Sunday, March 2, 2008


TOOBWORLD: Christopher Isherwood came up with the phrase "I am a camera", which he said to Jack Harkness while they cruised the boy prostitute area of Berlin back in 1929.
REAL WORLD: Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood (August 26, 1904 – January 4, 1986) was an Anglo-American novelist.In 1928-29 Isherwood studied medicine in London, but gave it up after a few months to join WH Auden for a few weeks in Berlin.

Rejecting his upper-class background and attracted to males, he remained in Berlin, the capital of the young Weimar Republic, drawn by its deserved reputation for sexual freedom. There, he "fully indulged his taste for pretty youths. He went to Berlin in search of boys and found one called Heinz, who became his first great love."

Isherwood commented on the Berlin sex underground, and his own participation in it, in a note to the American publisher of John Henry Mackay's "Der Puppenjunge" (The Hustler), "a classic boy-love novel set in the contemporary milieu of boy prostitutes in Berlin." "It gives a picture of the Berlin sexual underworld early in this century," wrote Isherwood, "which I know, from my own experience, to be authentic."

In 1931 he met Jean Ross, the inspiration of his fictional character Sally Bowles; he also met Gerald Hamilton the inspiration for the fictional Mr. Norris.

He worked as a private tutor in Berlin and elsewhere while writing the novel "Mr Norris Changes Trains" (1935) and a series of short stories collected under the title "Goodbye to Berlin" (1939). These provided the inspiration for the play "I Am a Camera", the subsequent musical "Cabaret" and the film of the same name.

A memorial plaque to Isherwood has been erected on the house in Schöneberg, Berlin, where he lived.
[from Wikipedia]

In the 'Torchwood' episode "Reset", Captain Jack Harkness mentioned his relationship with Isherwood when Martha exclaimed "I am a camera!" after putting in her spy contact lenses. Captain Jack also mentioned that Isherwood said to him that it would always be easier getting in than it was in getting out.....

It's not like I'm going to do a lot of research into the life of Isherwood; televisiology never calls for more than a cursory examination of any subject. But could it be that this boy love of his, Heinz, was in fact Jack Harkness (at least in the TV Universe)?

In the website "
Baby Names", the name "Heinz" is considered a variant of "Hans", which is related to "John", all referring back to the Hebrew for "The Lord is gracious". And a derivative for "John" is "Jack".
It's something to consider. On the other hand, Jack was probably too old to be the subject of Isherwood's interest; instead it's more likely he may have been a traveling companion through the district.

Toby OB

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