(Click on the above panel to access the Dawn Rescue website. Picture by Tom Ross)
“I’m sorry to bother you, but do you mind if I ask you a question?” A well-spoken, elegantly dressed woman had stopped me on the Charing Cross Road back in late 2007. My heart sank as I felt certain she would ask me directions to someplace I’d never heard of, and I do hate to shatter the illusion of myself as some kind of Peter Ackroyd/Iain Sinclair figure with an encyclopediac knowledge of every obscure alley and side street of this dark metropolis. But I signalled my assent for her query to commence, and much to my surprise she asked “Do you know why the blood of Jesus poured out of him on the cross?”
This bizarre question stayed with me, burrowed into my subconscious, and eventually, one day, hatched forth a short play ‘Eyes Full of Pornography.’ As is often the way of things, real-life inspiration had led down a meandering path to arrive somewhere rather different. In my play the questioner was now a man and the location had moved to a gay bar in nearby Old Compton Street. The play became about an evangelical Christian organisation named Dawn Rescue which trawls the pubs and clubs of Soho trying to “save” young men from embarking upon (what they see) as a life of sin. Of course the irony is that Dawn Rescue (and religion in general) is in fact the true corrupter of youth, a decadent predator stalking the vulnerable and poisoning the minds of the innocent. (Here endeth the sermon.)
The play was performed in 2010 by Eyebrow Productions, at RADA and then Theatre503, and was filmed in 2011 as Dawn Rescue by myself and my film director brother Tom Ross. This year the film was shown at the Portobello Film Festival. (See video below)
I have also now created a website to accompany the film, a spoof site by the Dawn Rescue organisation, complete with information about their mission and a blog by the character of Matthew (entitled ‘Going Straight’) detailing his struggles to remain pure and chaste, (he’s already hit a bump in the road, you’ll be sad to hear), and with some wonderful artwork courtesy of my brother Tom. I have no idea where I’m going with it, but I intend to keep it chugging along until either I get bored or get smote down by a heavenly thunderbolt, whichever comes first.
I’m aware that picking fights with religion may seem, these days, like shooting fish in a barrel. Especially in ‘the arts’ (if I can claim to be a member of that club), in this corner of secular Western Europe. But religion still insists on singling out homosexuals as scapegoats for universal human lusts and kinks and depravity, and religion still furiously (and very loudly) opposes bestowing equality and dignity upon gay people (witness the recent marriage debates) and it will insist on doing so publicly, not just in the privacy of its own pulpits. So excuse me if I reload my revolver and fire a few more rounds into the barrel.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, my reply to that woman on the Charing Cross Road was “Oh do fuck off!” Yes, it was a bit rude of me, wasn’t it? I should thank her really, for her golden shaft of inspiration.