The man behind the controversy

The man behind the controversy

Adam Aasen | | Date: 3/12/2003

(saved from 01.12.2012)

The biologist and psychologist Alfred Charles Kinsey taking part in a press conference during an airport stopover. Frankfurt, 22 November 1955 -
The biologist and psychologist Alfred Charles Kinsey taking part in a press conference during an airport stopover. Frankfurt, 22 November 1955 —

Alfred Kinsey was a man who enjoyed the simple things in life.

Kinsey’s oldest daughter, Anne Call, 79, said Kinsey loved fresh air, the sound of birds and hiking, whether he was camping in the Smoky Mountains, Mexico or the hills of Bloomington. And during his walks, he had his three children at his side.

Helen D’Amico, Kinsey’s secretary, said it seems peculiar a man who was so dedicated to family life could be accused of pedophilia, a scandal that has rocked Kinsey’s friends, family and followers for years.

Fifty years after Kinsey published the groundbreaking book «Sexual Behavior in the Human Female» and 46 years after his death, the IU zoologist and sex researcher is still generating attention.

A film that will portray Kinsey’s life is in the works. Actor Liam Neeson, of such films as «Schindler’s List» and «Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,» will portray Kinsey. At IU, the Kinsey Institute has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of «Sexual Behavior in the Human Female» with events such as lectures and film viewings.

But not all the publicity Kinsey spawns is positive. Dr. Judith Reisman, author of such anti-Kinsey literature as «Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences» and «Kinsey, Sex and Fraud,» and syndicated radio therapist Dr. Laura Schlessinger have proposed a boycott of the film about Kinsey. They claim Kinsey committed criminal acts such as child molestation while obtaining research for his sexual studies.

Protesting the unfinished film

The Kinsey Institute claims Kinsey interviewed pedophiles to gather data about child sexuality for his books, but Reisman contests that in addition to reporting pedophiles’ activities, Kinsey acted out similar behavior himself.

«As a matter of fact, all you need to do is to look at copies of his data and ask the question, ‘How did they know the 2-month (old) baby did or did not have an orgasm?'» Reisman said. «Or that the 4-year-old had 26 orgasms in 24 hours, saying they used ‘stop watches’ and calling that ‘science.’ The rapist is called a ‘scientist’ by Kinsey.»

Reisman also accused Kinsey of conspiring with former Nazis and rapists and «enabling violent sexual criminals to proceed in their acts.»

Kinsey made sexual abuse seem as if it were a normal part of development, Reisman said.

«The ‘Female’ book is the one that compares a child being molested ‘or even more serious contacts’ to having been frightened by a spider,» Reisman said. «And that says his ‘data’ prove incest is really O.K. because, he says, the kids generally seek it out.»

Reisman is not the only person enraged about Kinsey’s work. In 1998, Indiana state Rep. Woody Burton (R-Greenwood) sponsored a bill attempting to close the Kinsey Institute because of allegations about Kinsey’s sexuality. The same year, British filmmaker Tim Tate’s documentary, «Kinsey’s Paedophiles,» depicted Kinsey as an accomplice in the abuse of thousands of children.

The debate was recently revived when Reisman appeared Feb. 11 on Fox News’ «The O’Reilly Factor» to debate Rev. Ted McIlvenna, director of The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. The institute has the only graduate school in the United States approved to train sexologists and owns the largest collection of pornography. (The Kinsey Institute has the second-largest collection).

Concerned about the children in Kinsey’s studies, McIlvenna chaired a committee several decades ago to investigate the Kinsey Institute for proof that wrongdoings had occurred.

«After almost two months of investigation, we found no improprieties at the Kinsey Institute,» McIlvenna said.

Discounts of allegations

Later on, McIlvenna hired Kinsey’s confidant, Dr. Wardell Pomeroy, as his academic dean. After developing trust with Pomeroy, McIlvenna was made privy to private information.

«Pomeroy said to me, ‘There (are) going to be a lot of bad things said about this guy, so I want you to know the truth,'» McIlvenna said. «So he shared all of Kinsey’s research and documents with me. I was the only other person Pomeroy showed his collection to, and I went over it for about year and I haven’t seen any evidence to prove Reisman’s accusations.»

Jennifer Bass, head of information services at the Kinsey Institute, said all of Reisman’s and others’ claims about Kinsey committing criminal acts are fraudulent and unfounded.

«If you look at Dr. Judith Reisman’s books, she twists things to make them appear wrong,» Bass said. «For example, that famous picture of Kinsey talking to a child: Reisman could show that photo in a book and say, ‘Look, he’s trying to molest children.’ But the fact of the matter is, that woman, who was the little girl in the picture, came into the institute and told us Kinsey was just one of the nicest men ever and was angered that anyone would accuse such atrocities of him.»

Bass also defended the value of Kinsey’s research, one topic talk show host Bill O’Reilly and Reisman brought up on «The O’Reilly Factor.»

«Mothers call us up to ask if it is normal for her child to play with his penis; does this mean he has been abused?» Bass said. «We have the research to attempt to answer these questions and calm parents’ fears.»

Despite its support of Kinsey, the Kinsey Institute has made few attempts to publicly defend itself, also declining to appear on «The O’Reilly Factor.»

«When you look at all of the allegations floating around, I always expected IU and Kinsey to battle these accusers, but they haven’t,» McIlvenna said. «Actually I don’t think much of the institute. I think they are a bunch of chicken shits. I would have sued all of these activists for printing untrue accusations.»

Kinsey Institute officials said they feel defending the institute is not worth their efforts.

«It’s very difficult to debate people in the spectrum of ‘The O’Reilly Factor,'» Bass said. «People let their emotions carry them away instead of debating the merits academically.»

The personal side

Kinsey’s oldest daughter, Call, who lives in Bloomington, said how people misrepresent her father bothers her.

«Other newspapers are bordering yellow journalism,» Call said. «For example, my father never gardened in his underwear or his jock strap. He did have really short shorts, since it was hot in Bloomington in the summer, but that just goes to show how journalists don’t verify their facts.»

Call said she and her siblings dealt with the controversy in different ways.

She said when people asked her if she was related to Kinsey, she would claim relation to the owners of the popular Kinsey Whiskey produced at the time.

«It was just easier than dealing with the controversy,» Call said. «Actually, the company found out and sent me a case of whiskey.»

Call said people who could not tolerate Kinsey’s findings spur the controversy.

«If those statistics didn’t fit into your moral code, then they discredit the messenger,» Call said.

D’Amico, who knew Kinsey personally when she worked as his secretary, said she is amazed people would accuse Kinsey of sexual crimes.

«He was really conservative,» D’Amico said. «He wasn’t at all the wild-man hedonist that people make him out to be. He was focused on his research and his family.»

Call said her family was one of the most conservative at her high school.

«I was one of the only girls who had to be in by 12:30 after school dances that ended at midnight,» Call said. «He was a fairly old-fashioned guy, but he was very open to new ideas. He was always pretty serious.»

D’Amico said Kinsey’s interest in sex was purely scientific, and he would have had no time to pursue alleged homosexual, extramarital affairs because he was too busy with research.

«I think Kinsey was perfect to study sex at that time because he was actually kind of asexual, so he looked at it objectively, from a scientific point of view,» D’Amico said.

McIlvenna echoed those sentiments, saying when others indulged in sexual acts, Kinsey would relax with music — his other love.

«Kinsey loved music above everything else,» McIlvenna said. «He would spend hours at his Hi-Fi. Pomeroy hated music. So when the staff would go up and talk about sex, Kinsey would just stay and listen to music. And there were sexual acts going on among the staff in private. I know some of the married women experimented with each other. There were a lot of things going on at the institute, sexual but not illegal, but Kinsey never got involved in any of it. He wasn’t a very sexually active person.»

Kinsey Institute officials said they would not comment about the personal lives of employees.

Although Reisman is boycotting the film about Kinsey and others are expressing concern about Kinsey’s work, Myriad Pictures, which is producing the Kinsey movie, declined to comment on the controversy.

Many people on both sides of the debate said they worry the film will inaccurately portray Kinsey.

«(Producer Francis Ford) Coppola is just as inaccurate as Reisman,» McIlvenna said. «I know more about Kinsey than anybody else and nobody has contacted me. But I guess Hollywood doesn’t have to be accurate. It just has to sell.»

Others feel the film will unjustly glorify Kinsey.

«It’s interesting that Liam Neeson played a Nazi who changes his perspective in ‘Schindler’s List,’ and now he is going to play a man who collaborated with Nazis to contribute to the abuse of children,» Reisman said.

Bass denied Kinsey collaborated with Nazis.

Regardless of how a film or critics portray Kinsey, those who personally knew him say they remember a man who loved hiking and listening to his Hi-Fi.

«I just don’t see the controversy,» D’Amico said. «To me, he was just a wonderful man.»

British Musician Dickie Pride, AKA Richard Charles Kneller, Dead At 27

Dickie Pride died on March 26, 1969 as a result of an overdose of sleeping pills. At the time of death he was 27 years and 156 days old.  Pride’s story is a tragic tale of a promising but unsuccessful career cut short,  followed by a descent into drug use and possibly mental illness. He was one of the first British rockers to die of a drug overdose, and an early member of the forever 27 club,  as well as a great rock and roll singer and a true showman.

Dickie Pride died on March 26, 1969 -
Dickie Pride died —

He was born in south London in 1941 with the given name of Richard Knellar. As a child he demonstrated a fine singing voice and a penchant for appearing in public. At the age of 8 he was performing in benefits and other community events. As he grew up his talent was recognized and he received a scholarship to the Royal College of Church Music in Croydon. There his instructors believed he would be an operatic singer when he came of age, and he sang in the cathedral for the Archbishop of Canterbury. But he was interested in youth culture and got involved in a skiffle band at the same time he was singing in church.

Richard had begun working a series of menial jobs after leaving school, putting off going to University and singing in local pubs. He was discovered doing just that by one Russ Conway, who reported his find to his friend and business partner Larry Parnes. Parnes heard Richard sing and immediately saw his potential – he had a  real voice, ans was good-looking besides.  He signed Richard to a contract and he became a member of the Parnes stable of rock and roll singers.

Larry Parnes was a manager, entrepreneur, impresario, and an openly gay man in the promotional business. He had discovered that by finding a handsome young man who could sing and swivel his hips, he could make money by putting them on the road and recording them. His first attempt at this process was with Tommy Steele in 1956. He had moderate success with Steele, and decided to try it again. Ultimately, during the pre-Beatles era he was managing such famous and semi-famous performers as Billy Fury (one of the more well-known singers), Marty Wilde, Vince Eager, Lance Fortune, Duffy Power, Johnny Gentle, and Georgie Fame (lhe had a couple of big hits after Parnes, later becoming a session musician, still active in the business). His method was to change his acts’ name to something obviously more flamboyant and theatrical, then start them to work making money for him. He took Richard Kneller and turned him into Dickie Pride. In addition to his stable of rockers, Parnes has entered rock history because he allegedly turned down a management contract with the Silver Beatles (later just The Beatles, of course) because he only wanted solo singers. The Silver Beatles were the backing band for one of Parnes’ acts, Johnny Gentle, on a short tour.

At the tender age of 17, Dickie Pride started performing on stage all over England. Reviews of his shows were almost universally full of praise, both for his voice and his sense of showmanship – he was a natural in front of an audience. He was making a good salary, at least 4 times what he would have been getting for a regular job, and he apparently enjoyed his work. Parnes was able to parlay his reputation as a live performer into a contract with Columbia Records, and a string of promotional appearances on British TV soon followed. But his recordings never really made the grade, mostly due to a big problem Parnes had with all of his boys – they didn’t have any hit songs to sing. There was only so much local gigging they could do, and his minor successes couldn’t make up for a general sense of failure after a time. Parnes was also prone to breaking contracts and not following through with his promises, especially if his grooming didn’t result in profits.

Dickie Pride was admired by other singers for his talent, but feared for his personality. He was apparently capable of using his fists at a moment’s notice, and started drinking and smoking dope at an early age. He would jump into the audience to fight a heckler without hesitation, yet he was reportedly kind and friendly when not drunk or stoned. By 1961, his career was all but over. He tried an album of standards for the label which tanked, and he was dropped after that by Columbia, and then by Parnes.

He was married in 1962 and found he could not make a living by singing, so he took up menial labor again. He attempted to start a band in 1963,  but the group was short-lived. He and his wife were blessed with a son in 1965, and Dickie had started performing with a group known as the Sidewinders. Unfortunately, he was able to feed his need for addiction, and became a heroin user. After a slow fall into depression and a family break-up, he was committed to a mental hospital in 1967. His doctors decided that what he needed was a lobotomy, and performed the operation.  He was released and once again tried to make a living as a singer, but failed. He was discovered in his bed in 1969, dead from an overdose of sleeping pills. Pride’s surviving stable mates and industry friends all have gone on record saying that he should have been a star, that he was the best singer of them all. His story was made into a play in 1999 called “Pride With Prejudice,” written by Charles Langley.

Sexual healer

Sexual healer 

Tony Sams | | Date: 15/11/2004

(saved from 17.04.2005)

Sexual healer

New Kinsey film debuts at IU Auditorium

Kinsey - Let's talk about Sex. Кинси - Поговорим о Сексе -
Kinsey — Let’s talk about Sex. Кинси — Поговорим о Сексе —

Bill Condon is sorry.

The Academy Award-winning director and writer of the new movie «Kinsey,» a biopic about IU professor and human sexuality research pioneer Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, is sorry because when it came time to give acknowledgements in the film’s credits, it read that the filmmakers would like to thank the «University of Indiana.»

«I’m sorry, I’m sorry,» he said to some beleaguered moans during a press conference at the University Club in the Indiana Memorial Union before the Bloomington premiere of his film. «That’s what happens on a limited budget and a 37-day shooting schedule.»

Condon promised it would absolutely be corrected in subsequent prints.

But by the end of the evening, the gaffe was the last thing on the minds of filmgoers, who, for $50, were treated to cocktails, a film premiere and a discussion at the IU Auditorium, which also raised money for IU’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.

Actress Laura Linney — who portrayed Kinsey’s wife Clara in the film and who was freshly flown in from a film shoot in Vancouver — producer Gail Mutrux and Condon were in attendance Saturday night on campus.

Condon introduced the film with a brief, and ironic, anecdote.

«Dr. Kinsey was once asked what he thought about a Hollywood movie about him, and he said, ‘I can’t think of anything more pointless.’ So here we are,» Condon joked.

But Condon was sincere in his thanks for IU, which he said had been an incredible host for him and his crew. Condon, Mutrux, set designer Richard Sherman and Liam Neeson, who stars as Kinsey, visited the campus, the Kinseys’ home and the institute prior to film’s production.

Condon said coming back to the campus created an interesting feeling.

«It’s very strange, only because I was here before,» Condon said. «The film becomes your reality. You find Indiana in New Jersey. You find Liam Neeson in Alfred Kinsey. Then you come to the real place, meet the real people, and it’s scary.»

«Kinsey» was not shot at IU, but rather in New York because of the film’s copious speaking parts, Condon said. New York also provided a large pool of actors.

Viewers instead will see campuses that resembled IU as the setting for the film. Exterior shots were filmed at Fordham University in New York City, and interior shots were filmed at Columbia University and Bronx Community College, both also in New York City.

Walking through the IMU, Condon said he was reflecting on the history of the campus where Kinsey worked more than 50 years ago, and how some minor details were changed for the movie.

«Our Herman Wells doesn’t wear a mustache because Oliver Platt looks like Hitler with a mustache,» Condon joked.

Condon praised Wells for his support and steadfastness with defending Kinsey amid the controversy in the 1940s and 1950s.

«Wells is a genuine hero, and there’s a wonderful movie to be made about him, I think,» Condon said.

Condon said the film struck a personal chord with him as an openly gay director. To add to the personal attachment, he said Kinsey’s granddaughter gave him one of the professor’s signature bow ties as a gift once the film was complete.

Condon also presented Julia Heiman, current director of the Kinsey Institute and participant in a discussion following the film, with a $25,000 donation given to him from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Heiman said she appreciated the film’s subtlety and thoughtfulness, which she has had time to reflect on over the course of the past few months.

«I have seen this movie seven times,» Heiman said. «I have never seen a movie seven times.»

She said the Institute will continue to push for expanded sex education and research, as well as continue to facilitate a nationwide discussion.

«I think that the press can get caught up in opposing poles — pervert/hero, good/bad — that reduces it to some kind of sexual simplicity that was never there,» Heiman said. «There is a way to go beyond what is simple and have a conversation.»

Heiman said she wasn’t sure if the film will change anyone’s values, but hoped it might allow people to think differently, if not for a little while.

For $1,000, guests were invited to a private reception with Condon, Linney and Mutrux. For $20, they could just attend the film’s premiere.

Liam Neeson was originally scheduled to attend Saturday’s events, but ended up playing host to «Saturday Night Live» as part of the film’s publicity tour.

Both Kinsey’s daughter, Anne Call, and his granddaughter, Wendy Corning, were in attendance for the film’s local premiere, as well as Paul Gebhard, an original member of Kinsey’s research team who is portrayed by Timothy Hutton in the film.

— Contact senior writer Tony Sams at