Wednesday, 20 January 2016

David Litvinoff: Between Scenes

Sometime in the early 1960s, a man called David Litvinoff awoke to find himself bloody and bruised, his head shaved, tied tightly to a chair that was hanging from the railings of his balcony high above Kensington High Street in west London. He had been knocked out and then hung out to dry, high above the Aldermaston marchers passing obliviously below on the way to Jerusalem. It was a punishment carried out by experts in violence, and it had been ordered by someone he knew.

David Litvinoff was, by nature and temperament, a wanderer between worlds: between the Chelsea set and hardcore criminals, between Soho and the East End, between the Scene and Esmeralda’s Barn, between Lucian Freud, George Melly, Peter Rachman, the Krays, John Bindon, Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger. He was a shape-shifter whose story – painstakingly unearthed in a new book by Keiron Pim – offers a window into a secret side of the 60s.

A vivid memory to his friends, Litvinoff was one of those people whose performance was their life. His most lasting achievement was the profound influence he had on Performance – the hallucinatory film directed by Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell, and starring Mick Jagger, which captured the London of the late 1960s, merging pop stardom, violent criminality, illegal drugs, gender-blurring, the occult and Jorge Luis Borges...

The great Jon Savage, The Long Read in The Guardian.

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