The Royal Court’s programme for Crimes of Passion (June 1967) included this interview with Joe Orton, conducted by Barry Hanson.
With his characteristic humour, Orton describes his early life growing up in Leicester and his experiences as a young man at RADA (‘complete rubbish’; within two terms, ‘I completely lost my confidence and my virginity’). He addresses his prosecution and imprisonment for defacing library books in the early 1960s, and comments on the role of the police and British law:
I mean I’ve no objection to them tracking down murderers and bank robbers, clearly you can’t have people behaving in a completely anarchic way. I believe, though, that they interfere far too much with private morals – whether people are having it off in the backs of cars, or smoking marihuana [sic], or doing the interesting little things that one does.
The reference to ‘private morals’ – ‘doing the interesting little things that one does’ – can be interpreted as a veiled reference to the law that made homosexuality illegal. This law, together with wider public attitudes, forced gay men to lead hidden lives out of fear of arrest and imprisonment. In July 1967, a month after this interview with Orton was published, a breakthrough was reached in Britain. The Sexual Offences Act was passed, legalising sex in private between two consenting male adults (over the age of 21).
Orton continues the interview by talking about his writing style, use of language and flair for observation:
The style isn't super-imposed. It's me. … You’ve only got to be sitting on a bus and you’ll hear the most stylised lines. People think I write fantasy, but I don't; some things may be exaggerated or distorted in the way some painters distort and alter things, but they're realistic figures. They're perfectly recognisable.