Way back in 1971 a TV series on New York City’s public station, WNET, welcomed John Lennon and Yoko Ono to takeover their show Free Time.

The programme, which was preparing to relaunch in a new format, decided to broadcast Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Jonas Mekas’ performance of excerpts from Ono’s ‘Of a Grapefruit in the World of Park’ for the entirety of October.

A Grapefruit in the World of Park, first performed at the Village Gate and then shortly after at Carnegie Hall, consisted of Ono reading a text over a recording of music, laughter and inaudible speech.

The introduction to television came as Free Time attempted to change the way a TV studio function and, as author James Day wrote in his book The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television, tried to encorporate a more free, bohemian approach. Day writes:

“[The] original concept was an open studio—anyone with the desire to be seen and heard would be welcome to drop in—but that gave way to the more practical concept of a thrice-weekly, late-night (10:30 P.M. to midnight) live show with a minimum of structure and maximum of provocation. Abbie Hoffman “moderated” a panel on the press; the consuls general of India and Pakistan debated the war in Bangladesh; and Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda aired their unpopular views on the Vietnam War. The show’s tissue-thin budget produced lots of talk: open-ended discussions by Bronx street gangs, New York cabbies, black film producers, women writers, domestic help, telephone operators, and other denizens of a world rarely glimpsed on the tube. […]

“On one memorable evening, Free Time featured the spiritually inspired films of Yoko Ono, including a film consisting only of the movements of a fly on the nipple of a woman’s breast. The attention to the film was broken, however, when her husband John Lennon put in a surprise appearance, set up a ladder, and invited the studio audience to join him in “flying” off the top rung. One hapless “bird” sustained a broken arm.”

Below, enjoy a clip taken from Ono and Lennon’s performance:


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