Preview locally of Hair at the Wilbur Saturday night (22) brought screams from "city censor" and chief of Licensing Bureau Dick Sinnott and action from Dist. Atty. Garrett H. Byrne who assigned Vice Squad members to cover the remaining previews before the march 6 opening and to seek court complaints if they find violation of Massachusetts laws.
Sinnott, who attended the first preview said "I had the misfortune of viewing the worst collection of garbage I've ever seen on a Boston theatre stage. It featured obscenity for the sake of obscenity. Nudity for sake of nudity. Crudity for sake of crudity. But most sickening was manner in which the American flag was degraded and used as some sort of symbolic dust rag. I understand the play is billed as a "love-rock musical." what I saw highlighted hostility and hate. If this is art then Heaven help the theatre. As a resident of Boston I sincerely wish I could halt this production. However I am powerless to stop it for, although it violates every vestige of decency, it apparently doesn't violate any law."
However Sinnott said he was notifying law enforcement agencies and John Harold, State Commander of AmVets.
Dist. atty. Byrne said Monday (23) he had received several complaints from persons attending the preview who beefed about "nudity in the show and offensive gyrations while clothed and desecration of the Flag."
D.A. said he notified police commissioner Edmund L. McNamara to send out the Vice Squad to review previews. Sinnott said he wasn't so concerned on nudity but the flag bit got him steamed. "I'm sure there will be those overjoyed with this latest form of pollution. At last they can see something that strips away the last layer of good taste while at the same time dragging our flag through muck they helped create. I intend to lodge a protest with veterans organizations in this state regarding the manner in which our flag is abused."
Boston Herald reported "scores of persons phoned to protest. Not so much of on-stage nudity but to express indignation over desecration of the flag."
It was learned there is an 1889 state law forbidding treating the flag in contemptuous manner and in Leominster, MAss., a 19-year-old who strolled through town with the American flag sewn to the seat of his pants was sentenced to a year in jail Monday (23) under the 1889 Massachusetts law. Judge richard Comerford, in sentencing the youth to maximum penalty, said his "action was in vile contempt of the symbol of our Republic."