Donald Urquhart meets David Hoyle at the Retro Bar to discuss his new film Uncle David, stripping, LSD, nervous breakdowns and our tragically flawed heteronormalist culture.
I met David at the Retro Bar, “It’s the closest thing we have to the Colony Room,” he remarked, “with Lesley as Muriel Belcher”. Hoyle‘s presence transforms anywhere into a symposium for the avant-garde. The night before he had been a judge at Ashley Rider’s Strip Academy – “it was the least suicidal I have felt for a while.” Ashley co-stars in his new film, Uncle David, a black comedy filmed over five days on the Isle of Sheppey.
“Have you watched the film?”
“I saw it the other day with two lesbian friends.”
“Do they have any children?”
“A daughter but she’s grown up now. One enjoyed the humour but the other rightly pointed out that it doesn’t paint a positive image of the gay community?
“No. It doesn’t,” David smiled archly.
“Shall we go for a cigarette?”
“Yes. That’s another massive death cult. Smokers?”
David had just been released from a brief stay in hospital and still proudly wore his admissions wristband, along with some bangles. “One minute you’re in a walk·in clinic and you walk in but you don’t walk out. I came out yesterday teatime thinking ‘life goes on’, and I absolutely loved it at the Strip Academy. It is wholly inclusive for all strippers, irrespective of age or anything like that. As Penny Arcade says ‘anybody can look sexy at 22’. She’s in her sixties and she’s stunning.One gentleman did his strip with his back to the audience, and his timing was perfect. I kind of predict the early genesis of a new dance movement discipline. As I was watching them there were times when I felt that this must have been what it was like in the early ‘60s when people went to the Royal Court Theatre and saw these amazing ground-breaking productions like ‘Look Back in Anger. That’s what came into my mind: Social Realism.”
David is currently at the Soho Theatre working on turning Uncle David into a musical which will of course also star Ashley. “I worked with Ashley for several months developing the characters. The scenes were all improvised. We would try to film each scene in one take, and filming started as soon as we woke up. We all lived in the caravan, crew included, and Ashley and I slept in the bedroom in the caravan that appears in the film. We only had one lime green towel between us which ended up looking like a scatological shroud of Turin. You know, I already had swine flu so for hygiene purposes I had to use t-shirts for towels towards the end.”
“Well it’s very convenient for London.”
“It‘s also very bleak and regimented there with all that barbed wire fencing.”
“It is. I wondered are they keeping people out or keeping people in? In a way you can look at an organised camp site and you can see a graveyard, say from the First World War. That’s what I see.”
“I hear you’re also working on something called ‘The Psychiatrist’?”
“Yes. That’s right. I’ll be doing a film. I play the psychiatrist.”
“Have you ever been to a psychiatrist?”
“Well I’m no stranger to… that side of life. It has been an assistance to me in certain periods. It can be very helpful” “A friend of mine’s mother told me that the only time she felt normal was in the ‘60s when she was hospitalised for depression and given LSD every day for three and a half
“That’s incredible. Well I can see that. I mean I do think that with LSD people don’t understand. It gets a bad rap. I believe that most people would benefit from it actually. I can think of a lot of people that should be held down and forcibly injected with LSD. Because it might change them; because the way they are at the moment I find very boring. I feel sorry for them because they can only use a very limited palette of colours, contextualisations… I think if they had a full acid
experience they would never be the same again and this is what frightens them.”
“And with Uncle David, he does advocate the full use of drugs In schools. I think people function collectively better on drugs. I mean once you’ve lost yourself in an acid situation you’re never going to be the same, are you really? Once things have been broken down to pixels, particles or atoms it changes the way you perceive things. It can also make you more caring, more loving. We live in such a peevish society, not only are children having milk withdrawn from them, the authorities are not augmenting it with acid. It’s like taking with one hand and not giving with the other. Whereas if children were encouraged to develop a collective consciousness, say before
infant school, or at least shown pictures of people on acid then it wouldn’t be such a shock to them would it? What I find weird is that you still get generation after generation coming out of the education system with their various problems regarding people. They can’t tolerate this group. They can’t tolerate that. They come out with bigotry and prejudice when they should be coming out in saffron robes, full of peace, happy, highly decorated with flowers in their hair.”
“I think the role of school should be to say to children don’t believe your parents. Whoever they tell you are you are not. They are telling you who you are for their own reasons. They also don’t want you to have freedoms that they never had. Why do parents force this nonsense concept of gender onto their children? They have to make them act butch and this way and that. Why can’t they let them be themselves? Any concerned parent should be screaming at their children ‘there’s no such thing as gender’.
“I find it very bizarre, Donald, that we live on a planet of perpetual war and nobody says anything about it.“
“They just accept it.”
“They take it as the norm, Heteronormal people bringing up children as empty vessels of heteronormativity. I just can’t get my head round them. What are you doing to your children? Why impose all that? Why not tell the children that gender is all nonsense, and you don’t want them to believe all that garbage?”
“People don’t think. I mean, the role of yourself as an artist is that you have thoughts and you can express those thoughts. These people don’t even have the capacity for thought. Other people have to think for them.”
“I think that everyone should have a harrowing breakdown. It’s so important. If you are community minded you should have a breakdown for the good of the commune. Until you have had the rug completely pulled from under you then you haven’t lived. Until you have free-fallen into the bottomless pit you just don’t know. I have had a collection of breakdowns.”
“They come in all shapes and forms. Sometimes you don’t even notice them.”
“Exactly, Donald. You’ve either had some terrific breakdown or you become aware that you have been living with delusional thought, and to come out of delusional thought is horrific. When you think that for some period of time in your life you have been thinking in a certain way and actually it wasn’t like that at all. You have misread the situation. You have been in a false reality mixed in with a little bit of wishful thinking, mixed in with a little bit of desperation. You have got the makings of a nervous breakdown.
“And you are right about work, about art, Donald. At least we are able to express ourselves. I have never stopped working. Well I have had breakdowns and had to take a lot of time off,
but this time I never stopped working, and I’m actually quite proud of myself really.”
“Work gives you a focal point.”
“Yes it does, and it proves an inner strength. That you can carry on, and that where there is life there is hope. There are of course people who can’t share, and they look to me like some kind of prehistoric sub-species who are dying.”
“Not quickly enough.”
“That’s right. And they deserve to die. With their silly inertia and their banality that they don’t see anything and look down their noses at everything. Heteronormal people who are advocating heteronormativity. They should stop and think maybe that before having children you should stop wars first. They still think that they can look down on people who might want to stick their tongues up someone‘s shitter and I think that they should question their morality. I think that if you
can bring these dunderheaded kids who are all spoiled into this world, what hope is there for humanity? Life is wasted on them.”
Released by Peccadillo Pictures
05 December 2011