Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Posse of Poofs at the Pecadillo Cafe.

The Piccolo Cafe has always been a sanctuary for poofs, mostly from having the Fairy Queen Vitto front it for the last fifty years. On any day half the denizens will be homos of one kind or another, not that this puts Hets off, or women, it's a free-for-all but we poofs can particularly relax there. All the world has long been cruel to us, in spite of gay-lib lip-service, and the red-light area of Kings Cross is especially rough, the redneck yobs at their brothel-crawling seem to find us an imposition, an insult to their upright, macho normalcy and beat us into beatitude accordingly, but there's always the Piccolo to run to.

First I must emphasise, Australia and Sydney are glowing sites of freedom and human rights compared to many areas of democratic darkness around the world, where poofs are proscribed, tortured, gaoled and murdered. We homos have evolved with the human race for millions of years, we've been around throughout history, we've certainly contributed much to civilisation, and, when not oppressed, our free movement represents society at its most progressive, most humane, most cutting-edge; where we tread be sure the catch-cries are liberty, equality, fraternity, hopefully without the Terror. And in this regard, Sydney glows in the dark. So mistake not my satire, I'd fight for my fellow gays with my last breath, I just want to have a bit of fun and describe the 'deviants' thriving in that "Oasis of Onanism", the Pecadillo Cafe.

I've long wanted to do cartoon portraits of the disparate camp characters parading through but live in fear they may take umbrage and fry my balls in the microwave, still I'm gonna risk it and see what I get away with. To start with, I'll sketch the latest addition to the gay menagerie, a skinny, fragile 18 year old we call Ricky Martin, a brisk wind could snap him in two, pale as a ghost, red-haired and freckled, he walks on egg-shells as if he's just been screwed up the street, and probably has. Apparently he's the son of a Christian minister, driven to continuous psychotic breakdowns by an antipathetic world, already on a disability pension and he hasn't even started life, every day in a tizz over some small domestic drama, it's not easy being an OUT and OUT pansy since infancy. He's possibly a proto trannie as he follows Ayesha around like an acolyte chasing her guru and hopefully will learn from the maestro how to gird her loins against the deluge of slings and arrows yet to come her way.

Ayesha the Drag(on) Lady is the reigning queen of Roslyn Street, never to let us forget she was the star attraction of Les Girls, the female impersonators that "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" emulated, the only Aussie-Asian in the bunch, all that miming to bad disco hits her claim for the cure for cancer, she swans about in outre costumes, snarling glib wisecracks from a cheeky pose like Gloria in "Sunset Boulevard", quick to relate a flippant tale of glory long gone by, she's very entertaining and has anybody who crosses her path beaming with a cheesy grin. In her madness she forgets to shave, her lapdog like a drowned rat in her arms taking snaps at passing strangers, she mugs for every camera flashed, it could be Leni Reifenshtal making a doco about the decadent downfall of Sodom Sydney and she'd put in her 7 cents worth.

Danny About sits across from me, trying to hide his gaping maw with his hand, he'd lost his teeth and is sensitive to his disfiguration, once a raving beauty on the Drag circuit, compatriot of Doris Fish on their world tour, he'd been a hustler in New York, and out of drag was notorious for having a giant shlong and thus done tricks with the likes of Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal and Truman Capote. Now in old age he permanently resides in his male persona, another wit quick with camp wisecracks, actually a sweet natured angel, benign, content to sell his costume jewellry at Surry Hills markets in near-obscurity.

Every circus has a fat-lady and for us it's Gremlin, looking much like Jabba the Hutt, a monster with a vicious creature in the folds of his belly, his mentally-challenged side-kick Larry, supposedly his adopted son, they fight incessantly, only last week Larry had thrown a knife at the fat gronk. Gremlin has nothing good to say about the world except to complain about Larry's latest outrages and telling nasty sexist jokes that aren't funny. Ayesha likes to quip that he parks his van behind Long Bay Gaol with the doors open ready to sweep up any desperado on release to work at his business of sucking out the old grease from fish and chip shops, among other things that doesn't bear thinking about. He's had seven heart attacks and when he finally does drop dead everybody will have to run for it to avoid the tidal wave of shit that he'll surely let go.

Oh, no saints preserve me, a monster from my past has come back to the Cafe to try to crack back into my good graces, but he hasn't got a hope. Ian Cheeseburger and I were buddies and warriors in arms for seven years back in the 'Eighties and 'Nineties but he got into ICE on top of the poly-drug abuse he already practiced, he was already mad and he got madder. Manic after drug-fueled orgies with strangers he'd arranged on a phone-sex line, he'd then dredge the dumpsters of the city's back-alleys till dawn and drag back the rubbish to hoard in his hovel with bullshit fantasies that it was all for his great arts' career, burying himself under it all.

Often he'd come over to my place and disturb me with paranoid harangues, shouting "The CIA flew those planes into the Twin Towers! Toby you can't eat anything red, put that apple down! You broke your leg because you had bad karma!" He'd scream and wave his arms about, me in bed with my leg in a "Zimmer splint" after my grand motor-cycle accident, too vulnerable and tetchy to soak up his eye-rolling rage, I asked him to leave to which he stood out the front of my apartment and shouted, "Toby, you're a dirty old poof!" I hopped outside and threatened to brain him with a cudgel and swore I'd never talk to him again, and I never did. Now he here is shrieking superlatives about my punk approach into my face, my new best friend. I don't want him in my life anymore, too tired and reclusive, I need peace and enlightenment in my companions.

Here comes Malcolm Wrathschild, another sorry soul back from the dead, scion of a wealthy family who'd scandalised their good name by being a schitzo gay reprobate, they'd bought him off with large sums which he'd blown on klunky cars and addled rentboys. The poor thing has hunched up over the years like Quasimoto, in spite of the riches he looks like a tramp from under a bridge, in and out of the psycho-bins, living proof that money doesn't buy love or sanity. He's betrayed the Piccolo in ghastly fashion over the years, calling the cops and the health department, abusing Vitto's sister, Maria, as " a nasty old slut!" He is always forgiven, people feel sorry for him and talk to him like he's got half a brain, he creeps about, waffling on with some nonsense concerning Marilyn Monroe.

James is working today, he's the ascerbic cook who thinks he can be as rude as Vitto, who has nastiness down to a fine art, has made his reputation swearing at his customers and is funny and endearing, but with James it's just plain hideous, a pity because he'd be a goodlooking boy if he smiled and didn't snap like a cranky turtle. He's half-Aboriginal and claims to belong to the Royal House of Turtle Island up near Lismore, a princess in waiting no less. Another drama queen, these days he's going to court to get an AVO against some other queen who he says has put a contract out on his life.

Charles Haughtry has walked up bearing a tulip ripped from the Fitzroy Gardens by our local Aboriginal beggar Rosie to give as a gift to Peter Pumpkin for his birthday. Looking like a cross between Oscar Wilde and Droopy the Dog, as usual his dinner has stained the front of his wrinkled clothes and hairs shoot from his nostrils like Poof the Manky Dragon. He's long had the hots for Peter, thinks he has a special relationship with the angelic violinist, virtually stalks him, sending him 77 text messages a day, and is scheming that the presentation of the tulip will get him further into Peter's heart.

Both of them are mad geniuses, Peter composes heavenly music while Charles writes plays, his short piece, "The Rose", recently won the Short and Sweet Competition for writing and direction because it was the only play that had real emotion. Peter comes on hot and cold over their non-affair, happy to have an adoring, supportive friend, not so keen on the "special" bit, he dreams of a butch, sensitive symphonic music composer to wave his baton by his side, but neither artist has found the man of their dreams and looks into a cracked mirror wondering why. Lucky for me Charles is the most benign of souls and laughs when he reads these scabrous portraits.

Oh Oh! Here comes the mummified Edwin Duff, cabaret singer extraordinaire, one foot through the Pearly Gates, the poor old thing needs a walking-frame these days to get about, toddling inch by inch down Roslyn street, dressed in a "Joker's" suit like a psychedelic carnie-barker, he's come to grace the Pooparazi Cafe with his royal presence. He thinks he channels Frank Sinatra with his singing and if you dare question his expertise he flips and shrieks curses that would curl the hair on the Pope's bum, has made such a terrible commotion around the Cross that everyone disappears when they see him coming. I love to give the cranky old dick a hard time, calling him Edwin Muff and asking him if his next hit record will be titled, "Up the Duff", he howls and spits like a mangy old alley cat, miffed that a little punk like me is not afraid of him.

All these portraits seem to come from a "rogues' gallery" so I have to mention that many sweet-natured, sane gays come to the Venus Fly-trap Cafe as well. There's Dr. Glen the lawyer who gives legal help to the streeties, ready to lend succor if one is down on one's luck when asked, often with a gift of a book or theatre tickets for Vitto. And Adrian, a young blonde gay who is drop-dead gorgeous, smart and honey-natured, all the frustrated poofs drool over him but he's in a long-term relationship and a bit too Alpha-male for these local deadbeats as he's the President of the Kings Cross Businessmen's Association. And Steve the architect from Gosford, beaming joy, amused by the comic routines of the Hell's Kitchen Cafe. And last of the Sweeties, another Peter, with the most beautiful little fluffy white dog, who commiserates with all my traumas and whose quiet smile somehow calms me.

To yell, "Gay!" is an insult in the school-yard, many gays grow up brutalised, alienated, dysfunctional, worn down by the bigotry, they turn to substance abuse, alcohol, heroin, pills, pot, ICE, and become hissing, sneering harpies slagging off the world, all as a defense but reinforcing straight society's disenchantment with them. A case in point would be Bobby Dogcart, with his terribly fey manners, the classic snippy gay, his nose ever turned up, snarling through his hairy nostrils at the world, he puts shit on everything, no good turn gets his approval, it's all self-aggrandisement or money grubbing. He had a heroin habit for 21 years, now he's over it but drained of substance till there's only a husk left, he seems totally lost and haunts the Pleasure Chest Sex Shop looking for his soul-mate.

And last on the line, me, the pinhead geek in this freak-show, one more confused fag sitting fucked off at the Hairy Angel Cafe, bitter and twisted from having been beaten up 777 times, my potential limited, my road lonely. The few times I thought I found a lover he turned into ashes in my mouth, I rarely get laid, often discovering I've been entertaining a ghost in my heart. Lucky for me I've long searched for enlightenment, finding much of this world ephemeral and not worth losing my nuts over.

Father Syn walks in, (you'd think they'd demand a name change), from the Catholic Church down the street. He's got Cardinal Pell with him, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, and one of the most noxious of anti-gay powers in existence, they've come to make obeisance to the fairy Queen Vitto. The six foot five monster fills the cafe and looms over the little hobgoblin Vitto, asking him if he's Italian and Vitto snaps, "No, I'm Chinese!" Then the old bugger speaks Italian to him and Vitto melts, eats out of his bishopric hand, kisses his ring.

Pell keeps his apalling, huge back to me, he knows a Luciferian when he senses one, The Hairy Angel Cafe is a hotspot of atheistic ferment and irreligious philosophy, and I'm one of the most articulate demagogues, forever rebelling against THEIR tyrannical gods. Maybe he's come to exorcise the place, but I think he and his church are one of the great demonic forces denying human rights across the planet and throughout history, and it's him who should be exorcised. If I wasn't so distracted and distraught I would've heckled him but that would've been impolite, and if we're anything at the Dante's Inferno Cafe we're lovely law-abiding, diplomatic citizens who wouldn't say "boo" even when confronted by the Great Beast himself.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Remembering Pyrmont Squats.

I once lived on Pyrmont Point from 1978 to 1990 in a bunch of old workers' cottages that had been squatted by an eclectic gang of libertarians, artists, misfits and junkies. It was another of my great universities of survival and fun, I had the wildest of times, nothing as terrible as Northcott Concentration Camp, and for all the fear and punch-ups that we experienced I never regretted a moment of it. We'd tried for years to get the Sydney City Council to renovate the houses and give them to us to run as an artists' co-operative and they blew smoke up our collective butts, interminably promising to come to the party but at the end knocked us back and moved us all into public housing instead.

For all those years the Council had tried many times to evict us and bulldoze the houses, tearing the roofs off some domiciles so we couldn't live in them and causing them to rot further. Many times they sent the police in to terrorize us but we bluffed and beat them off every time and managed to keep the heritage-worthy mid-19th century structures standing, fixing the leaky roofs so they didn't tumble into the mire. As noted from my raves, I've since lived in Northcott for the last twenty years and always refused to go back down to Pyrmont Point to check out the renovations, being heart-broken at their loss and furious at the Council's betrayal. But last night, to console me for my beating by the ICE troll, a friend drove me down there to reminisce on old times.

I was shocked to see the small city built there, countless deluxe apartment buildings, the Star-city Casino, the Theater Wharves, even the tacky old Wayside Terrace up on the hill, home to the council-worker rednecks that had harassed us squatters for a decade, now turned into a post-modern/art deco wonderland. But the biggest shock was what had been done to the old block of squats. All renovated into lovely townhouses, their old structure hidden under new materials and hardly recognizable. Except for my quaint little cottage at No 6 Scott St. which I'd clung to for 12 years like a hairy barnacle.

It was exactly the same as it had been for 150 years only painted nicely, new windows and complete roof. In my days the roof had constantly leaked and a waterfall had poured down the walls like an art-effect. The little house next door had also been preserved but on the other side of me they'd renovated and gutted the little two-story terraces and turned them into a restaurant named, of all things, "Viva Goa - A Taste of Goa"!!! Talk about synchronicity, I was stunned, the very Indian paradise I'd just spent the last twelve years hiding out in for New Years' Eve techno raves.

My vision of an alternative evolution.
In about 1996, when the renovations had been completed, the press had announced what a wonderful effort at saving heritage buildings the govt bodies had pulled off and proclaimed they'd been left empty for 30 years with nobody loving or caring for them. I was furious and wrote a letter to the S & M Herald, calling them revisionists and filling them in on the real story, we squatters had lived there for fourteen years, and miracle of miracles, they printed the letter. On looking closer at my little cottage I saw a brass plaque that announced the buildings heritage value, told of the politicians who dedicated them, the funding bodies who'd paid for the whole shebang and that they now were used by some Design School for art students to study in. Last but not least the plaque mentioned that squatters had lived there for many years and in so many words saved the place for posterity. Nogod I thought, at last recognition of the truth.

All those battles, all that angst, hassle, labor, pain and joy, we'd even gone to the Supreme Court to get ownership or at least stop them from destroying the quaint architecture. The end result was not too far from what we'd dreamed, preservation and a sanctuary for artists. I got over my bruising from the bashing that day at Northcott from the ICE addict, I felt proud and honored, I had actually influenced the history and design of this mad South Seas Pirate Port City of Sydney, little nobody punk poofy me. Hee hee hee.

The cops yet again come to evict us squatters.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Old Lady Northcott on the Rocks.

I was bemused to note that a Sydney Harbour ferry by the name of Lady Northcott was driven upon the rocks last week. I also saw that in the film "The Changeling" starring Angelina Jolie the ranch on which all the boys were murdered was called Northcott. But for sheer contempt plus loathing nothing beats the horror of Northcott Housing Estate in Surry Hills. At the risk of being a bore I can't help but tell the ongoing story of living there, reality is always more perverse than fiction, it's terrific grisly material for a writer plus I may need a diary of events one day to plead special consideration for my release from such a purgatory.

Concerning the ongoing saga with my awful next door neighbour, Cursula, I took the advice of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" and figured diplomacy was the best way of winning a battle and besides, I was so stressed by our bitch-fights I risked another heart attack. So I talked to her with friendship and reason hoping she would stop getting on my nerves but this only encouraged her passive-aggression and again she knocked at my door all night long demanding attention and hassling for my xanax stash while I just put my MP3 in my ears and listened to techno music, oblivious to her wailing. When she piled the junk furniture up outside my door I ignored it. When she built the Mongolian Yurt in the garden fronting my place and filled it with garbage I just warned her that the Housing Department wouldn't like it.

On Saturday night I got engrossed in the sci-fi masterpiece "Minority Report", trying to follow its' convoluted plotting, when I heard the "crackle crackle bhoom bhoom" of a large fire erupting in my flat's vicinity. I looked out the door and saw Cursula's Yurt going up like a Guy Fawks' bonfire, the flames a hundred feet high and spreading to the workers' toilet-house nearby. Cursula ran about shrieking in helplessness while the gay guys from the other end of the building got out the fire-hose and sprayed the inferno into submission. Ashes, the burnt detritus of rags and mattresses, newspapers and umbrellas, scattered and floated through the air, making a horrendous mess of our front verandah. The multitude of tenants came out on their landings to stare down at us in dismay, Cursula bawling her eyes out, screaming, "Someone here really hates me! Who did it?"

"Who do you think did it, you stupid brain-dead cow?" I yelled, "the same firebug that's been attacking Northcott for the last few years. If you didn't pile all that rubbish up it wouldn't have happened!"
"You probably did it Toby, you're always hassling me about my recycling."
"You rotten bitch! It's not enough that I have to suffer your rubbish, and then the fire, I've got to be blamed for it as well. I hope you get evicted for this!"
"You should have compassion for me, that's all my precious stuff that's been burned," she moaned as a torrent of crocodile tears poured forth.
"I hate your guts. All that crying is just typical manipulative behaviour. You're hoping attention will be diverted from your dirty slut habits and people will be sorry for you but everyone actually despises you. Look at this fucking mess. A real person would be apologising and trying to clean it up."

I left her wringing her hands, Dravid the gay undertaker pretending niceness and trying to give her a cup of coffee to calm her down but she slammed her door in his ugly mug. I tried to get back into the movie, Tom Cruise agonising with Max von Sydow about "Pre-crime and the Thought police", but again I heard flames crackling and fire-engines wailing. I looked out my door to discover firemen hosing down the front of my place, my bathroom window about to crack from the heat. The firebug had come back for more revenge and set alight to the crap she'd built into a pile near my door. Someone really did have it in for the vacuous cow and I was going to burn at the stake with her.

The police were called and after much ballyhooing they carted the sorry bitch off to St. Vincents for emergency psychiatric treatment. But, sadly, she was back in an hour and hassling me for xanax as the hospital staff knew a substance-abuser when they saw one and refused her entreaties for drugs. She had the Easter weekend to clean up the mess before the Housing Department bureaucats came and saw it but like a sloth she lay in her manky bed for most of the holiday, only carrying out more rubbish to add to the disaster, the front of my place looking like a tsunami had hit it. I can't wait to see what the officials will do about it when they clap their beady eyes upon it, hopefully they'll banish her to the Black Stump in Woop Woop. Or show me mercy and allow me to take a long break from this madhouse called Northcott.

The last thing for me to say about my incarceration at Northcott is that the Sticky Beaks theatre mob have not returned to give succour to the lumpen proles; after swan-necked Kerry Armstrong, a doctor in a TV drama, read lovely poems gushing upon the desperately lonely Northcott denizens, she rushed off to flog her good rep to Coca Cola, endorsing the wonder drink as good for the teeth and low in calories, and now Coke and her sainthood are being pilloried in the press for false advertising. We here at Northcott carry on with the bedlam of screams, curses, smashing glass and breaking doors thundering night after night, unhappy gay Dravid, mortified by the dead-bodies he lays out in his funereal parlour, hanging out his window in a drunken furore shouting his favourite refrain, "You lousy fucking bastards, you no good lazy pensioner shits! You've got no money, you own nothing, you've never ever had a job! Fuck the lot of you!" No god save me. Old Lady Northcott has seen better days.

Beloved Dolly.
P.S. No god did save me. When I got home after writing the above I found a troll urinating against the wall near my front door and I said to him, "What are you doing? You can't piss here!" He flew into an instant rage, tucking his worm of a penis away and charging at me screaming, "Everybody shits and pisses around here! I can do what I want cunt!" He then picked up an iron stake that the lovely Cursula had planted as part of her gypsy camp and swung it heavily at me. I put my hand up to protect my head and he cracked me right across it almost breaking the bones. I fell back onto the ground and he took several more swings at my head which I ducked, his eys popping in a maddened glare, swearing filth, he looked like an Orc from "The Lord of the Rings" strung out on ICE, for seven seconds I trully thought my last moments on earth had come, nothing was going to stop this monster from beating me to death.

On hearing my screams many of my neighbours had come out to watch but were helpless as he was a heavily built ogre too strong for anyone to take on. I emanated an egg of protective white light around myself and as he made ready to bring the iron bar down on my head in one finalsing deadly blow I stared deep into his deranged eyes and yelled in an authoritative voice, "Don't do it!" and by some miracle he stopped in mid-air as if hypnotised , the weapon poised above my face, and cursing maniacally he instead pounded my push-bike then charged off up the path carring the weapon with him. This was the 777th time I had narrowly escaped destruction in my eventful life, how did I manage to come away almost unscathed yet again? My hand was cut and swollen, my body bruised , my heart shaken and my neighbours sympathetic, even crag-faced Dravid tried to console me, furious that such brutality keeps erupting at Northcott. Who will be next, 87 year old Dolly?

I told Cursula later that all the junk she left lying about out the front made perfect weapons for the fuckwits and she might be the next victim so she quickly carried the lengths of wood and iron bars back into her lair. I aslo pleaded with her to remove the piles of old clothes, magazines etc but the next morning saw that they they remained piled up there still, burnt and mouldy, ready for the firebug to set the place alight again. Nothing can convince this moron that she endangers us all, that her hobo's camp attracts the low-lifes, but such is life in the desperado's lane. Why do we exist here on Planet Earth? To suffer, pleasure and pain, there is no heaven and hell, it's all here.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.