Monday, April 22, 2013

Dancing with a Rock Goddess.

As I said in "My SOB Story" there was one band above all others that uplifted my troubled soul in the '80s with their ecstatic pop/rock and that was The Divinyls. To hear of Chrissie Amphlet's death today has left my dancing soul bereft and reminded me that old age is quickly overtaking me, the '80s have been left way behind, never to ride that blast-wave again. Oh what rocking, rough and tumbling, rambling years they were and if there ever was a rock goddess, Chrissie was Her, she got us punters off real BAD, head-banging, highland-jigging, electric white-light rock euphoria blowing us in all directions. Us oldies might look fucked these days but at least we can say we danced with the likes of Bon Scott and Chrissie Amphlet live up-close.

I have bee an addict all my life, for music, art and books, and I'm always surfing the wave of pop culture to get my highs; when young I was of the rock'n'roll cognoscenti, not in the music industry, just a keen punter. I know I caught the wave crashing off the Divinyls at least seven times, and in memory of Chrissie's dissolving back into the interstellar dust, I'm now gonna recall the deliciousness of those times.

The first gig I attended might also have been The Divinyls debut on stage sometime around 1981 at the Trade Union Club in Surry Hills, Sydney, (maybe I'm wrong about the year and the debut, my heads been run over 21 times since but the word was it was their first appearance.) I remember that they surprised us with their up tempo, raunchy, pop rock that had the crowd jumping from the get go, me really carried away by the beat, the wailing guitar and her croaked soprano, I made a fool of myself and danced across the ceiling.

I saw The Divinyls play twice at Sellina's, Coogee Bay Hotel, that rockers' gladiator pit with the black wire-mesh balcony looming over the stage and enclosing the mosh pit like a cage within which the punks fought it out, grappling and thrashing while Chrissie danced maniacally about, lifting up her schoolgirl's dress to incite the riot. How I loved Sellina's as a rock music mecca. Maybe Sydney could be considered down-under Dagsville compared to New York, Paris and London but we Aussies had our own cutting scene regardless, venues like Sellina's, Trade Union and Phoenician Club, and bands like The Divinyls, INXS, The Saints and The Angels made Sydney city worth living in.

I saw The Divinyls support The Angels at some football stadium out in the middle of suburbia sometime in the late '80s, a few fellow Pyrmont squatters and I got through a hole in the cyclone fence at the back thus experiencing the ultimate in electric blow-outs for free. The Divinyls smashed the heads of umpteen thousands crazed fans, Chrissie leading the entire mob into a frenzy when she did her Scottish fling, flirting with her school dress, I'm sure the Angels found it a hard act to follow.

I chased the band again into the middle of suburbia another time in the '80s, they performed in a giant shed, like an aircraft hangar, again we snuck in, climbing the cyclone fence, not even barbed-wire stopping our enthusiasm. Except for Sylvia Saliva, she got stuck on top of the fence, the barbed-wire caught in her crotch, she couldn't get down and swayed up there for many tense minutes, screaming for help. Eventually a security guard came to her rescue, untangling her and gently helping her to the ground. She batted her eyelids at him and he let her into the crowd, where I gleefully joined her, and we forgot all about our troubles as we rocked to Chrissie Amphlet and Mark McEntee, dancing ever the way to get our endorphins flowing.

Another great rock venue was the Tivoli Club on George Street, where the Metro is now; I saw Public Image there on New Years Eve, 1985 (?), we ate psychedelic mushrooms and hit the ceiling with our grappling, Johnny Lydon smiled at me, ME, a little poofter nobody. But The Divinyls gig was also a beauty, so exhilarating, they made life exciting, we gasped with pleasure at the end, like we'd caught huge death-defying waves and lived to tell the tale, light pouring from our third eyes, limbs aching, feet twitching, as if dancing were an Olympic sport and we were golden athletes, that's how she made us feel.

And the seventh time I saw them was perhaps the most memorable, it was up the north coast at Ballina, at a wet t-shirt pub of all places, there was a small band-room at the back of the pub, a few hundred die-hards packed in there and got up close, real close, to Chrissie pumping it out, gyrating, stomping, head-swirling, the rock-maddened punters falling over each other to get to the stage and touch her. Some young dykes up front started a fist-fight, virtually between Chrissie's legs, for a split-second she stopped singing in shock but then carried on with  the abandoned dance, the rest of us dancing with her like a thousand-limbed monster, thrashing, writhing, restless life emergent, the punch-ups dykes tumbling on top of us, everyone laughing, it was ecstatic, without drugs!

After the show I hung about the stage-entrance door, yelling for Chrissie to come out, shouting out my love, screaming my appreciation to the silent heavens. But she didn't come, too tired I guess, I wish I could've known her but I'm just a fag in the wind with nothing to cling to except the music. Oh electric music, it tweaks my nerve-endings blissfully and sends my soul into satiated quiescence, and if ever there was a rock goddess, surely it was Chrissie Amphlet; though she's gone from star to star dust, it's been an awesome trajectory!

P.S. Yeah, yeah, "Goddess" is a bullshit term, she was no fucking angel, no one is, if I had've been one of her inner sanctum, like I fantasize, we would've fought like two cats in a bag, drunks get on my nerves! I'm writing purely from a punter's perspective, existence without culture would be unbearable, her art got me high, consoled me, helped me to keep slogging thru the shit of city life, that's what I know about her, all that pain, live fast/die hard, she was human and I hope she knew how much she turned her fellow humans on.

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.