Today, you should… get to know Roy Cohn. Then take a nice, long shower


It’s been said—fairly well-documented—that history is not made by great men (it’s also a ripping song by Gang of Four on one of the greatest albums with one of the greatest album covers, ever—be sure and read the words, kids.) While there are plenty of 20th Century examples in the U.S. to choose from, the greatest, and therefore the least of these, for sheer malevolence and breadth of influence just may be Roy Cohn.

Now, there may be some of you who just shuddered at reading that name, but there are no doubt far more who thought, “Who?” And that was one of Cohn’s great talents, to affect matters without being conspicuous, the Zelig of America’s darkside.

When Joe McCarthy led the Red Scare, it was Roy Cohn who was by his side, literally. When John Gotti was up on murder charges, it was Cohn who was by his side, literally.

As is said in the new, depressingly excellent documentary, “Where’s My Roy Cohen?” he was the ultimate bridge between the legitimate and illegitimate world.

He is the kind of man that Alan Dershowitz called the ultimate fixer, the kind of man people have no problem referring to as “evil.”  He was Donald Trump’s personal attorney, indeed, the film’s title derives from Trump’s frustration that there was not someone available to him that was cunning and ruthless enough to end the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Cohn’s drive came from his hatred of people, himself most of all. While his persecution of those believed to be Communists is well-known, lesser noted is his vicious persecution of gays, this despite, or because, of the fact that he was gay. (Roger Stone, another Trump associate, has said that Cohn was not gay, “He was a man who liked having sex with men.” Um, yeah.)

His self-loathing was such that when Tony Kushner was looking for a character to embody the hypocrisy of closeted gay men who made life miserable for other gay men in “Angels in America,” Cohn was his choice.

The film is playing at the Art Theatre for the next couple of weeks, so don’t feel like you have to run right out and see it. We just wanted to give you a heads up that it is out there, waiting for you. Fortunately, Roy Cohn isn’t. He died from the effects of AIDS in 1986. But, as the film notes, and as history teaches us, his legacy lives on.

The Art Theatre is located at 2025 E 4th St. For more information or tickets, click here.

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Steve Lowery began his journalism career at the Los Angeles Times, where he planned to spend his entire career. God, as usual, laughed at his plans and he has since written for the short-lived sports publication The National, the L.A. Daily News, the Press-Telegram, New Times LA, the District and the OC Weekly. He is the Arts & Culture Editor for the Post, overseeing the Hi-lo.