Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Man Who Got Trumped.

I performed this story on Friday night 16th March at a gig called The Giant Dwarf  in Redfern, Sydney as part of "Queer Stories - The 78ers Tell of Their Lives." I was accompanied by the great slide-guitarist Paul Vassallo and had visuals projected on a screen beside me, some of which are presented here. I dedicated my performance to Jeff St. John who died last week. He was a great soul/blues singer who was born with spina bifida and when we teenagers in mid 1960s Melbourne knew he was coming from Sydney to our club, The Catcher, we were thrilled as he was a great inspiration as well as musician, for he showed us anything was possible if you had heart and guts, even from a wheelchair.


Growing up I had a grumpy Stalinist grandfather, my mother’s father, who had roof-shaking political arguments with my dad over Communism versus Socialism and the weakness of the Labor Party of which my dad was an avid supporter. After nearly every visit we had to rush from his house in a fury, my dad cursing the old fellow, much to my befuddlement, the political arguments background psycho-babble to my childhood education.

Grandpa had been a larrikin in the early twentieth century. Originating in the 1880s they were an inner-city Melbourne gang that dressed nattily in short black coats with lots of pockets and braids, bell bottomed trousers, pointy-toed boots and broad-rimmed hats. They loved to dance energetic polkas and Irish jigs, and often fought the police, like hoodlums from which today’s rebellious youth evolved. Grandpa went on to run a two-up school during the Great Depression, filling his house with costly object d’art collected from those gamblers who lost but had no money.

Being a very cute blue-eyed child my grandpa spoiled me terribly, always giving me the highly desirous loose change from his pockets. I often fingered his precious bric a brac, staring in fear and wonder at various statues such as one of a leering red devil, soul-tempting Mephistopheles himself. Grandpa asked me to choose which piece I liked the best and I chose a gem-studded, silver Ghengis Khan riding a horse, and the old fellow laughed and exclaimed that I had good taste, and I would inherit all the treasure when he died.

Among the piles of jeweled ornaments was a chipped plaster statue of a bedraggled tramp passed out on a park bench, a pack of playing cards scattered at his feet, with the legend, “the man who got trumped” written on its base. I was fascinated by it and in bewilderment asked my grandpa, "What does it mean? “You’ll find out one day,” the old man wisely assured me.
Around that time, one night while my parents were arguing in the kitchen, I sneaked out to the lounge room and watched on TV a most magical movie, the Korda Brothers 1940 production of “The Thief of Baghdad” starring my henceforth dreamboat companion, the ebullient Indian youth Sabu. As I thrilled to him flying upon a genie’s back up to the high Himalayas to steal an omniscient jewel from an alien godhead’s brow I crossed my heart and swore that one day I too would fly to that mystical temple, have the most fabulous of adventures and achieve wondrous things in my life.

When I grew into a teenager my true nature became more evident, I walked, talked and thought gay, and by 1967 I had come out to all my friends and some of my workmates, but still thought it would be too much of a burden to drop upon my working-class parents who had enough worries. I was seventeen and going through a Mod phase, chasing all the hot bands of the time such as Lobby Lloyd and “The Wild Strawberries”, Max Merritt and “The Meteors”, Billy Thorpe and “The Aztecs”, Gerry Humphries and “The Loved Ones”, “Jeff Saint John and The Id”, “Python Lee Jackson”, “The Chelsea Set” and “The Purple Hearts” in inner-city clubs like The Biting Eye, The Catcher and The Thumping Tum. I was mad for pop culture and rock’n roll, and nothing could sway me from following my rebellious teenage bent.

While I was out dancing all night my mother had been beaten up one last time by my drunken father causing her to flee, back to her parents’ house for succor as there were no women’s refuges in those days. She was a grown woman yet her stern father insisted, if not home every night for dinner, at least she was never go out after nine pm and under these penal-like conditions I visited her diligently. I then ran away from home myself and shared a grungy flat with the first love of my life, a long-haired rock’n roll drummer named Tony. I was quite the dandy, ironically not too dissimilar to the Larrikins of yore, and on visiting my mum I proudly wore my latest Carnaby Street gear, a high-collared blue paisley shirt, striped bell-bottomed trousers, velvet jacket and my long curly hair obscuring my face.

Presenting myself thus at my grandparents’ dinner table caused the old Stalinist to flip out. “My grandson’s grown into a bloody poofter! Look at his disgusting get up! Get out of my house ya little fairy!” He yelled for me to never come back again and slammed the door on my crestfallen face. I never did see the old grump again and I inherited exactly nothing from him, I was disowned and disaffected.

From then on I found life as an obvious homo to be a terrifying, disreputable one, suffering beatings, rapes, insults, poverty, homelessness, harassment, exclusion and bitchiness, from straight society and fellow gays alike. It was hard to keep a job, rent a room, escape the sharp claws of the Law and avoid mental breakdown in the institutions of psychiatry, in fact all the world tried to fuck me, for if you don’t have middle-class support you are left open to the harsh elements. 

I did indeed spend years sleeping on park-benches and by the side of the road like a washed-up tramp, a school of hard knocks in which I grew strong. At twenty-one I hit the road, became a dharma bum and hoped to find myself while practicing yoga, meditation and abandoned dancing in India for four years in the early ‘Seventies. I grew into a resilient, determined adult, confident about who I was and what I wanted.

I gambled, I lost, I dared to win, for instance at writing literature, influenced by Jean Genet and Edmond White, where, in the early ‘Eighties, I admitted in popular short story anthologies to the outlaw’s search for sexual gratification at the city’s beats. This compromised any career I might find in the arts where all accolades went to heterosexuals or well behaved, nice gays. At all those gallery receptions and movie premiers, I was looked at askance, the poof who confessed to sucking cocks in dark parks.

Yet I have lived life to the max, refusing to go on my knees to the gods of money, power and fame, instead I appreciated art, creating posters, films, murals, comics and stories. I’ve trekked many times to the high Himalayas and danced ecstatically with freaks by the Arabian Sea, and in Auz in the 1980s I grappled in the mosh-pits in Sydney’s wildest rock clubs such as Frenchs, The Trade Union and Sellinas at Coogee Bay to bands like The Angels, The Saints, The Cramps and Butthole Surfers, and The Divinyls: dancing up close with the musical genius of Chrissie Amphlet, her head-spinning, skirt-lifting highland fling as she growled and yodeled rock soprano sent us punters into a nirvanic swoon.

Beyond single-issue identity politics I’ve fought for prisoners rights, Koori rights, women’s rights and, as a ‘78er, for my own liberation as a gay man. Though ignominious I’ve lived my life as if I were “The Thief of Baghdad”, riding a flying carpet, challenging a wicked regime, enthused by finding the light given off by a jewel-studded silver statue of my own creation. Oh, and I got over being trumped.


The four 78er story-tellers before me were superlative, each one so funny I near pissed myself laughing but also poignant to the point of tears and heartache. All of them hard acts to follow, I was on last and I was not going to tell any jokes so I was somewhat in trepidation. My tale was hard-arsed drama and the audience was hushed, still, I would like to think transfixed, nary a guffaw was to be heard. I could let this get to me if I wasn't such an experienced showman, I carried on for I simply had a different story and a different way of presenting it, in fact it was all rock'n roll, in style and content. 

I went into a shamanic trance performing my story, almost a dervish whirl as befits its inspiring folkloric content, my arms thrown up in the air, a hot white light seeming to descend upon me as I swayed to the electric guitar. Afterwards I was congratulated by my peers and told I did great, all of which I didn't have a clue as I had entered "the Zone". Just to make sure I didn't get tabs on myself, in the midst of all the back-slapping, a serious-faced young woman approached me, the usual one curmudgeon in the crowd, who always seems to zero in on me, and asked if I didn't think I was racist. I couldn't believe my ears and asked her what she was talking about. I had just finished a tale about getting back-stabbed by the world and here she was trying to get another knife in. I guess she was trying to "trump" me, like no god farting in my face.

She claimed that my mentioning India was me appropriating Indian culture for my own benefit. Was I born in India, did my family come from there, blah, blah, blah. She hadn't seemed to listen to the M.C.s introduction that told of my studies at the Sivananda Jungle University. I repeated that I'd lived in India much of my life, that I studied and practiced yoga and meditation, that I certainly didn't teach yoga, dress as an Indian or call myself Baba Rumballs. I was just a tourist and the tourist industry was one of the biggest employers in India and India definitely encouraged tourists to visit.

She had some axe to grind, a serious young thing playing the racist card as her membership of a cause celebre. "But what about all that "Thief of Baghdad" stuff you went on about, isn't that appropriating Indian culture?" "Hello, Baghdad is in Iraq! The Thief is a Suffi tale from the 1001 Arabian Nights, a collection of inspirational mystic folktales from the Middle East that inflamed my imagination when I was ten years old. Are you telling me a child selfishly appropriated another culture to get a leg up in the world? Anyway, what ever happened to us all sharing World Culture? Should Ravi Shankar not have taught George Harrison to play the sitar? I have Chinese and Koori ancestry, am I not to be inspired by their stories as well as those of the Irish Celts? 

I sweetly smiled at her and said, "I suggest you go watch the Korda Brothers film of "The Thief" and maybe you'll  understand why a poor, working class gay boy was so turned on by it." She had a confused, glum look on her pretty face, mumbling my performance was good as she turned away, and I surmised the dear young serious politico didn't know much, and it was good for my ego to be questioned, if I didn't create a little controversy I'd think something was wrong.


Thursday, March 08, 2018

Heart Attack Number 3 at Northcott.

On Monday 19th of February I handed in a complaint to the Housing Department that here on the 2nd of March has still not been dealt with. I asked for an appointment with my building’s client officer and did not get it. I rang in a notice to Maintenance, concerning the leakage of water from a flooded flat above me through my ceiling and into my living room. It dripped into my TV set which was on at the time and just as I tried to lift it away it blew up in my hands, so this is also an ongoing Health and Safety issue. Nobody has come yet to inspect the damage.

I have lived here for 28 years, am 68 years old, and have worked as a Palliative care nurse for much of my career, though I have also contributed to the city’s cultural life as an artist. I have suffered much while living here. My apartment at B02/50 is right on the common path through Northcott and everyone from the Estate plus many from Redfern and Waterloo walk right past my front door, I have no Security door/gate/wall, no concierge or guard ready to help. I’ve had many ne’er-do-wells come to my door at all times of the night and day on some nefarious agenda which I have to repel. I’ve had rocks thrown through my window and I was bashed at my front door about 10 years ago by a drug addict with an iron bar who was urinating against my front door and when I asked him to desist I was attacked in a rage, injured and the police had to be called.

I have seen many "jumper" suicides, one right at my doorstep jumping from the 4th floor and dying before my very eyes. I was in the middle of the Surry Hills massacre in 1990 when five residents were shot dead, again not far from my front door. I was here the day the police surrounded the building to catch the serial gay murderer on the third floor above me whose last victim had his head chopped off and thrown down the garbage chute.

I am surrounded by the neighbors from Hell. In the apartment next to me, whose  front door faces mine, is a ghastly poly-drug abuser who I call Cursula; heroin, methadone, Valium, Zanax, alcohol, are all imbibed by the truckload, unconscious in her manky bed for weeks, nothing can mollify her existential angst. She is an egregious hoarder, so much rubbish piled into her flat she can't receive her guests, they can't fit amid the putrid garbage so she entertains them by my front door, yakking, squabbling, yahooing till I have to put my head out the door and scream for them to "fuck off!"

Every day she parks more junk from the local dumpsters on my front porch and every day I cart it back to the dumpsters. She leaves a slimy mess behind her like some drunken slug, spilled coffee, cigarette butts, junk food packaging, empty booze bottles, cleaning it up daily has me exhausted, I just can't do it any more.

She's always at my door whining, asking for something,  even if it's just verbal abuse, calling through my door when I have guests so she can join in our conversations, she's driving me fucking bonkers till I hope some serial killer strangles her with a necktie like in Hitchcock's movie "Frenzy". I know this is a shocking incitement of violence towards a woman but it shows to what pathetic, psychotic depths I've sunk to think of such things, obviously not good for my mental health. And don't worry, every day I forgive her and we have a near cat and dog symbiotic relationship, she's the dog. 

For the last 4 years the whole building, and those back of us, have suffered from the disturbances of the guy living in flat LG02/50 above me. He verbally, violently abuses everyone constantly whenever he meets them in the grounds or stairway, especially old women who he loves to stand over. He slams his door many times a day, so hard the whole building shakes. He throws dirty tissues from his balcony. But worst of all he plays the same loud, bad music, from speakers placed at his windows to scare the demon birds away, over and over 24/7 so I myself am having temper tantrums all around the city because I’m a nervous wreck and sleep deprived, the very beginning of the first few notes of his music now induces nausea in me. 

The cops have been called fifty times but he acts all innocent like butter wouldn't melt in his pudgy arse, "Who me, I wouldn't do that." As soon as the cops go, up blares the bad music, "The Boys of Summer", Christmas carols or the American National Anthem.

Last week he left his taps running and flooded his flat so bad Maintenance had to come and pump it out, not before it seeped through the thick concrete of my ceiling. And my TV was ruined and I bet there will be no compensation. I’m a Pensioner, poor, and now I sit without even the comfort of a television. The creep often runs around the grounds with his shorts down around his knees and we all have to see his ugly arse, buttocks like two soggy suet puddings wobbling... uggghhh, it makes me sick thinking about it!

The Housing Department has a Duty of Care for all the residents, and I must particularly include myself, not just one rotten apple who is spoiling it for everyone. I’m 68 and I think he will give me my third heart attack. I want an appointment with my Client Officer to talk about a solution to my dilemma, if there is one. I've put in this complaint twice and, after three weeks, nobody has yet come to deal with the problem. 

I am sending this Statement of Living Conditions at Northcott Estate to every person who is the Manager at every level of the Housing Dept Bureaucracy, to the Ombudsman, to the Lord Mayor’s Office, to the Health Dept to see if someone will lend me succour. In the meantime I'm writing, painting, keeping the wolves from my door, and trying not to have another heart attack.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Dorian Gray On My Facebook Wall.

"Smart phone, smart phone, on my wall,
who's the fairest of them all?"
"Not you, you fucking narcissistic arsehole!"

Sorry folks, I've been away for quite awhile, taking a break, leaving my creative field fallow, hoping for regrowth. I went to India as I usually do, to get away from my mundane Sydney existence, experience the exotic, and risk life and limb to have some out of control adventure. And I did, we had a car crash zooming around the narrow roads of the Himalayan foothills, a drunken fuckwit in a large SUV jeep, taking up the whole narrow road, sped around a bend and slammed straight into us. For 3 seconds I thought it was all over, dead at last, our tiny car got pushed to the edge of the precipice and only the inertia of my mate braking hard and turning the wheels inwards stopped us going over.

But I aged ten years in the process, or maybe I just have been ignoring the mirror for a long time and believing the delusion that I'll live forever and can do anything I've done since I was 25. Yet I'm getting close to 70 and when those 20 something millennials clap eyes on me they turn away disinterested, as if old age is contagious and they might catch it from me. No more sitting at the feet of the old and wise to learn of life's long hard lessons as I did in my youth. The 1960s did have some cool things going for it other than the drugs and the rock'n'roll, such as sharing and respect for the aged, I was apprentice to several old Masters, in yoga and art and learned much that helped me throughout my rambunctious life. Lets face it, we must've done something right to survive all the shit that has gone down since.

My mate's poor wrecked car, which he wants me to pay for!!!
 Oh how I love the Himalayas, cruising around and around at high speeds, an extreme sport I admit but worth the risk. The natural splendors, the dangerous thrills and always something new to discover, such as the huge Hanuman Temple I was taken to. My Indian friends' prayers to the monkey god must've paid off as none of us were injured in the crash, the girl in the backseat only getting a slight concussion. I was resigned to spending the night on the chilly side of the road except my mate changed the shredded wheell and tore off the ripped-up front sheet-metal so that we were able to slowly chug chug back down the mountain to Rishikesh.

I survived India with no safety rails, made it to Delhi airport with $3 in my pocket, enough for a cup of coffee at MacDonalds. And here in Sydney I'm destitute. A reader of my Blogs must've noticed by now that I've been advertising my novel, Vagabond Freak, on every page, but for all that I've now had 60,000 readers I've not had one sale of the paperback or e-book version of it, not in the whole wide world, via Amazon, though I seem to have a readership in France, Germany, Russia and America! 

I suspect Amazon is ripping off most of my royalties, under-reporting the sales, as I've seen that proof of sales from relatives and friends don't match the sales charts Amazon cons me with. Bozo, the Amazon billionaire, seems to have a team of spin doctors paid to bullshit me that my family and friends have been lying to me!!! And they assure us suss complainers, the company gets audited every year: how could they audit a zillion transactions and as if THEY couldn't rig it anyway! 

(Or is it that the cool cats of the world hate Amazon so much they refuse to buy anything from the bastards, monopolists, polluters and slave drivers that they are, and that's the reason there's been no sales of my book globally? What to do, nobody has put me onto an alternative online print-on-demand publisher which doesn't censor or edit any independents, is an easy platform to access, and ships it to your door reasonably fast.)

I've Googled it and discovered other independent writers also have complained they've been ripped off, (a few sycophants have stated they haven't, they got their fair dues, so it must be us whingers who are deluded); it seems this is how Bozo got his $100,000,000,000, ripping off his suppliers!!! I certainly can never prove how many strangers around the world have bought my book, I'm totally reliant on Amazon being honest. And under corporate capitalism, is commercial honesty possible? America has exploited, raped and plundered the planet for a hundred years and the pace of daylight robbery has picked up egregiously under Trump. As Brad Pitt says at the end of "Killing Them Softly", "America is not a country, it's a business, now give me my fucking money!!"

Troma of New York ripped me off of my film royalties for "Virgin Beasts", (7 years of slave-work) and now Amazon looks like they are ripping me off of all my hard work in writing the book, (30 years of rewrites.) I'm not going to let this shit stop me, I'm nearly finished with my second novel,"Punk Outsider" in my trilogy "The 7 Lives of the Punk Poofy Cat" and somehow I'll publish it in a few months. I'm compulsive and passionate enough to keep going even though I'm constantly aware of the position of the artist in Australia, pathetically undervalued and class-ridden crushed. In Europe or America I might've made a living from talent and perseverance and be fetching good prices for my work. Here in Auz I'm penniless, kicked in the arse and told to "exit through the toilet." Oh yeah, I am  easily ripped off by American companies as I'm a hobo homo from way down under with no connections and wherewithal. There's possibly been a class-action against Amazon by independent publishers who are sure they've been ripped off but I am not in the know to figure out what's going on.

Obviously I'm quite fucked up and deranged over my existential predicament. Shocking world events reduce my sorrows to zero importance yet I exist at the center of my universe so I can't help bitching about how the world treats me. I'm a flaky loser, I admit, I don't even have an Australian Business Number to chase work and make sure I get paid for it as I have never had the yuppie ambition to run a plastic and stainless steel commercial-arts office. I guess I got what I asked for, sweet fuck all. The myth of the romantic artist certainly went out the window with Van Gogh's ear.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cry Baby.

It's true, I admit it, I'm nothing but a cry baby, always whinging about some perceived slight, as if the universe were centered around me, when in fact the world is burning and I don't amount to a pile of cat-shit. One foolishness I have to redress is my umbrage towards the Sydney City Council; I've had a few blues with the Lady Mayoress because one of my paintings got rejected or my arse got kicked on the Town Hall steps. I guess it's because I'm paranoid, too long crushed at the bottom of an unjust world, and I indulge in too much pot smoking, I'm like a ragged alley-cat hissing at monsters imagined in the moon's shadow projected between flying storm clouds.

Anyway, I hallucinated THEY had bricked into the wall, like Poe's black cat, my Northcott painting as too horribl. I am never to be seen by the public, as if I were Dorian Gray. THEY only bought it because a friend took up a petition as to it's historical/folkloric importance, "the travails of life in high-rise social housing" and as I feel I'm persona non grata I figured it would never actually be shown. Now, after some investigation, I'm told THEY exhibited it at Customs House down at Circular Quay earlier this year, and in September it will be displayed in the Lower Town Hall in some extravaganza called "175 Years of the Council's Service to Sydney." And so this mangy poofy cat is quite chuffed, and mollified, for a few brief days till some other trespass catches my ire.

21Years Under Northcott - 2012 - acrylic on canvas.

I'm kind of embarrassed about all the bullshit I write about getting stepped on in the race to the top of the heap, though I hope to make the travail of the working class artist one of my major subtexts; it must be also obvious I use Blogging not just to tell wild stories but to get entangled hairs out of my cake-hole, otherwise I choke on them, stupidities though they are. I do tell my truth, creating my own cinema verite via urban folklore, as nobodies don't ever get to tell their side of the story in the mainstream, and thus I can give reality checks to my phantom listeners. I'd like my carping to come across as funny satire rather than vitriolic insults. I'm going to delete most of these Blogs soon as they will be republished in books, only a few whines left, nobody gives a damn, life is more fucked for many more people than me, I'm happy I got to express myself at all.

Life's not too bad for me, I'm neither in the absolute gutter, filthy and mad, nor am I feted by high society, with money pouring out of my ears. I walk the middle path, my art occasionally surfaces and gets an overwhelming laudatory response, not bad for a guy who got rejected from art school, never enters any of the classy competitions or gets invited anywhere.

I'm a happy recluse in my social housing dungeon. Northcott has been a space where I am mostly free to create without any stand-over merchants, conducive to my democratic freedom of speech, with many highs and sometimes lashings of pain. Mostly it has settled down here. ICE addicts till run amok at night but we oldies don't venture out when the zombies are at large. I've got Cursula next door under control, every day she dumps piles of garbage from the dumpster by my front door and every day I cart it back to the bins. She has her eighteen year old son living with her nowadays which has grounded her a bit, and he has turned out the opposite of her, upright, sensible, polite, hardworking, determined to avoid her wastrel lifestyle.

Birdbrain upstairs still plays the same bad music over and over but he has it turned down, only when he's in a super manic mood does the American national anthem or corny Christmas carols get blasted through a thousand brains on edge, and we just grate our teeth till he calms down.

I lost the spirit to paint for the last three years as the "art world" is corrupt, ignorant, empty, hostage to money, fame and elitism. But a show for the '78ers is coming up in 2018 for the 40th anniversary of the Sydney LGBQTI Mardi Gras and I'm one of those original protesters from 1978 who got punched up in the riot way back then. So I've decided to contribute a new work which I'm working on now and it will be fun to splash the paint about upon one of my feisty drawings, ugly pigs, sweet poofs and beautiful dykes in a whirling heap of fists and boots and angry faces. 

Then it's back to tweaking the second volume in my trilogy, "The 7 Lives of the Punk Poofy Cat" and then self-publishing it. I'm heading towards 70 and about to realize my life's goals and for a poor boy from the Olympic Village, West Heidelberg, Melbourne, strung out in the lower echelons of alien Sydney, that's pretty fucking cool.

"Deadbeat Realism in the Queer Underworld"

If you like my stories please consider buying my book. I have given my writing away for free for 10 years, with no advertising, but starved in my garret while I did so, and now I'm asking for support.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Irradiated in "The Lead Sheds!"

The Punk Poofy Cat is well known for howling, hissing, spitting and sometimes purring from his dumpster in a back-alley of cyber-city but I’m actually writing it from my social housing slum dungeon at ICE Central where I have lived out a laid-back life for thirty years fulfilling my creative dreams as I deliquesce into squalor via my penury.

At least starvation and ignominy has kept me punchy, I’ve got nothing to lose by being gutter-level out-front in my existential commentary and memories. I can’t help but cast back to the old days, when Sydney was vibrant with explosive new music, funky old architecture, grungy pubs and cafes that welcomed group conversation as well as juke boxes and pot smoking.

And I remembered a gig I put on in 1986 just down the street from where I live, The Graphic Arts Club, refurbished now into The Gaelic Club, just across the road from Central Railway Station. I had finished my 9 year ordeal of filming and cutting together a final print of my Super 8 meta-realist epic “Darling It Hurtz!” (Seven years in the Life of a Suburb and a Singer) and I hoped to premier it at The Graphic Arts Club. I hired the band-room, got onside some deadbeat bands including Paul Kelly and Some Colored Girls, got a few mentions in the press and got stuck into hand-printing 400 copies of a super fluorescent Punk-drunk silk-screen poster that I planned to stick on all the walls of Sydney.

The Lead Sheds Poster Workshop at Sydney University had long suffered my independent label, Toby Zoates, as a fringe-dweller to their “Dirtworks Collective.” They had cooperatively shown me how to make perfect, beautiful hand-printed posters using photographic stencils on silk-screens, and they encouraged my individual, original designs and tolerated my passionate social critiques and political causes, much of which they too supported. I paid for all my materials, cleaned up after myself, and helped them when they needed labor to put their own posters up on the drying racks. Promise, I would always be heartfelt grateful for their assistance.

Long before my “Darling it Hurtz!” poster, in 1978 I’d noticed cans of fluoro paints sitting idle in a dusty corner and asked who were using them, and was told, “Nobody, they are a new techno paint, almost ‘60s style fluorescent glow paint. We're not interested!” I recalled the fluorescent murals I’d seen in a hippie cafe in Bangalore, India, in 1973, of Alice in Wonderland in glowing colors against a black field, black-lights illuminating them into psychedelic mind-warps, and I’d been flabbergasted at how brilliantly the style could communicate visions.
Anti-Authoritarian Dance Poster 1978
I asked the workshop if I could use the unused cans of fluoros and, printing on waste computer print-out paper, I created my first fluoro poster, “The Anti-Authoritarian Dance” at Balmain Town Hall, with White Trash and A.W.O.L. bands playing and I must say the night was a rocking, roaring success.

Then I dreamed up my 1979 “Garibaldi’s Benefit” gig to raise money for the old Italian who ran the club in Darlinghurst and was going broke. I enlisted the aid of the rock bands “Tactics” and “XL Capris” to do the Saturday night music gig. On the second night I got the support of Cabaret Conspiracy with the drag greats Doris Fisch and Jackie Hyde, plus Simon Reptile and Fifi Lamour all doing their “Cabaret Conspiracy” and it was a thumping, rocking weekend, and old Garibaldi really appreciated the assistance we gave him.

By 1981 I printed “No Future”, a giant fluoro triptych, supporting the release of my comic book “No Future”, a sci-fi tale about a mutant race using Ulurhu Rock as a storage facility for nuclear waste and worshiping the radioactive monolith as a colossal godhead warning the future as to its eternal poison. 

All the while I shot my Super 8 film around the inner-city, particularly in Darlinghurst, in and out of its architecture, following the life of a new-found friend, a working-class woman, a junkie prostitute schizophrenic but hopeful singing pop-star named Jenny Jinx who dreamed of making it in the music business. She sang a few of her songs for me while she wandered about the backstreets of Darlinghurst, bouncing around in back-lanes. I wove this in and out of shots of most of Sydney’s contemporaneous rock clubs, bands banging on within, the obvious subtext being “it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.”

I went to the govt. arts body whose responsibility it was to make sure important artistic/cultural/historical works get made, The Creative Development Branch of the Australian Film Commission and I asked them for funds to do more filming of the current music scene and environs and complete the film. 

I got as my assessor an smart-arse trendoid who thought he was the final word in good-taste and hip, obscure Super 8 film, and who in reality had taken over the Sydney Super 8 Film Group and kicked me out as he couldn’t stand my style and the competition to his obtuse glory that I represented.

I call him Warnerbros and he knocked me back cold, me and my film about the Sydney inner-city music scene could go drop dead, (all that wondrous footage of the bands and the venues lost to history because of one fuckwit's small-mindedness!) I was furious at this dead-head’s nerve, his bigoted stupidity and blatantly jealous scumbag-nature. Thus I wrote a poison-pen letter about him to the bureaucrats at the Film Commission, telling them Warnerbros was a twerp who didn’t have clue about cutting edge film. THEY asked me to come in and I was given a check under the table for $6000 to finish my film.

I cut it together with some wild animation and put three Darlo folkloric songs in as sound-track, “Living in Darlinghurst” by The The, “Darlinghurst” by The Celibate Rifles and “Darling it Hurts to See You Down in Darlinghurst Tonight” by Paul Kelly. Paul got this line for his famous song when he saw the graffiti and mural I did on the Darlo Squat wall in 1981 and he promised me that he would reciprocate the inspiration by letting me use his song and personally appearing for 7 seconds in the film.

So there I was in 1986, having miraculously finished my film “Darling It Hurtz!” over a few dead bodies, and I was midway through printing the silk-screen poster for the film’s premier gig at The Graphic Arts Club. Before I could get over to the Lead Sheds to keep going I noticed this huge lug of a man loitering outside my Pyrmont Squat cottage for hours, pacing back and forth and giving me the willies. I stupidly went out and said, “Hey mate, don’t hang around out here, there’s nothing for you here, the smack dealer’s gone out!”

Without much ado he yelled, “Shut your mouth cunt!” Then he leaped upon me, half my age, twice my weight, and beat the shit out of me, broke my right arm and clawed my face till it looked as if a were-wolf had got to me. I called the cops, and though I’d seen the brute run up the hill to Wayside Terrace Council Flats, I told the cops I didn’t see where he went. An ambulance was called and I was taken to Sydney Hospital where I was operated upon, a pin put in my arm and my face bandaged up. I was there for a few days and thus couldn’t finish my poster, the gig was only 10 days away, everything booked and ready to go, and no poster promotion was ready.

Therefore I asked a few of my daring mates to break into the Lead Sheds and finish the poster for me, it needed two more screens of color applied and after drying would be ready to go up on the walls of Sydney. They rushed off to follow my directions, got into the poster-workshop from an open back-window and were finishing the job in wonderful zealous fashion.

But then one of the Dirtworks Collective showed up and went into shock at the temerity of my gauche gutter mates breaking in to use their precious facilities and complete my work. She abused them roundly, "How dare you break in here and use the materials without our permission! This is not a free-for-all!" She harrumphed and grumbled and they couldn't get a word in until she took a breath. Finding a break in her tirade they tried to inform her of my terrible calamity and need for help. But she nagged on and on, "What guttersnipes are doing mischief here?" Finally they blurted out how I was in hospital undergoing surgery from an assault and had begged them to finish the poster in time for the film’s premier. They then pleaded with her to be allowed to finish the posters as the film premier gig was important to me. She begrudgingly acquiesced, otherwise she wouldn't want to incur "the Wrath of Toby Zoates!" She shut her gob and allowed them to continue and in later years declared herself to once have been a “Punk” but I’d like to argue the point.

The film premier went off like a joyful brain-burst, I did some stand-up comedy, with arm in sling and face claw-marked, about the crowd in the Club coming over to Pyrmont Squats with me and taking on the gang of wharfie rednecks who beat me up, but I got a glum response to that dark joke. I’m happy to say that over the years the film, “Darling It Hurtz!” has garnered quite a reputation and been viewed a lot on Youtube.

There was a time at The Lead Sheds, in 1988, when the Bi-centenary of the European Invasion of Australia was to be celebrated by the Powers-that-Be and the general gronk population. It was proposed by all the artists that we each do a poster critiquing those celebrations, as they are in fact a cover for the brutal colonization and murder of a whole Indigenous race and culture that had thrived in the land for 60,000 years. We decided it would be best if we each also found a Koori to work with us on the design and content of the poster as that would give the First Australians their rightful input as well.

I had already lined up my Koori mate and fellow artist, Malcolm Cole, famous for creating the first Gay Indigenous float for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, him dressed up as a black Captain Cook at the helm of a mocked-up ship on wheels. Just as we were all rubbing our hands in glee at the subversive thrill of sticking the finger to the Bi-Centenary Celebrations Board, via a flood of hot, maverick posters stuck on all the walls of Sydney, a damp blanket was thrown over affairs.

Cips MacSalty
Chips MacSalty, genius poster maker and unacknowledged Captain of the good ship Lead Sheds “Dirtworks” arrived to inform us that his mother had begged him not to go ahead and do the anti-celebrations poster project as it would cast a dark cloud over events and go down in history as infamously bad taste and an insult to good manners, much better to go quietly, lift the wine glass and intone like robots, “Three cheers for the Queen.” His mother happened to be on the Celebrations Organizing Committee, and she also happened to be the Vice-Chancellor of Sydney University, and thus the existence of the Lead Sheds Poster Workshop was somewhat beholden to her kind patronage and discretion. I whined, “But it’s a great chance to show the reality of Invasion, to produce great art and get Kooris involved!?” 

“Oh no, too provocative, too inappropriate! Too much expensive hard work for something not so necessarily glorious.” I wept bitterly, and my Koori friend Malcolm was mightily disappointed.

Whatever, the anti-invasion poster project was abandoned, to my dismay, and we went on to cry crocodile tears for the downtrodden and polluted. Chips soon moved on to Darwin where he has run a marvelous design business supporting Koori causes for many years and is considered a hero of the leftist-design schools, and good luck to him. I thought he was a good mate, always praising his work, but I noticed over the last 35 years I have been excluded from any of The Lead Shed Shows, wiped from the records where possible, (I’m still in the collection in the National Gallery Canberra as thankfully I signed my named on all my works), and am never noted in Acknowledgements in whatever catalogs etc Dirtworks put themselves and their mates in, as if I was a plague case best forgotten.

I tried to be a caring, generous good guy, I helped him with his own work, cleaned up with them and even gave him my best toy, a “sputnik” style ‘60s TV set for him to watch his favorite shows while he labored over his masterpieces, a white plastic sphere with inbuilt television screen I very much cherished. I really thought we were friends! WTF!!! All along he was the straight son of the Vice-Chancellor of Sydney University and the Master Poster Maker and I was the queer upstart from a working class social housing ghetto in West Heidelberg, Melbourne. 

I sincerely thought the poster workshop was an open community facility where talent, especially from the dispossessed, was fostered. Perhaps they think I'm a self-promoting egotist who took advantage of their generosity and used them for my grand career. Guess what? I didn't get one. I've been penniless and art-workless since then, apart from what I've drummed up while on a pension or working with the dying in nursing homes. Never invited anywhere, rarely mentioned, and for all my squalling, I couldn't give a shit, because I still got myself a life, a wonderful life, of creativity and adventure, all that I've dreamed of since a child.

After seven years of toiling and creating brilliant posters in the Lead Sheds, even helping everyone else rack their hundreds of drying posters and helping them to clean up, I was never offered a paid job even once, chasing or dreaming up all my jobs myself. When finally a job came up "teaching silk-screen printing to Sydney University students" I applied for it, desperate for paid-work for I'd been unemployed for years, other than poster making. I got interviewed by "the cooperative", people I'd worked alongside of for several years, but they knocked me back cold, preferring instead a Greek macho prick who had walked in the door three weeks previously. Again, I was so pissed off with them, when one of them applied to be my Facebook friend after thirty years of my continued starvation, I firmly pressed the icon "IGNORE."

My bitching tales are my truths, this is how it went down, a bit of art history, honestly from my heart. I have just been reminiscing, about pseudo-fame, “collectives", the fun of abandoned dancing to real BAD-ARSE rock music, art gigs I put on, the race up the shit-heap of kudos in the “art-world”, the billionaire arms dealers investing in bullion art, and the artworks of mine that created waves I didn’t expect in the least. And I’m so fucking happy I did it “MY WAY!” Yet I got so irradiated at The Lead Sheds I passed into a shadow-world like The Invisible Man. 

Hmmmmm... life’s a blast, even in the middle of the gladiator battle, as the thumbs go in the eyes to gouge them out, it’s how quick you can weave and dance your way through the brutal attacks and thrusting knives that provides half the fun. Of course, I liked the helping hands better, they are the people that will shine in my memories.

If you liked, or were sympathetic to, my stories please go to the WEB address above and buy my book as you'll get the full tale of how I grew up and got driven into Freaksville.