JIM HAYNES

 

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Question - Is Jim Haynes really shy ?
by Merritt Clifton
published in G.L.N., spring 1984
Jim Haynes and Paula, photograph Rights Reserved

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.

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 bonds.
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 right sad.
"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."

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.

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.

 
 
Merritt Clifton © 1984 G.L.N.
 

 

 

1984 G.L.N. : Is Jim Haynes really shy ?

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