The Strange Case of Nicola Vincenzio Crane

Nicky Crane grew up in Crayford. He was an archetypal bonehead in the 70s, becoming the Kent organiser for the neo-nazi British Movement by the end of the decade.

A photograph of Crane ended up on the cover of the “Strength Thru Oi!” LP which was complied by Garry Bushell for Sounds and released on Decca in 1981:

“Under looming deadline pressure I suggested using a shot from a skinhead Xmas card which I believed was a still from the Wanderers movie. In fact it had been taken by English skinhead photographer Martin Dean. It wasn’t until the very last minute, when Decca had mocked up the sleeve that the photo was sufficiently clear to reveal Nazi tattoos. We had the option of either airbrushing the tattoos out or putting the LP back a month while we put a new sleeve together…”

There was an expose by the Daily Mail a few months later, also revealing that Crane was then doing a four year stretch for racist violence. Decca deleted the record and Bushell got all indignant:

“Me, at that point in my life a dedicated socialist (used to having ‘Bushell is a red’ chanted at me at gigs), accused of masterminding a right-wing movement by a newspaper that had once supported Mosley’s Blackshirts, Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia, and appeasement with Hitler right up to the outbreak of World War Two…”

On his release from prison, Crane hooked up with Ian Stuart Donaldson, the leading “light” of the rubbish band Skrewdriver, even writing the lyrics to their song “Justice”, about (as Donaldson later put it) “when he was sent to jail for four years for leading a British Movement gang who were retaliating for attacks by blacks upon themselves.” (a nice bit of logic there – an organised political gang dedicated to racial violence is somehow “retaliating”, against anybody who happens to be black).

Crane and Donaldson went on to launch “Blood & Honour” in 1987 – basically a network of bonehead bands and zines which produced “Hitler was right” stickers, released godawful records, organised gigs and promoted the politics of race war and racial violence.

Blood & Honour organised clandestinely because of pressure from anti-fascists. Their gigs were secret affairs for those retarded enough to be “in the know”, often featuring an elaborate series of redirection points, venue bookings under false names, etc. Even given all of this cloak and dagger stuff, B&H were regularly humiliated by Anti-Fascist Action, categorically the most important (and militant) anti-fascist organisation in the UK during the 1980s and 90s.

Two major London events were completely stymied by AFA at their redirection points at Hyde Park (1989) and Waterloo (1992) respectively. Blood & Honour had staked a great deal on these gigs, inviting people from all over Europe to attend. Their credibility took a nosedive and the network soon descended into faction fighting, rip offs, etc. No large scale events have taken place in the capital since.

So far, business as usual for the far right (and a very lucrative business at that, despite all the stuff about doing it for the kids/race). But what most people didn’t know at the time was that Nicky Crane was leading a double life. He was gay, he worked as a bouncer at S&M clubs and even appeared in gay porn videos. In 1992 he finally came out in a programme on Channel 4, subsequently dropping out of the far right and settling down with his partner, an older man, who was apparently Jewish.

Nicky Crane died in 1993 of an AIDs-related illness. He’s now routinely condemned by the hard men of 21st century bonehead-ism, who (despite all the uniforms and male bonding) are always a little too zealous in distancing themselves from anything less than 100% hetero… hmmmm.

Crane is also an icon of “rough trade” for gay porn – just do a google for his name (not at work!) and you’ll find dozens of sites which use his name as a keyword, but don’t seem to have anything relating to him in the content. A strange legacy following a mixed up life.

End of story? Not quite:

“NAZI FARTSY

Earsay’s [A Channel 4 magazine programme iirc] snippets on Genesis P-Orridge et al featured an unexpected guest – a certain Nicola Crane. Crane, the neo-Nazi who by a series of errors made the front cover of ‘Strength Thru Oi’, turned out to be one of the ‘stars’ of a Psychic TV video film. Let’s hope the media are as quick to condemn this obviously deliberate airing for Crane as they were with that accidental airing three years ago.”

Sounds, 22nd September 1984

This press clipping recently came to light on the PTV-related FOPI discussion list. I’ve not seen the actual issue of Sounds it is supposed to originate from, but it looks a bit like a “gossip column” article. Nor have I seen any follow ups / retractions / etc. Psychic TV were no strangers to the letters pages of the music press, though…

image from Psychic TVs Unclean video courtesy of FOPI.net

The video is question must surely be for “Unclean”, a track which was released as a 12″ single on Temple Records in 1984.

Nobody seems to have seen any credits for the production of the video. In 1984, Crane would have been fresh out of prison. Did he earn a crust for one of the many people who directed films for PTV?

Is it actually him?

My copy of the Unclean video is pretty knackered, but looking at it again, one of the featured skinheads does resemble Nicky Crane. He appears in two shots – the one as in the picture above (but only from the shoulders upwards) and one in front of a backdrop of Piccadilly Circus. In the latter shot, he clearly has some tattoos on his arms, but they aren’t clear.

If that skinhead was Nicky Crane, complete with nazi tattoos, I find it peculiar that this was allowed to slip through the net – especially in the light of all the dirt which was thrown at Throbbing Gristle for their supposed (and nonexistent) fascism. It’s all very odd indeed.

No Comments

  1. JOHN says:

    siebe ( / http://www.siebethissen.net )
    I don’t think it is “odd”, it might be obvious as well. Don’t you think they’ve got more in common?
    2004/12/06 @ 02:14 pm

    John Eden
    Errrrr – like what?
    2004/12/06 @ 02:51 pm

    siebe ( / http://www.siebethissen.net )
    It’s not my intention to offend you or anyone else, but remembering the days of UNCLEAN and the folks who admired PTV then, I can’t say they were the most “progressive” types around…Let’s say the story doesn’t surprise me and I’m looking forward to a further investigation of these connections/similarities….
    2004/12/06 @ 07:00 pm

    John Eden
    I’m very difficult to offend ;-) I was 15 years old in 1984 so all this is before my time.

    I think it’s fair to say that PTV have always had more than their fair share of knob-ends for fans, especially when it was all skulls, skinheads & scarification.

    I honestly don’t think that necessarily follows on to the band members themselves though.

    Where were you based at the time, Siebe? Be interested to know more, either on here on by email…
    2004/12/07 @ 09:20 am

    martin ( / )
    My take on this – Gen’s always been a bit opportunist, and I’m sure he would have been familiar with Crane’s standing at the time. The idea of featuring the ‘enemy’ – a BM organiser with links to far right violence – in a PTV video would probably have been too tempting (to Gen) to pass up.

    As for Crane, if he’d just got out of jail, he’d have been short of a few bob, and it’s fair to say he probably got paid for appearing in the vid. He obviously enjoyed being in front of the camera, having previously appeared on the Oi! album and in Nick Knight’s “Skinhead” photo book (posing with a skingirl identified as ‘Belsen Bev’). Plus he had the bonus that very few of his nazi muckers would be caught dead watching vids by degenerate artists such as PTV and so wouldn’t spot him.

    While we’re on the nazis appearing on vids they really shouldn’t be in, Ian Stuart is one of the skinheads who bursts out of the toilet cubicles in the Madness film ‘Take It Or Leave It’
    2004/12/08 @ 11:24 am

    siebe ( / )
    In 1984 I had just moved to Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and I was glad I left Tilburg, a university town with a pretty big appetite in experimental/weird stuff. I used to be in several bands there, influenced by all kinds of industrial music (Einsturzende Neubauten, Sprung Aus den Wolken, SPK, Cabaret Voltaire…), producing a kind of sonic & cultural (& political) anarchy. Around 1984/85 scenes & bands were torn apart when a weird kind of post/neo/religious/tribal/pseudo-artistic/therapeutic/occult/sex-death fundamentalism came to blossom. I remember half of my scene digging into this new age crap, reading Austin Osman Spare, Allister Crowley, Georges Bataille and Genesis P. Orridge. Digging through my archive I just found a magazine some of my friends produced in the eighties, called SILENCER, published by KF, Katharos Foundation – on the cover Genesis is looking at me with a grim face, wearing a bone on his shoulder. Anyway, I never liked that stuff, felt it was pseudo-scientific bullshit, didn’t like the doomy art work and experienced it as a kind of religious fascism or tribal fundamentalism, a kind of unconscious surreal fascism. Maybe if I would have dived deeper in it, I would be more cautious in choosing my words, but I just hated the whole appeal. Maybe I was too rational for it (music & the sonic was my surrealism). (Anyway, some folks of my scene became part of The Temple and later founded the Psychic Warriors ov Gaia – you might remember them). Going through that zine once more I feel that suffocating atmosphere again. I can send it to you if you like? In short, I still don’t know why I mingled in you Crane story, but I have always felt there was a weird kind of connection between the growing White Power movement and these types of (white) occult movements in the eighties. Perhaps you or one of your readers is able to elaborate on this theme. Thanks for your space – you got a great blog.
    2004/12/08 @ 11:48 pm

    John Eden
    I think perhaps the exploration of “the dark side” maybe lead people down some dubious alley ways. I only really got involved with this stuff in late 80s, when there had been a bit of an injection of hedonism into that network.

    We met Reiner and the PWOG boys when they came over for Megadog in the early 90s and they all seemed pretty sound.

    Of course, by then people had made their choices really – there was a whole scene around Boyd Rice and the C.o.S. which had turned this whole pseudo-fascist aesthetic into an off the peg youth cult.

    Most people I knew made the right choice at the time, and even people who fell for that stuff soon realised it was stupid soon after…
    2004/12/12 @ 09:09 pm

    John Eden
    further to that, this link:

    http://www.uncarved.org/othertexts/satan.html

    Is a good indication of the directions in which people travelled in the early to mid 90s.
    2004/12/12 @ 09:33 pm

    siebe ( / )
    Thanks for your comment. Guess one of the things is I never got into techno and stuff (that is, in the digital age – I loved the analogue era).
    2004/12/15 @ 11:20 pm

    John Eden
    techno was industrial’s salvation! :-)
    2004/12/16 @ 09:45 am

  2. VINCENZO says:

    THE SKREWDRIVER CONCERT MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE WHERE THE REDIRECTION POINT WAS REFERED TO AS HYDE PARK (HYDE PARK CORNER ACTUALLY) WAS A GREAT SUCCESS THE ACTUALL CONCERT WAS IN NORTHFLEET IN KENT.THE OTHER MENTIONED WAS WATERLOO THE CONCERT WAS IN KIDBROOKE I WENT TO BOTH I ALSO WENT TO THE SMASH THE REDS DAY AT JUBILEE GARDENS WHEN THE REDSKINS GOT THE SHIT KICKED OUT OF THEM ON STAGE.ALL THE THREE EVENTS WERE A COMPLETE SUCESS EVEN WITH THE RED,IMMIGRANT HOARDS OUT IN FORCE TO STOP THE EVENTS.THE AUTHER SHOULD GET HIS FACTS RIGHT AND STOP GIBBERING SHIT.
    VINCENZO

  3. JOHN says:

    Yes I can see that an event billed as an international gathering of several thousand with a central london venue would have to be counted as a great success when it actually was *forced* to relocate and took place with a tiny audience in Kent instead.

    Still, historical revisionism is meat and drink to nazi boneheads, eh?

    Plus, last time I looked, Hyde Park corner was in Hyde Park. No doubt when the white race rises up it will be annexed to Germany or something, but for now I’m happy with it where it is.

  4. […] was piqued as the subject matter was notorious gay neo-nazi skinhead Nicky Crane, who I’d previously written about here when his appearance in a Psychic TV video came to light. There wasn’t that much material […]