by Gary Comenas (2016)
Andy Warhol's Pork in London
Poster for the London production of Pork. (The small letters at the top of the poster read "Ira D. Gale in association with Lynsey & Haydn Productions Limited and Mayfair Fine Art (London) Limited presents")
Jayne County was one of the New York cast members who flew to London to appear in the Roundhouse production of Pork.
I was very excited about coming to England, having been such a huge British Invasion fan in my teens... Ira Gale flew the main cast members of Pork to London and put us up in a flat in Earls Court. Because of the Equity agreement, we had to recruit British actors for the minor roles, so we couldn't bring Harvey Fierstein with us, for instance. But Leee [Black Childers], Tony Zanetta, Jaime de Carlo, Geri Miller, Via Valentina, Cherry Vanilla (who took over the role of Pork) and I were all living in one flat, which became known as Pig Mansions, because we were all living like pigs, bringing people back all the time, doing drugs. (JCR78)
County notes that "We arrived in London in August 1971 on a wave of publicity. Andy Warhol's Flesh had been raided a few months previously and Geri Miller was one of the stars of that, so everyone was very interested in this new play with Geri and a lot of other New York people in it." (JCR79)
Lee Black Childers who credited himself as the assistant director of the play, noted that it "was in London that the production created a "huge, giant scandal:"
Lee Black Childers:
... I was the assistant director of both the [NY and London] productions - it ran for six weeks in New York , then it ran six weeks in London. [Note: The run was actually less than that. The NY run started on May 5 and had a "two week trial run" according to Grace Glueck and the poster for the London production shows that it ran August 2 - August 28, 1971.]
We were such kids, we didn't know anything about the London tabloid press. Geri Miller went for a photo session in front of the Queen Mother's house, popped her tits out, and got arrested. It made the front page of every tabloid: "PORK PORNO ACCTRESS POPS TITS IN FRONT OF THE QUEEN MOTHER'S HOUSE!" They would quote her: "WHAT'S WRONG WITH TITS, THE QUEEN'S GOT 'EM." (PKM116)
Leee also remembers posing as a rock journalist with Cherry Vanilla and going to see David Bowery at a club he refers to as "the Country Club." According to Jayne County the club was called Country Cousins and she went there with Leee and Cherry and others from the play.
One night we went to see David Bowie at a little club called Country Cousins. Leee and I had already heard of him because we'd read an article in Rolling Stone, accompanied by a picture of this boy with long hair falling over one eye, looking a bit like Lauren Bacall, wearing huge floppy trousers and a baggy shirt. He'd just realised Hunky Dory but the show was really disappointing to be honest. It was a folksy act with acoustic guitars and Mick Ronson looking like a dippy hippy. Bowie was sitting on a stool for much of the time, I remember, and the audience were squatting on the floor. When he introduced the song "Andy Warhol" he said, "The cast of Pork, the Andy Warhol people, are actually here in the audience tonight! Cherry Vanilla, Wayne County and Leee Black Childers! So we stood up and the whole room turned round and applauded, we posed for them a bit. Cherry got one of her tits out, and then we sat down.
After that, Bowie and his wife Angie came to see Pork quite a few times... After the show David and Angie always came backstage for a drink, and we'd go out to a club. We all went to a gay club called the Sombrero once - that was a fun night. (PKM80-81)
Jayne County attributed Bowie's look to those performances of Pork and hanging around with the cast.
Angie [Bowie] and Tony Zanetta hit it off right away; it took me longer. Even though I was going around looking really wild, I was still quite a reserved Southern Belle underneath it all. One night, Zanetta went over to Angie and David's for dinner, and they ended up in bed having a threesome. Zanetta came back to the flat and he was kind of embarrassed...
My first impression of David Bowie was that he was a very passive, over-polite person... but all the while he was studying our make-up for his own future use. Angie of course, would come backstage screaming, "Darling, you're fabulous!"... She was very loud, while David would sort of stand there and smile...But he was taking it all in. Eventually he started painting his nails and shaving his eyebrows just like we did. After Pork, he took his subtly Lauren Bacall androgyny and pushed it into the blunter, more flamboyant area. (JCR81)
Tony Zanetta ended up becoming Bowie's "assistant" or "manager" depending on which account you read of Bowie's life and Leee Black Childers became the vice-president of of Bowie's company MainMain, which was established a year later. Or his official photographer, according to other accounts.
After we all came back from London was when David Bowie started getting his Ziggy Stardust trip together. They convinced him to cut his hair and to dye it orange - the whole spaceman trip.
Angela was pushing him to do it. And Tony DeFries hired Cherry Vanilla, Leee Black Childers, Tony Zanetta, Jamie DeCarlo - they had all these freaky people around, trying to make David look good. But if it hadn't been for Andy Warhol's Pork, there would never have been a MainMan, or for that matter a Ziggy Stardust. (PKM120)
Most of the press reviews of the London production weren't quite as positive as Glueck's review in the New York Times - nor was the audience's reaction:
Leonard Leff (“Theater: Warhol’s Pork,” Art in America, Vol. 60, no. 1, January – February 197, p. 112):
Generally, the London press was offended, the Telegraph revulsed and the Times abrasive. Even audiences seem to begrudge the production its laughter and applause. Yet the Guardian, consistently providing London with its best art criticism termed Warhol's first play a 'must see," and for anyone who has followed the career of the charismatic author, it indeed is.
Leff ultimately gives a favorable review of the production except for a slight criticism of Cherry Vanilla.
The production is a fine one... Geri Miller's prostitute qua ingenue is delightful, as is Suzanne Smith's portrayal of Pork's brassy mother. Unfortunately, however, Ingrassia exacts only fair performances from some of his cast; as Pork, Kathy Dorritie [Cherry Vanilla] seems to be reciting rather than interpreting. But Anthony Zanetta as B. Marlowe manages never to lose his balance upon the fine line between exhaustion and ennui. Finally, it is Wayne County's Vulva to whom the show belongs. The compleat bitch, she reveals in her moody hedonism a life devoid of all but temporal and superficial pleasures and fulfillments... the sensitive playgoer is well aware that for all the superficial differences, there are haunting resemblances between us and the burned-out characters in Pork.
The salacious nature of the play did not escape the attention of the international mens' magazine Penthouse which devoted five pages to the London production of Pork in their November 1971 magazine. A reproduction of that article begins on the next page. (Photos are not censored in the original version.)