Sunday, 11 December 2011

Voices from the Old Bailey - Amanda Vickery on Radio 4

First broadcast on 3rd August 2011 on Radio 4, as part of the second series of Voices from the Old Bailey.

In Sexual Subcultures (link goes to BBC website; link still worked on 25 July 2016), Amanda Vickery uses court cases to explore the lives of gay men and cross-dressers in the 18th century. Lesbians did not appear in court as lesbianism was not against the law - but the programme includes an 18th century lesbian love song, as well as the hilarious 'Bumography'. (The programme lasts about 45 minutes.)

The 3 court cases referred to range from the tragic to the hilarious:
  • First, the case of a milkman caught in a raid on a gay brothel - and sentenced to death.
  • The second case is blackmail, and reveals the vulnerability of all men at the time to accusations of sodomy.
  • The third stars the hilarious 'Princess Seraphina', a cross-dresser with a bevy of female admirers who turn up in court - a priceless insight into 18th century camp.
Three contributors discuss the cases: leading gay historian Rictor Norton, Helen Berry, historian of sexuality, and Professor Peter King, historian of crime. They discuss how far there was a clearly-defined gay identity in the 18th century.

The programme was recorded on location in Lincoln's Inn, where barristers have been beavering away for centuries. But outside their chambers, this was one of the naughtiest places in London - a notorious gay cruising ground, and site of the 'bog-house', the public toilets which were a place of assignation.

No comments:

Post a Comment