|Alternative Arts Man|
|by Michael Covene
Copyright 1984 The Financial Times Limited
Financial Times (London)
March 10, 1984, Saturday
section I; Books; Pg. 14
Alternative arts man
Thanks for Coming! by Jim Haynes.
Faber, £3.95, 290 pages
After he had launched Britain's first paperback bookshop in Edinburgh in 1959, Jim Haynes became a crucial figure in the Performing Arts. He made things happen. He initiated the fringe theatre movement in this country. An ex-member of the U.S. Air Force, he became, along with fellow ex-pats Charles Marowitz and Ed Berman, a key spokesman for the alternative performing arts.
There have appeared several snooty and self-congratulatory reviews of Jim Haynes' collage-cum-autobiography, but none of them has begun to assess his real impact. He was the first bookseller to arrange his wares by subject, not by publisher. He started the idea of readings and "art" performance in this country. He moved effortlessly, interestingly between the worlds of Mick Jagger, Lord Goodman, Jennie Lee, Kenneth Tynan, Germaine Greer and Dick Gregory.
He was always, and ever, an autograph hound. His most useful contact in this respect was John Calder, who set him up for the Edinburgh Festival Drama Conference of 1963 and cemented his relations with Natalie Sarraute, Harold Hobson, Tynan, Sonia Orwell, etc.
Haynes reacted to all this with the advantage of being an active provocateur, an identifiably animated example of the alternative society.
He knew the Stones, Tim Leary, Germaine Greer, Dick Gregory, Heathcote Williams, Ken Tynan and Jennie Lee when it mattered to know them.To most people, he was an innocent, likeable saint of the permissive society. He did no harm. He was, touchingly, impressed by dealing with the famous.
He is now 50 years old."My formula," he says, is that "I don't smoke, don't drink, I don't use aspirin, and I'm nice to old ladies and young girls, especially young girls."
An anti-intellectual, Jim Haynes spawned a whole new intellectualism in the arts, changed several hundred people's lives, supplied easy ammunition for the New Right's reaction to his heroes (Buckminster Fuller, Willhelm Reich, Marshall McLuhan) and became an easy target for the pampered new wave establishment literati. He remains the best advertisement for what was valuable about the 1960s. His book, a most entertaining and revealing collage, is an essential testament to an era some of us, before the onset of the new cynicism, regard as important.
In Faber's ingenious publication, Haynes published his correspondence and a picture of Suck magazine (which he founded) editorial conference.
The picture shows four naked bodies writhing around in something approaching late 1960s ecstasy.It is a funny and absurd picture, but not half as funny as Haynes's ingenuous memorial of an early Suck conference:
"In the middle of our meeting, Heathcote (Williams) and Jean (Shrimpton) excused themselves to go into another room to make love. Bill, Germaine and I continued to talk. Later, when the paper folded, I looked back on this meeting as our first mistake. We should all five have made love together."
You and I may laugh at this. But Haynes is speaking in earnest. He still does, teaching Media and Sexual Politics, if you please, in Paris, where he has lived and loved since 1969. His book is a document of how the permissive society reached out and conquered the fashion-conscious establishment: as a critical history it is more or less useless.
Nonetheless, a book to cherish. It opens with a list of dedicatees - 20 pages of them, ranging from our own Freddie Young to Harold Hobson, Mick Jagger, Peter Hall, Hugh McDiarmid, George Melly, Harold Pinter, Pip Simmons, Gore Vidal Francis Wyndham -- "and all closet hippies everywhere... " Jim's greatest talent was ever an undiscriminating enthusiasm. No reviewer has discussed this more constructively than does Charles Marowitz. He does so within the memoirs, at Haynes's own invitation.
© 1984 The Financial Times Limited
1984 The Financial Times : Alternative arts man