The Oz 28 (Schoolkids issue) obscenity trial

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Re: The Oz 28 (Schoolkids issue) obscenity trial

Post  felix on Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:07 pm

Music journalist Charles Shaar Murray (NME 1970s-1980s; author of Crosstown Traffic - Hendrix biog - and Boogie Man - John Lee Hooker biog; music contributor to numerous newspapers; etc) had his first published work as an invited contributor to the Oz Schoolkids' Issue. See his account here

"Some of us are feeling old and boring," began the ad in Oz 26. "We invite our readers who are under 18 to come and edit the April issue. We will choose one person, several or accept collective applications from a group of friends." Oz, it concluded, "belongs to you".

Early 1970, with spring in the air. I was about to be sprung from what felt like a life sentence in Net Curtain Land (Reading, to be precise). I wasn't under 18. In fact, I had only a few more months to go before becoming 19. Nevertheless, there was no way that I was going to ignore an opportunity to meet and work with the glitterati of the metropolitan underground. It seemed like my last chance to escape becoming a civil servant or a librarian.

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Re: The Oz 28 (Schoolkids issue) obscenity trial

Post  felix on Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:47 pm

Afore she goes. The cached entirety of Eddie's old thread:

Eddie Sun 14 Nov 2010


Oz was first published as a satirical humour magazine between 1963 and 1969 in Sydney, Australia and, in its second and better known incarnation, became a "psychedelic hippy" magazine from 1967 to 1973 in London. Strongly identified as part of the underground press, it was the subject of two celebrated obscenity trials, one in Australia in 1964 and the other in the UK in 1971. On both occasions the magazine's editors were acquitted on appeal after initially being found guilty and sentenced to harsh jail terms.

The central editor throughout the magazine's life was Richard Neville. Co-editors of the Sydney version were Richard Walsh and Martin Sharp. Co-editors of the London version were Jim Anderson and, later, Felix Dennis.

Oz was parodied in the short-lived 1999 UK television series Hippies. Hippie Hippie Shake, a film based on Neville's memoir with Cillian Murphy in the lead role, will be released in 2010.


A major point at issue during the OZ obscenity trial was the publication in Issue 28 of a cartoon depicting the much-loved children's cartoon character Rupert Bear with an erection (expurgated version below):" alt="" />

DJ John Peel, one of many figures from the contemporay Arts scene called to the witness box to give "Expert evidence", defended the cartoon on the rather hippyish grounds that animals have feeling too.


The trial of OZ editors Richard Neville, Felix Dennis, and Jim Anderson, for issue 28,Schoolkids OZ, was conducted at the Old Bailey, under the auspices of Judge Michael Argyle. It was the longest trial under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act. Of particular significance is the now-notorious Robert Crumb pastiche cartoon of Rupert Bear in an explicitly sexual situation.

The defence lawyer was John Mortimer, the author of the television series Rumpole of the Bailey and many successful stage plays. He was assisted by Geoffrey Robertson, later to become a prominent barrister, author, and occasional broadcaster. Robertson later wrote a play about the trial, which was produced as a television drama by the BBC.

Oz number 33, back cover advertising "A Gala Benefit For The OZ Obscenity Trial"The defendants were found guilty and sentenced to up to 15 months imprisonment. This was later quashed on appeal by the lord chief justice Lord Widgery. It was alleged by Geoffrey Robertson that Widgery sent his clerk to Soho one lunchtime to buy £20 worth of the hardest porn he could find. The contents of even the Schoolkids issue of Oz paled in comparison.

In her Oz Trial Post-Mortem, which was not published until it was included in "The Madwoman’s Underclothes" (1986), the erstwhile contributor Germaine Greer made the following salient points:

"Before repressive tolerance became a tactic of the past, Oz could fool itself and its readers that, for some people at least, the alternative society already existed. Instead of developing a political analysis of the state we live in, instead of undertaking the patient and unsparing job of education which must precede even a pre-revolutionary situation, Oz behaved as though the revolution had already happened."

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Germaine Greer and Viv Stanshall on the cover of OZ 19." alt="" />
Oz editors Jim Anderson, Richard Neville and Felix Dennis.

John McLaughlin Head Wankee Sun Nov 14, 2010

Might have gotten more sympathetic hearing in the USA, where an obscene poster featuring Disney animals was in wide circulation among hippies.


Interesting that John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, should have presented the case for the Defence at both the Oz and the Gay News trials. Did he also appear for Penguin Books in the Lady Chatterley case?

BTW- Whatever happened to what used to be called "The Underground Press"?

Along with Oz, I seem to remember 60's-70's titles such as The International Times. The only survivor of that era seems to be Rolling Stone Magazine.

I suppose today's equivalent would be "Lads' Mags" such as Viz and Loaded- I've never read either- which I understand have rather a different agenda.

Johnny Mac

Check out The Onion, online. It breezily makes up everything, news, gossip, entertainment, mixes them all together, and publishes them under fake headlines.

Cover of Oz 33.

Cover of Oz 6. Feb. 1964.

Back cover of Oz 33, advertising a Gala Benefit Concert for the Oz obscenity trial. A pretty good line-up of acts, there.

Eddie Mon Nov 15 2010

I see Roy Harper played at the Oz Benefit Gala.

Here's the apposite opening of Hors d'Oeuvres, the first track on his best album, Stormcock:

Roy Harper - Hors d'Oeuvres lyrics

The judge sits on his great assize
Twelve men wise with swollen thighs
Who never ever told no lies
Whose minds were ever such a size
Whose lives were ever such a prize
Whose brains bred answers just like flies
Whose answers stalked their thoughts like spies
Whose lead ball through the courtroom flies
To rip a hole clean between two eyes
That never ever wore disguise
And never ever saw blue skies
Who quickly lived now slowly dies
Who closed unopened otherwise

Well you can lead a horse to water
But you're never gonna make him drink
And you can lead a man to slaughter
But you're never gonna make him think...

And here's the full album track:

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Re: The Oz 28 (Schoolkids issue) obscenity trial

Post  eddie on Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:36 pm


A slice of social, legal and journalistic history preserved for posterity.

Top man, felix. Like a Star @ heaven
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