Monday, April 30, 2007

Wanna Read The FBI's Celebrity Files? Here They Are...

This web-link to the FBI's official website is far from complete. However, it does provide an A to Z listing (with PDF links) of some of the celebrity surveillance files secretly collated by the FBI from the 1930s and 40s onwards.

Gene Kelly's Secret Naval Intelligence File

One of the inevitable hazards about writing a book that focuses on government surveillance files on Hollywood stars is that just when you finish writing the book, along comes another declassified file!

Such was the case with the recently surfaced Office of Naval Intelligence file on famous dancer-actor Gene Kelly, who was secretly investigated by the ONI for suspected Communist links (as was just about everyone in the Red-obsessed late 40s and 50s).

The story didn't make it to the pages of my book; however, you can see the file here, courtesy of the people at The Memory Hole.

Celebrity Secrets at Paraview Books

Paraview-Pocket Books, the publisher of Celebrity Secrets, have set up a web-page to promote the book. For details click here.

Oregon Live on Celebrity Secrets

Oregon Live has this to say about Celebrity Secrets:

"With gossip mags and Internet sites proliferating like dandelions, you'd think there'd be no secrets left about celebs. Think again.

"In Celebrity Secrets: Government Files on the Rich and Famous (Paraview/Pocket Books, 272 pages, $14), Nick Redfern digs into declassified government files to see what the FBI and others were snooping into.

"A hefty chunk of entries cover the Communist-obsessed '50s, when J. Edgar Hoover was convinced there were Reds hiding inside every Hollywood home. "

For the rest of the story, here's the link.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

And While We're On The Subject Of The Sex Pistols...

And, lest I forget to mention it, right now I am using the Freedom of Information Act (all perfectly legal, chaps, for any spooks and Men in Black reading this) to pursue a story that when the Sex Pistols embarked upon their ill-fated tour of the United States in January 1978 (a tour that saw the band spectacularly implode on stage in San Francisco - and which would be their final performance until their blisteringly good return in 1996), Britain's MI6 (the UK equivalent of the CIA) shared with the FBI its own secret files on the British bad-boys of punk.

In this photo (left) I'm stood outside the futuristic MI6 building that overlooks London's River Thames, pondering on, and salivating about, all those juicy files on the Sex Pistols that remain hidden from the prying eyes of those who like to ask penetrating and awkward questions.

In 2001, I interviewed a man named David Shayler, a former employee of MI5 (not to be confused with the above MI6), who blew the whistle on certain activities of his former spymasters, and whose story is told in the book Defending the Realm.

During the course of that interview, I asked Shayler about the Sex Pistols and British Intelligence. He told me (and as was also related within the pages of Defending the Realm) that while working for MI5, he read a file of press cuttings titled "Subversion in Contemporary Music" that included material on the Sex Pistols.

My reward when British authorities found out that I had met with Shayler (in the company of Mark Birdsall, editor of the British-based magazine Eye-Spy)? Nothing less than a phone-call from those same authorities ordering me to hand over the audio-cassette recording of the interview...

Sid Vicious, the Sex Pistols And Secret Spies

In only two short weeks from now some of us will be celebrating the 50th birthday of British punk-rock icon, Sid Vicious. Sid 50?! GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! Can it really be true? Yep, it can be true. And, indeed it is true.

Sadly, of course, Sid himself won't be around to see it because the poor bastard overdosed on heroin at only 21 years of age on February 2, 1979.

So, why, you may ask, am I telling you all this 2 weeks ahead of Sid's should-have-been-half-a-century? Well, doubtless when the big day arrives, we will see glowing tributes to Sid and his mighty contribution to punk rock.

However, I hope that overblown misty-eyed nostalgia doesn't get in the way of the real story; hence the reason why I'm getting my say in now and before the flood-gates open on May 10.

Next to the mighty Ramones, the Sex Pistols are my all-time favorite band, but the fact of the matter is that Sid could play the bass-guitar about as good as I can pilot the Space Shuttle. Not at all, in other words.

Yes, he looked the punk-rock part: spiky black hair; sunken cheekbones, leather-jacket, Billy Idol-style sneer, and more, but that's about it. With Sid, it was all image and no substance. Not a single, solitary bit.

When Sid replaced original Pistols bass-player Glen Matlock, it marked the end for the London band. And when Sid took that last, fatal hit of heroin it was the end of him too.

And while punk-rockers all across the world were saddened by Sid's death 28 years ago, it's doubtful that MI5 (the British equivalent of the FBI) shed a tear.

Check out my Celebrity Secrets to find out what the real-life equivalents of "James Bond, 007" secretly thought of Sid and the other Pistols: John Lydon, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Glen Matlock.

You'll also find in the book details of some of the New York Police Department's files on Sid's arrest in 1978 after allegedly stabbing to death his junkie girlfriend Nancy Spungen, or as Pistols guitarist Steve Jones succinctly referred to her: "That fucking bird." Sid you were a stupid fool, and heroin ended your life at a tragically young age. And even though it's doubtful that MI5 will be raising a glass to you on your 50th, I will.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Baseball Think Factory on Mickey Mantle and the FBI

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Baseball Think Factory has highlighted the FBI file on baseball legend Mickey Mantle that is detailed in my book.

As the file of Hoover's boys shows, Mantle's life was far more entertaining and dramatic behind the scenes than it ever was while he was playing baseball!

The Washington Times on Celebrity Secrets

The Washington Times has things to say on Celebrity Secrets:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hollywood and the Military

VIPs in Uniform is an excellent article from 2006 that touches upon some of the official, military files on the rich and famous that also feature in Celebrity Secrets, such as the Navy files on acclaimed (but tortured) writer Jack Kerouac; fret-master Jimi Hendrix; and several others.

Kerouac is without doubt my favorite author; and to get hold of his medical files from his time with the Navy was very satisfying; but unfortunate too, as the files demonstrate all too clearly the inner demons that plagued the great man throughout his life and right up until his tragic, booze-induced death at only 47.

Still, he left us with some of the finest and most influential written work of all time.

You'll always be remembered, Jack.

Publisher's Weekly on Celebrity Secrets

Publisher's Weekly has this to say about Celebrity Secrets:

"This collection offers a roundup of the titillating, mundane, hilarious and unusual information gathered by government agencies-including the FBI, CIA and military-on more than 20 celebrities.

"Collected through Freedom of Information Act requests, this provides a quick-reading peek into the files of Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Billie Holiday and Princess Diana, among others.

"Each chapter provides a brief bio, explains why the government investigated and then lays open the file, highlighting details both juicy and inane and answering some frequently asked celebrity questions:

"Was John Lennon funding Irish terrorism? Was Frank Sinatra really in league with the mob? Why was Jimi Hendrix discharged from the Army? And what in the hell were the Kingsmen singing about, anyway?

"Frequently, the motivation behind an agency's interest is the most intriguing part of the file; Rock Hudson, for example, was tailed by the FBI because he was slated to portray one of their own in a film.

"Several dozen short entries round up the book, covering Lucille Ball, Jack London and the Sex Pistols, to name a few.

"This title is satisfying both as a repository of quick and dirty celebrity trivia and as a revealing cross-section of Washington's long, tense relationship with Hollywood."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Quick Stop Entertainment Comments...

Quick Stop Entertainment give my Hollywood scandal-fest the thumbs-up. Cheers, guys!

Celebrity Secrets, Counterintelligence and Security

None other than the Alexandria, VA-based Center for Counterintelligence and Security Studies have picked up on Celebrity Secrets. Crikey!

The Dallas Observer Comments On Celebrity Secrets

Although a Brit by birth, I live in sunny, gun-happy Dallas with my wife Dana; so it's always good to see Celebrity Secrets getting a bit of coverage in the Dallas Observer.

Celebrity Secrets on the Lecture Circuit

On Saturday September 29, I'll be lecturing on my Celebrity Secrets book at the second leg of the Dark 30 Tour which will be held in Asheville, North Carolina.

You can expect to see all of the scandalous tales of your Hollywood heroes come tumbling out in their dark, comic, outrageous glory. If you are going to be in NC this September check it out.

And, if you can't wait, here's a little something to tempt you before the main event:

Abbott and Costello, the FBI And Hot Lesbian Action!

Who would ever have known that Hollywood funnymen Abbott and Costello possessed between the two of them just about the biggest collection of porno movies in Hollywood? Or that Lou Costello was quite partial to a bit of blistering-hot girl-on-girl action now and again? Well, the FBI certainly knew: I got hold of their secret files.

Mob ties, hot sex, gyrating strippers, hookers and humorless FBI agents skulking around in the background: party on Bud and Lou!

John Lennon and the IRA?

Was John Lennon really donating money to Irish terrorists? What was the reason behind the FBI's and Britain's MI5's interest in the nasally, former guitarist, co-writer and singer with the Drab Four? Just like me, neither agency was a fan of Lennon. They thought he was a threat to national security as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes in its report that references Celebrity Secrets. Me: I just thought he was crap. Imagine - someone please pass the sick-bag.

Celebrity Secrets - Buy It Now!

Buy Celebrity Secrets before Big Brother bans it or I suffer a fatal car "accident"...
Okay that's just paranoid, right? Erm...probably...

Chicago Sun Times Reports on Celebrity Secrets

Errol Flynn, that swashbuckling actor of the 30s and 40s, and, according to the FBI "a wolf who delights in achieving intimacies with young innocent girls;" Hollywood heart-throb Clark Gable; axe-god Jimi Hendrix; Rat-Packer and cool-drunk Dean Martin; and singer Marvin Gaye - all the focus of official, and highly disapproving government files and all of who feature within the pages of my book, as the Chicago Sun Times recently noted.

J. Edgar and Rock - The Secret Story

A formerly classified FBI file on Hollywood star and AIDS victim Rock Hudson? Surely not? Yep.

Alleged cross-dressing FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover and his merry band of G-Men were far from being on speaking terms with the secretly gay actor; and almost blew a federal fuse when they heard rumors he was possibly going to portray an FBI agent in a forthcoming movie.

As a result, dark and sinister Men in Black were dispatched to ascertain the facts.

The somewhat pathetic saga is spelled out in its stark glory Celebrity Secrets, but you can find snippets of the story here.

Take the "Plain Dealer's" Celebrity Quiz

There are no cash-prizes unfortunately , but if you want to test your knowledge of the celebrities of yesteryear that appear in my book, check out the Plain Dealer and click here.

Mickey Mantle - The Secret FBI File

Pimp Boosted Yankee Hitters reported the New York Post in an article that detailed aspects of the FBI's surveillance file on baseball legend, Mickey Mantle, that appears in my Celebrity Secrets.

A strange and amusing tale of blackmail; financial extortion; sexual intrigue; a "notorious Dallas stripper;" a "house of prostitution;" and the "many girls" with who Mantle had "shacked up."

Baseball: it sure beats the hell out of 9 to 5, eh...?

Celebrity Secrets in the Washington Post

I'm pleased to say that the Washington Post has written a good review of my Celebrity Secrets book. Check it out.