Talk alone has been sufficient here to rile the moral menagerie. Hearing talk of road dates next December or January of the Michael Butler rock-and-shock revue Hair at Palace West, City Prosecutor Ben P. Marshall right away said he would prosecute the legit company, "if the rumors prove factual."
Obscenity allegations relating to a legit or nitery performance have never bee adjudicated here. Recently U.S. District Judge Wm. Copple angrily dismissed a spate of obscenity charges against a group of paperback dispensers and motion picture exhibitors and in so doing made it a point to castigate Marshall's office for their eagerness to make obscenity arrests, but inability to prove charges.
As for Hair, Marshall thinks that he may have an advantage via a new juvenile anti-pornography statute due to become operative Aug. 11. This makes it a misdemeanor for any promoter to present, before a juve, undraped female breasts and or nude genitals of either sex. Understandably, Hair might qualify for a bust under this law. The kicker is that the legit house or nitery in violation could have its license to operate revoked.
Ed DeRocher, Palace West general manager, frankly concedes that Hair contains about 20 seconds of nudity that could challenge the new Phoenix law, but quickly adds to anyone who will listen , that the Supreme Court has ruled that the nude sequence is not patently offensive and is of necessary relevance to the plot. DeRocher reports that his mail and phone billet-doux are equally pro and con but was astounded to discover that the opposition had, in most cases, never seen or read the play and had actually confused Butler's "Hair" with Ken Tynan's "Oh, Calcutta!"
James Nederlander, president of Nederlander Theatricals Inc., owners of palace West, expressed his disappointment with this area's negative attitude towards Hair. Nederlander, a resident Phoenix taxpayer, threatened to scrub the booking rather than endure a municipal inquisition. He plans to return to Phoenix to confer with Marshall & Co.
"If the people of Phoenix are going to cause me a lot of grief over this thing, who needs it. Hair is an American classic, playing all over the world, but if Phoenix doesn't want Broadway, what can I do about it?" concluded Nederlander.
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