14 NOVEMBER 1958, Page 13



IN THE ATV offices, high above Kings- I way, Miss Eartha Kitt scowled for the photographers and demanded tea. 'I am a very personal type of person,' she said, savouring her words like bonbons. 'I am not evil. I am not a


man-eater. I am not even sinister. I never think of myself in those terms, but I cannot help my own publicity. When my recording company issued an LP of my songs under the title of The Bad Eartha I didn't argue. I just got hysterical.

'I know what I'm really like. I wouldn't deny all the things they say about me. But people just don't know the good side of my nature. I suppose it isn't commercial. I am not a bosomtic kind of person. By that, I mean I am not just a person with bosoms. I am an artist. Bosomtic is a word I just made up. You can spell it any Way you like.'

Miss Kitt wore a leopard-skin jacket over a grey buttoned dress, and occasionally she stroked a leopard-skin handbag. Her skin was a matt bronze. Her fingernails shone like pink chrome. In the grey afternoon she looked like a devil girl from Mars space-kitted on Fifth Avenue.

'I do not consider rock 'n' roll particularly artistic,' she said. 'It can be artistic, I suppose. But it is not my kind of material. I would' never prostitute my art.'

Miss Kitt said that she suffered intensely from the cold. When she went to Canada she always seemed to arrive in mid-winter, and as a result she always went down with influenza. 'I divide mY time between my two homes,' she said. 'I have one in New York, and one in California. The one in California belonged to a gangster who used to race horses. I live in the part that Was once upon a time the stables. The dining- room is still split up into loose-boxes, and the names of the horses are still painted up.

She came to London to sing for the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance, she said, and to make an appearance on Sunday Night at the Palladian. 'I am also' writing a book,' she said. 'It is called Hullia. Hullia—that is the name of a girl. She is a Turkish personality who is prob- ably all the things you think I am. But, let me tell You, you are quite wrong to think of me like that. For the past three months I have, in fact, been growing roses in my garden.'


IN THE LECTURE hall of New York's Hunter Col- lege on Park Avenue, an unnerving farce was Played out before a tense, packed audience. It might almost have been, and almost certainly will be, a chapter in any new Amis novel called Lucky Jim in America. On the platform were Professor Ashley Montagu, the handsome, elegant sociolo- gist and propagandist for female superiority; Mr. Jack Kerouac, the scowling, untidy prophet of the Beat Generation; Mr. James Wechsler, the Editor of the New York Post and the Jimmy Cagney of American journalism; and Mr. Kingsley Amis. Outside the doors raged a mob of Kerouac fans. Mr. Kerouac wore a lumberman's checked shirt, filthy bagged pants and he clowned and juggled with a greasy old pork-pie hat. He was supposed to read a short story for ten minutes. Instead he took forty-five with frequent stops for a gulp of light brown liquid from a glass. The long story analysed at enormous length the concept of beat- ness in his own life and those of his friends. And at the end of this confusing monologue, Mr. Amis was called for. He gave a nervous, occasionally stilted, reading of an essay which denounced those nasty middle-men critics who had invented the predigested concept of the angry young man to placate a lazy public.

For the entire time that Mr. Amis spoke, Mr. Kerouac paced up and down behind him—off- stage and on-stage, in-again, out-again, and back- again. Then Mr. Wechsler, the white knight who jousted with McCarthy, got on his feet rampaging against 'latrine prose' and the tedious doctrine of 'un-think.' There was enough race prejudice and hydrogen fall-out, he orated, for people to fight straightforwardly. So he had no patience with the flight from reality which characterised the heal niks. All the while he spoke, Mr. Kerouac sti paced, gulping at his glass, pawing back and forth off-stage, on-stage, in-again, out-again, and back again. Then came Professor Ashley Montagu– paternalistic and patrician, reading some effectiv passages from The Subterraneans which explaine how these poor beat kids were crying in the wilde ness from lack of love and surfeit of two war Mr. Kerouac emerged again, wearing his pork pie hat over his eyes. He whistled and blew rasp berries into the microphone. Professor Montag was nervously attempting to formulate some cot plex thought but Mr. Kerouac interrupted wit the dirty word 'abstract.' Then he whistled again shuffled, and raspberried in front of the mike unti Mr. Wechsler began to speak. In the middle of thi Mr. Kerouac again interrupted to announce tha he knew about God and the beatitudes (equal beat) and that a tangerine once fell on his hea in the mountains of California. This was a miracle At last Mr. Kerouac shambled to the front o the stage to accuse Mr. Wechsler of hating hi country and being 'destructive.' A mild tussl occurred. The chairman said weakly that lb discussion should now end in view of . . . an the lateness of the hour.' It was ten past ten. i r i n l e s.