The films were Self-Portrait and Mr & Mrs Lennon’s Honeymoon. Three earlier films, Rape, Smile and Two Virgins, were also shown.
Self-Portrait was a 15-minute slow-motion study of Lennon’s penis becoming erect. Unsurprisingly it attracted the bulk of the limited press attention that the evening received.
One film had the camera simply staring at Lennon’s penis. Lasting some 40 minutes (it seemed like an eternity), it focused upon the unaided tumescence and detumescence of his member, reaching some sort of climax with a pearl-like drop of semen. The film, then jocularly known as “John Lennon’s John Thomas” is actually called Self Portrait. The item listed in Yoko’s filmography as Erection is in fact about John watching a hotel being built.
John and Yoko were in the cinema, and during the performance there was a door open to the left of the screen with a sharp red light directed towards the auditorium. No one enquired about this, but it was later revealed Yoko had installed equipment to film the critics’ reaction to John’s comings and goings. The audience was to be one half of a split-screen feature: John showing his all, the critics responding to it frame by frame. Fortunately or unfortunately Yoko’s apparatus recorded nothing. Sighs of relief all around. Otherwise that Film Critics’ Circle might now be part of a permanent installation projected on the wall of Liverpool’s John Lennon International Airport.
Mr & Mrs Lennon’s Honeymoon was a documentary about the couple’s honeymoon bed-in for peace in Amsterdam. Directed by Peter Goessens, it was filmed in colour and lasted 40 minutes. It begins with scenes from the city intercut with Lennon and Ono singing “Hair peace, bed peace”, followed by scenes of the couple sleeping and reading newspapers. The second half contains interviews and footage of Lennon talking into the camera.
The event was billed with the words: “John and Yoko’s evening of film events will end towards midnight. It will happen once. It will be what they want it to be.” Two people sat in a white bag beneath the screen at the ICA throughout the evening, leading many to believe the couple was actually present.
Also on this day...
- 2014: New Paul McCartney song Hope For The Future unveiled
- 2010: Yoko Ono opens art installation in Berlin
- 1973: John Lennon and Yoko Ono put Tittenhurst Park up for sale
- 1968: Recording: Helter Skelter
- 1964: Day off in Key West, Florida
- 1963: Lennon and McCartney given Variety Club award
- 1962: Live: Queen’s Hall, Widnes
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1961: Live: Casbah Coffee Club, Liverpool
- 1960: Live: Indra Club, Hamburg
- 1939: Cynthia Lennon is born
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.