Anyway. like I said, I left London in March of 1973, since all the magazines I had worked on had got fucked over one way or another.
Oz up at the Old Bailey on obscenity charges for School Kids OZ (I’ll post the whole thing one day), and by the tax-man because I stuck the words ‘Tax Dodge Special’ on the center-page;
Ink a news-weekly got sued by busybody Mary Whitehouse for a Steadman cover i designed;
Curious magazine (sex education ) was sued by Michael Caine because I used a picture of his wife on the cover, plus it got the censor on its case with three issues in which I included many cartoons by Adrej Dudzinski, (sp) and art by Ed Bell amongst others including photographer Phil Frank, that was three more pornography busts . All the legalities were orchestrated by the Lord Chamberlain’s office, after my epic confrontation in Kensington Mews with the pajama clad censor.
So I took off to Mill Valley California, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco on a date with Pamella Poland, the Clive Davis at Columbia talent, an amorous singer I’d met in Holland Park back in ’65, who was later to be recording ‘Willsdon Manor’ in honor of the potato merchant apartments in Covent garden where we awoke to the rumble of rolling boxes.
After many adventures the place I eventually ended up in was Druid Heights, near Muir Woods in Marin County, California – which has just been nominated as a US National Historic Monument (you can Google it). It is in a secret location on a lone hill top, the site of an old farm house, The nomination is because of its association with a bunch of radicals who were all still there when I arrived:
Allan Watts (c. 1938 -1973), the rumbling Buddhist Anglican philosopher in his kimono and his wife Jano (d. 2005?) in vegetable-tie-die robe, Alan’s extensive library of spiritual alcohol was housed in a 24-feet diameter converted rain-butt built by;
Builder Roger Somers. (C. 1916 – 1985 (?) He was the landlord, builder and jazzman (away in Hawaii while I was there). Roger built many buildings hidden from the building inspector who never really found them. Roger Somers it is now recognized was the man who effectively started the tiny-homes movement with his Lloyd Wright inspired Goat House hut that I lived in, hidden amongst the oaks in;
Elsa Gidlow’s (C. 1912 -1982?) garden where I tended the beds, learning horticulture under Elsa’s stern blue eyes. She was was from Yorkshire, had lost her accent, was a producer on Berkeley Radio. Elsa is the feminist lesbian poet;
Margo St.James (still kicking) was branded ‘whore’ in a bent bust by an off duty cop on Grant. Cooling her heels in woody seclusion while setting up her gang. Margo founded ‘Coyote,’ a Loose Woman’s Organization, to decriminalize Prostitution and clear her name of shame – she glamorized the trade.
I designed her logo, a vagina eyed coyote trickster. The ubiquitous button (badge) was a success and Margo funded her campaign through sales. Setting off in her orange VW ’67 with a wonky bike-rack, we’d be having coffee in North Beach within half an hour. Later in ’74 we’d drive off in her big ol’ white whale, a Chevy station wagon, 69, with spongy springs. Exciting bouncy driving on the dirt road leading out of the compound down the rutted, eucalyptus-leaf-slippery, fern shrouded dirt road, off to to some swanky-do in Pacific Heights.
I’d just come from London where I’d designed the Oz Police ball poster and was aware of the prospects for a Ball in San Francisco. As Margo pulled Bay-berry and Loosrife from amongst the freshly pilfered Dasies and Marigolds taken from down-town commercial window-boxes and gardens in midnight raids, I suggested a ‘Hookers Ball,’ we discussed the apostrophe – none – this was Margo’s gig, “Hookers Ball’ is a statement of fact. The bands were discussed. For seven years It made money and helped start the contemporary sex-workers movement.
I spent a year there in Druid Heights. Margo taught me all I know about Chantrelle-mushroom picking. We’d set off at dawn after the rains and a bit of sun and run into the Oak and Laurel woods of the State park.