Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Piccolo as Movie Theme Park.

I said there was nothing unusual happening at the Piccolo Cafe except the usual madness but I forgot to mention the movie within the movie scenario, where there's the quotidian excitement of film companies shooting their melodramas, nearby, on top of, inside the cafe. Recently the TV serial "Underbelly" shot scenes down Roslyn street and into the small park across the road, two real life junkie hookers even had a fight for the camera crew's benefit which we watched bemused from the windows.

Why has the Piccolo become a movie set? It's true old Vitto somehow met a lot of show business people over the last fifty years and he's made his cafe a mausoleum to celluloid/stage fame: icons, has-beens, wannabes, never will be tragics, his walls are lined with their musty photos and like ghosts they grimace down upon us.

But obviously it's the area that's picturesque, red-light, money-crazed, inebriated and the action all funneled down Roslyn street and delivered to the Cafe' door, ripe for good stories. I've hung around here for 35 years and I've got plenty of Piccolo yarns stashed, me often in the midst of the melee, winding the springs. Lots of artists have been attracted to this Cafe of Broken Dreams, we've organised our shows from here, music, cabaret, movies, theatre, paintings, eventually the Pic got the sobriquet of "the artists' cafe" and this fed a myth and more artists showed up.

It's like, get in line, so many bands of serious young insects have had their video shoots poncing about the cafe, they've never been there before or since, but somehow they were sucking up the cachet of "artist" they hoped dripped upon them from the eaves. I'd been reading in a corner for hours when one uncharismatic band called "The Flapjacks" asked me to move because I was sitting where they wanted to film, I told them to "Fuck off... and you should change your band name to The Muffins!"

But the cachet has ballooned, the Piccolo has become a theme park, Bohemian Artists and Ditzy Queens-land, the movie crews are so thick on the floor there's no seating place left. The last few weeks They've been shooting an ABC drama called "Rake" inside the Piccolo, lots of stars involved, some bullshit of human's jabbering nonsensically at each other like all soaps, with some wanker playing Vitto and the stars no doubt playing us, the loud-mouthed regulars. It's surreal, like meeting my doppelganger, I wonder if I've stumbled into a movie plot that wants to turn me into a ghost, like all the others flitting down Roslyn street.

Now I hear Jimmy Barnes is coming next week to shoot his latest video clip amidst the desperados' decor, he's gonna rock the Casbah Cafe, we must be hitting an arcane peak of "IN". Richard Roxburgh has since returned, not for a coffee, just to put up a photo of his ugly mug upon the wall, he'd never come before and will never come again, such is show biz. And not long later we got crowded out by yet another movie mob, this time to do a drama about Ita Buttrose of all people, now she's claiming Bohemian cachet, nogod save us, next it'll be John Howard turning back the boats from the Piccolo's doorstep.

What all these faux fans of the Piccolo don't realise is the cafe is always on the brink of bankruptcy as not enough people come there and actually buy anything. The phone got cut off last week and the electricity may get cut off this week and few give a shit. Yesterday yet another low-talent showed up to have her photo taken hugging Vitto in the doorway, then she had the nerve to sit at a table pretending to write her masterpiece while the famous dyke photographer fried our eyeballs with her explosive flashbulbs, the serious artist writing at the "artists'cafe", then they fucked off without even buying a coffee. I was hissing with fury and then called an "arsehole" for telling them to their face what pseudos they are.

Maybe it's cranky, bitter-sweet old Vitto They come for, to receive his blessing as if he's some shaman of celebrity survival. It's also the milieu we, the regular bums and art-slaves, have built up over fifty years, artists from the gutter, not just the penthouses and television studios. And I'm telling you, it would've been easier to have been a rocket scientist than artist, forget all the fame-whores!

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.