An era captured in the French capital city half a century ago by Deal photographer Harold Chapman is soon to be shared on the big screen with the release of a new film The Beat Hotel. Alan Govenar of Texas-based Documentary Arts has been delving into the legacy of the American Beats in Paris between 1957 and 1963, when Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and Gregory Corso fled the obscenity trials in the United States surrounding the publication of Ginsberg’s poem Howl. They took refuge in a cheap hotel at 9, Rue Git le Coeur and were joined by William Burroughs, Ian Somerville, Brion Gysin and others from England and elsewhere in Europe, seeking out the so called freedom of the Latin Quarter.
The Beat Hotel, as it came to be called, was a sanctuary of creativity, but was also, as Mr Chapman remembered: “An entire community of complete oddballs, bizarre, strange people, poets, writers, artists, musicians, pimps, prostitutes, policemen and everybody you could imagine.”
He lived in the attic of the hotel, and according to Ginsberg “didn’t say a word for two years” because he wanted to be “invisible” and to document the scene.
Originally published in East Kent Mercury