January 18, 1982 12:00 PM

It was a joke that made Saturday Night Live look tasteful. Dressed up as a cleaning woman for a cabaret act in a London restaurant, Julian Lennon, 18, the late Beatle’s son, stood on the sidelines as three of his friends did some magic tricks. When they finished, one of them, Karen O’Connor, 22, walked offstage and impulsively pointed a prop revolver at Julian’s head. Cameras clicked. Next day the picture was splashed across the London tabloids in a grotesque parody of the fatal shooting of his father, John, 13 months ago. Everyone was shocked—especially Julian and Karen. “We were just larking around,” she explained. “Nothing nasty was intended.” Said Julian: “I never realized what was happening. I was looking at the camera and did not see where she was holding the gun.”

The bizarre incident again drew attention to Lennon’s only son by his first wife, Cynthia. Since his father’s death, Julian has become a fixture in the West End night spots of London. A would-be drummer, he has frankly conceded that to win social entree into the district’s private clubs, he is “cashing in on Dad’s name.” So far the name has brought him mostly trouble. Julian saw little of his father after John and Cynthia’s marriage broke up in 1968. Near the end of his life John declared openly that his love was primarily directed toward his second wife, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean, now 6. Still, John left Julian a generous trust fund. The young man will eventually inherit a reported $4 million of the $250 million estate. A first installment of $200,000 will go to him when he turns 25. Meanwhile Julian depends on Yoko Ono for an alowance of $100 a week, and he isn’t happy about it. “Yoko has total control of everything,” he has complained. “I have a lawyer who is battling to see what else I am entitled to. But right now I am not rich. I’m just too lazy to get a job, and as long as I can carry on the way I am, I think that is what I will do.”

Yoko blames Julian’s attitude on his mother. “Poor Julian is probably very confused,” Yoko told a London newspaper. “It all has to do with Cynthia. She is not getting any money from John’s estate—rightly—and she is very hurt by this. [Cynthia received $240,000 in the 1968 divorce.] It’s hard for Julian to please his mother without saying bad things about me.” Defending the size of Julian’s stipend, Yoko observed, “John never gave him any allowance. Julian was complaining he didn’t have enough money to be able to buy beer, so I said, ‘How much would cover that?’ Am I wrong? How much do most kids his age get? Should he grow up so differently from other kids?” On top of his allowance, Yoko says, she recently sent Julian close to $6,000 to buy drums. Despite her stepson’s remarks, Yoko remains optimistic about their relationship. “He’s a young boy and should be forgiven his mistakes,” she said. “He only wants people’s love.”

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