BAG PIECE – John & Yoko’s Viennese Waltz
By Madeline Bocaro ©
March 31, 1969 was the last day of John and Yoko’s honeymoon. They had been camped out at the Amsterdam Hilton where they staged their first Bed-In. The newlyweds flew to Vienna in the morning to continue their campaign for peace. The worldwide press was again invited to their hotel room, excited to see the Beatle and his new bride. But they confoundedly found the couple enveloped in a white bag. This was Yoko’s concept of ‘total communication’ with no visual obstacles, judgments or preconceptions.
Yoko got the idea for Bag Piece from the popular children’s story, The Little Prince in which a wise fox tells the prince that in order to understand the world, we have to look beneath the surface. “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
John and Yoko could not be coaxed out of the bag, not even for chocolate cake!
Reporter: Would you come out if we gave you a Sacher-Torte [the hotel’s well-known chocolate cake]?
Lennon: We’re not coming out for the conference, no. But we’ll be out for chocolate cake later.
From inside the bag, Yoko hummed a Japanese song. John was hilariously humming a Viennese waltz from inside the bag – ‘The Blue Danube’ by Johann Strauss II.
Watch a video clip here:
John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Hotel Sacher press conference (Vienna)
Here’s the transcript of the interview from Bag Piece in Vienna!
“…It was a very strange scene because they’d never seen us before, or heard – Vienna is a pretty square place. A few people were saying, ‘C’mon, get out of the bags.’ And we wouldn’t let ’em see us. They all stood back saying, ‘Is it really John and Yoko?’ and ‘What are you wearing and why are you doing this?’ We said, ‘This is total communication with no prejudice.’ It was just great. They asked us to sing and we sang a few numbers. Yoko was singing a Japanese folk song, very nicely, just very straight we did it. And they never did see us.”
– John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, to Jann Wenner
John immortalized the events in a song.
The Ballad of John & Yoko
Made a lightning trip to Vienna
Eating chocolate cake in a bag
The newspapers said, she’s gone to his head
They look just like two gurus in drag…
The Lennons were in Vienna to promote Yoko’s new film ‘Rape’, shown on Austrian TV in which cameraman (Nic Knowland) relentlessly pursues a woman (Eva Majlata) through the London streets with increasingly disturbing results.
After forming an institution for animals in her native Hungary, Eva had a hard time finding film work.
She was brutally murdered in 2008:
The Telegraph – 2009:
Previously, in 1968 John and Yoko appeared in a bag the Alchemical Wedding (A gathering of underground artists) at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
In 1969, Bagism was reprised was at the New Cinema club in London.
Bag Piece @ Moma, NYC – Summer 2015