Hollywood is defending another pedophile. This time he’s also a stalker.
In a few weeks “Kill Your Darlings,” a film starring Daniel Radcliffe — Harry Potter himself — will be released on DVD. It tells the story of a Beatnik murder. It also, according to the son of the man who committed the crime, is a completely false and agenda-driven piece of Hollywood propaganda.
On August 13, 1944, a college student named Lucien Carr murdered a man named David Kammerer at Riverside Park in New York City. Carr stabbed Kammerer with a Boy Scout pocket knife, then dumped his body into the Hudson River. Carr was 21 and Kammerer 35 — 14 years older. Two days later Carr confessed to the crime. He spent two years in jail, and upon release got married and got a job at UPI, where he worked for four decades. He died in 2005.
The murder of David Kammerer became known at “the crime that united the Beats.” While a student at Columbia Lucien Carr, who was called “angelically handsome,” had introduced Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs to each other. The later three men became lights of the famous “Beat Generation” of countercultural writers. It is often thought that the murder was a pivotal moment in cementing these friendships.
Why did Carr kill Kammerer? According to the film “Kill Your Darlings,” Carr was a conflicted homosexual who couldn’t come to terms with it. Kammerer was his lover, and the shame of this in conservative 1940s America led him to commit a crime of passion. When the authorities at Columbia and elsewhere try and cover this up, poet Allen Ginsberg, played by Radcliffe, refuses to go along. It’s a favored Hollywood trope: that brave young outsider facing off against the homophobic old guard.
The truth, in my view, is far different. I’ve always felt that David Kammerer was a homosexual pedophile stalker, and that Lucien Carr plunged a knife in his chest because he was the victim of years of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Kammerer — abuse that had started when Lucien Carr was a pre-teen boy.
Caleb Carr, the son of Lucien Carr, agrees with me. Carr the younger is the bestselling author of The Alienist and other books. He was not consulted by the makers of “Kill Your Darlings.”
When I contacted Caleb Carr about the Beatnik murder, and openly stated what I thought had driven it, he replied with an account that is long, absolutely riveting, and, in my mind, the truth. Carr details the abuse his father endured at the hands of Kammerer (remember, David Kammerer was 14 years older than Lucien Carr). Kammerer was effectively Carr’s father figure since the time he was twelve, after his father had abandoned the family. Every time Lucien Carr moved, and it was several times, Kammerer followed. Several accounts by Beatniks and friends of Beatniks called Kammerer a “pest.”
The murder occurred seven years after Carr and Kammerer had met. Lucien had arrived at Columbia University and had a new friend, Jack Kerouac. Kerouac was powerful, masculine, and a man who only wanted friendship from Carr, not sexual favors. This was a threat to Kammerer, who was known to get drunk and threaten Lucien’s girlfriend Celine. On the night of August 13, 1944, after a night spent drinking in the West Side Bar, things came to a head between Kammerer and Carr in Riverside Park. Some think it was an attempted rape; others feel that Carr had simply had enough. No one knows for sure.
My view: Lucien Carr was not gay, and had no desire to be gay, and it drove David Kammerer insane. Kammerer tried to rape Carr — perhaps not for the first time — and Carr, after years and years of this abuse, exploded.
Not the kind of story Hollywood is interested in telling.