A thorough and thoroughly conventional, look at the first astronaut to set foot on the moon.
This, for the benefit of future rock historians, is the transcript of a screenplay I wrote in the summer of 1977. It was tailored for the historic punk rock band the Sex Pistols, and was to be directed by Russ Meyer and produced by the impresario Malcolm McLaren. It still carried its original title, "Anarchy in the U.K.," although shortly after I phoned up with a suggested title change, which was accepted: "Who Killed Bambi?" I wrote about this adventure in my blog entry McLaren & Meyer & Rotten & Vicious & me. Discussions with Meyer, McLaren and Rene Daalder led to this draft. All I intend to do here is reprint it. Comments are open, but I can't discuss what I wrote, why I wrote it, or what I should or shouldn't have written. Frankly, I have no idea.
The Sex Pistols in ANARCHY IN THE U.K.
Produced by MALCOLM McLAREN
Directed by RUSS MEYER
Screenplay by ROGER EBERT
Original story by MALCOLM McLAREN, ROGER EBERT, RUSS MEYER, RENE DAALDER and RORY JOHNSTON
SECOND DRAFT: JULY 1977
Registered with the WRITER'S GUILD OF AMERICA, WEST, INC.
A MATRIXBEST Production
The Sex Pistols in ANARCHY IN THE U.K.
FADE IN: EXT. THE STREETS OF SOHO - NIGHT One by one, each alone, we see the FOUR SEX PISTOLS walking along these mean London streets. In CLOSEUPS, each one turns while still walking and addresses THE CAMERA. STEVE JONES We don't make music - we make noise.
PAUL COOK We're so pretty vacant and we don't care.
SID VICIOUS We like noise - it's our choice.
JOHNNY ROTTEN We want to destroy the passer-by.
STEVE JONES Passion ends in fashion.
PAUL COOK We're the blank generation.
SID VICIOUS We don't make rock and roll - we make chaos. JOHNNY ROTTEN Got a problem, and the problem is you. What you gonna do?
During these closeups, the beat of the TITLE SONG has been insistently ESTABLISHING itself beneath the dialogue. Now the VOCAL begins as we:
CUT TO: TITLES
MUSIC: The SEX PISTOLS singing "ANARCHY IN THE U.K."
A MASKED HORSEMAN rides through the streets of contemporary London, past landmarks of the past and present. He is dressed entirely in red, rides a black horse, and carries a black flag: Red and black are the international colors of anarchy. He rides past such familiar places as the Tower, Harrods', Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, the Victoria Embankment, the Prince Albert Memorial, and what is left of Covent Garden.
The TITLES roll up OVER his ride. They are apparently made up of letters cut from newspapers and magazines, and assembled to give the appearance of kidnap ransom note.
As the final TITLE appears, we:
EXT. UNEMPLOYMENT QUEUE - LONDON The queue winds down a Dickensian back street under grey Skies, and is made up mostly of bitter, morose out-of-work British workingmen.
But mixed in with them is an assortment of out-of-work British eccentrics, who give the queue the potential for becoming a spontaneous side-show. Almost anyone could be waiting along that drab London street; perhaps we see -
A blind beggar with a cup, playing a concertina; two Cockneys running a shell game; a man on a unicycle; people plying such out-dated implements as hula-hoops, paddle-balls and yo-yo's; an artist who must continually move his easel as the line inches forward; dogs chasing cats; old ladies - one with a parrot; an assortment of hookers; a Pakistani family; a chestnut vendor; an exhibitionist, who flashes for the benefit of a phalanx of Japanese tourists; a weight-lifter; kids on roller skates, and others on skate-boards; a motorcycle gang; Teddy boys; men in bowler hats; Butch lesbians; an old judge in a powdered wig - and even a sandwich man, whose sign reads: "Repent for the end is at hand."
A large sign makes the location clear:
Despite the chaotic background activity which the above suggests, a good many of the people waiting in the line are watching the BIRD MAN, a man who has trained birds to do tricks on the back of his dog.
COCKNEY ONE Not half bad that, is it?
COCKNEY TWO It's done better with two dogs and no birds.
The Bird Man borrows the HULA HOOPIST'S hoop, and holds it out for his dog to jump through. There is a scattering of unenthusiastic applause, followed by a collection that nets him only a few pennies.
The two Cockney's go into action with their con-game. After conferring clandestinely (so we establish them together), they separate: COCKNEY ONE to mix with the crowd, COCKNEY TWO to walk over to a pile of discarded scrap and pick up two wooden crates.
He stacks one on its end and balances the other over it, forming a makeshift table. Brings out a pack of cards and begins to shuffle them in the air. COCKNEY TWO All right, then - where's the Joker? Who knows where the knave is? Puts the Joker face up on the table. Deals cards on either side of it: A King and a Queen.
COCKNEY TWO (continuing) There's the little bugger - right in bed between his majesty and the queen! That's right! There he is... and here he goes!
Sweeps up all three cards and deals them out again. Joker, King, Queen. A few of the UNEMPLOYED edge closer. Cockney One remains very much in the b.g., as if unaware of what's going on.
The line inches forward a little. The ARTIST moves his easel. The MOTORCYCLE GANG, straddling their machines, push against the sidewalk with their boots to move their cycles forward.
HOOKER (to Lady with parrot) Out of work long, then, dearie? LADY WITH PARROT Long enough. The last actual employment I had was in your line.
HOOKER Bloody hell!
LADY (to parrot) Ain't that the truth, Polly?
The line shuffles ahead slowly, the unemployed in many cases lacking the energy to even look up at the riot of roller-skaters and sidewalk entertainers. Meanwhile, back at the Cockney's con-game...
Cockney Two now turns all three cards over - establishing the Joker on the left end. Rotates the cards - King to left, Joker to right, Queen out of the middle, King back in the middle, Joker to left, whatever.
COCKNEY TWO And now who'll tell me where he is? That's it! Where's the Joker? Where is the little fucker? A COAL MINER is sure he knows.
COAL MINER On the left.
Cockney Two turns over the card on the left - and it is the Joker. He repeats the process a few times, each time allowing the person guessing to get it right. Now Cockney One edges forward out of the background.
COCKNEY ONE I'll try it, mate.
COCKNEY TWO Right you are!
Manipulates the cards again - and Cockney One gets the wrong card! A second time - wrong again. Cockney One seems to be getting mad.
Emboldened, the Coal Miner steps to the front again. Cockney Two again switches the cards around - and again lets the Coal Miner guess correctly! The Miner swells. Cockney One feigns anger.
COCKNEY ONE I'll lay you five quid I get it right!
COCKNEY TWO Right, then - right you are! Five quid. Would you hold the money, sir?
The Coal Miner holds both fivers. And again Cockney One guesses wrong - even though the Coal Miner is certain where the Joker is.
The wait grows long and tiresome for the people in line. One man, drunk or very hung over, has passed out leaning against a building, only his forehead making contact with the wall. Others take a dart board with a long cord on it, hang it down his back with the cord suspending it from the top of his head, and, in b.g., as other action continues, throw darts at it.
The BLIND MAN with the concertina plays "Lily Marlene." Two of the MEN IN BOWLER HATS harmonize sadly:
MEN IN BOWLERS Underneath the lamp-light...
The MAN ON UNICYCLE peddles around behind the ARTIST WITH EASEL and teeters in place, looking over his shoulder at the painting taking place; the ARTIST is drawing a sad-faced clown looking at a tattered Union Jack in his hands.
Back at the Cockney con-game, the two Cockneys have now all but got the Coal Miner set up for the kill. Cockney One tries again to guess where the Joker is...
COCKNEY ONE Here's another fiver! I'll get the bloody thing this time...
And fails again. So Cockney Two now holds ten quid from Cockney One, and his own five quid. He throws all three bills down on the table.
COCKNEY TWO All right, then, fifteen quid! Who knows where the joker is? Where's your money, gents? Who can spot the Joker?
The Coal Miner steps forward and throws down five quid.
COAL MINER I'll bet five.
COCKNEY TWO Right, then - five quid. Any other takers?
A crowd has gathered. Cockney Two manipulates the cards again - and this time, amazingly, the Coal Miner is wrong! Loses his five quid, which Cockney Two scoops up. The Coal Miner, balanced between anger and confusion, stares at the cards as we:
INT. LONG BLACK LIMOUSINE
An Austin Princess, approaching the queue, exuding power and mystery. The car is inhabited by PROBY, a man in his mid-30's, who fancies himself the nation's leading and most uncanny Trend Spotter. His motto: Now is Then. He's well-preserved and youthful-looking, and filled with limitless if often inane enthusiasm. He comes on to people as if he'd made a careful study of the Zero Mostel character in "The Producers" (1968).
He leans forward and taps on the connecting glass window, addressing his chauffeur.
PROBY Stop here, please.
The limousine glides to a smooth halt.
For a moment, Proby does nothing more than quietly regard the unemployment queue. Then he reaches down and picks up the ornate speaking-horn of his expensive dictaphone. He turns on the recording machine and clears his throat.
PROBY (continuing) August ninth. The morning papers report that unemployment in the United Kingdom reached its highest point today since the Great Depression. Thousands of people stood in unemployment queues for the first times in their lives.
He switches off the machine, regards the queue for another moment, and then switches the dictaphone on again.
PROBY (continuing) Note well: On this same date, whether realized or not, the era of the rock millionaire came to an end. The music of the future, to be engineered by myself: Rock for the downtrodden masses. (dramatic pause) Downtrodden rock.
He taps the glass again and nods. The Chauffeur leaps out to open the door for Proby, and we see that even Chauffeur's costumes have undergone budget-cuts in a time of national belt-tightening: The driver wears black pants and shoes, a striped yellow-and-black butler's vest, a too-small leather cap, and nothing else.
Proby, on the other hand, is dressed in a jacket and pants with big, loud checks, as if he were Zero Mostel just come from the opening night of "Springtime for Hitler". (We'll see him later dressed in several other ways; in fashion as in everything else, he's the ultimate eclectic and trend-setter.)
He pauses for a second, surveys the scene, gets out of the limousine and picks up a large battery-powered loud-hailer from the seat. He addresses the multitudes.
PROBY (continuing) All right then - who's going to be first?
Some of the people in the queue look up in confusion.
PROBY (continuing) Come on, then - there must be someone here with talent! Who wants to be a star?
The old JUDGE shambles forward.
JUDGE What's this for, then?
In b.g., others pay more attention.
PROBY I'm holding auditions!
JUDGE Where are you from? The B.B.C.?
PROBY Of course not! I'm Proby! I'm a manager - a star maker! Now who here wants to be rich?
The Judge takes another step forward. He's very old - perhaps 90 or 100. Taking advantage of the silence, he clears his throat, coughs self-consciously, and begins an aged version of Elvis Presley's swivel-hipped routine.
JUDGE (croaking but game) Well you can do anything You wanna do - But uh-uh, honey, lay offa my shoes! Don't you - Step on my blue suede shoes!
His performance dramatically alters the mood of the scene. People begin to press forward, and the Judge is upstaged by all sorts of people eager to audition for the famous Proby. We see several acts, all of them briefly; as Proby acts as emcee. He spots an Irish-looking workingman.
PROBY You, then - you look Irish! Irish, right? Let's have a song, then! I never met an Irishman who couldn't sing...
The IRISHMAN complies without further ado.
IRISHMAN Oh, Danny Boy - The pipes, the pipes are calling...
PROBY Right, then... (already searching the crowd) How about you, then, dear? What's your line of work?
He addresses a 30ISH WOMAN.
30ISH WOMAN Bar-maid, when I can find it.
PROBY What will be your song?
30ISH WOMAN Won't you be my melancholy baby...
Proby listens, dismisses, moves on in seconds, as the crowd is electrified, pushing forward, each person eager to be the next.
PROBY What about you, lot?
He speaks to three busty HOOKERS who immediately step forward and form a vocal trio.
THREE HOOKERS (like the Andrews Sisters) Pardon me, boys... Is this the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?
In the b.g., the Judge, never admitting defeat, has teamed up with two cronies of about the same age, and now they press forward to upstage the Hookers' act - forming a dance line, with a hand on the elbow in front of them, pumping back and forth like the drive-shaft on a steam locomotive.
THREE OLD MEN ...track number nine! Will she be comin' on time?
This is still not what Proby is looking for. He looks down and sees an ll-year-old GIRL, blonde and dreamlike, who has wandered up to the front without his noticing. Proby scrutinizes her as she stands before him.
PROBY Want to audition, then?
GIRL (shyly) Yes, sir.
PROBY (kindly) But your look is all wrong for these times, dear. It's too upbeat. What we need these days is depression! Gloom! Negativism, anarchy and defeat! That's what sells... here, let me try something...
He hurries over to the ARTIST and snatches up a bottle of black water colors. Hurries backs and blackens the face of the astonished Girl, and then pours paint over her hair and dress, daubing like an action painter - and then reaching over instinctively to grab the blackened cap of a nearby Coal Miner, which he claps on the Girl's head.
In the immediate b.g., still not defeated, the Three Old Men move back and forth.
THREE OLD MEN Choo! Choo!
Proby, ignoring them, steps back to admire his handiwork with the little Girl.
PROBY That's more the look! Back to the coal mines! Rock around the industrial revolution! Now sing something for me, dear...
GIRL (timid voice) Love and marriage... Love and marriage... Go together like a horse and carriage! I can tell ya, brother...
Proby is definitely not scouting for this act.
PROBY Ah, thanks, dear. Very nice. Very sweet... I'll let you know...
His eyes continue to restlessly scan the crowd, trying to spot the trend of the future.
Just then loud offscreen SOUNDS begin to crash about everyone's ears. We hear breaking glass, overturned ash-bins, clanging fire-alarms, wailing sirens, even gunfire. All activity in the unemployment queue comes to a sudden halt.
SECOND OLD MAN Sounds like a right proper riot, it does.
JUDGE (nodding eagerly) Yes! Marvelous! Let there be crime - then there'll be work! I'll have my job back!
Just then the SEX PISTOLS appear on the screen. They're dressed in what could be described as Proto-Punk: The look is definitely different from that of the other people on the line, and yet isn't as well-defined as it will be later on.
They split up to work the line: They're of it, but not in it. STEVE carries his guitar, vaguely suggesting they're into music of some sort. SID VICIOUS goes into his famous Sun-Glasses dance, his hands inverted and placed in front of his eyes to suggest either binoculars or a Batman-style headdress. The Pistols seem amused by the notion that people would stand in line in an unemployment queue at all.
Proby watches, fascinated by their wonderfully Downtrodden look, as they approach the others.
SID VICIOUS (to the Miner) Why stand in line, you silly twit?
JOHNNY ROTTEN It's your money - why wait for it?
PAUL COOK Why don't they provide seating out here?
The crowd grows silent, uneasy, in the face of the attack.
STEVE JONES They take it with one hand and give it back with the other.
SID VICIOUS So smash it and take it!
Johnny Rotten sticks out a foot and trips up the Unicyclist, who falls into the arms of the Weight-Lifter.
WEIGHT-LIFTER (to Unicyclist) Good day!
PAUL COOK (to Blind Beggar) Seen any good films lately?
Proby's eyes are riveted to the Sex Pistols, who have moved without seeming to toward the front of the crowd.
PROBY (calls) You lot over there - why don't you audition? You've got exactly the look I'm looking for - right off the streets!
SID VICIOUS Fuck off, mister!
PROBY No - I'm serious! Quite serious! I could make you into... make you into a band!
STEVE JONES (to Paul Cook) He's too late there, isn't he?
PROBY What do you have to lose by a simple audition? All of these people were happy to sing, or - whatever it was they did...
PAUL COOK We're happy as we are.
Proby moves forward, determined to have whatever is refused to him.
PROBY But I can make you stars!
The Sex Pistols slink away. Over their shoulders:
SID VICIOUS There are too many stars as it is.
JOHNNY ROTTEN It's more fun being on the dole.
Proby smiles a curious smile, retreating to the limousine.
INT. PROBY'S LIMOUSINE
As before. He again lifts the dictaphone mike to his mouth.
PROBY August ninth, second recording: The Sex Pistols. Take special note. The Sex Pistols. The... Sex Pistols!
INT. NASHVILLE CLUB
MUSIC: "No Feelings." The Sex Pistols on stage.
This is London's top country and western pub, and looks it. In fact, it looks the part so much that it could almost be in the United States instead of London. There are red-checked tablecloths, rough-hewn board furniture, and a clientele of men with square jaws and women with big bosoms - typical Russ Meyer lumberjacks and heroines.
The Sex Pistols, on stage, are developing a musical style that adds up to a blanket rejection of the immediate past.
They are defiantly dressed in an eclectic assortment of whatever clothes came to hand that morning, mixed in with various leather gear, and held together by safety pins - which they also wear through holes in their ears.
The lead singer is Johnny Rotten, thin, angry-faced, who assaults songs and audiences as if they were his personal enemies of long-standing. Sid Vicious, on bass, is apparently more laid back on stage, but he projects deep recesses of anger and aggression. Steve Jones, on guitar, and Paul Cook, on drums, produce great noisy volume based on raw power. The music doesn't deal with long guitar solos, intricate chord changes, "classical rock". Anyone can play their music! It's loud, basic, rabble-rousing, sloganeering, hammering home simple, violent messages, suggesting anarchy.
The audience response is very mixed. There are a few punk rockers in the room, but not many, because the style is new. Among them, we see SUE CATWOMAN, of bizarre appearance, with her hair cropped short and colored blonde on top, left black and long and combed back on the sides. And DEBBIE JUVENILE in leather pants and a mesh top, with a safety pin coming through where her left nipple is.
These few punk rockers are getting off on the Sex Pistols. The rest of the audience have come for the featured act and don't understand or like this music. There are scattered BOOS AND CATCALLS, and a bottle thrown by someone in the audience crashes on the stage. Johnny Rotten screams into the microphone, giving as good as he gets:
JOHNNY ROTTEN You may hate us - but as much as you hate us, we hate you more!
More BOOS, SCREAMS, CATCALLS. The few punk rockers are doing the Pogo Dance - jumping up and down while slanting sideways, knocking people off balance - and the dance seems headed for a scuffle or a brawl.
DRUNK Get the fuck off, you idiots!
Johnny Rotten sends it back. JOHNNY ROTTEN You're all fairies! Why don't you go fuck off and leave us alone! Do something, you fuckers, or I'm wasting my time! There's the exit! If you don't like it, piss off!
The audience is overwhelmingly hostile, with the exceptions of the few punk rockers and a few long-haired hippie types who do show interest.
A fight breaks out in the middle of the room, with a member of the audience trying to maul Sue Catwoman, and the Catwoman coming back hard with a boot in the crotch. The guy's friends come off their chairs after the punk rockers, and Johnny Rotten is thrown offstage into a brawl with all sorts of people, including a few punkers who manage to peel off with the aid of the other brawlers.
On stage, Paul Cook, ever insistent on keeping the show together, keeps the beat during the brawl. Steve darts around backwards and forwards behind the sound system, which is only partly the Pistols and mostly belongs to the featured band.
Johnny Rotten is hurled, shoved or thrown back on stage where, backed by the continuing beat, he somehow picks up the threads of the number and finishes it.
Audience Members continue to taunt him.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Come outside with me and I'll kill you!
Backstage, the Club Manager pulls electric switches, shutting off the sound and light systems. In the darkness, the brawl seems to escalate until we:
EXT. LONDON STREET - BUS STOP
John and Steve, very weary and pissed off, climb onto a bus that makes its way into the night.
FADE IN: EXT. LONDON STREET
MUSIC: The Sex Pistols singing "Pretty Vacant".
The song continues over the following Vignettes, which, as indicated, INTERCUT several ongoing action sequences and conclude with their climaxes.
EXT. SHAFTSBURY AVENUE - NIGHT
Johnny Rotten and Sue Catwoman walk along slowly, looking in the windows of music stores.
INT. HALLWAY IN A CONCERT HALL
Paul Cook looks both ways, and then slinks suspiciously into the Gents' Room.
EXT. KINGS' ROAD - DAY
Sid Vicious moves along the road past trendy boutiques, totally turned off by the attitudes of the well-off people frequenting them. They in turn shrink from him -- his clothes held together by safety pins -- especially when he spits at them. Gobbing the trendies.
EXT. SHAFTSBURY AVENUE, AS BEFORE
Johnny Rotten and Sue Catwoman stop at a particular store, and look at an expensive guitar in the window. They exchange an underplayed nod.
INT. A SOHO BROTHEL
Steve Jones makes love to a buxom hooker in a randy bedroom.
INT. GENTS' ROOM IN THE CONCERT HALL
Paul Cook is sandwiched above the door of the Gents', his feet and back braced against opposite walls, as a Security Guard looks in, sees no one, and closes the door. Paul stealthily lets himself down.
INT. BOUTIQUE - KINGS' ROAD
Sid Vicious enters one of the boutiques and tries on a large floppy feathered woman's hat. As the Sales Clerk approaches, he studies the price tag in disbelief.
INT. MUSIC STORE - SHAFTSBURY
Johnny Rotten creates a disturbance. Standing in front of a huge juke box, he grabs a nearby microphone stand and violently mimes the song behind played ("Pretty vacant"), supplying terrific amounts of kinetic energy. Sue Catwoman moves off into the background.
INT. A SOHO BROTHEL, AS BEFORE
Steve Jones, rummaging under the bed, finds what he's looking for. As the Hooker continues her oral ministrations, he comes up with a big sack from Wimpy's, takes out a hamburger and begins to eat it, looking dreamily at the ceiling, all his needs met.
INT. THE CONCERT HALL
Paul Cook moves very quietly down into the auditorium and up to the stage, where roadies are supposed to be guarding the instruments of a rock band. The only Roadie in view is stoned and asleep. Paul lifts a piece of amplifying equipment and steals away.
INT. THE MUSIC STORE
As the store's staff move in on Johnny Rotten, we see Sue Catwoman, quick as her namesake, lift the guitar and melt out onto Shaftsbury Avenue with it. Johnny Rotten looks quite properly angered at the interruption of his performance.
INT. THE SOHO BROTHEL, AS BEFORE
with Steve Jones getting head and eating hamburgers. The door opens without a knock and Paul Cook enters with the stolen piece of amplifying equipment. Hardly seeming to notice the other activities going on, he hands the piece of equipment to Steve, who takes it and gives it an appraising eye, turning it over, still getting head - and then Steve reaches down and offers a hamburger from the Wimpy sack to Paul. Paul accepts. Steve begins to offer a hamburger to the Hooker giving head, but pauses, thinking better of it.
INT. EL PARADISE CLUB
MUSIC: Very loud, high energy, an original Sex Pistols song.
The El Paradise is one of the sleazoid strip clubs infecting the back streets of Soho. The Sex Pistols are playing on the tiny stage. The auditorium room begins with a small bar and a DISC JOCKEY's booth (which doubles for lighting) and then leads down into a landscape of cavernous black chipped walls, and a few rows of decaying, smashed-up cinema seats, some of them with the springs coming through.
There are already all sorts of types in the room: A good number of PUNK ROCKERS, some SOCIALITES, young KIDS, an assortment of TOURISTS (who no doubt wonder where the strippers are), HIPPIES, DRUNKS and LECHERS. And, later, Sue Catwoman and Debbie Juvenile.
As the Sex Pistols play, we recognize what will become familiar as their basic style: The anger, the noise, the energy, the brutally direct lyrics. The noise is filled with aggression.
EXT. EL PARADISE CLUB - NIGHT
Out front, framed in garish red borders, are the portraits of the girls allegedly to be found inside - but a large banner has been pasted across them, proclaiming:
THE SEX PISTOLS TONIGHT ONLY!
We see the OWNER of the club, a Greek Maltese Mafioso - a swarthy bandit with an inch of forehead. He stands implacably, barring the door. This is a venue the Sex Pistols have rented for themselves.
Two PUNK ROCKERS - obvious by their style of dress - arrive at the door.
FIRST PUNKER Are the Sex Pistols here tonight, then?
OWNER That's right.
FIRST PUNKER How much is it, then?
FIRST PUNKER Right.
They each pay 50p and go in.
The Owner shifts on his feet and looks up and down the street, looking for tourists and other suckers. Along comes a likely candidate: A young MAN FROM GLASCOW, with a big, brightly-colored green and white Celtic football scarf around his neck, and a bobble-top tam-o-shanter on his head.
OWNER That's right, sir! New show starting right now!
GLASWEGIAN (Scottish accent) Are they on now, then?
OWNER New show starting right now!
GLASWEGIAN How much is it?
OWNER Five quid for yer first year's membership, sir, and you can come in as often as you like...
The Glaswegian takes a fiver out of his pocket. Just as he goes into the club, a STRIPPER arrives. She is beautiful, very busty, statuesque, red-haired, green-eyed, an Irish carnal delight. Out of breath.
STRIPPER Hi, Xerxes! Sorry I'm late... I missed my train at Edgeware.
The Owner is implacable.
OWNER No work today, Dolly. Go back home.
STRIPPER What?!? What d'you mean - no work?
The Owner mumbles; he seems to be wired out on speed.
OWNER We got a rock and roll band tonight. Very good. Rented the club out themselves. Not today. No act today.
He makes motions of dismissal with his head and hands.
STRIPPER I paid 65p to come all the way from Edgeware - no one told me you were turning this toilet into a rock club! (deadly serious) Someone's gonna pay! I didn't come all this way for nothing!
The Owner wilts under the fury of her attack.
OWNER Talk to the band - not me!
The Stripper strides past him, pushing him aside as she marches into the club.
STRIPPER Don't worry yourself! I will!!
INT. EL PARADISE
Where we ESTABLISH the Sex Pistols on stage, let them establish their song, and then CUT to show that all is not well in the audience. The Punk Rockers love the scene, but some of the others - including the Glaswegian, other HORNY TOURISTS, etc., would much rather be viewing a rock show - and do not understand what it is they've purchased tickets to.
HORNY TOURIST Get the fuck off and let the girls come on!
GLASWEGIAN Where are the girls?
One person more interested in the band than in the girls lurks in the shadows, where we ESTABLISH him: Proby.
Unlike the Horny Tourists, the Punk Rockers in the audience respond by standing up and doing the Pogo-dance in the cramped space between the aisles. Tremendous energy is unleashed in the tiny space, as Johnny Rotten leans far over the crowd, playing them, playing with them, as the band attacks the song.
The mood is infectious: In a booth at the back of the room next to the little bar, the DISC JOCKEY can be glimpsed through the booth, moving his head in enthusiastic rhythm with the music. He wears the sort of leather mask associated with the Cambridge Rapist.
Johnny Rotten wears a T-shirt on which is daubed: "Too many Critics!" As he sings, something in the wings attracts his attention. From his POV, distracting him, we see the Stripper, furious, shouting at him. Her words cannot quite be made out, but we can read her lips.
STRIPPER I want to do my act now!
Johnny Rotten looks at her, looks away. He is totally indifferent to the girl and her crisis, and concerned only with the music.
STRIPPER (continuing) Who the hell are you? I want to do my strip-tease!
Now Steve Jones and Sid Vicious look over, curious, before looking back toward the audience. Paul Cook, behind his drums, cannot see the Stripper and continues to lay down the beat, although curious about what's attracting the attention of the others.
STRIPPER (continuing) You get the fuck off that stage! I paid 65p to come all the way from Edgeware and I'm going to do my act!
The Sex Pistols still ignore her.
In the audience, as before, the Punk Rockers are getting it on with the music. The Tourists are not. One in particular, a GERMAN, bellows loudly in protest.
GERMAN TOURIST Vat is dis nonsense! Get off ze band! Ve vant de girls!
The Stripper, pushed beyond the powers of endurance, can no longer remain backstage. She marches out into the spotlight, furious, attracting everyone's attention. The Sex Pistols play on. She approaches the lead singer, Johnny Rotten, deep into his song. She's about to say something when he looks over, sees an invader on his stage, and roughly pushes her away. She reels back a few feet.
GERMAN TOURIST Bring on ze girls! Take it off!
PUNK ROCKER Shut up and sit down!
The Stripper, no pushover, recovers herself and marches back on the stage, still in her street clothes. The sight of the woman on stage inspires the Horny Tourists, who cheer. The Sex Pistols continue to play.
Steering wide of the dangerous Johnny Rotten this time, the Stripper heads straight for a mangy couch at the side of the stage. Sits on it, and begins to play to the crowd. The song continues. She takes off her shoes and tosses them over her shoulder.
Loud cheering, and scuffles in the aisles between partisans of the two forms of entertainment.
PUNK ROCKER What do you think this is? A strip club?
GLASWEGIAN That's exactly what I think it is - and that's what I paid my money to see!
In the midst of the growing chaos, the Disc Jockey pushes a large red button (labeled "Curtain") and the curtains close. The Sex Pistols song collapses into disorganized pieces.
Backstage, the Stripper senses at least a token victory.
STRIPPER I'm going to do my act and collect my three quid and you sods can go to hell for all I care!
The Sex Pistols are above this sort of shit.
STEVE JONES (dismissing the situation) Let her then.
On his way past her to backstage, Johnny Rotten feints at her, as if about to give her another shove, and she recoils. But it was a false alarm. He continues on his way, betraying little emotion except for a small, private amount of satisfaction. He is followed backstage by Paul Cook and Sid Vicious.
Steve Jones, always alert for his next chance, lingers a moment.
STEVE JONES Want to go out after the show, then, and get a hamburger?
The Stripper ignores him. The Disc Jockey, working fast behind his Cambridge Rapist mask, throws on an appropriate record, and pushes the button marked "Curtain" again. The curtains open.
In the audience, there is great cheering and applause for the resolution of the crisis - from the Horny Tourists.
GLASWEGIAN That's it! That's more like it!
HORNY TOURISTS (in general) Take it off!
There are whistles, applause. But the Punk Rockers are displeased. So there are also boos and catcalls. From out of view backstage, Steve Jones appears again and grabs a mike.
STEVE JONES (to audience) We got a bit o' slash fer ya - between sets. (to Stripper) Go on, then, get 'em off!
The Disc Jockey/Cambridge Rapist puts on what he hopes is an appropriate record while the disgruntled Sex Pistols crowd into the limited area backstage.
INT. GREEN ROOM - BACKSTAGE
It is a dismal room with slogans and signs on the walls:
NO SMOKING OR DRINKING ONSTAGE NO PLAY, NO PAY STAGE PROPS PROPERTY OF THE HOUSE
They settle down, disgusted. Johnny Rotten opens a beer and pours it out into a glass. Steve appears in the Green Room after his announcement to the crowd.
STEVE JONES You were a little hard on that bit, Johnny.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (pretending not to hear; complaining as always) The fuckin' sound system shits here.
They look up as someone else enters the room. It is Proby - the mad auditioner from the unemployment queue.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (continuing) Look who's here. Action man!
STEVE JONES (in his usual vernacular) With his water pistol! Going to give it plenty of! Well fuck me!
Proby finds a shelf to rest against, and considers his words.
PROBY Quite a place you're playing in, boys. Very fancy. Dressing rooms and all. (looks around the pathetic dressing room) I wish I could book my acts into nice places like this - they're always bitching, you know.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Fuck off, Proby. We paid for this place. It's our kind of place.
As this conversation continues, we INTERCUT (as roughly indicated below) this backstage talk with the Stripper onstage, and the mixed reaction of the audience.
Proby takes his time. Lights a cigar and draws on it.
PROBY I haven't seen you boys since that day at the unemployment queue.
SID VICIOUS Got yer benefits, did yer?
JOHNNY ROTTEN (complaining obliquely) I don't like to be annoyed backstage.
PAUL COOK What are you here for, anyway?
PROBY (drawing on his cigar) I like your music. (pause) I like to keep on top of things.
the Stripper continues. We see the Disc Jockey, all but panting through his Cambridge Rapist mask, and we see the two factions of the audience:
DEBBIE JUVENILE Get lost, ya tart! Bring on the band!
GERMAN TOURIST (applauding loudly) Bravo! Is goot!
Johnny Rotten takes a pull of his beer and gazes malevolently at Proby. The others feign indifference.
PROBY (undisturbed) Seriously, boys - just look around you at this shit situation. Second string to a stripper!
SID VICIOUS We've got our fans out there. We rented this place fair and square.
PROBY You know with the right kind of management you could be playing the real music clubs - finding a real audience for your brand of rock and roll. Rock and roll?
SID VICIOUS Rock and Roll? What's that?
JOHNNY ROTTEN We don't make rock and roll - we make noise. (leans closer) A very loud noise - old bean!
The striptease is degenerating into chaos. While her supporters whistle and cheer, the Punk Rockers continue to boo, and to throw things on the stage.
And now among the Punk Rockers we see two of the band's most original followers: Sue Catwoman and Debbie Juvenile. The Catwoman has a bizarre appearance, with close-cropped blonde hair down the center of her hair, and longer black hair combed up on either side.
Debbie's deep-set eyes are surrounded by a pool of darkness from her eye makeup, and she wears a string-vest with a safety-pin pushed through above the nipples.
The German Tourist thinks he might get somewhere with Catwoman.
GERMAN TOURIST Is a nice show, no? Sexy?
SUE CATWOMAN Shit! I came to hear the band.
GERMAN TOURIST You like music?
SUE CATWOMAN That's right.
GERMAN TOURIST You come to my hotel - there I haff many musical tapes! We listen to them together, and zen we make love! Verstehen?
SUE CATWOMAN (pauses a moment) Where's your hotel?
GERMAN TOURIST Just around ze corner...
SUE CATWOMAN I'll tell you what...
GERMAN TOURIST (breathless) Yes?
SUE CATWOMAN ...if I'm not there within ten minutes - start without me.
Elsewhere in the audience: The Stripper is in worse trouble.
PUNKER ONE Put it on! Put it back on!
PUNKER TWO Get off the stage! Let the Sex Pistols come back on!
Enraged, the Stripper charges off the stage, topless, and through the audience, head-hunting for the Maltese manager. She charges at the Disc Jockey in his booth and throws open the door.
STRIPPER Where's Xerxes? Where is that Maltese motherfucker?
DISC JOCKEY (paralyzed) Over... over... right there.
She whirls to find him standing behind her.
STRIPPER (screaming) What is this? What are you running here? Where did you find these - these - idiots? And where's my three quid???
OWNER (overwhelmed) Ask... ask... (collects himself) You must ask the band. They have rented the club.
She is already on her way.
INT. GREEN ROOM
She enters almost head-first in Johnny Rotten's lap, spilling his beer. Rotten, his pants drenched, jumps up.
JOHNNY ROTTEN You clumsy bitch!
STRIPPER (totally fucked over) You bastards! Where's my three quid!?
JOHNNY ROTTEN Fuck off!
She kicks at his bottle of beer. He kicks at her.
STEVE JONES Your three quid? (perks up) What do I get for it?
STRIPPER (screams) It's my salary for my act!
Proby settles the crisis.
PROBY Here's your three quid. Take it now and you get the rest of the night off, luv.
She collects her clothing and, mollified by the three pounds, storms out.
PROBY (continuing) And now let's get down to business. I think next Tuesday would be an excellent night to try out your act at my club.
JOHNNY ROTTEN I'm bored. I'm gonna get a drink.
PROBY I could make you boys real big. I manage a lot of big acts, you know...
PROBY Among other people - I manage M.J. Does that surprise you, boys? The biggest rock star in the world?
SID VICIOUS M.J.? That sod?
PROBY I'm good at spotting trends. Very good. And I think the Sex Pistols might be the next one.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Well we ain't no fuckin' trend, Proby, and so take your trend and stuff it where the sun don't shine!
INT. PROBY EITHER IN HIS LIMOUSINE OR OFFICE
(The office is described below in the confrontation with Sid.)
Proby picks up his dictaphone microphone.
PROBY August 11th. The Sex Pistols insist that they do not want success, fame or fortune. (pause) Within a year, I will make them bigger than M.J. - whether they want me to or not. (muses) Bigger than M.J...
EXT. THE QUEEN'S GAME PRESERVE - DAY
A Rolls Royce careens through the narrow lanes, narrowly missing trees on either side before it skids to a halt near a clearing. On its doors, gilt initials are carefully lettered: M.J. CAMERA ESTABLISHES M.J., surrounded by his luxurious automobile.
A CHAUFFEUR, seven feet tall, leaps out and opens the door for M.J., the world's greatest rock star, who emerges expensively dressed in youthful-looking but very expensive hunting clothing: Suede, cut as a cross between hunting gear and contemporary fashion. Over his shoulder there's a quiver filled with steel-tipped hunting arrows. He carries a hunting bow as he moves stealthily into the woods.
EXT. FOREST PRESERVE - M.J.'S POV
A deer flashes through a clearing.
SMASH CUT TO:
One of M.J.'s arrows stops it cold in its tracks. He nods with quiet satisfaction. It's important here that we see him as youthful, strong and virile - and not yet aware that he is a member of the previous generation.
EXT. RUN-BYS - M.J.'S COTTAGE IN THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE - DAY
The deer looks incongruous, strapped to the front fender of the big Rolls. The car careens once again down narrow English country lanes, listing dangerously on turns and fish-tailing down the dusty straightaways.
INT. BACK SEAT OF THE ROLLS
M.J. lovingly cleans the points of his custom hunting arrows, stopping occasionally to sip champagne from an ice bucket in the back seat. He looks up momentarily, and is annoyed.
M.J. That god-damned deer -
Observing the bleeding deer, he reaches forward for the speaking tube communicating with his Chauffeur.
M.J. (continuing) Pullover! I'm getting blood all over the bonnet!
EXT. COUNTRY LANE - HUMBLE COTTAGE WITH THATCHED ROOF
The rocketing car slides to a halt. The Chauffeur leaps out and opens the door for M.J., who points to the little front yard or the cottage.
M.J. Little John! Rip off the rich and dump on the poor! Heave it over there - they look like they could do with a square meal.
The Chauffeur, gingerly assisted by M.J., heaves the body of the deer over the hedge and into the front yard of the little cottage. They get back into the car, and the Chauffeur SOUNDS the horn as they pull away imperiously.
A YOUNG GIRL
about 12, runs from the cottage and stops dead in her tracks. She's dressed in rural garb: gingham frock and pigtails.
LOLITA TYPE Mummy! Mummy! Come quick! They've killed Bambi!
ESTABLISH her here (we will see her again).
EXT. THE LIMOUSINE
Careening along out of sight down the country lane.
EXT. A BLOCK OF COUNCIL FLATS IN HOLLOWAY - MORNING
Early risers going to work.
INT. JOHNNY ROTTEN'S BEDROOM - MORNING
He is just waking up. Rubs his eyes. Swings his feet over the side of the bed. Yawns. The room is very plain and bears little sign that it is his, aside perhaps from the odd Nazi poster.
He pulls on a pair of pants and a T-shirt and leaves.
INT. A SMALL HALLWAY
Rotten opens another door and looks in. His BROTHER (although we do not now know who he is) sits leaning against a wall, a pair of earphones clamped to his head.
His Brother is several years older than Johnny - the sort of person who works like a dog at the bakery all night in order to take his entire pay-packet and spend it on expensive stereo equipment, speakers, headphones, and a gigantic collection of records. He may never attend a concert - may indeed hardly leave his room except to go to work - but he is minutely aware of the smallest nuances in the development of contemporary rock. That is just as well, since contemporary rock these days develops only by the smallest nuances.
The Brother sits in a corner, sipping tea, his eyes closed - fainted out on the newest record in his collection. We cannot hear it; all we can HEAR is the faint, tinny sound of the music leaking out from the headphone cushions.
Johnny looks at his brother impassively.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Moron.
The Brother doesn't hear him.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (continuing) Asshole!
He walks into the room and picks up the album his Brother is listening to - maybe something by Led Zeppelin. His Brother is still unaware that anyone is in the room - until Johnny sails the album across the room and it bounces off the wall near the Brother's head before landing on a pile of Melody Maker.
His Brother's eyes pop open.
EXTREME CLOSE UP - JOHNNY ROTTEN'S LIPS
JOHNNY ROTTEN Retarded hippie shit music!
BROTHER What's that, Johnny? (holds earphones away from his head) What'd you say?
JOHNNY ROTTEN Nothing.
He walks back out into the hall and down a flight of stairs.
INT. THE KITCHEN - THE ROTTEN HOME
His MOTHER, basically a happy woman, Irish, is just pouring a little water from the tap in a glass of brandy. The bottle is beside her on the sideboard. Around her head and all over the kitchen, canaries fly free: They're her hobby and her joy, and maybe their freedom is a contrast to the prison of unemployment and ennui in modern Britain. She looks up at Johnny as he comes in.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Whatcha, mum.
MOTHER Good morning, Johnny. Ready for your breakfast, then.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Right, mum.
On the sideboard, he rummages through a brown paper grocery bag and takes out a bottle of Guinness. He opens it and plants it in the middle of the table. His Mother takes a plate with two big slices of toast on it, and puts it in front of him. Johnny takes a deep draught of the Guinness. She takes a saucepan from the gas flame and pours hot beans over the toast: A hearty meal. Johnny Rotten attacks it as if he's starving: Maybe he is.
His Mother leans contentedly against the sideboard again, sipping her brandy and water. After Johnny has put down several fork-fulls of beans, and had another swig of Guinness, he looks in the direction of his Brother's room.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Still working at the bakery, is he?
His Mother nods and sips a little more brandy.
MOTHER Your brother? He got a new attachment yesterday.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (mouth full of beans) A new what?
MOTHER A new attachment-ment. Spent his weeks' pay on it.
JOHNNY ROTTEN A new attachment. What does it bloody well do?
MOTHER I don't know. He won't let me touch it.
Her voice has a mixture of sarcasm and affection; she likes both her sons, although she doesn't always understand them, and she's ready to defend what they find important to themselves.
JOHNNY ROTTEN He needs an attach-ment, all right.
Another mouthful of beans.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (continuing) Mum?
MOTHER Yes, Johnny?
JOHNNY ROTTEN We may have come on a good thing.
MOTHER What's that?
JOHNNY ROTTEN The Sex Pistols. A man offered us a hundred quid to play in his club in Soho.
MOTHER Isn't that nice, Johnny!
He is not so sure.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Maybe it ain't so fuckin' nice, mum. Maybe I'm gonna lose a little of my fuckin' soul. MOTHER But a hundred quid, Johnny...
Finishes his meal.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Yeah, well, you can be bloody well sure the bastard will make his back, and more, and you can't hardly get a band cheaper...
He mops up the last of the beans with the toast speared on his fork. Drains the bottle of Guinness. Shoves back from the table.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (continuing) Got ta go, mum.
MOTHER Right, Johnny. When you decide -
JOHNNY ROTTEN I'll let yer know.
She nods. He goes out the kitchen door, stopping briefly to reach above the door and remove a fuse from the fuse box. He places it carefully on the sideboard, and leaves - everything in immediate confusion behind him.
INT. BROTHER'S ROOM
In a REACTION SHOT, the Brother removes the earphones from his head and looks at them, something having gone wrong with his newest attachment.
EXT. THE "NEW OLDIES CLUB" - SOHO
MUSIC: Loud Sex Pistols, immediately on the sound track.
The SHOT ESTABLISHES the club along one of the sleazoid back alleys of Soho.
INT. NEW OLDIES CLUB
Where the Sex Pistols are on stage at the next step up in their admittedly difficult climb (via the Nashville and the El Paradise). This is the 100-pound gig Proby promised them, and they're in the middle of it. The Crowd (a good-sized one, not capacity) is into the music, and again doing the Pogo Dance (although not yet the Grapple). Such familiar faces are established as Sue Catwoman, Debbie Juvenile and, unobtrusive in a corner, Proby, trying to absorb this new phenomenon and understand it. All in all, there are more punk rockers in this crowd than in the previous ones - about half. The other half is square-jawed, still hostile hippie types.
On stage, though, there's trouble. The sound system in the New Oldies is far from ideal, and the problems of amplification are so bad that Johnny Rotten can't hear himself. He begins, as before, to shout at the audience in between verses.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Clap, you fuckers! I'm wasting my time!
The audience moves more deeply into the aggression of the moment. The Sex Pistols, on stage, develop a growing irritation with each other. Sid Vicious shouts at Johnny Rotten (and it may be picked up by the audience mike):
SID VICIOUS Sing in time, Rotten! Yer singing out of time and fucking up the set!
If the audience hears this, it doesn't seem to mind. And SHOTS ESTABLISH that the punk rockers in the audience are now beginning to look more like the Pistols - the look is getting together, growing more coherent: The kids wear chains, adorn themselves with slogans ("Get Shot by the Sex Pistols"), wear safety pins through their ears, noses and cheeks, and cut their hair as if with a knife and fork.
On stage, Johnny Rotten reacts to Sid's unsolicited advice.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (angered) What'd you say, Vicious?
SID VICIOUS Sing in time! And sing in tune, too. You sound bloody awful!
The audience can hear this exchange, but takes it as part of the generally anarchic attitude of the Sex Pistols. But Johnny Rotten takes it personally. He whirls around on the stage to find Paul Cook, the drummer, looking between the two of them and smirking. Only Steve Jones, on guitar, continues unmoved, laying down the overpowering volume of the song.
Johnny Rotten explodes, and all hell breaks loose. Forgetting entirely about the song, he charges across the stage and grabs Sid Vicious' microphone near the base, whirling it (Sid ducks to escape injury) into the audience, where it lands with a terrific crash. He turns to attack Paul Cook, and Sid Vicious kicks him up the ass. But he doesn't even look back. He grabs Paul's cymbals and drags them to the edge of the stage and pitches them over.
Steve Jones continues to play. So, somehow, do Sid and the cymbal-less Paul. The stage is littered with empty pint beer glasses, emptied both by the band and by the audience they work so close to, and now Rotten sweeps a good half-dozen of them into the air with one mighty kick of his boot. They splash and splinter allover the floor, and the closest members of the audience duck for cover.
A couple of guys who get wet or cut get mad as well, and begin to move toward the stage.
And now the set is definitely into chaos. Johnny Rotten and Paul Cook both walk off the stage - Paul to the dressing room, Rotten right into the crowd.
BACKSTAGE IN THE DRESSING ROOM
where Paul smashes mirrors and chairs and perhaps even pisses on Rotten's pile of street clothing.
PAUL COOK I'm gonna smash that Rotten's face in for good and all this time!
where Steve is breaking his guitar strings deliberately, perhaps as a half-hearted way of pretending the chaos was all planned, and only the (apparently) laid back Sid Vicious is carrying on, smiling at the audience, although what terrible things the smile conceals would be hard to imagine.
makes his way through the audience, shouldering people roughly aside, trying to get his arms into his jacket. Proby is furious. He pushes forward to intercept Rotten - and never before have we seen him so angry.
PROBY (screaming; temples bulging) Get back on that stage or I'm telling you now it's allover! That's it, you bloody sod! I'm through with the whole thing unless you get back on that stage and finish the bloody concert!
He grabs Johnny Rotten by the arm, but Rotten pulls away and doesn't even look back as he disappears into the crowd and (ignoring it as well) out the door.
On stage, Sid Vicious carefully lays down his bass, looks at the chaos as Steve breaks the last of his guitar strings, and walks off, too. Steve looks up and follows. Nobody is left onstage.
PROBY Come back! You bloody idiots! This is it! You're finished! You know what I'm going to do?
But his voice trails away as he realizes nobody is listening.
EXT. SOHO STREET - NIGHT
In the b.g., perhaps under a street lamp, we may (or may not) ESTABLISH Johnny Rotten walking away defiantly. In f.g., Steve and Sid appear, look at each other, have nothing to say, and separate - Steve still with his guitar.
CUT BACK TO:
INT. EL PARADISE
The crowd is breaking up. Proby, still furious, suddenly finds himself listening to what they have to say.
PUNK ROCKER Jesus, that was great!
GIRL PUNK They're crazy! They're out of their minds!
PUNK ROCKER I know. Fantastic, wasn't it?
GIRL PUNK Insanity.
Proby stops in his tracks. And at this moment he begins to understand that at last he's coming upon a trend even he is slow to understand.
EXT. OUTSIDE THE CLUB
Proby's limousine awaits him. The Chauffeur holds open the door. Proby gets in, and picks up the dictaphone microphone.
PROBY August 15th. The Sex Pistols concert at the New Oldies Club ends in disaster... and is a success! (pause) Curious.
EXT. SOHO - NIGHT
Maybe later that evening. The usual architectural and human flotsam: Restaurants, strip clubs, dimly-lit doorways, red lights in second-story windows, and the countless blue and red neon signs in front of Indian and Chinese restaurants. Sid Vicious stands next to a hot-dog-and-hamburger cart, leaning forward so the mustard won't drip on his already ruined clothing, eating a hamburger. The grease drips from it onto the pavement. He wipes his mouth with his hand, takes a bottle of vodka from his pocket, and moves off into the shadowy company of his fellow all-night drinkers. He is well on the way to becoming totally pissed.
EXT. A BLOCK OF COUNCIL FLATS IN DALSTON - LATE MORNING
Sid Vicious swings off the back platform of a bus and heads toward the nearest tower block.
INT. THE HALLWAY - ELEVATOR
Sid jabs viciously at the button, but the elevator, as usual, is broken. He takes a swig of vodka from a bottle still in his pocket - the same one or most probably a new one - and we
Sid has to climb the stairs - twelve flights.
INT. HALLWAY, 12th FLOOR
Breathing heavily, Sid pauses for a moment, has another taste of vodka, and pushes confidently through a door that is unlocked.
INT. SID'S MOTHER'S PLACE
From some of the furnishings and decorations, it looks halfway left over from the hippie days of the 1960's.
Artwork, record albums, an Indian rug, lampshades, psychedelic decorations - they're all mixed in with older and newer styles, but they all suggest that the hippie era was important in shaping his Mother's personality. His Mother is in her early to middle thirties - she had Sid early - and has long black hair, dark eyes and a ripe figure - although subtle physical signs betray the drug scene she's been into. Also living in the flat - although he's not there at the moment - is her boy friend, a few years younger than she is, maybe 30, with longish hair, flared jeans, t-shirt, moustache. Sid Vicious walks in the door of the flat, breathing hard after his climb. Looks around. There's no one in the living room. He looks in the kitchen: Empty.
The shades are drawn. Propped up against the pillows of the bed, his MOTHER is just in the act of shooting up. As Sid Vicious appears in the doorway, she pulls the needle from her arm. He leans against the door, regarding her. She releases the rubber tube from around her arm.
SID VICIOUS (not unkindly) Still on the shit, mum?
She looks up and sees him. We sense this is not the first time he's seen her shooting up.
MOTHER (a surprised greeting) Sid! (pause) How are you, then?
SID VICIOUS All right... I came for my things, mum.
MOTHER Your things? (brightens) You got a job, then?
SID VICIOUS Not a chance!
His Mother nods as if to suggest that of course there was not a chance. She moves to sit upright on the side of the bed.
MOTHER I thought Tony told you not to come 'round here any more.
SID VICIOUS Bugger Tony! It's your house too - isn't it?
MOTHER He pays the rent... come on; sit down.
She looks up and pats the bed next to her. He sits next to her.
SID VICIOUS I don't come 'round because I want to... besides, I need money, mum. I'm starving.
His mother isn't giving him her total attention.
SID VICIOUS (continuing) Starving, mum...
He puts an arm around her - and more as a man might embrace a woman than a son his mother. She looks at the hand on her arm, lets it stay. Her dialogue implies much more than it says.
MOTHER What if Tony walks in?
SID VICIOUS He won't come walking in here. He's down at the pub with his mates.
MOTHER I don't want you to get hurt, Sid. You'd better get out in case Tony comes.
He pulls her closer to him, and kisses her on the cheek.
SID VICIOUS What's the matter, mum?
She is now deep into the first rush of the heroin.
MOTHER He could come walking in here any time now...
Effortlessly, Sid Vicious pushes his mother back on the bed and moves to cover her with half his body. He kisses her on the neck and lips.
SID VICIOUS I told you - he's at the pub with his mates, getting sloshed.
MOTHER But he doesn't have the money to get sloshed, Sid - he'll be back!
SID VICIOUS Come on, mum. Give us a kiss.
She does. And then she puts her free arm around him, and they begin the preliminaries of love making. It should be clear by now that this is not the first time such a scene has taken place between them.
They continue: Their passion grows. She tousles his hair. He unbuttons her blouse and caresses the breast, free and bra-less, he finds beneath it. The urgency builds. From time to time, they speak:
SID VICIOUS That's it, mum. That's it...
MOTHER That feels good, Sid... don't stop...
Photography is framed to protect the rating, but implies that they now begin to actually make love. The CAMERA FRAMES their faces and upper torsos, to restrict the graphic degree of the scene, but the audience will have little doubt what is happening.
MOTHER Oh, Sid! Watch it - that's it!
SID VICIOUS We're having a hard time of it, mum - Johnny and me and the rest of us.
MOTHER What's that?
Their breathing quickening.
SID VICIOUS Making a go of the band...
MOTHER That's it, Sid... don't stop...
SID VICIOUS Aren't you listen', mum?
Their love making unmistakably advances. Then we hear, voice over:
BOY FRIEND (v.o.) Elizabeth! Betsy!
MOTHER Oh, my God!
SMASH CUT TO:
ANGLE - BEDROOM DOOR
The door flies open. Tony, the BOYFRIEND, is standing there. At first he doesn't comprehend.
BOY FRIEND Betsy, where's my... (it registers) What the bloody hell is this, then?
Sid Vicious, half-turning his head to look at the Boy Friend, does not interrupt the love-making. He has passed the point of no return.
SID VICIOUS (into her ear) You was right, mum.
The Boy Friend leaps in anger toward the bed.
BOY FRIEND Get yer fuckin' ass off yer own mother!!!
Sid vicious carries on. The Mother, still in the first stages of the drug injection, tries to cope.
MOTHER Sid! Tony... Tony, don't! Sid!
The Boy Friend grabs Sid Vicious by the shirt (which is up around his shoulders) and tries to pull him. But Sid Vicious hangs in there.
It's against the law!
He whacks Sid Vicious alongside the head with an open palm. Only a glancing blow and not harmful.
MOTHER Sid - I'm sorry!
Sid Vicious continues his love-making!
BOY FRIEND (tugging again) I'll call the social worker!
MOTHER You'd better go, Sid! Tony! Tony! Don't hurt him!
BOY FRIEND You bastard! I'll kill you!
Tony steps back and, as Sid Vicious prematurely completes the love-making, pulls a heavy leather belt from around his waist and begins to let fly at Sid with it. Sid rolls out of the way and one of the blows of the belt strikes his Mother, who was beneath him. Sid Vicious lands on his feet on the side of the bed, pulling the heavy chain loose from around his own waist.
SID VICIOUS I'll kill you, fucker!
He stands to face the Boy Friend, whipping the heavy chain back and forth. And the Boy Friend, who is, after all, a veteran hippie pacifist, backs off a little.
MOTHER Stop it! Both of you - stop it!
With all of the strength at his command, Sid Vicious brings the awesome belt down on a chair - breaking it in two with a loud cracking noise. Then he brings the chain down on a table, still advancing on the Boy Friend. The Boy Friend backs off more, leaving Sid Vicious a clear route to the door. This is basically all he wanted. Moving smoothly, he steps in front of the Boy Friend, trips him, catches him on the way down with a karate chop. The Boy Friend lands on the floor, hard. Sid Vicious looks down at him for a moment, then at his Mother.
SID VICIOUS I'll be going then, mum. I'll be back some other time to get my stuff.
MOTHER (dazed) Goodbye, Sid. Look out for yourself...
He leaves. She looks down at the floor.
He stirs, coming back to consciousness. She regards him.
MOTHER (to herself) Why does all this shit have to come down just when I've jacked up?
INT. A ROOM
In fact, the props make it obvious that this is the rehearsal room for the band. We do not necessarily establish its location, although it could be in the Cambridge Rapist Hotel. It is filled with amplification equipment, drums, Sex Pistols and other posters, and such necessities of living as a hot plate, instant coffee, bottles of beer set out on a table, half a loaf of bread, a half-jar of milk, and so on. Obviously, this is a crash pad as well as a rehearsal and storage place. There are two mattresses on the floor - not side by side, but separated by various items of equipment and by Paul Cook's drums. On one mattress, we discover Steve Jones with the Stripper from the El Paradise - Steve has obviously followed up on the unorthodox introduction. On the other mattress, half in view, half out of the first one, are Paul Cook and Sue Catwoman. And what we'll have here are two simultaneous sex scenes, both intercut and seen with one in the f.g., the other in b.g. It is not meant to be group sex, per se - but simply the band members and their girls taking advantage of one of the few private spaces avai1able.
The two scenes will be contrasted in style. The Stripper, as noted before, is aggressive, lustful, wild, abandoned, incredibly built. And Steve Jones, who likes everything in a skirt, especially great-looking broads, is deeply into her scene. Sue Catwoman, on the other hand, is more laid back, more mater-of-fact. And so is Paul Cook.
So that a certain amount of humor will be generated here by the savage, animalistic lunges of passion between Steve and the Stripper, and the nice-but-no-big-deal love-making of Sue and Paul.
The Stripper, who is perhaps there for more reasons than one, engages in nonstop dialogue during the love-making.
STRIPPER Oh, baby! That's good, luv! Oh! That's better! Oh - oh - oh!! That's too much! Oh my God, baby!
She breathes heavily for a moment, collecting her thoughts, before starting in again (as they mutually continue):
STRIPPER (continuing) Oh, baby! You're so good! You're going to be famous some day! I know you are, Stevie! Rich and famous and - just like me! We'll both be famous! Rich and famous! (the dialogue here begins to take on a sexual rhythm) Rich! And famous! Rich and famous! You'll help me! Won't you! You will! Won't you? I'll be a star! In the movies! Not just strip clubs! On television! Like you! Right, Steve? Like you! You'll help me! Won't you? And your friend! Proby! He'll help me! He'll spot me! I'll be a trend!
show Paul Cook and Sue Catwoman, their love-making completed, now turned on their sides to watch this display of nonstop fucking. And perhaps in the middle of the dialogue above, Paul even gets up to sit behind his drums and keep gentle rhythm - the sticks and cymbal providing counterpoint for the ageless rhythm being established by Steve and the Stripper. The two of them reach a riotous climax and fall apart, exhausted, as Paul supplies a rousing drum-roar. The Stripper lies on her back, drained.
STRIPPER Oh, baby! That was to the end of the world and back again.
Steve rummages in a sack and emerges with a hamburger, which he attacks urgently.
EXT. GLASS DOORWAY IN HALLWAY
The doorway is frosted glass. Shining through it is a neon sign, in red and green (just like the Indian restaurant signs in Soho): GRAPEVINE, LTD. And hanging beneath it a small bunch of purple grapes with a few green leaves, also in neon.
INT. GRAPEVINE, LTD. - PROBY'S OFFICE
He is, as mentioned before, the total eclectic - so much so that no two things in the entire office seem to match. Each item of furniture, each possession, everything hanging on the walls or standing on the floor or on a shelf or a table, seems to have been collected with absolutely no thought for anything else in the office. There might be for example, an antique desk - but the chair with it is nylon space-age furniture. A tubular steel chair with a leather seat is next to a coffee table made from a large, empty ammunition crate. The artwork ranges from Bosch to Warhol to Sex Pistols posters. Overstuffed sofas are flanked by aluminum and plastic lawn furniture. Cheek by jowl: Classic and kitsch, as if everything in the office had been vacuumed at random from jumble sales, Portobello Road, an auction at Sotheby's and a Woolworth's store. Prominently displayed, an object of great pride to Proby, is a photograph of the queen, autographed "To Proby - I'll never forget that great time we had at Windsor - Elizabeth R."
On Proby's desk is a random sampling of Punk Rock debris: An assortment including a tattered sex Pistols poster, a bit of torn shirt with a slogan on it, chains, leather straps, hundreds of safety pins, Nazi armbands, leather bondage gear - the sorts of things one might pick up from the floor of a music club after an especially chaotic Sex Pistols concert. Furtively looking over the debris, picking up items and then dropping them, is M.J. - Proby's number one client and the world's top rock star. He is dressed in a satin blouse-shirt, unbuttoned to the waist; he has pounds of gold body jewelry around his neck; he wears very tight-fitting tailored pants, possibly leather, and platform boots
Proby enters unexpectedly. He is dressed as Sherlock Holmes might dress for a contemplative evening at home: A flowing combination of robe and smoking-jacket; velvet pants; slippers, and a Holmesian pipe. The only item of apparel that doesn't fit is his T-shirt, which bears the legend: SEX PISTOLS - CASH FROM CHAOS. Proby is the boss and only personnel in this frantic office (where we now hear two or three telephones RINGING at once). This is a true rock and roll habitat, where all trends converge. He is receptionist, typist, secretary, telephonist - a bundle of limitless energy, well preserved, energetic, and yet somehow giving off the sense of being the quintessential crooked producer (there's a suggestion here of Zero Mostel in "The Producers"). In a negative sense, he's a destroyer, a consumer, of youth, taking their genuine street culture with one hand and selling it back to them with the other. A sign on his desk reads: ALL TRUTH IS IN ACTION. Another one, true of the Ultimate Trend-Setter: NOW IS THEN. Although he's always totally positive in a socko manner, none of his clients is indispensable (M.J. comes the closest). They're here today and gone tomorrow, and there are a hundred more to take their places. Implicitly, he stands for all the corporate bull-shitters who have crossed the Sex Pistols' path in the past: EMI, A&M, etc. Nevertheless, we somehow tend to like him. Being the ultimate opportunist, he is in fact as anarchistic as the Pistols themselves:
M.J., rummaging through the gear on the desk, starts slightly when Proby bursts into the room. He moves around to another part of the office.
PROBY (immediately in the middle of things) Let me just get that blasted telephone, M.J... (picks it up) Hello? What? Wembley? Take care of it yourself and let me know what happens... right... (hangs up) Now, then.
He goes over to one of the cluttered shelves in the office and finds a small golden box. From another place, he finds the tiny spoon to go with it. He gestures M.J. to a comfortable sofa and sits down near him on a chair. Takes some of the white powder in the spoon and passes it to M.J., who thoughtfully inhales. Then Proby takes a spoon-ful himself. Inhales. The telephone rings again. Absentmindedly, Proby reaches over and picks it up, then drops it again on the receiver. He looks at M. J.
PROBY Very nice, isn't it?
M.J. pauses judiciously to evaluate the effect.
M.J. Nice, yes. Very nice.
Proby sinks back, seeming to relax, but something in the way his fingers dance against the arms of his chair betrays that he's got things on his mind. Silence. M.J. stands up again, and wanders over to the desk. Picks up a piece of the debris.
M.J. What did you say was the name of this band?
PROBY The Sex Pistols. I have them signing a recording contract this morning. They'll be at my new club tonight...
M.J. (smiles Nostalgically) Your new club, yes... you always did have a new club going, didn't you, Proby. (pause) Are they any good, then?
Proby cannot prevent himself from sitting forward a little. As M.J. scrutinizes a set of leather wrist-cuffs.
PROBY They're the coming thing, M.J. Right now not more than 500 people in the entire country know they exist. But in six months time...
He pauses, but his eyes contain a vision. After a wait, impatiently?
M.J. Well, what about in six months' time?
Proby's eyes glow.
PROBY This country's going down, M.J., and I'm going to be right on top of it! The Sex Pistols are the start of a whole new thing. You're going to see depression, soup Kitchens, a return to fundamental gut-music-futuristic oldies! An era of child thieves...
His voice trails off in enthusiasm. M.J. looks at him curiously, then picks up the golden box and offers it.
M.J. Want some more, then?
PROBY (coming back down to earth) Not so early in the morning.
M.J. What's it all called, then?
PROBY Punk rock.
M.J. Punk rock... (smiles) I've been a punk for fifteen years, duck. How old are they?
PROBY I don't have any idea. Eighteen, nineteen, I would think...
M.J. (mental arithmetic) Half a lifetime ago... and I'm still young.
Proby has been leading up to something.
PROBY ...real favor to me, M.J. I'd really appreciate it if you'd turn up for one of their sets tonight. A star like you - it'd give them a real kick.
M.J. Are they any good?
PROBY We're signing the record deal this morning.
M.J. Which means fuck-all. Can they play?
PROBY They need some work here and there.
M.J. Can they sing?
PROBY The real point is the way they inter-relate with the crowd - the energy, the anarchy, the dancing...
M.J. (bemused, to himself) "Can't sing, can't act - can dance a little."
Smiles to himself.
PROBY (confused) What? M.J. The report on Fred Astaire's screen test.
He rises to his feet, his mind already elsewhere.
M.J. (continuing) Right, then, Proby. I'll drop around the club tonight if I'm in Soho.
PROBY (grateful) That'd be great, M.J. We'll go over to Crockford's afterwards...
M.J. is on his way to the door.
ANGLE - DOOR
as it bursts open, and Sid Vicious hurls himself into the office. He briefly registers M.J., who looks at him curiously - a collector examining a new specimen - before going on out and closing the door. Sid takes no notice as M.J. leaves. Proby comes around the desk, smile on his face, surreptitiously shoving the golden box of cocaine to a less obvious position on his desk - after all, coke is for grown-ups.
PROBY Sid! What a big day this is for you! And the record contract is only the beginning...
His voice trails off as he interprets the look on Sid's face: Rage and malcontent, exaggerated by the drinking the night before, the scene with his mother and her boy friend.
SID VICIOUS No it's now: It's the end!
He Kicks a piece of lightweight aluminum furniture into the air.
PROBY Sid! What is this?
SID VICIOUS You've spoiled everything, you fucker! Look at Rotten! He was my mate! Not anymore.
As he speaks, Sid Vicious again loosens the chain belt around his waist, and now, as he talks, he begins to swing it wildly in random destruction, knocking and smashing lamps, bric-a-brac, the eclectic treasures of Proby's office.
SID VICIOUS (continuing) The moment they climb up on the fucking stage, they ain't my friends no more! There's all these assholes telling us what to do.
Proby moves forward, horrified, to intercept him. Sid Vicious hits him on the arm, sending him reeling back, and with a foot kicks a small table into the air. He brings his chain down, hard and flat, across the surface of Proby's desk, smashing again and again into the punk rock debris there.
PROBY Sid! Think of the money you'll make!
SID VICIOUS Fuck the money! That bullshit gig of yours, Proby, last night - it never used to be like that before!
Tries to kick Proby in the ass, and misses. Proby retreats behind the desk.
SID VICIOUS Johnny Rotten used to be my pal! We used to be on the streets - not on your fuckin' stage!
Sid Vicious is so upset he's losing control. He lashes at the desk again with his chain, and then starts to cry - tears roll down his face while he gasps for air and is at the verge of blowing up once more. He wants to kill the trend-setter of all time - and at the same time, he's giving up.
After all this explosion, Proby still finds the strength to come back: Freaked-out rockers are not new to him.
PROBY (ala Zero Mostel) Listen, kid - I know where you're coming from! I'm from the streets myself! I fought my way to the top, and you can too! You're my kind of Guy! You're the real thing, Sid! Fuck Rotten!
Sid Vicious turns his back and throws his chain across the back of his own neck, pulling hard, trying to regain control. Proby carefully reading Sid's emotional state, looks out the window (and here again there's the faint suggestion of Zero Mostel in "The Producers"). He looks down at the crowds milling in the streets.
PROBY Look at those people down there! They're starving - out of work! It's a Depression! Let's give them something, Sid! A cause - that's what they need! Give them a chance to blow off some steam!
Sid Vicious turns toward the window uncertainly. Proby expands.
PROBY I can hear your band playing, Sid Vicious! On every radio and television station in the land! On every juke box - The Sex Pistols, number one! You'll be bigger than the Beatles! Bigger than the Army! Bigger than the Queen!
SMASH SOUND TRANSITION:
MUSIC: The Sex Pistols singing "God Save the Queen."
EXT. BUCKINGHAM PALACE - DAY
The monument at the foot of the mall, opposite the Palace gates will be the scene of the signing. Television cameras, reporters and still photographers are already there. And a crowd has gathered, curious. A table has been set up for the signing.
Music continues v.o. and loud as a limousine circles the island and then stops, and the Sex Pistols pile out, followed by Proby.
Rotten tumbles out looking as if he's about to vomit at the set-up. Sid Vicious, next, half-falls out, losing one of his shoes - so that one foot is bare and the other is guarded in his broken-down brothel-creeper. He makes menacing gestures toward the photographers, who are crowding him. Paul emerges eating a sandwich. Steve makes ludicrous poses. Rotten gives the V-for-Victory sign.
Various record company executives, lawyers, etc., stand about uncertainly, shepherded by P.R. men, as the signing goes off with suitable confusion, lots of strobe-lights, a certain hostility on Sid's part (as well as from the others) - and the expansive supervision of Proby.
Police arrive to move everyone along, and the Sex Pistols pile or are shoved unceremoniously back into the limousine. The Photographers crowd closely, trying to get one more shot as the limousine pulls away and the last sight we see is Johnny Rotten's thumb's up victory sign and Sid Vicious giving the finger.
CUT ON MUSIC TO:
EXT. THE NEW OLDIES CLUB
But exterior only long enough to show a SIGN PAINTER leaning back to admire his handiwork: He has added the freshly painted work: "New" to the sign, so that it now reads: THE NEW NEW OLDIES CLUB.
INT. THE NEW NEW OLDIES CLUB
"God Save the Queen" is still playing - this is the Sex Pistols' big moment after the signing of the contract and all the rest of it.
The audience is exhilarated by the demands upon themselves to identify with this new kind of music, this new anarchic approach to musical reality. And now a great many of them are dressed in punk rock style: Like the Sex Pistols on the stage, they wear chains and leather, ripped jeans and shirts, safety pins and other punk debris, and their hair is cut at violently.
However far the band stretches the all-out aggression, there's still perfect agreement with its natural audience. They scream back, mutually impolite; beer cans fly; and the dancing seems to be an all-out attack between partners.
There is still some pogo-dancing, as seen before but now the predominant dance is the Grapple, in which the dancers pull each other's hair, shake each other by the throat, and, in general, come across in a frenzied spasm.
Two PEOPLE in the audience find this display particularly fascinating: Proby (the eclectic, dressed this time as the consummate punk: rocker) and another visitor... M.J., absorbed, fascinated, maybe a little sobered by this evidence that contemporary music now belongs to people who were three years old when he launched his career.
The set at the New New Oldies builds to a climax, and, continuing the music, we
EXT. B.B.C. TELEVISION STUDIOS
A sign makes clear, and an interviewer's voice established itself v.o. as we
CUT TO: INT. THE TELEVISION STUDIO
Where we see the Sex Pistols, near the height of their fame, and infamy, facing the INTERVIEWER. He is a Robert Morley type, but younger: Plump, pompous, filled with self-confidence, immaculately dressed, perhaps a little drunk, and certainly ill-at-ease in the presence of Punk Rockers.
The Sex Pistols, backed by Debbie Juvenile and Sue Catwoman, are arrayed facing them, dressed as they're usually dressed.
(Note: The following dialogue, which reproduces the dialogue of the actual Sex Pistols television interview, is supplied for guidance, but the Sex Pistols should respond in their own way and words to the film interviewers questioning.)
INTERVIEWER I'm told you've received 50,000 pounds from a record company. Doesn't that seem to be slightly opposed to your anti-materialistic way of life?
SID VICIOUS The more the merrier.
PAUL COOK Yeah. Yeah.
INTERVIEWER Tell me more then.
STEVE JONES Fuckin' spent it, didn't we?
INTERVIEWER You're serious? SID VICIOUS Mmmmmmmmmm.
INTERVIEWER Beethoven, Mozart, Bach? JOHNNY ROTTEN They're wonderful people, they really are. They really turn us on.
INTERVIEWER Do they?
JOHNNY ROTTEN They really do!
INTERVIEWER Suppose they turn other people on?
JOHNNY ROTTEN That's just their tough shit.
INTERVIEWER It's what?
JOHNNY ROTTEN Nothing - a rude word. Next question.
INTERVIEWER No, no. What was the rude word?
JOHNNY ROTTEN Shit. INTERVIEWER Was it really? Good heavens. (to Debbie and Sue) What about you girls behind? Are you married or just enjoying yourselves?
DEBBIE JUENILEILE I've always wanted to meet you.
INTERVIEWER Did you really? We'll meet afterwards, shall we?
SUE CATWOMAN You dirty old man! You dirty old man!
INTERVIEWER Go on, you've got a long time yet. You've got another five seconds. Say something outrageous.
STEVE JONES You dirty sod. You dirty bastard.
INTERVIEWER Go on. Again.
STEVE JONES You dirty fucker.
STEVE JONES What a fucking rotter.
INTERVIEWER Well, that's it for tonight - I'll be seeing you soon. (to the band) I hope I'm not seeing you again. (to camera) Good night.
INT. A LONDON PUB
In the working-class district where Johnny Rotten's Irish MOTHER lives. She sits in the lounge bar, enjoying her brandy and ginger, and watching the Sex Pistols on television. Also in the pub are several other DRINKERS, most of them women, most of them roughly the same age as Johnny's mother. As the program signs off on the telly above the bar:
FIRST DRINKER I bloody well hope I'm not seeing them again, either.
General laughter. Johnny's Mother purses her lips and sips at her brandy.
SECOND DRINKER It's enough to make you in favor of the Teddy Boys...
THIRD DRINKER Yes, and the skin-heads...
FIRST DRINKER What that lot needs is a good war to settle them down. If they'd been through what we've all been through, they wouldn't go on like that about the queen and all.
SECOND DRINKER That's just the way it is nowadays, isn't it? All you have to do is go on telly and preach treason against the crown, and they pay you money.
THIRD DRINKER Fifty thousand quid!
Johnny's Mother can contain herself no longer.
JOHNNY'S MOTHER I wouldn't say that.
The women drinkers turn to where she's sitting against the wall.
SECOND DRINKER Oh you wouldn't? Why not then?
JOHNNY'S MOTHER They've got a right to their criticisms! It's not as if they're killing people or going about bashing their heads.
FIRST DRINKER At least bashing is British.
SECOND DRINKER (approvingly) It's not as if the bashers don't have respect for the crown.
THIRD DRINKER Right.
JOHNNY'S MOTHER That's all you lot think about! God save the Queen and heaven help the rest of us lot. But we've got to get by on our own, haven't we?
SECOND DRINKER (showing the signs of drink) Are you against the queen, then? Is that what you're saying?
JOHNNY'S MOTHER I'm saying I have a bloody good right to be if that's the way I feel.
FIRST DRINKER (offended) I won't stand here and listen to this!
The BARTENDER comes through from the public bar to wipe the bar and take orders.
BARTENDER What's all this, then?
FIRST DRINKER This one here has been insulting the name of the queen.
Johnny's Mother approaches the bar.
JOHNNY'S MOTHER A pint of bitter, please.
Ever so quietly. The Bartender pours it. She pays.
SECOND DRINKER That's right. She's been talking up those Sex Pistols.
THIRD DRINKER On telly just now.
BARTENDER Mrs. Rotten?
FIRST DRINKER Rotten? Is that her name? (turns) You ought to be bloody well ashamed of a son like that!
JOHNNY'S MOTHER Yes, but I'm not. I'm proud of him for saying what he thinks. For that's the way he was raised, you bigoted bitches!
And she tosses the pint of bitter into their faces before indignantly marching out the door. They are too stunned to react. The Bartender's face shows that he totally understands the situation.
FIRST DRINKER (wiping the beer away) Cor! Took it personal-liked, didn't she?
MONTAGE - NEWSPAPER HEADLINES (STOCK)
Footage shows newspapers coming off the presses, and then we see actual British headlines as:
THE FILTH AND THE FURY
THESE REVOLTING V.I.P.'S
WHO ARE THESE PUNKS?
PUNK ROCK JUBILEE SHOCKER
ROTTEN TO THE CORE
INT. RECORD COMPANY OFFICE
We recognize one of the recording executives from the Buckingham Palace signing of only yesterday: KRINKIESTEIN, prosperous, somehow corrupt, in an office of great opulence. At his side, looking up bored from time to time is a very large Hound. Krink1estein sits behind a massive desk in the big room. The luxurious appointments exude dignity, taste, sobriety, and the enormous profits to be made from pop recordings. All of these attributes are possibly threatened by the news he reads in the morning papers. He holds the Daily Mirror (THE FILTH AND THE FURY!), and other newspapers are stacked high on his desk. The intercom BUZZES.
SECRETARY (v.o.) They're here, Mr. Krinklestein.
KRINKIE (ominous) Send them in.
The office door bursts open and the Sex Pistols burst in, with a very harassed-looking Proby bringing up the rear. They're dressed as usual - ultimate punk rock - and they look mean. Johnny Rotten holds a Telex message in his hand.
JOHNNY ROTTEN What the fuck's the meaning of this? (reads) Tour cancelled! Recording withdrawn!
STEVE JONES The record is hardly even in the stores yet!
Proby can hardly get a word in edgewise. He kisses ass Mostel-style.
PROBY This band is big, Maurice! You can't stop it now! We have a contract.
Sid Vicious whirls on Proby.
SID VICIOUS You stay out of this! You've screwed us enough as it is!
Through the open door in b.g., we see Paul Cook climbing over the SECRETARY'S desk or otherwise teasing her, working hard to elevate her hysteria to fever pitch. Johnny Rotten advances on Krinklestein's desk, and the record magnate unconsciously pushes his chair back in retreat. Sid Vicious is also advancing now - doing his fearsome Sun-Glasses Dance. Krinklestein, intimidated, rises to the occasion.
KRINKIESTEIN Those were steps we had to take after the... unpleasantness on television last night, boys.
SID VICIOUS That drunken sod baited us!
KRINKLESTEIN Perhaps so. Perhaps so. All the same...
PAUL COOK (abandoning the secretary) So when's our record going back in the stores?
Krinklestein sighs as if the task is beyond him.
KRINKIESTEIN I'm afraid I have some very disappointing news for you boys.
KRINKIESTEIN We are dropping your contract.
PAUL COOK You're doing what?!?
STEVE JONES You bloody well can't do that!
Proby moves in awkwardly, in awe of Krinklestein's power - including his power over some of Proby's other clients.
PROBY Now look here, Maurice!
Krinklestein spreads his hands as if to calm the storm.
KRINKLESTEIN (sighs as if personally pained) The fifty thousand pounds are yours, of course, to keep. (regretfully) That's the law.
The place goes up for grabs.
JOHNNY ROTTEN We don't give a shit about the money!
SID VICIOUS We was happier on the streets!
PAUL COOK This is total bullshit.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Total bullshit - old bean!
Steve Jones advances on Krinklestein as if to physically assault him. The hound bares its teeth and growls.
STEVE JONES (to the Hound) Out of my way, bitch.
The Hound, almost as if it understands English, retreats.
KRINKIESTEIN (to Hound) Attack! Ringo! Attack!
The Hound will not. Steve Jones stops, his face barely an inch from Krinklestein's, and shouts at him:
STEVE JONES Do you know what you are? You're a horrible toad! That's what you are.
Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious and Paul Cook begin to tear at random about the office - up on chairs, over the desk, on top of tables, swinging from the curtains - like monkeys crossed with the Marx Brothers. Krinklestein looks on in terror. Proby shouts over the chaos.
PROBY This is a great band, Maurice! You're making a terrible mistake! They could be the greatest in the world!!! (tries another tack) Look, Maurice - you know as well as I do - boys will be boys!
Sid Vicious marches toward the walls, heavily hung with gold records. Krinklestein watches his progress with fear in his eyes.
JOHNNY ROTTEN That's right, Krinklestein! Boys will be boys - don't you know?
STEVE JONES We was just having our bit of fun on the telly, sir!
He rips out Krinklestein's telephone with one enormous pull.
KRINKLESTEIN (screams) Do you know what I signed, Proby??? I didn't sign a band - I signed a bunch of trouble!
Proby's answer, if any, is drowned out by an enormous crash. Sid Vicious has pulled down one of the many gold records off the wall, and broken it over the back of a chair. The Hound, not a bit brave, howls in terror. Krinklestein is paralyzed by the terrible sight. And Proby - whose admiration for golden records is boundless - is speechless as well for once.
Johnny, Paul and Steve see what Sid's up to and immediately leap to join him in the attack. Record after record, they rip and tear the trophies from the walls, symbolically and actually smashing all the music that went before for the last 20 years - all the music that has shut their generation out, aborted their talent, frustrated their natural instincts.
One name after another, the litany of musical oppression:
SEX PISTOLS Elton John! Susie Quatro! Rod Stewart! The Beatles! I've got Ringo! Mick Jagger! Alice Cooper! John Lennon! Jerry and the Pacemakers! Olivia Newton-John! Joni Mitchell! Lonnie Donegan! John Denver! I got the fuckin' Bay City Rollers!
Krinklestein's huge hound growls but runs for cover under the desk, as fearful as its master. Krinklestein desperately punches the communications buttons on his desk, trying to raise Security Guards. Proby somehow tries to bring about the impossible - peace.
PROBY Stop! Stop for a minute! Trust me boys! I can explain everything! (megalomaniac) I am Proby! I've got the answers!
Sid and Paul are kicking at the dog, missing him. Rotten attacks the intercom and phones.
PAUL Get out of my way you mangy hound!
SID VICIOUS Your dog's better looking than you are, Krinklestein!
He and Rotten now completely pull all the communication equipment out of the walls.
PROBY Shut up and let me talk for a moment! I've got the key to your future.
JOHNNY ROTTEN You've got the key to nothing, you horrible toad! You've done nothing but screw everything up for us from the beginning.
Sid Vicious aims a powerful kick at the hound, misses, and catches Proby on the leg. Proby hops around howling, holding his skin.
SID VICIOUS We never want to see your revolting face again, Proby! You've wrecked our lives.
The SECURITY GUARDS finally arrived, summoned by Krinklestein's frantic button-pushing. There's a general scuffle that finally ends with the Sex Pistols being bodily ejected from the office.
INT. A ROOM IN THE "CAMBRIDGE RAPIST HOTEL"
Although we do not at this point know that it's the Cambridge Rapist. This is a small, rather wild transient hotel in Soho, operated by O (a woman we will meet before long), and among the people who occasionally or regularly stay here are various Pistols, Sue Catwoman, Debbie Juvenile, and the mysterious, gymnastic Russian woman PETROVA.
The room we see is large, tranquil, with pastel lacquered wallpaper. And we see the women, groomed as the world has never seen women before: Sue Catwoman obviously looks like a cat; the center of her hair is shaved and blonde in color, and over the ears it sticks out in a pointed fashion, cat-like and jet-black. Painted on her cheek is a swastika, and dangling from her ear is a skull.
Debbie Juvenile's hair is a cluster of knotted strands, each one tied separately with candy-colored ribbons, so that she looks like a birthday party. She wears a thin, striped tie around her neck, and a string-vest with a safety-pin shredded through at the point where her nipple juts out.
Music is, perhaps, Vivaldi. And as it plays, we discover Petrova, the Russian, fit and gymnastic. She wanders around, pirouetting in an old-world ballet manner. She has large breasts, rosy and sensuous lips, and strong legs: She has inspired poets in one manifestation or another for centuries.
And also in the room, agog, enjoying himself very much, is a young ETONIAN - not more than a few years older than they are, but light-years apart in outlook and style, and fascinated by this bizarre underworld he's wandered into. He has a special request and doesn't know how to put it.
DEBBIE Well come on, then: What you got in mind?
ETONIAN Well, actually...
His voice trails off.
SUE CATWOMAN (regards him penetratingly) Quiet type, isn't he?
DEBBIE Not much to say.
ETONIAN Actually, what I was thinking was - I saw this dance on television the other night. Rather stimulating, actually.. "the Grapple," I believe. Quite frankly, what I was wondering was... would you care to demonstrate it for me?
DEBBIE (astonished) Us? Do the Grapple? Is that what you want?
ETONIAN (smiles weakly) Nice and, ah - you know, rough.
SUE CATWOMAN Likes it rough, does he?
Petrova, who doesn't speak English, continues her movements in the comer. Debbie Juvenile goes over to a cassette and switches on a Pogo song by the Sex Pistols. Mechanically, they start to bump, grab, claw and pull each other to the delight of the lecherous young aristocrat. By the time they floor each other the Etonian is ecstatic, but the song ends - and for the girls, that's it, too.
ETONIAN Go on! Don't stop!
DEBBIE JUVENIIE That's it - the grapple.
SUE CATWOMAN That's all there is to it.
ETONIAN I had something a little more violent - perhaps a bit more Sapphic - in mind. I don't think you quite understood...
DEBBIE But we invented the Grapple! We ought to know how it's done!
The Etonian goes to Petrova and tries to communicate with sign language and a few English words that she should teach these British chicks a thing or two.
ETONIAN You dance? With girls, right? Girls dancing together - very good, right?
In one way or another, he manages to communicate with Petrova, who isn't new to a scene like this.
Warm, soft, loving, she willingly approaches Debbie and, with her true Russian athleticism, tackles the girl and goes down on her in the most erotic fashion. This seems to be much more what the Etonian had in mind.
Just as Petrova is finishing, Steve Cook wanders into the room. Ignores the Etonian. Talks only to Petrova.
STEVE JONES Petrova - let's go!
Petrova follows obediently and lustfully.
INT. ANOTHER ROOM
Steve and Petrova make love. The door opens and Paul looks in. Is bored, depressed, down after the events of the last few days, and especially the firing. Gazes at them impassively, and closes the door again.
INT. THE HALLWAY
Paul looks at Sid Vicious, who is totally drunk and sound asleep in a corner - completely out, Johnny Rotten appears from around the corner, sees Sid, and pushes a daffodil into his hand.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (to Paul) He must have been drinking all my booze - otherwise he wouldn't be so pissed. Why's everyone always drinking my booze?
PAUL COOK Let's go downstairs to the bar then.
INT. LOUNGE OF THE "CAMBRIDGE RAPIST HOTEL"
A typically sleazoid hotel lounge, with a bar in one corner and a barman, polishing glasses and looking somewhat resigned to his fate as bartender to the flotsam of Soho. Johnny Rotten enters with Paul. There are a few other people in the lounge: Transients, Pakistanis, Indians, hippies, outcasts, young tourist types, old drunk types. Rotten confronts the barman, a midget with an inch and a half of forehead whose name is CASTRATO.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Aren't you gonna congratulate us, then?
CASTRATO What for?
JOHNNY ROTTEN We signed a record contract yesterday - didn't me, Paul?
PAUL COOK That's right. Right in front of Buckingham Palace.
JOHNNY ROTTEN They was gonna make us stars!
CASTRATO Stars? What you want to drink?
Rotten leans forward confidingly.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Well, mate, I'll tell you what... (peels bills off a wad in his pocket) Here is 500 quid. We want to have a little party tonight - you understand?
The Italian is speechless at the sight of so much money.
CASTRATO What I do with this?
JOHNNY ROTTEN To start with, I'll have a beer. Heinekin's.
PAUL COOK I'll have one too, mate. With a shot of Johnnie Walker with it if there's enough change there.
CASTRATO Red label or black?
PAUL COOK Black - and make that two shots.
The barman does. Paul and Rotten toast each other silently - this is the first step in an evening of serious drinking. They put down the shots straightaway and start on the beer.
EXT. "THE CAMBRIDGE RAPIST HOTEL" - DARK, WINDY, GLOOMY NIGHT
A sign is blowing in the wind. A typical London evening. The streets are dark and slick with a recent rain, and a big Rolls-Royce splashes water onto the empty sidewalks as it approaches the hotel. We've seen this limousine before, and recognize it as M.J.'S.
INT. BACK SEAT OF THE ROLLS
We discover M.J., again dressed in very expensive contemporary clothing... and we meet, for the first time, O - the intriguing owner of the Cambridge Rapist. O is a statuesque woman - imperious, striking, with a stunning figure. As the car pulls up in front of the hotel and comes to a halt, O and M.J. do nothing to halt their activities inside. They're making out passionately. M.J.'s hands are on O's full breasts, as he kisses her tempestuously. O's hands plunder M.J.'s pants for the treasure within. As they make out, they speak:
M.J. Are we there yet?
O (breathless) Just pausing for a traffic light, luv - don't you stop!
She unbuttons her blouse to make his forages more fruitful.
M.J. Like that?
O Don't stop, luv, whatever you do!
They struggle for the best position, O all but turning around to sit on top of him, her breasts in his face. And now she opens her blouse all the way and buries his face in her treasures, meanwhile continuing to plunder below.
M.J. I say! Delicious. (comes up for air; plunges again) Scrumptious!
There is a tap on the glass separating the seats of the limousine. O, distracted, doesn't turn around. The tap comes again - louder. She still ignores it, but M.J. surfaces - it is, after all, his CHAUFFEUR.
M.J. (annoyed) Yes? What is it?
CHAUFFEUR We have arrived at the hotel, sir! Would you... like me to go around Hyde Park one more time?
M.J. That won't be necessary. Just wait for us here... (to the distracted O) O? Are you there? I'm talking to you, O?
O dreamily comes to.
O Yes? What is it, darling?
M.J. We, ah... seem to be here.
M.J. At your hotel, of course.
O My hotel... Oh, yes! Of course!
She collects herself.
O Then let's go inside - shall we, darling?
M.J. My thoughts exactly.
A strange light burns in O's eyes.
O Yes... let's go inside. You'll like it inside, darling. You always do... and I'm going to do all sorts of the most interesting things.
M.J. Really? aSlightly more sober and a good deal more quiet, the Sex Pistols and Sue Catwoman emerge from the Cambridge Rapist Hotel. Hands in their pockets, cigarettes in their mouths, they are faced by the grey and dismal London morning. They walk down the grey, wet London Street, surveying their prospects.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Well, we ain't got a contract, and no bookings...
PAUL COOK And we can't play on any radio or television station in the whole bloody United Kingdom...
SID VICIOUS Plus Luxembourg.
STEVE JONES And there ain't anyone who don't hate us.
They walk on in silence.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (after several beats) We're a success.
They walk on.
SID VICIOUS Bloody hell
STEVE JONES What is it, Steve?
SID VICIOUS I've lost my lock!
He looks down into a grating at the curb.
STEVE JONES Yer what?
SID VICIOUS My lock! The chain snapped around my neck!
He falls to his knees and peers into the grating.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (sullen) Who give a shit about yer lock, Sid?
But Sid is already wrestling with the grating.
SID VICIOUS I've got to get my lock back!
Johnny Rotten turns to walk away. The others follow after a pause.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Stupid sod. It didn't cost him but 15p. I was with him when he got it.
They continue to walk. At the next corner, they split off - Johnny Rotten going one way, Paul another, Steve and Catwoman a third.
EXT. LONDON STREETS
Three or four shots of Johnny Rotten, walking alone, establishing the isolation of himself in particular and the band in general. Then:
EXT. SOHO STORE FRONT
This is the London headquarters of the Church of Scientography. Johnny Rotten looks in. A sign on the window reads: ARE YOU BLOCKED?
A young, fresh-faced GIRL, with the light of true zeal burning in her eyes, comes out onto the sidewalk as Johnny Rotten looks in a lackluster way at the window.
GIRL Are you coming in, then?
JOHNNY ROTTEN No I'm not.
GIRL Why not then? Are you afraid?
JOHNNY ROTTEN Afraid? Not bloody likely. GIRL The M-Meter doesn't lie.
JOHNNY ROTTEN The what?
He squints at her, unable to make out her game.
GIRL The M-Meter. Haven't you ever been clocked? JOHNNY ROTTEN I had a bloody hard time of it last night...
GIRL I can just look at you and see you're over the limit.
JOHNNY ROTTEN That's the truth.
GIRL Come on in, then.
Baffles, he follows her. In the gloom, he makes out a gigantic poster, upon which a man wearing a racing helmet and goggles a white gown and long, wavy hair, is surrounded by beams of light projected from the top of a pyramid.
JOHNNY ROTTEN What's all this, then?
GIRL Just sit down here.
He sees an automobile seat, facing a steering wheel, a gas pedal, and a speedometer.
JOHNNY ROTTEN I've already got my provisional license - and I haven't got a car anyway.
GIRL The M-Meter has nothing to do with driving.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Oh it hasn't, hasn't it?
GIRL This is the Church of Scientometry. And this... (she guides Johnny into the seat) is the M-Meter, named after our leader, the Holy Man from Italy, Guru Maser-Rati.
JOHNNY ROTTEN I've heard of him somewhere.
GIRL Just grasp the steering wheel, which picks up the electrical vibrations from your hands, and when I ask you questions, push down hard on the accelerator for "yes," and on the brake for "no."
JOHNNY ROTTEN What if I don't know?
GIRL That's about 36 miles per hour.
EXT. ANOTHER SOHO STREET
Paul Cook walks along looking vacantly into the shop windows, killing time. Looks across the street, sees four TEDDY BOYS almost parallel to him. Keeps walking. Turns a corner. Looks in the window of a radio store or porno shop. Keeps going. Looks across the street to see that the Teddy Boys are still there. Keeps walking. Turns another corner Now the action breaks loose. The Teddy Boys go into action, crossing the street, chasing him. He runs. Is cornered; carts into an alley. Paul turns to fight.
And now we have a quick, brutal, violent confrontation. Grasping the situation at once, Paul lashes out with a boot. One of the Teddies goes down.
TEDDY ONE Bastard!
TEDDY TWO Get him, Jim!
TEDDY THREE Right! TEDDY FOUR Watch it!
The fight develops into a bloody brawl. Paul more than holds his own, putting down two of the Teddies before one dazes him with a blow from behind and another slashes him with a razor.
TEDDY ONE (as he slashes him) "God Save the Queen" - eh, Paulie?
Lifting Teddy Three, who is still unconscious, the Teddy Boys make their retreat from the blind alley, as Paul looks mutely at the blood dripping onto his shirt.
INT. TATTOO PARLOR - SOHO
A crampled; exotic place, presided over by the ancient Chinese master of the art of tattoo. Every square inch of the walls is papered by samples of the tattoo designs available.
Steve and Sue Catwoman are in the parlor, getting simultaneous tattoo jobs from the TATTOOIST and his ASSISTANT.
They're both getting safety pins tattooed over their left nipples.
INT. TATTOO PARLOR. - SOHO
Through the open doorway, we see someone pass on the crowded Soho street, and then turn back to come when she spots them. It's O.
O (eyes getting used to the dark) I thought it was you.
STEVE Whatcha, O.
O I've redecorated the hotel, Steve, but business is bad. I'm having a re-opening party, and I know you've been banned - you've got nowhere to play.
STEVE JONES (laconic) Yeah, that's right.
O I want the Sex Pistols to play. And I want one more thing, too. (Dramatic) Tell Johnny Rotten I want him.
EXT. CAMBRIDGE RAPIST HOTEL - GETTING TOWARD EVENING
MUSIC: Stock "grand re-opening" - type shit.
The same Sign Painter we saw in front of the New New Oldies Club now stands back again to admire his handiwork. The original "Cambridge Rapist Hotel" sign on the front of the building has been repainted to read: THE CAMBRIDGE RAPIST'S ARMS. And, hanging over the sidewalk, proudly scrutinized by O, who stands beneath it, is a British pub or inn-type sign, on which is painted a portrait of the Cambridge Rapist, in leather mask, with his arms advancing toward the viewer.
O is jostled aside by the arriving crowds as she admires the new hotel exterior. She has dressed for the occasion tonight in quintessential 1960s fashions: A bejeweled pair of hot pants, a little satin bandana bikini top (with a "Johnny Rotten" photo pin button over her left breast), and gold lame high-heeled slippers.
INT. THE HOTEL LOUNGE
Redecorated since the last time we saw it, so that it's a small cabaret, now, with a new stage at one end. On the stage, the Sex Pistols are playing at full volume, and the room is jam-packed: we sense that this is already the best single Sex Pistols gig in the entire history of the band.
The music is the best we've heard it. Johnny Rotten is in perfect form - never better. The crowd is exhilarated to be able to hear the Pistols at last in an ideal environment. The fans are dressed in ultimate Punk Rock splendor - and mixed in with the Punkers are a few other types: people we've seen in the hotel, like the Etonian, the Hooker, and Pakistani, etc., and people from the street like Tourists, Passersby, even a few Derelicts from the shadier precincts of Soho.
As the music continues; and the crowd does the grapple, O pushes her way through the masses, her great height making her clearly visible above the others (this will become a plot point later). She makes her way to the bar, which is assaulted by human waves of thirsty celebrants. Behind the bar, both Castrato (the Italian barman) and Petrova are desperately trying to meet the demand.
O Keeping up with business, then, Castrato?
ITALIAN (mopping sweat from his brow) Yes, miss O. Very busy!
She helps out behind the bar, but her eyes continually are drawn toward the stage, where Johnny Rotten, at the top of his form, generates amazing force out of the song.
QUICK CUTS establish the mood of the crowd: exhilaration crossed with barely-controlled frenzy. We've never seen the Grapple dance look so violent before; we've never seen so much energy released. This is the ultimate Sex Pistols performance.
Finally O can wait no longer.
She pushes her way through the crowd until she stands directly in front of the stage and Johnny Rotten. Slightly to one side, Steve Jones sees her and a reaction shot shows that he wonders now how this long-delayed confrontation is going to turn out.
Johnny Rotten, deeply immersed in the song, glances down, sees O, glances away, continues to sing, and then finds his eyes drawn back to her again.
O begins to dance, too. It is the Grapple, a little, but it is something deeper and more sensual than that. She is dancing for one person only: Johnny Rotten. Her awesome body is a carnal display.
As she dances, her eyes are firmly fixed on Johnny Rotten. He looks down more than once, but tries not to seem aware of her blatant invitation.
Finally O grows urgent in her desires. She reaches out to Johnny Rotten's belt buckle, which is more or less at her chest level, and pulls it, trying to pull him off the stage to her.
Rotten, of course, recoils. Continues to sing.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (shouts to O) Get off! We're in the middle of our set!
O looks directly at Steve. Shouts:
O I told you - I want Johnny Rotten!
Rotten turns to Steve, then back to O, still pulling urgently at his belt.
JOHNNNY ROTTEN You're wasting my time!
But now Steve, who hardly ever does a solo or moves to the front of the stage, moves forward, almost shoving Johnny Rotten off the stage as O pulls.
STEVE JONES (in the spirit of the moment) Come on, Rotten - get off!
Johnny Rotten is trapped in a two-way shove as Sid Vicious (confused by all of this) and Paul Cook (keeping the beat steady as always) continue the song along with Steve's guitar.
STEVE JONES You wanker! Get on with it, Johnny! Give it to her!
He laughs. Now O grabs Rotten really hard, and Rotten grabs his microphone and attempts to fend her off. It's a tug of war. Hearing Steve laugh, Rotten looks at Steve, looks at O, and makes some sort of connection.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Are you behind this, Steve? You're wasting my time!
O makes another mighty heave on the belt buckle, and Rotten's vocal is massacred. Her strength is such that he comes within a fraction of falling off the stage.
Punk Rockers nearest the stage are growing impatient with O's interference with Johnny Rotten, and they shout above the music.
PUNKER ONE Don't mess with Johnny!
PUNKER TWO Let him get on with it, then!
Sid Vicious also cannot make up his mind what's going on, and when he looks behind him he sees that neither can Paul Cook.
SID VICIOUS (playing and screaming) What's she interfering with him for?
PAUL COOK I don't bloody well know!
But now some of the same Punk Rockers in the front of the stage enter into the spirit of the confrontation and gang up to hoist O halfway up in the air toward the stage and Johnny Rotten!
PUNKER TWO Here you go, then!
PUNKER THREE Up and away - hang on, O!
Holding the microphone, Rotten leans forward over the stage to shout at O. His words are easily picked up.
JOHNNY ROTTEN What in bloody hell do you want?
O hangs suspended halfway between floor and stage, grabbing Johnny Rotten to maintain her balance, shouting:
O This party's dead, Johnny! Let's all go over to M.J.'s!
JOHNNY ROTTEN I don't want nothing to do with that horrible toad!
O It's an exclusive party, Johnny - nothing but stuck-up pricks and assholes! Let's crash it!
Sid Vicious picks up on her idea.
SID VICIOUS That's it! Let's crash in on the horrible toad.
Their words are picked up over the microphones and electrify the party in the lounge of the Cambridge Rapist. Word spreads like wildfire: "Let's crash the party at M.J.'s!" Even Johnny Rotten seems to be coming reluctantly around.
JOHNNY ROTTEN I don't mind, then... (complaining) ...but this is the last time I'm wasting my time!
As everybody beneath Pogos or Grapples, O is now hoisted completely above the heads of the crowd - and passed back, hand to hand, toward the door. In the process she becomes somewhat black and blue, and her expensive gown is torn at strategic points, so that she's attractively disheveled as we:
EXT. THE CAMBRIDGE RAPIST'S ARMS - NIGHT
The crowd spills out the door and onto the sidewalk. With great enthusiasm, O is passed along with them and into the street. MUSIC continues, as does Grappling in the streets.
We ESTABLISH now a brewer's wagon - of the old-fashioned sort, horse-drawn, stacked high with cases of full beer bottles, and captained by a DRIVER who sits on the seat in front. It is stopped, or parked, directly in front of the Cambridge Rapist's Arms.
The crowd passes O toward the lead horse and gives her a boost up, so that she straddles the horse and is prepared to lead the Punk Rocker charge on M.J.'s party.
The others spill out the door. MUSIC continues. We see that Sid Vicious is followed by Punkers enthusiastically carrying his bass; Steve has his guitar; Paul has somewhere found a set of bongo drums; Johnny Rotten himself even looks minutely amused.
They pile on top of the brewer's wagon, Castrato joining them.
STEVE JONES Let's go, then, mate!
DRIVER Where to?
STEVE JONES Southwark!
The Driver cracks his whip. O, on the lead horse, cries:
O Wagons ho!!!
She guides the lead horse John Wayne-style as they charge into the night. The Sex Pistols have already fortified themselves with bottles of beer from the cart.
EXT. A WAREHOUSE - NIGHT
Somewhere south of the Thames in Southwark - a very Dickensian area with towering dark buildings, narrow lanes, few people, many shadows.
A tiny red and green neon sign over the door to the warehouse says:
No lights can be seen, but the sounds of MUSIC and REVELRY fill the night as we:
INT. WAREHOUSE PARTY BEING THROWN BY M.J.
M.J.'s party is a combination of chic, decadence, snobbery and slumming. The guests include:
Some of the most fashionable people of the moment, including a MODEL or two wearing $1,000 knock-offs of Punk Rock designs - gowns with deliberate rips and tears, held together by large gold safety pins.
GROUPIES, dressed not in Punk Rock styles but in the immediately previous rock groupie styles - bizarre, original, colorful, fun.
More PUNK GROUPIES, still not dressed as our own Sex Pistols gang dresses, but almost in costume for the special event of the evening - which will feature, as we'll see, M.J. himself in Punk Rock gear.
BUSINESSMEN, from the recording and broadcast industries, divided into two sorts:
Those dressed traditionally in conservative business clothes.
Those dressed to look hip.
ARTIST and BOHEMIAN types, many of them dressed in Slick Hippie styles - flared jeans, trimmed moustaches, body shirts, body jewelry, etc.
Totally FAR-OUT TYPES, subdivided into:
Men and women in leather and rubber bondage gear.
Transvestites - both ways.
Topless girls, or those with blouses casually unbuttoned.
A man being led on a leash by a woman.
In addition to all the above, there are also the SERVANTS, dressed in tails, and led by the Chauffeur, seven feet tall, whom we've met before. He doubles as butler and chief of staff.
CHAUFFEUR (to Servant One) Another three or four cases of champagne, I should think... and vodka, we're running short on that.
SERVANT ONE Yes, sir!
The Chauffeur nods and wanders away through the party. Perhaps we FOLLOW HIM, or the CAMERA MAKES ITS OWN WAY, as we eavesdrop on a series of fascinating, or bizarre, or funny, or revealing vignettes:
Two of the most unforgettably-dressed GROUPIES:
GROUPIE ONE Well where is M.J.?
GROUPIE TWO Nobody's seen him yet.
GROUPIE ONE (bored) Well I certainly didn't come to this party just to have a good time - if M.J.'s not going to be here, who gives a shit?
GROUPIE TWO (vaguely) I know.
A group of BUSINESSMEN - some dressed conservatively, some not, and one obviously (by accent and leisure suit with white belt and shoes) an American:
BUSINESSMAN ONE Will you be staying with us long, then?
AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN I don't rightly know. Another couple of weeks anyway - long enough to sign me up a bunch of these Rock Punkers.
BUSINESSMAN TWO (politely) Ah, yes! Punk Rock!
AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN Whatever it is, we're after a mess of them. I've gotta fill up Madison Square Garden on three nights in a row or go out of business.
BUSINESSMAN ONE Couldn't you go with - American groups?
AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN (obscurely) They wouldn't fall for it.
Two HIPPIE/BOHEMIAN types, in a corner, sharing a joint, a young man and young woman:
HIPPIE MAN Try some of this.
HIPPIE WOMAN (she does) Know anybody here?
HIPPIE MAN (taking back the joint) Not a single person. How about you?
HIPPIE WOMAN (takes joint back, inhales) How about me what?
HIPPIE MAN I mean - how about you? Do you know anybody here?
HIPPIE WOMAN (inhales again, passes joint back) NO, I don't know anybody.
A quiet pause, while they both absorb the effect of the grass. At last:
HIPPIE MAN Who are you, anyway?
Two BONDAGE TYPES: A man and a woman, sitting at a table. Both wear rather extreme leather or rubber gear, with an abundance of straps, collars, chains, snaps, loops, etc. Both are drinking champagne. They are joined by a MODEL in one of the expensive pseudo-punk knock-off gowns. She collapses in to a chair.
MODEL Oh! I'm exhausted! And the party has hardly even started yet!
BONDAGE WOMAN I know what you mean, luv. It can be exhausting having a good time. Isn't that right, Geoffrey?
BONDAGE MAN Nobody knows what I go through, just trying to enjoy myself.
MODEL Ummm. (drains her glass, extends it at arm's length) Geoffrey, dear - do be a dear, and get me a refill, won't you? Champagne.
A slightly embarrassed silence falls. Geoffrey doesn't extend his arm to take the glass, so it remains, suspended in mid-air.
MODEL (continuing) Well? Geoffrey?
BONDAGE MAN I'm afraid, Genevieve, that... well, the fact is...
BONDAGE WOMAN (taking the glass; tactfully) He can't, luv. I've got him strapped to his chair - don't y'know? (smoothly to her feet) I'll be right back, loves.
BONDAGE MAN I'll be right here.
And now we PICK UP the seven-foot-tall Chauffeur again, as he makes another sweep through the party and then disappears down a dark hallway, where we can perhaps glimpse a door at the end.
INT. M.J.'S DRESSING ROOM
Bright lights ring the dressing table mirror and shine down on M.J. from the ceiling, as a skilled gay MAKEUP MAN hovers over him, putting the final expert touches on his makeup. We see M.J. only from behind as the Makeup Man examines his handiwork.
MAKEUP MAN Just a... (extends brush) ...touch there... and now a little good old Number Nine... (stands back) What do you think?
He whirls the chair around, and, to our surprise, Proby steps forward from a corner. And very much to our surprise, M.J. is made up as - Johnny Rotten!
His clothing, his hair, the safety-pins, everything, all combine to make him look as much like Johnny Rotten as the Makeup Man's skill can manage. And it is an amazing likeness.
PROBY Amazing, M.J.! Fantastic! What a great idea for your party - M.J. himself, appearing as Johnny Rotten!
Proby himself is dressed, as always, appropriately for the moment - this time in his own pseudo-Punk Rock fashions, which do not quite strike the right note.
M.J. Do you think they'll buy it?
PROBY You better believe it, M.J. Even if Rotten did get to be rather well-known after that television business...
M.J. Well, even if they don't - they'll know I'm some kind of shit-faced punk...
The door opens, and the Chauffeur enters. Stops for a moment, transfixed. M.J. smiles.
M.J. Well, Little John - what do you think?
CHAUFFEUR (grave, reserved) Very, very good - sir. If I didn't know it was you - I confess I'd be deceived myself.
M.J. (admiring himself in a hand mirror) I look more like Rotten than the little shit does himself.
MAKEUP MAN (fawns) Your own mother wouldn't know you!
M.J. puts down the mirror.
M.J. Tell you what, Little John... I'm going to go on in five minutes or so... go out and get me a beer, right? CHAUFFEUR Immediately!
INT - THE WAREHOUSE PARTY, AS BEFORE
The Chauffeur makes his way through the throng toward the bar.
EXT. THE WAREHOUSE - NIGHT
as the whole mob of Punk Rockers arrives, led by the brewer's wagon, with O still astride the lead horse. The Sex Pistols ride on the wagon, the DRIVER shouts encouragement to the horses, and upbeat CHASE MUSIC accompanies the riotous arrival.
The crowd dismounts quickly and approaches the door, O leaping down off the lead horse to head the advance.
O (chuckling) I have the feeling Mister M.J. is going to be very surprised!
Johnny Rotten moves to the front, a beer bottle in his hand, and uses the base of it to bang loudly on the door.
INT. THE WAREHOUSE PARTY
...the Chauffeur, still on his mission, HEARS the loud banging and turns aside for a moment to open the door. Seeing Johnny Rotten on the doorstep with a beer bottle, he confuses him, of course, with M.J.
CHAUFFEUR But, sir - you didn't have to go out and get the beer yourself! I was just on my way to get you one.
JOHNNY ROTTEN That's all right. Think little or nothing of it.
He walks confidently into the room, followed by the other Sex Pistols, O, Castrato, Sue Catwoman, Debbie Juvenile and the assorted others, as the Chauffeur looks on, bewildered.
INT. A STAGE
at one end of the huge warehouse. The lights go out, a fanfare SOUNDS, and a spotlight finds M.J., dressed and made up as Rotten, on stage.
There is loud APPLAUSE. M.J.'s band goes immediately into a song ripped off from the Sex Pistols: "God Save the Queen" - which, of course, he does badly, and in glittering 1960s style with exploding guitars and a glittering backdrop.
STEVE JONES Who's that wanker up there?
JOHNNY ROTTEN I dunno.
SID VICIOUS Johnny - look here!
He's spotted the free bar, and heads for it. It's in the front of the room, not far from the edge of the stage. Rotten and the Pistols are able to move fairly unobtrusively toward it because the room is darkened for the performance.
As they do so, we:
THREE GAYS observing the performance.
FIRST GAY Look, over there - isn't that what's his face? Putrid? That rock star?
SECOND GAY Put Putrid. Something... something... Johnny something...
THIRD GAY Rotten, I think he is.
FIRST GAY Yes - Johnny Rotten...
THIRD GAY If you two look closely, you'll see it's not Rotten at all. It's actually M.J. - made up to look like Rotten. Terry did the makeup...
FIRST GAY How original. (pause) Amusing. Really.
NEAR THE STAGE
the Sex Pistols' headquarters, where they've commandeered a table. A SERVANT brings a tray of escargot and places it in front of Sid Vicious.
SID VICIOUS Snails! I hate snails! Hateful creatures!
He pulls off his boot and begins to hammer maniacally at them.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (to waiter) A bottle of vodka over here, mate!
As the MUSIC builds, the other Punk Rockers, O, Sue and Debbie included, go into Pogo and Grapple-dancing, toppling over a trestle-table and sending punch, cake, champagne, and glasses falling.
Other Punkers climb up on a table and give a grapple demonstration - which looks remarkably like a fight. One PUNKER even tries to show a SOCIALITE how to grapple - to her horror. And Castrato tries his best.
Partially because of M.J.'s performance, but more because of the electricity generated by the Sex Pistols and fellow Punkers, electricity flows through the room and everybody begins to have a great time.
Buoyed by the euphoria of the moment, Proby leaps onto the stage, grabs a mike, and turns impromptu cheerleader.
PROBY Isn't he great?
PROBY He's terrific! More cheers!
PROBY M.J.'s the greatest!
Loudest cheers! Proby throws an arm around the singing M.J.
PROBY Will success spoil Johnny Rotten?
With startling suddenness, a GUNSHOT rings out ~ the hall!
SMASH CUT TO:
But it is not Johnny Rotten - stunned for the moment. Or the other Sex Pistols. Or the Chauffeur. Then we see:
The Little Girl from the humble thatched cottage - the one who saw M.J. dumping the dead deer on her lawn. She is dressed exactly as before - and holding a smoking pistol.
LITTLE GIRL (very evenly) That's for Bambi.
CUT BACK TO:
INT. THE STAGE
Total silence. Shocked paralysis. Particular attention should be given in the editing here to allow sufficient time for the horror of the assassination to reestablish itself after the previous line of dialogue.
M.J. is mortally wounded. He begins to slip from Proby's arm. Already dead on his feet and now knowing it, he raises his hands to his face and tries to wipe off the blood there. The blood comes off, and so does his makeup, revealing his own death mask beneath.
Still total silence. M.J. topples forward off the stage and onto the floor, bouncing. The spotlight inanely follows him.
AN OVERHEAD SHOT
shows his prone body on the floor in the spotlight.
The first and only person to move is Johnny Rotten. He walks slowly forward to the dead body. Looks down at it. Turns it over with the toe of his boot, so that the dead face gazes sightlessly skyward. Speaks so softly not everyone can hear.
JOHNNY ROTTEN (down at the body) Will success spoil Johnny Rotten? (pause) No. He will waste, spoil, smash, blow up and destroy success!
Another pause. The room is hushed. Johnny Rotten looks slowly up and directly into the camera.
JOHNNY ROTTEN Did yer ever have the feeling yer being watched?
SCREEN GOES TO BLACK After a short pause, END TITLES are played over a song by the Sex Pistols.
A video essay about Mortal Engines, as part of Scout Tafoya's ongoing video essay series on maligned masterpieces.
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