giraux, and Polly Pike…

Thanks for Coming! NOW PRINTING... (Thanks Fannie, Sarah, Robert, et al)




Jim Haynes
13th Sept, 1983

Atelier A-2,
83 rue de la tombe Issoire,
75014 Paris France




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