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particular interest of foreign scholars or investigators who came to him for help.” (Belo, 1970:
xix) She noted that meeting Spies “opened up vistas for us…[she and McPhee] are both more
deeply indebted to him than to any one single individual who had entered our lives during that
period.” (ibid.) Spies was also very active in the Balinese artist community. Robert Pringle
notes that both he and Covarrubias were “both influencing Balinese artists and being
influenced by them.” (Pringle, 2004: 137-138)
Spies, however was as controversial as he was charismatic and helpful. It was well
known among his circle of friends and the Balinese community that Spies was homosexual and
was engaging in sexual activities with young Balinese men, some said to be minors. In
December 1938, during a Dutch-led crackdown on homosexuality in Bali, Spies and Roelof Goris
(Pringle, 2004: 154-155) a Dutch scholar, were arrested for having homosexual sex with a
minor. The Dutch, it is noted, had mixed feelings about the expatriate community who were, at
once, good at promoting Bali as an exotic getaway, while also perpetuating the image that Bali
was a sexually permissive “paradise for homosexuals.” (Shavit, 2003: 180) Spies and Goris both
viewed Bali as a “heaven of tolerance,” (ibid: 56) in a world that they otherwise felt was
intolerant of homosexuality. Further, Goris, like Covarrubias, was actively taking action against
missionary activity on the island. (Covarrubias, 1937: 402) The crackdown by the Dutch was
viewed as a sudden and unexpected “witch-hunt.” (Shavit, 2003: 180) The Balinese, themselves
very accepting of homosexuals, were stunned by this crackdown against people they viewed as
friends. (Shavit, 2003: 182) Spies, who chose to ignore the threat of the crackdown, was jailed
in Surabaya. Friend and colleague Margaret Mead quickly came to Spies’ defense, noting that it
was very difficult to tell the age of the young Balinese men, who saw homosexuality, Mead
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