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38. Operations

Jim Shelley learns that change can be painful

Tapehead no 38

Regular readers will be relieved to learn that George/Julia, the sex-change subject of Change Of Sex is looking better and better.

Time has gone by, we are in 1980 and George/Julia is looking less and less like Tommy Cooper stomping around in drag, having finally had his/her long-awaited breast-op (price £720).
“Now swing round an face me,” says the doc (saucily).

The op goes well but the doctor, wisely in Tapehead’s opinion, advises no squash, no swimming and no painting the bedroom ceiling for a while.

Otherwise, A Change Of Sex remains above all a rather sadistic study in humiliation.

George/Julia’s supervising psychiatrics is developing more and more into a B-movie caricature from a Vincent Price film.
“I take exception to your doing that,” he chastises, when he learns of the operation. “It’s a medical matter, not a personal choice…I don’t wish to appear petulant,” he says with exemplary petulance, “but I don’t like people who step out of line.”

Then, to the doctor’s horror, George decides to go all the way and have The Big Op.

It’s at this point, when George’s legs are spread wide open and placed in the stirrups while the scalpels are being sharpened, that Tapehead feels a Government Health Warning should appear on the screen to let all male viewers exactly what is they are about to witness. (More gore than an entire series of Casualty.)

Not content with size 40B tits, George’s new vagina “a cavity between the rectum and the blade, utilisng available skin from both the penis and the scrotum” is going to be six inches deep. “The whole procedure cannot be hurried,” says the surgeon and rightly so.

A large pack is inserted to preserve the cavity until healing has taken place, a scene more reminiscent of the fate suffered by the Christmas turkey. The whole thing was more than enough to put Tapehead right off his cooked breakfast.

Almost as disturbing, but definitely more disturbed, is this week’s Witness on Charles Manson, “an instrument of the supernatural,” “the man who killed the sixties”, and on this evidence still madder than Jack McMad The Very Mad.

Witness interviews chief prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, Manson disciple Bruce Davis, and space cadet groupie, Sandra Good, and includes excellent archive footage from the time of Manson’s trial:

“Favourite pastimes of the hippies beside taking drugs include demonstrations, seminars and group discussions.” (Sick !)

Having hastened the demise of hippie culture, I suppose we should be grateful, but the interview with Manson (conducted in 1993 in Corcoran Prison) serves as a lesson that LSD never wears off, as well as a potent argument for the Death Penalty.

Now almost 60, 5ft 2inches tall/small, Manson looks the same: charisma in a swastika, the spark of madness alive and dancing in his eyes, with all the wisdom and leadership qualities of a particularly deluded, racist old midget wino or (more disturbingly) a minor member of Supertramp.

“Remorse? Remorse about what ? I didn’t have anything to do with killing those people,” he rants vainly. “I did not break the law. It’s the same thing Jesus told Pilate, man.”

In the end, Manson is marvellously upstaged by the leader of the Hog Farm Commune, one Wavy Gravy.

Wavy, as his friends call him, would be right at home in Rocko’s Modern Life (Ren And Stimpy meets Hunter S Thompson) where medical madness is also running riot this week when Rocko goes to see the doctor.

“Someone to heal !” screams Dr Bendova, joyously. “What seems to be the problem ? Don’t tell me !!” Mercifully it is not a sex change.

Rock’s Modern Life: Tue, 6.30pm-7pm, C4
Witness: Wed, 9pm-10pm, C4
A Change of Sex: Thu, 9.30pm-10.20pm, BBC2