Saturday, March 29, 2008

Do Not Wear a Top Hat to the Airport


My friend Melody Clayton has brought to my attention the case of Sebastian Horsley. The British author of the recently released and well-reviewed memoir Dandy in the Underworld, a work chronicling his debauchery. Crazy sells in memoir, but Horsley backs it up--the article Melody sent me ends with the line: "Horsley achieved his greatest notoriety in 2000 when he had himself crucified in the Philippines as part of an art project."

So Horsley arrives in Newark dressed in "top hat, long velvet coat, gloves" and is denied entrance to the U.S. because of "moral turpitude." Turpitude! Horsley said he was deported, but the U.S. authorities pointed out that he wasn't kicked out, he just wasn't let in. Take that semantics. Now a case could be made that he wasn't allowed in because of a past drug charge when he was in the U.S., but that was 25 years ago and he'd been to the U.S. a half dozen times since then. Reportedly, the agents told him, "We know you're a heroin addict, we know you're a crack addict, we know you're involved in prostitution." Apparently they knew because they'd read his memoir. But didn't know that he'd been clean for three years. They were also very interested in what he had in his stove top hat.

Melody points out that Horsley and the publishing company must be smiling over the publicity. And I was with Horsley when he said he was glad they'd read the book. Homeland security reads? So I thought about that and have to assume they must only read book jackets or reviews. Or better yet have some computer that flags works with inappropriate words.

Whatever the case, we can all agree that the U.S. is a safer place keeping authors like Sebastian Horsley out.

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