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Book Review

Book Cover

Little Did You Know
The Confessions of David McGillivray (Hardback)


Author: David McGillivray
Publisher: FAB Press
344 pages
RRP: £20.00
ISBN: 978 1 913051 00 6
Publication Date: 01 August 2019

The autobiography of any trench worker who survived and even prospered despite low status in the eyes of elites is a saga of self affirmed integrity, improvisation and animal cunning. Who is David McGillivray? When knocked down for the count as a movie writer or theatrical writer/producer he got up and reinvented himself as a BBC reviewer or editor of a film journal. He’s the perpetual pop-up child in a business that eats its children.

He is and was the go-to playwright for jokes (here will be found

The Note Under the Car McGillivray wrote for Dave Allen—McGillivray still gets paid for this, £709.50 in residuals last year); not to forget porn (his first film was Hot Girls; his history of British sex films Doing Rude Things remains a classic in the outré realm); horror (his House of Whipcord continues to be a pioneer in the genre of subversive cinema; his memoir Spawn of Tarantula is early bio backdropped by fifties horror classics); reviews (the BBC program Stop, Look and Listen), money finding, in other words, whatever was going and nobody else would or could take on. An early commander of music videos his Cool to Be Queer for Julian Clary is total auteur-ship. He produces, writes and directs.

On the fringe of British film he developed projects that broke barriers and certification standards; in reviewing, he gave credence to a rising generation of gay films and bloody horrors that captured the nascent ‘midnight crowds.’ It will not be surprising then that McGillivray is a perennial champion of free speech, closet-less speech, challenging speech, anti-sacred speech.

McGillivray’s biography has no ghost writers. He is the scribe here. All the way down the line, as Stanwyck would say in Double Indemnity, which includes confessions of Himalayan lines of cocaine and every other drug that became stylish through half a century of dissipation that swallowed up many lovers, dear friends and out and out enemies. His attitude is courageous to say the least. He spares the ego of no one, least of all his own. Reviews of his work which would send an ordinary dweeb to the psychiatrist’s couch are like mosquitoes to him for swatting away. He is his own best and worst critic and thus his integrity of self acceptance and appreciation is the true gut value of this book.

His self acceptance of his sexual identity takes not years but decades. He is literally the last person in the room to know what everyone else already knew. Yet his candor about his childhood self, his growing up years, is telling with a diarist’s exactitude, said diary, by the way, which he has faithfully attended since age twelve. He is much more than born gay. He is a born writer. And thus he speaks for that most neglected of all ism-oppressed communities of humanity: the artist.

Julian Clary calls this book: ‘Oversharing as an art form.’ Jonathan Ross calls him ‘A comedy legend.’ Alan Jones: ‘A horror icon.’ And Matthew Sweet, ‘The Truffaut of smut.’ McGillivray on McGillivray: ‘Everything I do, every decision I make, every thought I have, every waking hour, there is only one driving force and one goal: sex… I still look at the crotches of cartoon characters.’

Drug usage became such an avocation, dealing became his vocation. Name dropping abounds. Perhaps part of his Teflon survival came from his deliveries to the ‘Broadcasting House’ and Parliament itself. Renounced religion was replaced by an almost mystic trust in destiny, something in which he placed increasing faith.

This is Baby Boomer history from the perspective of an outsider who grew to be an insider with attitude. But where would we be without our rebels? Without reflection, without fright, without laughter. And very bored.


John Huff

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