Friday, 6 December 2013

Nicky Crane: The secret double life of a gay neo-Nazi

By Jon Kelly, from The Guardian, 5th Dec 2013 >> 
This article is posted for the benefit of those who have popped up to comment on this site about how this or that musician cannot possibly be fascist "because they are gay", or "they support gay rights".

Nicky Crane as Oi! pinup boy
"Adolf Hitler was my God," he said in a 1992 television interview. "He was sort of like my Fuhrer, my leader. And everything I done was, like, for Adolf Hitler."

Within six months of joining the BM, Crane had been made the Kent organiser, responsible for signing up new members and organising attacks on political opponents and minority groups.

He was also inducted into the Leader Guard, which served both as McLaughlin's personal corps of bodyguards and as the party's top fighters. Members wore black uniforms adorned with neo-Nazi symbols and were drilled at paramilitary-style armed training weekends in the countryside.
By now working as a binman and living in Plumstead, Crane quickly acquired a reputation, even among the ranks of the far right, for exceptionally brutal violence.
"By appearance and reputation he was the epitome of right-wing idealism - fascist icon and poster boy," writes Sean Birchall in his book Beating The Fascists, a history of AFA.
Unbeknown to his comrades, however, a very different side to Nicky Crane was emerging.
He appears to have thrown himself enthusiastically into the gay scene around this time. His imposing frame meant he easily found work as a doorman at gay venues through a security firm.

But if the neo-Nazi world would have abhorred his sexuality, the vast majority of London's gay scene would have been equally horrified to learn that he was a neo-Nazi.

Among the leadership of the largely liberal-left gay rights movement that was growing in London during the 1980s, fascist symbolism was an obvious and outrageous taboo - a reminder of the persecution that lesbians and gay men had suffered.

According to feminist scholar Sheila Jeffreys' book The Lesbian Heresy, a commotion unfolded in 1984 when a group of gay skinheads turned up at a gay bar in London's King's Cross and began sieg heiling. She also records that a well-known far-right youth organiser was thrown out of the same pub after taking off his jacket to reveal swastika tattoos.
By the mid-1980s, a gay skinhead scene was beginning to flourish in London, says Murray Healy, author of Gay Skins: Class, Masculinity and Queer Appropriation.

Gay men had many different reasons for adopting the look, he says. Some had been skinheads before they came out. Others found that, in an era when all gay men were widely assumed to be camp and effeminate, "you were less likely to get picked on if you looked like a queer-basher". There were also "fetish skins", attracted to the "hyper-masculinity" of the subculture.

Against this backdrop, even the swastikas and racist slogans inked on Crane's body could be explained away, at least initially. During the 1980s, says Healy, "gay Nazis were assumed to be left-wing even if they had Nazi tattoos".

"People refused to read these tattoos politically. People thought it was part of the authenticity ritual. People thought he was just playing a part."
"A lot of skinheads that weren't right-wing used to wear Skrewdriver T-shirts," Byrne adds. "It was about the fashion of being a skinhead."

But Crane wasn't just playing with the imagery of Nazism. He was living it. His decision to start frequenting venues such as Heaven wasn't the only thing that had changed since before his sentence.
On the surface, the idea of a gay man embracing neo-Nazism might appear baffling and self-defeating. Just as Adolf Hitler's regime had thrown gays and lesbians into death camps, the neo-Nazi movement remained staunchly homophobic.

Crane was becoming all too aware of the contradiction of being a gay neo-Nazi. "A lot of people that I did used to hang around with, they did sort of like hate us," he said in 1992 - "us" meaning gay men.
"They'd go out queer-bashing. It's something I never did myself. And I'd never let it happen in front of me, either."

He had, however, chosen fascism long before he had embraced his sexuality, and much of his social life and prestige was bound up with his status as a prominent neo-Nazi activist.

To maintain his cover, Crane would often appear in public with a skinhead girl on his arm. "He often had a so-called girlfriend but they were never around for long," says Pearce. "Nicky had no chemistry with girls."

Certainly, after coming out, Crane always described himself as gay rather than bisexual.
His closest affiliation, however, was with the neo-Nazi rock band Skrewdriver. Originally the group had been apolitical. In 1982, however, singer Ian Stuart Donaldson came out as a supporter of the National Front.
Opposition from anti-fascists meant gigs had to be forcefully stewarded. Donaldson appointed Crane as Skrewdriver's head of security, and he became a trusted lieutenant.

Reportedly, Crane wrote the lyrics for a Skrewdriver track called Justice and provided the cover art for the albums Hail The New Dawn and After The Fire.

Archive footage of their concerts shows Donaldson barking neo-Nazi lyrics as he loomed above Crane who stood, arms folded, at the front of the stage. The T-shirt on his chest said "Skrewdriver security" in Gothic script.

Crane wasn't playing an instrument, but it was as though he was part of the performance.

His status as a neo-Nazi icon had never been more secure. But for the first time, the twin strands of his double life were about to intersect.
In 1987 Crane and Donaldson set up a group called Blood & Honour. It was a cross between a White Power music club and a political party.

It staged concerts for Skrewdriver and other neo-Nazi bands with names like No Remorse and Brutal Attack. T-shirts, flags and records were sold by mail order through its magazine. The operation had an annual turnover of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Searchlight reported in October 1987 that "Crane, the right's finest example of a clinical psychopath, is also engaged in building a 'gay skins' movement, which meets on Friday nights" at a pub in east London.

Crane's sexuality might by now have been obvious to any interested onlooker, but the neo-Nazi scene remained in denial.
The Channel 4 programme was called Out. It featured a series of documentaries about lesbian and gay life in the UK. The episode broadcast on 27 July 1992 was about the gay skinhead subculture. Its star attraction was Nicky Crane.

First the programme showed recorded interviews with an unwitting Donaldson, who sounded baffled that such a thing as gay skinheads existed, and NF leader Patrick Harrington. And then the camera cut to Crane, in camouflage gear and Dr Martens boots, in his Soho bedsit.

He told the interviewer how he'd known he was gay back in his early BM days. He described how his worship of Hitler had given way to unease about the far right's homophobia. He had started to feel like a hypocrite because the Nazi movement was so anti-gay, he said. "So I just, like, couldn't stay in it." Crane said he was "ashamed" of his political past and insisted he had changed. "The views I've got now is, I believe in individualism and I don't care if anyone's black, Jewish or anything," he added. "I either like or dislike a person as an individual, not what their colour is or anything."
Crane reiterated that he had abandoned Nazi ideology. "It is all in the past," he told the paper. "I've made a dramatic change in my life." The reaction from his erstwhile comrades was one of horror and fury. Donaldson issued a blood-curdling death threat on stage at a Skrewdriver gig. "He's dug his own grave as far as I'm concerned," Donaldson told the Last Chance fanzine. "I was fooled the same as everybody else. Perhaps more than everybody else. I felt I was betrayed by him and I want nothing to do with him whatsoever."

Read the full article here >>


  1. A fascinating article, although I think Bushell is being a tad disingenuous when he claims not to know who Crane was at the time.

    The article raises the question about whether someone can change and I believe that most can. However, in Crane's case, I can't help but think that him dismissing his past was a way for him to integrate himself into the gay community. I'm sure that he knew if Donaldson and co had found out about his sexuality, he'd have been a dead man. By aligning himself with the gay community, he would be guaranteed safety and hiding places from his old colleagues by simply telling people he "regretted his past."

  2. Good article, this, but it doesn't mention Crane's involvement in at least one Psychic TV video.

  3. "This article is posted for the benefit of those who have popped up to comment on this site about how this or that musician cannot possibly be fascist "because they are gay", or "they support gay rights"."

    Yeah, this aticle shows us that a "gay neo-nazi" is forced to live a double life, hiding his political affiliations from the gay community and his sexuality from the nazis.
    Which is exactly opposite to all that our good old Strelnikov is trying to tell us about, say, Douglas P. being openly gay and a nazi at the same time and having no troubles with all that. Well done proving yourself wrong!

  4. You see what we have to deal with here? So, Crane was "forced to lead a double life" and could not possibly 'come out' as a gay Nazi, unlike, er, Doug P. So, Doug P has 'come out' as a gay Nazi? Is that what you are saying? Can you see the possible flaw in your argument ( I mean, apart from the other glaring flaw in your argument - namely, that far from finding it 'impossible' to come out, Nicky Crane actually did so... ON NATIONAL TV)?

    Come on, get a grip, mastermind.

    1. "So, Doug P has 'come out' as a gay Nazi? Is that what you are saying?"
      No. It is what you are saying, actually. I'm saying that this article is just another proof that it is impossible to be openly gay and a nazi, because when Nicky Crane 'cam out' ON NATIONAL TV he somehow stopped being a nazi and recieved death threats from his buddy Ian Stuart.

      Come on, get a grip, mastermind.

  5. Well yes - he "somehow stopped being a Nazi" when he came out. That's because it is simply assumed, against all of the evidence, that being gay and being a fascist are incommensurable. But they are not, and so the fact that someone is gay has no be arming either way on whether they are a fascist. That is what cases like Nicky Crane prove.

    1. Wehn you "ass u me" you make ass of you and me. He "somehow stopped being a nazi" not because something is assumed by someone, but because he declared that himself. How sincere he was is the next question. But then again, one could also ask how sincere he was when he was a nazi, how sincere am I when I'm writing this and how sincere are you when you answer me. And so on...
      It is a well known fact that there is quite a number of gay people among nazis. But it is also a well know fact that most of them are hiding their sexulaity from their nazi buddies. There is a well known opinion that one of the main factors, that formed nazi sub-culture is suppresed homosexuality, and I find it rather reasonable. Nicky Crane, who was ostracized by the nazis when he "came out". The point here is not about being gay, but about being openly gay. Which, as we can see again, excludes being accepted by nazis.

  6. This doesn't prove anything regarding Douglas P. for at least three reasons:
    1. Douglas P. and Crane are totally different persons who can't be compared with each other at all. There are weirdos everywhere - perhaps there are antifascists who actually are fascists, so would that mean that every antifascist should be observed because he could be a nazi?
    2. Douglas P. sometimes uses Nazi imagery etc. in an artistic context, while Crane "wasn't just playing with the imagery of Nazism. He was living it." In other words: he did things that Douglas never did, i.e. exactly those things that classify him, Crane, as being a "nazi". And by the way, he never glorified Ernst Röhm, he just had an interest in him exactly because it is an interesting topic - being gay and following anti-gay politics. Having an interest in something doesn't mean identifying with it.
    3. Douglas P. is openly(!) gay, he obviously never hides this in any context.

  7. Ernst Roehm, leader of the Nazi Brownshirts (S.A.) was homosexual and is held up as an inspiration by Douglas P. Didn't Death in June get their name from the 'Night of the Long Knives', when Hitler moved against his former comrade Roehm and the Revolutionary National Socialist elements within the Nazi Party?

  8. Right, Roehm was allegedly gay, or at least that what his opponents -the more conservative wing of the NSDAP- were keen to believe; But the thing is, the nazi party, the Fascist party, and to a significant extent the current radical right constellation Strelnikov and associates are gropingly attempting to map out, are what we call syncretic politics, that is to say they are an agglomerate of contradictory ideologies that solidify around a nucleus of revolutionary rhetoric. That means indeed we will find gay nazi, jew-hating jews, reptilian-hunter, satanists and paedophiles.
    Nothing new under the sun, this has been the driving mechanics of the radical cultic milieu since the XIXth century: there always was an 'eccentric' fascism and a 'concentric' fascism, that second one either born out of, or sustained by the conservative support that led Hitler and Mussolini to power. Of course in hindsight, the 'eccentric' fascists exercise much stronger an appeal onto contemporary (sub)culture, if only because they are untainted by both the crimes and compromises of their concentric counter-parts: we don't hear much fetishizing of Ribbentrop or Walther Funk do we?
    What would be interesting now, would be to see wmtn take a precise and responsible stance in terms of their sociological and historical understanding of what constitutes fascism, and why they believe it should receive a special treatment as an ideology, and what exactly this treatment should be?

  9. I just wanted to point out that this article quotes "feminist scholar Sheila Jeffreys." I feel compelled to mention that Ms Jeffreys is an outspoken critic of equality for transgender women and has written a vast amount of notorious hate speech against transgender women and men. She has been mostly disavowed in the current 3rd wave of feminism and her actions have done much damage to an already vulnerable group of women (Transgender women are murdered at shockingly high rates and often denied the protections of shelters, rape crisis centers, and many basic human rights).

    As a feminist I feel its important to point out this aspect of her career when I see her quoted as a presumed feminist expert. She helped to organize RADFEM 2012 n London which was canceled because the venue determined the group represented hate speech and allowing them a venue to operate would be contrary to their own gender inclusion policy. Radfem 2012 included multiple discussions on and about transgender women but no trans women were allowed to attend the event to offer any counterpoint or defense. The venue decided it was illegal to have an event in which admission is denied based on gender expression as well as in opposition to their own tolerance policy. You can read more on her here:

    I understand the article was written for The Guardian, this is the same site on which Jefferys has been allowed to post some of her damaging rhetoric.
    I think when calling out intolerance its important to be aware when the sources quoted also represent a virulent intolerance. There are many other feminist thinkers who are extremely brilliant and not shouldered with the same level of intolerance for other women.

    Thank you for reading!

  10. Thanks for this; Also worth a look is the Huffington Post essay on the links between homosexuality, repressed or otherwise, and Fascism.

    Also a good expose on Death in June from NYC ANTIFA:

  11. Nicky Crane may have been queer or more likely turned queer, but he never sold out his comrades, these likes notwithstanding. I have that on good authority.


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