Monday, July 25, 2005

Oz Magazine Cover Gallery

[Skip this entry if you are under 18 years old.]

Here you can see the cover gallery for the legendary late 60s/early 70s UK underground magazine Oz, spotted from the blog of mighty Jahsonic! And here (click "Library") you can see scanned contents of Oz magazines in their entirety: chockful of stuff -- articles, photographs, psychedelic and provocative artwork -- that will blow your mind, baby!

The acclaimed 60s UK underground insider and historian (Barry) Miles writes in his Hippie:

On Wednesday 23 June 1971, at court number 2 at the Central Criminal Courts of the old Bailey in the City of London, Britain's longest obscenity trial got under way. The three defendants -- Jim Anderson, Richard Neville and Felix Dennis -- were charged with having 'conspired with certain other young persons to produce a magazine' that would 'corrupt the morals of young children and other young persons' and had 'intended to arouse and implant in the minds of these young people lustful and perverted desires'. There were four other charges to do with publishing 'an obscene article', possessing copies of the magazine, sending it through the postal system and so on. The trial was a farce -- the contents of the magazine were so tame that the Soho sex shops would not have stocked it. In reality it was an attempt by the authorities to curb the growth of the underground press and to stop the spread of pernicious ideas about sexual freedom, the rights of school children and other hippie notions.

Oz had previously published a Homosexual Oz, edited by homosexuals but aimed at the usual Oz readership. The Women's Liberation Oz was edited by feminist author Germaine Greer but distributed to Oz magazine's usual underground readership. There had even been a Flying Saucer Oz, edited by people who believe in such things. The School Kids Oz was edited by school kids, but aimed at Oz's usual readership. The court, of course, thought that they were aiming the magazine at children, which was the main reason given for the case. Richard Neville represented himself. He told the jury, "One of the reasons we invited adolescents to edit this special issue of Oz was to combat the tendency for everyone to try and shut them up. We were interested in what they had to say. But we didn't want to be like the headmasters who censor everything they don't happen to agree with... Oz 28 is the result of this experiment. School Kids Issue, it says on the cover -- which means of course, the issue edited by school children, not aimed by others at them."

They advertised for school children between the ages of 14 to 18 to come and edit Oz, offering them freedom from editorial interference. Mostly they wrote about the iniquities of the school system: arbitrary punishments, vindictive teachers and grading systems. Being school kids, there was a lot of smut, including a collage of Rupert Bear with a huge phallus that had been taken from a Robert Crumb cartoon and stuck on him.

The trial result could be easily predicted. Judge Argyle made life as difficult and worrying as possible for the defendants, from not allowing an adjournment when their barrister dropped out, to remanding them in custody for social, medical and mental report before he would pronounce sentence. The defendants' long hair was forcibly shorn in prison. They were given 15 months each, and Neville was to be deported back to Australia, his birthplace. Once more the law was shown up and, once more, an appeal was needed to overturn the sentences and set the Oz Three free.

Oz Magazine @ Wikipedia
The Rupert Bear Controversy