Jonathan King - Vile Pervert: The Musical
Jonathan King as Oscar Wilde, from Vile Pervert: The Musical: "There's nothing wrong with buggering boys ... "
I hadn’t ever expected to have sight of Jonathan King’s cock, but life’s full of little – or not so little – surprises. In his Vile Pervert: The Musical movie he parts his flasher’s mackintosh to reveal all (contemptuously mocking and flaunting his own notoriety), an unveiling to 90 minutes of mischief and mayhem from the currently disgraced monarch of misrule.
The greatest compliment I can pay him is that he is authentically and spectacularly shocking. There’s no question in my mind that this show should premiere on stage at the Edinburgh Fringe – provided that audiences agree to be tied and gagged to prevent disruption.
King has set to music his decline and fall (and furious afterlife) precipitated by sex with under-age teenage boys, crimes for which he was convicted and jailed, with a libretto part-inspired by tabloid mock-horrors and King's own impenitence. He makes his case for innocence and in the process lampoons and scandalises his enemies – such as PR Max Clifford (comically reinvented here as Waxie Maxie, the smarmy, money-grubbing “silver stoat”) and Sun editor Rebekah Wade (reborn by King as Flame Mitchell in drag and long red wig, whose mantra is: “Two tits good, two balls bad”).
King has two principal arguments in his defence: evidence against him is unreliable (and I think there's a case to answer, at least); in many other countries, he would not have been prosecuted in the first place. He won’t win new friends; he may even alienate a few. He will disgust further his critics. But what of the show?
I would place it up there with Tracey Emin’s soiled bed or Damien Hirst’s pickled carcasses or one of Mark McGowan’s demo stunts: events of pre-meditated lunacy that must be marvelled at because no one thought to do the like before. Who would think to dress up as Oscar Wilde (I like the attention to sartorial detail) and sing “There’s nothing wrong with buggering boys”, or show a cartoon of the silver stoat cock-arsing his clients, but King?
Among the permutations of the unthinkable Vile Pervert is certainly one. It should be staged at the Tate Modern as a living art exhibit, as King - or his looped hologram - serenades against "professional victims" (his accusers) and reminds uncomprehending tourists that he once wrote a weekly column for The Sun and earned thousands of pounds a week from it – “I saw the hardcore porn on journalists’ computer screens, there for ‘research’ … the bestiality, necrophilia … I know where the bodies are buried,” he informs/threatens.
Vile Pervert works for me as a storm of raging energy and transcends the personal issue by its disgraceful assault on media and PR power - on the lies, the bullshit. In that sense I think King has done something here that’s better than he could have hoped. The Wades, the Cliffords, and so many others, need major trashing: we need to see these people scurrilously mocked just for the hell of it - to put them in their place. So we can see them and keep our eye on them. They have real, unaccountable power - more real power than most politicians.
The King is certainly not dead - news that won't please everyone.