Jim Haynes is a legend. As with all legends, most who know him recall
a wonderful first meeting, a moment when he brought them through the looking
glass. I've heard many stories of hellos on buses leading to all-night
conversations or making love, and, of course, to creative action-plays,
books, films anything that generates and furthers bright ideas.
But Jim Haynes just landed in my mailbox along with a few dozen other
requests for sample copies of my magazine Samisdat. Since his request
didn't include the $2.00 sample price, I nearly tossed it into the trash-a
handout to one stray poet attracts 'em all, which fast erodes paid circulation.
Then I looked at Haynes' return address: Paris. "Maybe this peckerwood
just doesn't know the price," I guessed.
I billed him. To my surprise, he paid up-promptly-with two crumpled dollar
bills enclosed in a note explaining that among anarchists he didn't expect
to have to deal in currency, and that I'd be welcome to stay at his place
whenever in Paris.
Sure. I still had him pegged as an asshole when exchange copies of his
books began arriving. Having grown up amid the commercialized refuse of
the "free love" movement, I opened his Hello, I Love You!
anthology with skepticism-but closed it a few hours later with recognition
that what Madison Avenue made of it certainly wasn't what Haynes and the
other Sexual Freedom League founders had in mind. They were simply after
a more honest, open world, where people can touch without fear, where
sexual attraction needn't be sublimated, where sex isn't part of power
games, where marriage is based upon companionship rather than exclusive
Haynes, for one, had never intended to create a world of one-night stands
between strangers, haunted by venereal disease, unwanted children, abortions,
and mass-murdering maniacs. All this happened because the world wasn't
ready to simply love, with commitment toward all, not just one... wasn't
ready to accept every child's well being as a portion of one's responsibility
in living... wasn't ready to make love instead of war when hurting inside.
In short, Haynes won my respect as a practical idealist; one who has made
his ideals work for himself, at least, setting a good example that the
rest of the world may follow when we all grow up enough. Not that he himself
has grown up entirely, as he admits, refusing to play the all-seeing,
all knowing guru so many other idealists hope to find in him.
I wrote back at length, opening debate on various points. I found, though,
that Haynes isn't much of a debater. Knock a hole in one of his pet theories
(say on cybernetics or economics) and he'll start rebuilding on whatever
survives, with whatever new information comes his way. He doesn't defend
ideas that don't stand up just because they were his a few days ago. Territorial
dominance doesn't seem to mean much to him. Another way to put that is
Haynes would rather have the right idea than be personally 'right.' His
chief concern is whatever works toward making a happier world.
I met Haynes finally two years ago, at his Paris apartment, Grand Central
Station for half the creative universe. He didn't look much like a great
man, exhausted from recent travel and depressed over the imminent departure
of his long-time lover, Paula Klein. Nor did he speak as the bubbling,
vivacious Jim Haynes I'd always heard about. He seemed more like any other
middle-aged good ol' boy from Louisiana who's lived hard and sometimes
wonders if it's all been worth it. Conversation with all those coming
and going tended to hover near the surface, a constant exchange of compliments
and abstract descriptions of activity obscuring the lack of in dept exchange.
In the rare moments that the two of us were alone, the real Jim Haynes
seemed to emerge from behind the myth like a curious small child from
behind a banister. He discussed his feelings shyly, hesitantly, seeking
out just the right words. After one visitor played awkward guitar while
exuberantly singing of her "dirt lover," Haynes appeared down
"People do that to me all the time," he said. "They tell
me I'm really going to like this or that because it's 'dirty.' I try to
be appreciative because I know they mean well. But the whole point of
my life is that sex and love are not dirty. I don't like dirty things.
I like healthy, caring things."
A college kid, male, tried to seduce him later that evening with camping
that could have embarrassed Boy George. "He somehow thinks it would
make him special to have sex with the great Jim Haynes,' Haynes observed.
"Perhaps he means well, but even if he doesn't know it, he's still
using sex for the wrong purposes-for power."
Haynes also acknowledged that while he experimented with bisexuality 20
years ago, "I really didn't get much out of it. I prefer women-I'm
straight," and he grinned as if at a tremendous joke. "I don't
smoke. I don't drink. I don't do drugs. I have a reputation as a reprobate
and pervert, because I dare to talk about these things and defend people's
right to do them if they want to. But I'm straighter than most of the
people who criticize my lifestyle."
Haynes's sexual reputation developed because in the early days of the
sexual revolution, he was among the few leaders willing to matter-of-factly
discuss his relationships. "I became a writer," he smiled, "because
all around me people were wanting to experiment with all kinds of different
sexual relationships. They were looking for information and encouragement.
I was the only one who had done things like living in a group marriage
and having homosexual experience, who was willing to put it down on paper
with my own name on it. I wasn't ashamed of anything I'd done, or particularly
afraid of the consequences. I figured enough people knew me that my reputation
could survive anything anyone said about something I might have done in
bed with somebody else, and besides," he laughed, "in my circles,
in the theatre world, that would have been throwing stones in glass houses,
because whatever I was doing, a lot of other people were doing a lot more
of without being open about it."
It wasn't easy to achieve these few revealing moments. Haynes kept himself
in constant motion, from one person to another, as much to shield himself
from deep revelation, I suspected, as to spread himself around. He truly
opened up to Paula just once, as she was leaving, with an embrace I captured
on appropriately blurred black-and-white film. He openly wept. Yet he
didn't beg. He didn't try to hold her, with either words or gestures.
He let her go because, in Jim Haynes' world, people do what they want.
He trusted she would never forget him, would return when she could share
something with him once again.
Others remember Jim Haynes as a genial man-about-town, world traveller
who knows everybody, instigator of excitement. I remember him as a big,
lonesome bayou boy, struggling to be strong on a drizzling grey morning
amid a house full of strangers.
PARIS-Jim Haynes is covering the Cannes Film
Festival for the next issue of GLN. Jim's latest book, Thanks for Coming,
is published by Faber and Faber (39 Thompson St., Winchester, MA 01890.
$8.95 plus $1.50 handling). The book is Jim's planetary networking chronicle
with folks such as John and Yoko, Germaine Greer, Vangelis, Jean Shrimpton,
Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, Indira Gandhi, David Frost, and the twenty pages
of individuals to whom he dedicated the book. "Jet set to the max,"
sensational, trivial, serious, titillating, and alive with humanness and
fun! Jim teaches Media and Sexual Politics at the University of Paris.