Friday, 17 August 2012

Dave Davies – ‘Kink’ – Man Behaving Badly

If you see a fair form
If you see a fair form, chase it
And if possible, embrace it,
Be it a girl or a boy.
Don't be bashful, be brash, be fresh.
Life is short, so enjoy
Whatever contact your flesh
May at the moment crave:
There is no sex life in the grave.

W. H. Auden

This poem could sum up Dave’s carpe diem approach to life in the 60s. And perhaps other people’s attitudes to his fair form.

In 1964, Dave held all the cards. Seventeen, heartbreakingly beautiful, confident, talented, successful, limitless sex appeal. He played what should have been a winning hand with reckless abandon while Ray feinted and bluffed with his.

Somehow, despite everything that Dave does, he emerges untouched, still retaining a naivety and an aura of innocence, purity. There must be a portrait gathering dust in an attic somewhere.

I promised relationships, respect, responsibility and it seems to me that these are inextricably entwined. I might not fit them all in this blog though.

‘I wanna lot out of life, but I know my limitations/Guess I want a lot of things and got my inclinations’ (‘Got My Feet on the Ground’)
Dave’s sheer exuberance and joie de vivre carry us along with him as he bounds from one (mis)adventure to the next, hardly pausing for breath, his lust for life redolent in the action and in the telling (encapsulated in Shel Naylor’s suitably raucous and energetic version of ‘One Fine Day’). Dave is open to everything, an attractive quality that can be a fault as well as a virtue. He doesn’t reason things out too much when he’s in his teens and early twenties. And he manages to have his cake and eat it too. I’ve never really understood the thinking behind that phrase. What’s the point in having cake if you're not going to eat it?

Battle of the sexes?
I do sometimes wonder whether both brothers fight a tiny, subconscious misogynist urge. Maybe all men do, being encouraged to perceive themselves in an adversarial relationship with women, obliged to take part in the battle of the sexes. There are certainly signs although I’m sure that they would say that they love women and Dave championed female deities and feminine power at the last Satsang. Ray often seems to divide women into those who withhold sex in order to trap/control a man (usually holding out until they see Dave’s smile) and those who freely indulge in sex, in order to trap/control a man and he thinks each is a deliberate manoeuvre. Girls withhold for many reasons, especially first time around, many having little to do with the actual man who feels he’s being denied. There are questions of respect, born out of attitudes exactly like Ray’s. You’re a slapper if you put out and frigid if you don’t.

Consider these lyrics:
Ooh, Bernadette, you are so expensive/You've never done a day's work in your life/You've got no incentive/You've made a career out of punting off all of the men you've slept with' (‘Bernadette’)
and Ray's exhortation at the end of this live version (quote deleted to appease the moral majority). Anyway, it sounds pretty bitter, possibly a reaction to a particular experience or the influence of too many recreational pharmaceuticals.

In Kink, Dave claims that there’s an old Cockney saying: ‘I fucked her rigid’. Never heard that one.

Ray and Rasa wedding photo
I’m not saying that some women don’t use sex as a weapon; some definitely do, if not as a weapon, at least as a means of manipulation. (This is sometimes learnt behaviour from how men react to them). I’m not saying that women don’t trap men in all sorts of ways. And possibly this does happen with Dave and Ray at different times in their lives although of course, if it’s an unplanned pregnancy, both partners have equal responsibility. I also believe that men collude with these stereotypes, liking to see themselves as desirable of entrapment, even if it means playing the role of the dupe.

I know several men who claim that they get on really well with women and that they are in touch with their feminine side although many are sorely deluded. These men often cite an early female-dominated environment as being at the root of this innate ability to connect with women. As far as Ray and Dave are concerned, this would relate to their being the first boys in a family of six girls, who petted and adored their younger brothers. I believe they went out in the world expecting all women to cosset them like this. So, while both claim to have been shy although Dave admits he was never shy with girls, they were also supremely confident. Their upbringing led to a sense of entitlement and a sense of security. Witness Dave walking home from primary school because he didn’t like it and Ray refusing to toe the line for the Eleven Plus.

First experiences
Women are usually very receptive to Ray and Dave and their attentions. Some are kind and giving as both brothers acknowledge. The Davies boys appear reactive rather than proactive so it’s usually a girl that approaches them or makes the first move. Dave sleeps with groupies but these are usually girls he doesn’t have to seek out. Even Lisbet was introduced to him. And Rasa pursued Ray, see my blog on ‘X-Ray’ for more on this.

‘I used to do my courting on an old kitchen chair/The girls were all so sporting, but I only really cared for my little Katie-Sue/There was nothing she wouldn't do’ (‘Fortis Green’)
So their first sexual encounters seem to be initiated by women or girls, from Sue:
‘We pushed our chairs together and began to kiss, deep tender kisses … Sue straddled herself across my lap after hitching up her delightfully pleated skirt and I entered her. It was a truly magical moment’ after which ‘Sue and I made love at every opportunity.’

to the ‘lady of the night’ (as my Mum would have put it), with a heart of gold (Miriam) in the club who is kind to Ray:
‘Then I felt her hands on my skin as she slid them under my shirt to feel my backside. … She kissed me gently on the face … she just grabbed me harder and kissed me on the mouth.’

‘So tonight let's be together, live for love and life and pleasure/Feel each moment there to treasure, soon we will be gone forever’ (‘Ladies of the Night’)
Ray, of course, doesn’t reveal exactly what takes place. Dave does. This willingness to divulge is apparent again when he relates some of his experiences with groupies.

EP cover
‘God save little shops, china cups and virginity’ (‘Village Green Preservation Society’)
'He'll make you laugh, make you smile/And make you feel good for a while/Wicked smile, decadent grin/He likes school girls, nuns and virgins' ('He's Evil')
While still living with his parents, Dave’s escapades are escalating:
‘Often Mum would try to bash down the door to see if there were any underage girls. Of course there weren’t … . But on one occasion I was with a girl whose hymen was so difficult to break that for a moment I thought she still had her tights on.’

I do feel sorry for Eileen, a friend of Rasa’s, of whom Dave says:
‘A pretty, dark-haired girl whom I took back to my hotel. … Eileen hung around a lot but I wasn’t interested in her as a constant companion. There were too many girls to see in other towns we visited.’

They connect at the same time that Ray meets Rasa, hook up at the wedding and are ‘lying locked in sexual ecstasy’ when Dave is supposed to be making his best man’s speech. So when Eileen announces she is pregnant, possibly expecting that Dave might do ‘the better thing’ as Ray had done with Rasa, and as he failed to do with Sue two years earlier, ostensibly owing to the machinations of their parents, she is bitterly disappointed. A paternity suit is filed and the implication of:
‘It was amazing what 50 quid could buy in those days’
is that Eileen was bought off by Dave’s lawyers. Ray mentions this in ‘X-Ray’ very briefly as another paternity suit. Were there more then?

Although Dave claims to feel badly for Eileen, he writes,
‘I also felt manipulated as I had only had sex with her three or four times and I knew that she had been hanging around with other bands at the same time.’

Fair enough. How many times does it take though? Only one. Eileen comes to see Dave in the 90s to show him photos of her son (perhaps his son) but he writes:
‘I just didn’t have any deeper feeling about it … I didn’t “feel” like I was his father and he my son.’

It’s not really about you, honey. It’s about him.  Dave allows his heart and what he feels for Eileen (not very much – it was a bit of fun that got too serious too soon) to guide him (a positive trait, which, in other situations, leads him to show a compassion and understanding missing from some of Ray's reactions) but sometimes following your own heart can break someone else's. Sue’s daughter, Tracey, fares better but that’s a longer tale so I’ll leave it for now.

Back to the groupies although it’s not entirely clear if that’s what these girls are or whether they would have ended up in bed with Dave regardless, pop star or not. Such is his youthful appeal. He often has girls jumping into bed with him and as a red-blooded male, he very rarely refuses when they offer. 

‘After a while, I was awakened by the blonde girl as she snuggled up beside me. She was naked.’
Naturally, Dave doesn’t resist this opportunity.We get details and let’s face it, that’s what we want from an autobiography, ‘This blonde Vampira licked my stomach and placed my penis fully into her mouth and began to suck on it like the Goddess of Whores’.
Again, she makes the first move and what is she labelled? The ‘Goddess of Whores’? (Double standards, anyone? Although I actually think Dave means this as a compliment.) (Of course David Watts does call Dave ‘that little whore’, a term of affection in that instance.) Again, the woman takes control:
‘Then she sat on top of me and placed my cock inside her.’ It's clear that Dave doesn't have to try too hard. I like this evocative description of another encounter:
‘One of the girls undressed me and laid me on the couch’ … ‘I felt her mouth on my penis and it felt as if her tongue was inside my head, touching and stimulating every nerve ending and sensory centre in my brain.’

He’s understandably more reticent on the subject of the women he cares about – Sue, Lisbet, Nancy – realising that discretion is the better part of valour. And he spends time talking to them before getting down to it. Or does he?
‘Once in my room I began to make clumsy and drunken advances to a bewildered Lisbet. After a short while, before I could remove any of her clothing, there was a loud knock at the door.’

Long John Baldry
Dave’s short-lived relationships with men, such as Michael Aldred and Long John Baldry are mentioned:
‘Long John and I sat talking, kissing and holding hands.’
All night. Hmm. Would Dave have been satisfied with this if LJB had been a woman or would he have expected more?
‘It was very beautiful. I always remembered that feeling of being close to another man, of being intimate in a respectful way.’

Things progress further with Michael Aldred, for whom Dave seems to develop a genuine affection:
‘I really liked him but I tried to avoid having sex with him because I never enjoyed it as much as I liked just sharing a relationship with him. I never really thought much of it, in fact; to me it was just perverse fun. I think he really did love me and I must have hurt his feelings but I was young and arrogant and possessed too much of an insatiable hunger for women to be faithful to him.’
This shows a certain self-awareness and Dave, a habit of his, tries to be kind while being cruel; he stays out late drinking only to be greeted by a mini melodrama on his return; it seems quite amusing in retrospect but could not have been much fun at the time:
‘With that he tore off the apron and flung it dismissively in my face.’
There’s shouting, a fight, tears, a kiss and make-up before an ultimate break-up. Once the relationship threatens Dave’s freedom and ceases to be fun, he sympathises but calls it a day.

He sums up his feelings:
‘Recently someone asked me if I had ever been in love with any of the men I slept with. And the answer is I loved them but I was never in love with them, not like being in love with a woman.’

Exotic women
I’m always a bit suspicious of men who choose to hang out with, go out with and eventually marry someone who does not speak English as a first language, unless they or their lover are bilingual. To me, it suggests that the attraction is instinctual, primitive, purely physical rather than any meeting of minds or convergence of ideas and values. Simple basic sex with no intellectual engagement. I also wonder if there isn’t some element of power involved. It’s different of course if the man moves to the woman’s country – then he’s the one who has to adapt and he’s the one who’s lost control. Interesting that both Dave and Ray married exotic foreign ladies. And that Dave should go out for a while with a German girl he couldn’t converse with at all. Uncomplicated sex free of any commitment. And why not? But can this initial attraction either sustain or develop into a real relationship?

[I admit though that this is a bugbear (what is that?) of mine, having once fallen for a guy who I thought was single, only to discover that he had a Hungarian fiancée. He went back to Hungary to break up with her and go out with me, perhaps confused by my foreign name but eventually dumped me for someone who was genuinely foreign, later splitting up with her to marry a Belgian girl.]

Jackie Leven is of a mind with Dave here: ‘We really liked all the exotic women coming and going. I think we all knew that this was probably our one and only chance to have massive sexual availability. We all had far too many girlfriends going on. And swapping them didn’t assuage the situation.’ Get it while you can.

As they were, 1970s
With Dave, the inclination is to blame any error on his youth; it’s true, he was exposed to temptations at a very young age (and it was the permissive 60s) but I believe that, had their ages been reversed, Dave would still have been the miscreant, the recidivist raver, would still have over-indulged. And Ray would have been the sensible one, ‘the wicked headmaster’. He would have contemplated, considered and intellectualised it all. Not that he didn't play any of the cards he was dealt. He just kept them closer to his chest.

'The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there' (The Go-Between)
'Because I've lived this life/And I made it for myself' ('All Night Stand')

There’s a real joy in 'Kink' though; Dave captures that sense of a wild ride. And his candour deserves credit, as confessing his misbehaviour in such delicious detail leaves him open to criticism, but he did it so he writes about it and can be commended for his honesty and bravery. Perhaps the needle on another person's moral compass might be spinning but Dave is not constrained by society's codes. He's not like everybody else; at this point (and maybe even now), he's a law unto himself, true to himself, in a world of his own making.

Next time: responsibility. For first part, see Reflections on 'Kink'.


  1. A fascinating,frightening pair,the brothers Kink. What do you make of Dave's I Will Be Me album? It contains a number of references to earlier times.

  2. Aren't they just though? I haven't got the new album and only know the trax that he played at the Satsangs so I've heard Green Amp and Remember the Future. First touches on the past of course. Which others do you mean? Thanks for reading, btw.