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The Lenny Bruce Obscenity Trial - The Obscenity Circus | 1


A listener note. This episode contains references to adult content and language and contains material that some might find offensive. It's March thirty first. Nineteen sixty four in New York City Lenny Bruce Paces backstage at the cafe au go go a new club in Greenwich Village. He loosens his skinny black tie and walks over to a scuffed up mirror. His face looks puffy. His eyes ringed with dark circles. But Bruce knows that in this dimly lit basement. No one's going to notice. Bruce runs a hands dark hair then shrugs into his black jacket Ella. Solomon the CO owner of Cafe. Au Gogo enters the room address. Kicks up dust. Hey Land Ready. Bruce Turns and gives her his most charming grin. I'll be out there allergist. Give me a minute. That's what you said ten minutes ago. I know I know. I'm just working through the opening bid I was thinking of going with Jack Kennedy. You like the Jackie bit. God forgive me but yes I do good because it's one of the last safe bits and cut left. How on Earth can that joke be saved? Her husband got killed four months ago. Well I haven't been arrested yet so it safe in my book safety. I that's my motto. What have you done with the real? Lenny Bruce I'm serious L. needs break my life bodies. Tell me that I'll get used to the handcuffs jail cells. The lawyer fees. Guess what I'll in never get used to well. I'm tired of waiting. You gotta show to do yes. Mother Bruce Follow Solomon. Down ALONG NARROW HALLWAY. They reached the stage where else husband. Howard Solomon is stalling. The crowd bruce stops in the wing gives Howard. Impish wave our goals. This is pulls the microphone. Close now the moment. You've all waited four. Ladies and gentlemen if Lenny Bruce Bruce Takes the Stage Ping Howard warmly on the shoulder. Solomon then walks off stage and stands next to his wife. Reuss peers out at the packed house. It's full of beat next burnouts and hipsters. He's kind of people he just the Mike. Let's talk about Jackie Kennedy. You guys see that photo. In Time magazine. She climbing out of the backseat of the Lincoln after John Gets Shot. There's this car right behind them. Filled with secret service. Jackie jumps out of the Lincoln an into the secret service card. That makes sense definitely makes sense. But here's the thing photo. Caption says that she's bravely jumping into the secret. Service car to help lead the agents into the Lincoln. That's bull that's dirty line. GimMe a break. Jackie Kennedy wasn't brave. She was just hauling to save her own ass. Bruce Leans back and smiles. He's fifteen years into his career but he can still get a crowd going some people in the audience class their hands or their mouths and some have tears streaming down their faces. Bruce's paid to perform. That's not why he does it. The gasps of shock and laughter. That person's face when they're shoved out of their comfort zone. Those are the true reward. Bruce Scans the crowd soaking up the reaction and then he zeroes in on one man. A tables back. He's got a thin dark moustache and hasn't taken off his long overcoat. Throughs narratives is Mansa alone. Rapidly riding on a small no PAT. Bruce feels himself giving tense because he knows. There are only two kinds of audience members who take notes aspiring comedians. The cops is a feeling that the man with the mustache was no aspiring comic. Bruce Wallace heart his heart pounding lately. The police been cracking down on his act. He can't afford more legal trouble certainly not another night in jail. He knows that a cautious man would come up with an excuse and just end the show right now but lenny. Bruce is not a cautious man. Grams launches into his next bit. It's outrageous American. Scandal is sponsored by the podcast infamous America. If you're enjoying American scandal then you'll enjoy infamous America. How do I know because not only? Am I myself listener? But I met the Creator and host Chris Wimmer at a podcast convention. Last year we ended up talking about podcasting history and scandals for a very long time. Chris's smart puts a lot of effort into his shows and has much the same aesthetic and point of view as I do. We've remained in touch and I saw him again just recently at another podcast convention. He bought me some Bourbon and that makes him a very good fellow so go search. For and subscribe to infamous America Historical True Crime podcast that investigates wildest and darkest chapters in American history from the Salem witch trials to the gangsters of the thirty two assassins traders outlaws scandals and events. That still defy explanation. The current season on gangster John Dillinger subscribed today and binged the entire season. Before the finale find infamous America on Apple PODCASTS. Spotify or wherever? You're listening now from wondering I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American scam Richard. Pryor George Carlin Sarah Silverman Chris Rock. These are just a few of the stand up comedians. Who found fame with vulgar and unflinching comedy performed without fear safe with the knowledge that their material was considered free speech in America that even their raunchiest jokes fell under the protection of the first amendment. But this wasn't always the case just decades ago. It was illegal to tell boundary pushing jokes in public. Those who did could be found guilty of obscenity. A crime that could be punished with steep fines and imprisonment. It WASN'T UNTIL THE NINETEEN FIFTIES. That Lenny Bruce rose to prominence as a comedian and challenge. The Nation's obscenity laws. He was brilliant uncompromising outspoken onstage and off in his acts he skewered the norms of mainstream society. He railed against hypocrisy and comedy took a hard look at religion race politics sex and more bruce quickly became a counter cultural legend but he also became a target for those in power who saw his dissenting views as a threat. Bruce clashed frequently with law enforcement throughout his career but his decisive legal battle began in nineteen sixty four in New York City. It was a bitter fight. One that would task just how far the authorities would go in order to silence a performer. Who spoke out. And Criticize Conventional Morality. It was a trial that would not only change comedy but redefined free speech in America. This is episode. One the obscenity circus. It's April Eighteenth nineteen forty nine in New York City inside the CBS Studio Building Stage Lights. Illuminate the set of Arthur Godfrey's talent. Show Lenny Bruce waits in the wings clutching a stack of homemade cue cards. His right hand trembles for months. He's worked on these jokes and he can't afford to flop a single word. This is the number one late night variety show in the country as television. The big time could make his career. So Bruce tries to relax. He thinks he could use a drink. His armpits or moist his bowtie feels like it's choking him and that cream they used the slick down his hair so stiff now he feels like he's wearing a helmet and takes breath a break from his no cards. He watches Godfrey delivering opening monolog with his trademark folksy charm a forty five year old showbiz veteran makes it look so easy. Bruce just turned twenty four. He wonders if he'll ever be as good. Or as popular bruce drops one his cue cards curses but then glances nervously toward the nearby crew members. A makeup girl approaches stars pattering. His face but also with a smile warns him that he better not use language like that. When he's on stage just a crewman with a clipboard. Walks over and tells bruce that he's up bruce strides stage with all the confidence. He can muster. Here's a creek. As a spotlight swivels overhead following him to the microphone takes a deep breath. Looks out at the hundreds of people waiting the audience for a split. Second he hesitates. He's worked so hard to get to this moment. Refining his jokes turing tiny clubs in the middle of nowhere getting paid pennies but now that he's finally hear something feels wrong can't quite put his finger on it so the audience costs. Bruce realizes he'd better get started. He doesn't impression of James cagney crying dirty rat. It's a perfect imitation next. He does a bit about Audrey Hepburn on a date with Gregory packing and pitches his voice at just the right active. He makes a few more good nature wisecracks about movie stars in general and then before he knows that his time is up is performed his entire routine perfectly. Studio audience cheers. It's at that moment. He realizes what's bothering him. This should be the happiest moment of his life but deep down he knows how much better his performance would be if you could do things his way the way he does it sitting at the bar with his friends. That's the real lenny. Bruce the Lenny Bruce who makes cracks about the time Gregory Peck cheated on his wife. Bruce Acknowledges the applause then he heads offstage his smile. Fading if he's going to be an honest to God comet cannot some phony. He needs to do things differently. They'll have to hone his craft in front of his kind of people not these tourists suburbanites. Bruce's heard about the after hours clubs and strip joints where they don't tell you what to say or how to say it. He thinks that's where he truly belongs where he can be free on his way to the exit door rips off his Bowtie and chucked in the trash. It's early nineteen fifty seven in Los Angeles California Lenny. Bruce recline on the Black Leather Sofa in his living room impresses the damn wash cloth over his eyes and breathes slowly. He's still coming down from all the booze and pills swallowed the night before. Recovery isn't as easy as it used to be and the Bruce in his thirties. The setting sun closed through the windows lighting the room and shades of pink and gold. Bruce loves this House. La has a special place in his heart to it was here that he learned to work the burlesque scene surrounded by gyrating strippers. He developed new material that was uncensored any far cry from the material he formed eight years ago. Arthur Godfrey show in that time. He developed a following and even made some money from his work. But even well-stocked bank account can't solve a bad hangover as he reclines on the SOFA. Suddenly the wash cloth is pulled from his eyes. He grown in protest his wife drops down on the couch and tells them to get up. Her name is Hanni and Lenny met her at a strip club or she was working as a dancer. Even though Lenny's hung over he still thinks she's got the prettiest mile he's ever seen. Honey reminds him that is coming up on nighttime and she asked doesn't have a show in a couple of hours. Lenny sits up wipes his mouth his head throbs skin feel sticky. He leans into sneak a kiss but when honey catches a whiff of his breath she passing away when he pleads with her. I'm a foul mouth comedian. I don't brush my teeth. Says rather than laughing on his face Horton's and all at once and he knows what she's GonNa say. Honey reminds them that he needs to be careful in needs to clean up his act. Even if he's telling jokes at a strip club cops come around even there and they could bust him lenny frowns he rises and says he's not worried about the cops as he had toward the bathroom. Honey grabs his arm though stops him. She says she serious. He should be worried. The wrong joke in the wrong place. It'll get him arrested Lenny. Counters says. His Act isn't obscene. He talks the way people talk in real life. And there's nothing wrong with that honey. Says she understands but the police will not. She's worried he's define them to openly. Now go out of their way to make an example of him. So any pauses then. He promises that in the end. He's going to win the fight. Honey shakes her head. She tells him that depends on how he defines winning. It's April one thousand nine hundred. Eighty nine lenny. Bruce waits patiently backstage at new. York's Hudson Theater. This is the home of the Steve Allen Show. Bruce Likes Allen he wears hip black rimmed. Glasses like buddy holly and isn't afraid to be a little vulgar. In fact Steve. Allen is one of Bruce's biggest mainstream supporters. An article came out in time. Magazine Calling Bruce. The high priest of comedy as still Alan fought to keep bruce on the show as he wasted go on Bruce Milestone himself. They call him sick because he speaks his mind because he's suspicious of the hypocritical suburban world of America. But the way he sees it. That's exactly what makes him healthy. Onstage Allen begins his introduction he tells the audience that once a month they book a comedian whose going to offend everybody and tonight they have the most shocking comedian of all he calls out Lenny. Bruce's name as the house band. Fires up a song Bruce Walks. Onstage crowd roars. Bruce begins with a few of his best clean jokes. He tells the audience he. I started smoking Marlboros. At six years old makes fun of kids. Who'VE SNIFF GLUE? He's having fun but there's something important he wants to address. You want people to know that there's more to him than four letter words. He has a reputation as being controversial and irreverent. But he says I'll tell you something. They're definitely things that offend me. Segregation offense me programs exploits societal problems under the guise of helping them. That offends me. Alan nods thoughtfully and the audience applauds. Bruce feels he's made his point. People should challenge intolerance and hypocrisy however they can bruce's weapon of choice is comedy but he also knows that the other side the establishment. They have weapons to as. He wraps up his set heads off stage. Ruth begins to wonder was honey right. How badly has he offended the people in power and if he has? When are they going to strike back? It's October fourth. One thousand nine hundred sixty one in San Francisco Lenny Bruce Stance on stage in a cramped club known as the jazz workshop. He pauses in the middle of the saddened sways slightly. He's lost his train of thought again. Then he remembers and jumps back into the material he wants to talk about a recent drug bust. Bruce offers a melancholy smile. This isn't made up material. He was arrested in Philadelphia. The previous month caught with methamphetamines. Methadone few syringes he tells the audience. It was a big misunderstanding that his doctors prescribe the drugs. Bruce is the truth is he has needed medication lately. A lot of it. He's had a rough few years. He and Hani divorced one because he was having affairs and to because he was doing too many drugs he's had his share of troubles recently. No need to invite more. So Tonight Bruce. Stick to the basics he riffs on sax and the male body. Nothing too crazy. When he's done the audience applause. He heads back towards his dressing room. Bruce TURNS A corner and stops dead in his tracks to brawny police. Officers stand in the hallway are Auerbach. The owner of the Jazz workshop turns to Bruce and sputters. I'm sorry learning. They were watching. Your Act was obscene. GotTa Take Jail. Bruce Glares at the cops hold on. You guys can't just come in here and do this. One of the officers grabs and firmly under the Alabel. Yes we can. And you're coming with us. Bruce wants to fight back but knows he won't win not when he's still high from two joints you smoke before the show outside. Bruce's lead toward a police call box across the street returns to the resting officer. What's your name anyway? James Ryan San Francisco Police Department. We're going to call the sergeant so I can tell him you've been apprehended apprehended for what for an offensive illegal act? I don't understand how you can use that word in public and think it's Ok a mischievous grin spreads across Bruce's face. What would that be? You know the word scared to say it out loud. No Go ahead. Give it a try. They'll make you feel too dangerous. Brian shoves Bruce. What makes you think you can get away talking the way you do? I'm trying to get away with anything. We should get all these so-called bad words out in the open really break them down you know. No I don't know what about the word clap. Clap bother you. Ryan thinks it over as they arrive at the call mocks no bad. Bruce can't help himself now. If you get the crap from a Ryan shows Bruce Disgust before he can finish the joke and he grabs the box. Handset REUSS TRIPS and falls to the ground. Hey Hey hey take it easy man. Hello this is officer Ryan. I'm outside the jazz workshop. Gimmie three squad cars and Paddy Wagon Right now please. Russa's on the ground giggling and Ryan reaches out and pulls him to his feet. When he bruce you're in violation of the municipal police code section. One seventy six and two. Oh five bruce stops laughing catches his breath he suddenly realizes there's nothing funny at night jam and he realizes he wishes his ex-wife. We're here to see him thing. She was so afraid of has finally come to pass. Bruce has been arrested for obscenity. And if this cops attitude is any indication all that lies ahead on problems. American scandal sponsored by best fiends. So you've got your phone in your hand a few moments to yourself. You know what will happen as soon as you unlock the screen politics epidemics nonsense from all. Directions don't go down that path. These are your moment's use them wisely best fiends as a casual but stimulating problems all in game. That has you using your wits to say the cute bugs minutia from an invasion of greedy slugs minutia as fun colorful place full of cute characters that I need to collect to use strategically in solving challenging puzzles. Anytime I need a break. Plus there are new theme challenges waiting for me every few weeks best fiends has thousands of levels already with new levels events and characters added every month. It's hours of fun right at your fingertips and you can even play off line with over one hundred million downloads tons of five star reviews. Best fiends as I must play download. Best fiends free on the apple APP store or Google play. That's friends without the our best fiends. It's March thirty first. One thousand nine hundred sixty four inspector. Herbert roofs walking through the New York district attorney's office rue is an olive skin Frenchman with a thin dark moustache as he moves through the office. He passes rows of wooden desks. Here's ringing phones. Clanking typewriters ru had straight for the corner office. Belonging to district attorney Frank Hogan Hogan's doors wide open upon seeing rue the lean grain district attorney rises to shake. His hand ru hangs a Tan overcoat on the Kodak and takes a seat Hogan launches into it tonight Lenny Bruce. Performing at the cafe au go go ru will need to go to club and carefully watched the comedian without being noticed. It's the perfect mission for ru. Who used to work for the CIA? Rue says? He's happy to do as ordered. He likes using his wit to bring criminals to justice. But he's at a loss named Lenny. Bruce doesn't ring a bell he asked Hogan why is he? Falling Comedian Hogan Leans forward is expression. Suddenly very serious. Bruce he says is performing vulgar comedy. All over the country. He's a known drug addict and PROVOCATEUR. He's already been arrested on. Obscenity Charges Reuss dribbles. The details in his no pad is hoping continues. Explaining that Bruce's first arrest was in San Francisco but the comedian refused. Change HIS ACT. He kept breaking the law over and over so he was arrested in La and then Chicago. So far Hogan says Bruce's been able to act with impunity. The charges in San Francisco were dismissed. He was convicted in Chicago and sentenced to a year in jail. But he's currently free on bail as he appeals the case in La hasn't even begun so until someone nails him. He'll continue to act. He's above the law. You'll do whatever he wants and keep performing obscene material ru nuts. He understands. It's his job to catch this criminal. In the act with his intelligence gathering he can help put bruce away for good ru snapshot his. No He's answered ready to hear this obscene comedian from south. Because after he does he'll be able to show. Hogan was skilled undercover investigator. He really is later that night. Inspector ru sits at the cafe au Gogo surveying his surroundings masks and Pink Globes hang from the ceiling. The AIR'S WITH MARIJUANA SMOKE. It's well past eleven. Pm But the crowds are still growing beatnik girls and black berets unshaven guys and beanies men and women of all races. All here to see Lenny Bruce. But when Bruce finally takes the stage he's not the trim stylish man that Reuss on the photographs. This bruce is a little heavy in the mid section and he looks very tired he launches into a routine that knocks. Jackie Kennedy ru raises his eyebrow Allah people around him laugh remotes that the materials rude but not too extreme. And it's clear that the Crown Finds Bruce's performance quite thrilling. Bruce moves on from Kennedy. That's when the dirty material begins he references animas orgasms. Masturbation ru actually finds Bruce's routine. Quite funny not that. He would share that opinion widely especially not with the arresting officer that he certain Hogan will now send it's mid April nineteen sixty four in New York City Lenny Bruce's sprawled on the living room rug. His friend NAT hints apartment. Bruce looks up a hint off who sits a few feet away on Moss. Green couch heads off as a young staff writer at the village voice. Here's a thick beard and glasses. And he's one of Bruce's old US allies. He's also a jazz connoisseur. Bruce loves digging through hint off record collection. That's what he's doing. Went off pulls off a shoe and throws it across the room. Hey many start looking at the damn records and pay attention. Please trying to get you out of this mess. Tired Okay on chess killing me. Look I know you're down man. This is a very depressing situation. But they're not fooling around. Rescue Data Cafe Kogo. New York City's finest but look. You can't win if you don't fight Bruce scoots closer to the couch. Not I'm ready to fight. Okay I WANNA win this. Who was one thing when it was me getting arrested but arresting Howard and L. offer booking me that's that's going way too far. It's gotTa stop. We got beat the system once and for all I hear you lenny but if you want to beat them for good you're going to need a lawyer the best lawyer. Who's the best lawyer F from London? I've written about a few obscenity trials. And he's probably the Best First Amendment lawyer around the guys argue more than two hundred obscenity cases. I'm pretty sure he's got a copy of the constitution on his bedside table. But I need them right away. Actually think I can get him one way to find out and tough rummages through a folder of newspaper clippings and index cards sliding one of them across the coffee table. Bruce grabs it heads to the kitchen. Phone hello from London speaking. You sound just like I. Picture Abraham Lincoln Santa that This is Lenny Bruce by the way you heard me. Yes Mr Bruce. I've heard of you. Please call tomorrow my office right now. No way please. Don't hang up. I need your help and I need it now. I don't know that I'm the one to help you Mr Bruce. I'll be very blunt. Your style of comedy doesn't amuse me. Hey Yeah I get enough for everyone clearly. But that's not the issue. What is the issue to you? Sir? The issue is the city of New York trying to take away my first amendment rights and body. Nats as. You're the best free speech defending America Mr London. Would you agree? Even if you don't like my material that I have a right to perform it. Yes I suppose I agree with that. Then when you say take my case London pauses and as Bruce waits a heavy not forms in his stomach suddenly feels like everything rides on this moment with a good lawyer he could stay free he could keep performing even change the way this country thinks about free speech. This could be big Mr Bruce. I will take the case but on one condition fantastic but yeah of course what is it you follow my lead and my advice at every juncture of this trial. Bruce agrees as he hangs up. A giant smile spreads across his face. He has a lawyer a great one. Now the real fight set to begin it's April Thirteenth. Nineteen sixty four assistant district attorney. Richard Q enters the glass and towers. That are home to the New York Criminal Courthouse Q. Is a tall broad shouldered man with jet black hair and a camera ready smile. He takes pride in his ability to win any case he's told the prosecute and he's especially eager to win. This one q knows he wasn't Frank Hogan's first choice to lead the prosecution. He only got the job. Because Hogan's go-to Guy was a little too fond of Bruce's jokes what anyone sees in such nauseating act. Cue doesn't understand. But he's grateful for this chance to impress Hogan if he wins this trial and puts Lenny Bruce in prison he'll be the DA's top choice for years to come inside the courtroom. Cunard respectfully to the panel of judges then glances at the Defence. A middle aged couple sits together looking frightened. Those must be the club's owners Howard L. Solomon next to them is Lenny Bruce. Bruce Wears tight black pants polished boots and a black jacket buttoned up to the neck and QS destination. The comedian is clearly on drugs. Next Bruce Ephraim London who's Lanky and sits in a plain dark suit Q. Respects London. He's a formidable attorney but he wonders if London grasps that this case is a lost cause the judge BANGS HIS GAVEL. And the pretrial hearing begins. The judge says they'll start with a matter of the reel to reel tapes. Bruce taped his act at the cafe. Au Gogo a fact. He lets slip during an interview with the village voice Q. Tells the court that Bruce is legally obligated to turn over the tapes as evidence. London says that this is out of the question. The tapes are Bruce's personal property forcing him to turn them over would be violation of his constitutional rights. But Q is well prepared for this argument. He responds that. In fact the tapes are not Bruce's property. Bruce recorded them in the cafe. Au Gogo. That's an incorporated establishment and therefore the tapes belong to a corporation not an individual and so there should be entered as evidence. Lee Judge agrees with q the orders. The defense to hinder of the tapes. Hugh Bruce's face crumple allows himself a quick moment of satisfaction. It's not yet even ten. Am and already Q. Is scored his first major victory in the people. V Bruce two days later in court on April Fifteenth Ephraim London leans over the defense table to confer with Lenny. Bruce BRUISES UPSET THAT. The prosecution has his tapes. Wants the plan London man? He asks London grimace in here tation. He does not appreciate Bruce's nicknames or his attempts at Humor. London takes a moment to straighten his jacket and collect himself. He finds bruce be sloppy and prone to say whatever pops into his head so. Ondon does not think much bruce the man but he does think highly of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech. Why he agreed to take the case. London believes that free speech must be defended and that obscenity. Law Is Ludicrous. No one deserves to be prosecuted under obscenity law. Not even Bruce so rapidly London lays out their strategy yes Q. has the tapes. But that shouldn't matter he tells bruce he's going to try and get this case dismissed today. According to legal precedent no performance can be considered obscene. If it contains redeeming social value. Bruce Lights up the agrees with London. Bruce says that yes. His work does have redeeming social value. That's what he's been saying all along. Bruce collapsed London on the shoulder and the panel of judges calls upon them. It's time for London to formally make the case for dismissal for the next thirty minutes. London argues passionately against the trial. He cites the legal precedents and declares the trial to be simply unconstitutional. Bruce is impressed across the room Q. Even furrows his brow with concern. But the lead Judge Frederick. Strong remained stone-faced London watches with a sinking feeling. A strong delivers his opinion. He says that the court will not decide upon the constitutionality of the obscenity law. That must be done in a higher court. And so the trial of Lenny Bruce. Will Continue. Funding sits down quietly. He's disappointed these upset. He expected more strong being a judge in the most diverse most cosmopolitan city in America in London. Opinion strong is standing in the way of cultural progress yet. This decision has only deepened. London's resolve. He's in this trial for the long haul. London turns a Bruce and starts to tell him not to lose heart but Bruce's slumped down in the seat his head and his palms he moans and says he knows it. He's going to jail. He puts a hand to his chest coughs the next morning. Bruce Wakes up in his room at the Marlton Hotel. Downtown Manhattan is just before dawn. He's choking in the dark struggles to sit up a collapses back onto the sheets. He thrashes and pain feels like a flaming spike is being hammered through the center of his chest terrified. Bruce fumbled for the phone on the nightstand. He picks it up dials. The operator gasping for air bags for an ambulance moments later. He can hear approaching sirens as it begins to lose consciousness. Merican scandal is sponsored by the capital one Walmart rewards card with a capital one walmart rewards card. You'll earn unlimited five percent back at Walmart Online. That's five percent back on Walmart online when you grab new shades for your beach trip new boots for your hiking trip or noise cancelling headphones when you need some vacation meantime you'll also earn two percent in Walmart stores restaurants and travel and one percent everywhere else when you want all that you need the capital one Walmart rewards card. What's in your wallet? Turned and exclusions apply capital one and A. Hey I'm Steven Johnson. The host of wondering show American innovations. We go deep into the stories of the scientists engineers and ordinary people behind the greatest discoveries of the past century this week restarting a three episode series on organ transplants. Common enough today the less than a century ago they were still the stuff of science fiction. This is the story of how a handful of experimental surgeons took this lifesaving procedure from the radical fringes of medicine to the mainstream to listen to organ. Transplants and other great series subscribe now to American innovations from wondering. It's three in the afternoon in Los Angeles in April of nineteen sixty four lenny. Bruce is in his master bedroom propped up in his king sized bed. The blinds closed that prevents glare on the TV set. He had wheeled in this little else to do these days but watch. Tv and wait for his body to heal. The doctors told him he's lucky to be alive. What happened in New York was an acute attack? Pleurisy condition that causes painful swelling of the chest cavity thankfully the ambulance reached him in time surgeons operated on Bruce for five hours and in the end they removed a rib drained his chest a fluid. It was painful and terrifying but there was a silver lining. The New York trial was postponed and won't resume until Bruce Recovers. So he's been taking his sweet time recovering Bruce Mutes. The TV picks notebook and pen from the bedside table. He's been meaning to write to his L. A. Defense attorney Stanley Irma's not long after Bruce's operation earnest called with wonderful news. He succeeded in getting the LA obscenity. Charges dismissed smiling. Bruce composes a note thanking Irma's for his work. Dear Stanley begins. Thanks to you. I'm now spoiled. Thanks to you. Laugh at sheriff's cars that drive past. Bruce Leans back against his pillow and turns up the volume on the TV. He feels like he's finally able to rest easy for the first time in years. It's June nineteen sixty four two months later Helen. Weaver a New York writer and translator sits cross legged on the floor of Allen. Ginsberg's tiny apartment mountains of books and papers are stacked on every visible surface. It's an absolute mess. But there's no place she'd rather be. Weaver feels that Lenny. Bruce needs her help. She's admired the comedian for a long time and believes that he's a creative visionary Bruce's battling ongoing core cases in New York and Chicago though his recent health scare bought him a little time in Manhattan. He's hardly out of the woods. Weaver talks are dark brown hair behind her ears and prepares to make another phone call. She and Ginsburg have been working the phones for days now and she knows she has to keep reaching out to more people. Weaver picked receive. Hello Taylor resident. Hello this is Helen Weaver. I have a call schedule with Mrs Taylor moment. Please this is Elizabeth Taylor Alot Mrs Taylor Helen Weaver. I'm a friend of Allen Ginsberg's and he asked me to call you are you aware of Lenny. Bruce's legal situation. Oh yes I've heard it's not just awful. Yes it's terrible absurd. That'S WHY ALAN. I are putting together a petition formerly protesting the persecution of Lenny Bruce. It'll go out to newspapers across the country. We're asking prominent people like yourself to join us. Bob Dylan has already signed. So has norman mailer and James Baldwin. Can I add your name as well? We receive GINSBURG turn around in the kitchen. His expression hopeful I. I don't know between you and me. I like anybody. You have to admit. His material is very racy. I understand Mrs Taylor. But America's creative community can't sit by by one of our own is unjustly attacked. By fighting for Lenny Bruce. Now we're fighting for the freedom of all artists after moment Taylor response to right. I'm on board. Thank you so much Mrs Taylor Triumphant. Weaver adds a check mark next to Elizabeth Taylor's name. Ginsburg returned from the kitchen carrying two steaming mugs of tea. He congratulates her notes. That right now. They have nearly one hundred supporters. They should finish up their calls for the night send their petition to papers in the morning. Weaver nods and picks up the phone again. Is June fifteenth nineteen sixty four and a gloomy day? Los Angeles Lenny. Bruce walks across the living room of his Hollywood hills. Home had pounding from another wild night. He stumbles over a suitcase. And kicks it angrily the phone rings and he picks it up? It's his friend. Dick SCHAAP calling to apologize. He hasn't checked in since the surgery wants to know how Bruce's doing. Bruce gives him the quick answer. He's terrible his chest healed but everything else in his life has fallen apart. Two months ago he was on top of the world. He thought his legal troubles over apparently doesn't mean anything though that his case was dismissed the city attorney appealed the decision and that means Bruce will have to fight the charges. All over again from square one plus. He's about to be late for his flight to New York. Where his trial starts there tomorrow? But shop says he's got something that will cheer Bruce up he's just read something in the New York Times a petition demanding that Bruce be allowed to perform free from censorship or harassment. It signed by one hundred of the most famous people in the world. Reuss fines has darkest sunglasses and puts them on her way for Hollywood. He says his voice a deep monotone but shop continues the Gush of the petition. They're calling bruce a social Saturday's comparing him to mark Twain. Jonathan Swift. But Bruce is not impressed. He calls the petition. Stupid claims that those who signed it or just trying to look hip. He doesn't want to be there symbol. He just wants to beat these court cases get back on. The ROAD MAKES MORE MONEY. Bruce can tell shop sounds deflated and he tells his friend not to worry. He's got a good case and he's going to prove in court that he's protected by the First Amendment. It's June seventeenth nineteen sixty four in New York City Lenny. Bruce and his lawyer Ephraim London walked toward the massive looming. Criminal Courts Building Bruce Sweating under his black jacket and feels a slight stab of pain in his chest ignores the spectators that lined the outside of the building and follows London to courtroom five. Thirty five day. To Bruce's New York. Obscenity Trial Bruce Texas seat at the defense table. Scans the room behind the judge's golden letters stretching from floor to ceiling. They read in God. We Trust Bruce smirks right now. He needs a cigarette lot more than he ever needed. God He turns around and waves to the audience behind him there. A random smattering of friends foes media and curious onlookers and they all look like they're hoping for a little free entertainment precise can't believe he has to sit in his miserable room five days a week for the next several months better than jail but not by much at the witness stand patrolman. William O'Neil sits in full uniform it was O'Neill who arrested Bruce and the Solomons at Cafe Au Gogo New York a show that inspector ru watch while undercover now. He's testifying for the assistant. Da Richard Q. Q. Paces at the front of the courtroom asking O.`Neil questions about the night of the arrest. The patrolman response his tone cooperative and eager to please. He tells the judges that the Solomons didn't make any attempt to stop bruce from performing his obscene material. When they heard Bruce's act in their club should have dialed the police immediately and reported the comedian. Bruce snorts. He's told a lot of ridiculous jokes in his lifetime but none of them were as ridiculous as this argument. He can't believe the Q. Would put this idiot on the stand. Bruce looks at the three judges in the front of the courtroom. Remind him a stone face. Gargoyles the Ledge of some Cathedral. He wishes a jury was assigning. His trial real people would understand the need to speak your mind. Tell it like it is but this is a New York misdemeanor. Trial and Bruce's stock with an uptight panel of judges you want disbelief. As they listen to O'Neill's testimony they nod soberly at one. Another as if they're buying O'Neill's argument. Bruce feels color drained from his face because if the judges are buying this argument and he and the Solomons going to jail all because he dared to question the establishment from slaughter at sacred cows and public. He can't believe that he an Ele- Howard could lose their livelihoods and their freedom part of him wishes. He could just run out of the courtroom. But there's no outrunning the forces aligned against Bruce is no choice but to stick it out and fight next on American Scandal Lenny. Bruce continues his desperate quest for justice and grows increasingly frustrated. New York's legal system as the just near their verdict. Comedians downward spiral of drugs. Self-destruction picks up speed from wandering. This is American scandal. I hope you enjoyed this episode if you did. I have two other podcasts. You might be interested in American history tellers in American elections. Wicked game search. For UNSUBSCRIBE ON APPLE PODCASTS. Spotify Google podcast or wherever? You're listening to this right now. If you're listening on a smartphone tapper swipe over the cover. Art Of this podcast. You'll find the APPS including some details obey mist. You'll also find some offers from our sponsors by supporting them. You help us offer this show for free and if you did like this show we'd love for you to a five star rating and leave a review. I always loved to know your thoughts and reviews or one of the best ways for others to find. Show tell your friends and family show them how to subscribe. You can also find us and me on twitter search for Hashtag American scandal or follow me at Lindsey Graham. We use many sources writing our shows but one that was especially helpful. Was the trials of Lenny Bruce by Ronald K L Collins and David. Ms Go over and just a quick note about our reenactments. We can't always know exactly what was said. But everything in. Our show is based on historical research. American scandal has hosted edited and executive produced by me. Lindsey Graham for airship sound design by Derek Barons. This episode is written by Hannibal Deals and in it by Christina Mossberg produced by Gabe ribbon executive producers. Stephanie Jen's Jenny Lower Beckmann and Hernan Lopez. For wonder you've heard the stories of Ted Bundy and Charles Manson. But what about Rodney Alcala? The dating game killer. He may have been even more deadly. How was it that cold blooded serial killer made it onto a TV show that millions of people watched and no one could see what he really was. 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