Saturday, June 29, 2013

37) The Queer Rebels of '77.

Like Hansel and Gretel in the wilderness, Arthur and Zac didn’t realize it was a war-zone they had moved into at Darlinghurst Squats. The area had long been notorious for its rows of brothels, called the ‘Doors’ because all the women solicited from their doorways, and for its gambling dens, run by gangsters who laundered drug money through roulette wheels and two-up schools. Across the city corruption was an industry, from the Police distributing drugs and setting up heists right up to the Liberal State Premier, Bob Askhim, taking kickbacks from organized crime and selling Knighthoods. Rows of houses in East Sydney had been fire-bombed making them easier to be taken over as brothels and for all Arthur knew, he was squatting in the abandoned left-overs of a gang’s turf war.

He was blithely traipsing through a jungle of heroin dealers, armed robbers, pimps and razor-assassins and he didn’t have a clue. He was an innocent abroad, overflowing with peace, love and homo-lust, one of the “great unwashed” who’d fetched up like an outcast in a new land, ready to make something of himself in the burgeoning, vital, young city of Sydney. Like many of his forebears, he was willing to put up with living in the nastiest of conditions for as long as it took to garner his resources and achieve his goals, and no rat-infested slum could beat Darlinghurst Squats in 1977 for squalor.

Not that he meant to persevere with such a shallow, mean-spirited city like Sydney, he just got caught up with the melodrama of his phantasmal love life and the tumultuous happenings around the squats. In a few months he had blown all his savings and was resigned to somehow getting on top of this cold, frothy metropolis, where champagne flowed like water and people slept out on the streets. A block of disintegrating two-story houses with one, long interconnected back-yard, a warren of desperation, vice and skullduggery, the Darlo squats were his introduction to the dog-eat-dog streets of this South Seas pirate port. Arthur staked out one large room for himself and his soul-mate and fought off all the intruders Kings Cross could throw at them.

To warm up the damp, crumbling room he painted vivid murals on the walls while Zac watched on, impressed, in the nude, with his legs spread, making sure every passing gronk got a look at his boy-pussy. The squatters attempted collective kitchens and there were many parties where they swapped drugs, scams and sexual partners, Arthur always with a jealous eye as to whom Zac was flirting with. There was one Kiwi arsehole, Stewie, who tried to be leader of the pack, dictating the rules of the collective happenings and Arthur had to repeatedly tell him to shove it. Stewie also wanted to be cock of the roost, having his pick of all the ragamuffin girls and, greedy dick, the boys as well, and he really pissed Arthur off when he preened in front of Zac.

As the months wore on, Arthur tried every trick, excuse and plea he could confabulate to get his hands on the magnificent body of Zac, who laid himself upon Arthur’s bed in the nude like the Crown jewels spread before the Pink Panther. The boy’s resolute denial of eroticism wavered under a barrage of honeyed words and tentative caresses till one day he permitted Arthur to kiss his navel. Then a week later he allowed Arthur’s lips to move to his nipples, and on the full moon Arthur swooned as he rested his cheek against Zac’s cool/warm, rotund buttocks. Slowly, slowly, he was getting there, the complete possession of this gorgeous boy, the hottest lava-flow of non-sex in Arthur’s eventful life of love-campaigns.

Zac made out he was a virgin, eventually spilling his guts in intimate moments to claim he’d been seduced by an older man down at the Yarra river when he was fourteen. The poor innocent then went on to work for Melbourne’s biggest pornography distributor, in the delivery department, after school hours, till he was seventeen and nogod knows what deviant fiddled with him as they test-screened the merchandise. He claimed his father was a Yugoslavian Natzi who had tortured him throughout his youth and that was why he was so fucked up and couldn’t respond to Arthur’s affection. He also had a cruel elder brother who was a Maoist and, with copious beatings, had instilled revolutionary zeal into his sensitive, young soul. Zac proselytized to an adoring Arthur about the evils of capitalism and the marvels of the workers’ state and soon had him all fired up over the manifold injustices of the world. From his bomb-crater of a loft, via the ravings of a confused, teenage demagogue, he obsessively focused upon the ugly history of geo-politics, and he reeled with histrionic despair and anger. With Zac’s encouragement and accompaniment, he was going to be more revolutionary than Che Guevara, he desired only to shake up the Establishment and watch the shit float to the bottom.

They decided their pet hate of the moment was uranium mining with all its pitfalls, from waste disposal to fueling nuclear warheads, Arthur always harkening back to the movie “Wargames”, living in terror that sometime, somewhere, some bastard will drop the atomic bomb again. They joined ‘The Friends of the Earth’ but found their radical proposals of anarchist action railroaded by the ‘play it safe’ steering committee. One of the last things they did with the ‘Friends’ was go on a speed-bike ride in a vast contingent of peaceniks all the way to Canberra to protest about the nuclear industry. When they came to the one main bridge into town they found their entry blocked by a flying wedge of alarmed Commonwealth pigs, faces contorted with fury.

Arthur was still all pent up over Whitlamb’s dismissal and here in the city of politicians he decided it was time to rebel. He couldn’t see why the police should have their fascistic way and restrict the protesters’ democratic freedom of movement. Alone, he ran amidst their ranks, their burly arms reaching out only to grab thin air, him ducking and weaving amidst their porcine uniformed bulks, he made it over the bridge before three of the fat lugs could finally jump him and punch him to the road. While he was being hurled through the air to land hard upon the metal doorstep of a Black Maria van, his fellow travelers mutinied in support, many also getting arrested, except for canny Zac who kept to the back as a spectator. The whole unsettling affair of bike-riding beatnics rioting on a bridge created a wake-up stir in the politician’s somnolent village and the commonwealth cops didn’t like it.

This was Arthur’s first arrest, for obstructing the Law, and he was shocked when a fat Pig slapped him brutally across the face in the stair-well of the police-station, snarling, ‘You’re not so fucking smart now, are you, cunt!” He curled up in his padded cell imagining they would hang him like a bush-ranger in the morning. Instead, a kindly old senior cop came in and made inquiries about his well-being, possibly trying to make up for the other cop's savagery. He made sure Artie was all tucked in comfy for the night, and the little renegade was bailed out at dawn without any ballyhoo and he figured the firing squad had been called off, Canberra not wanting any scandalous affair disturbing their dream-time. He hoped to shine like a hero in Zac’s eyes but the boy was indifferent, telling him he’d acted like a rogue and dissipated the group’s focused energies. In a tizz, Arthur wondered just what he’d have to do to capture this boy’s heart.

When they got back to the Darlo squats they found the lock on their room had been changed and all their stuff dumped on the landing. The lovely Stewie had decided to throw his own revolution and take over the kingdom, installing a feeble junkie-mate in Arthur’s room. Arthur cornered the Kiwi weasel and his cronies in the communal backyard, declared he was taking the room back and demanded the dickhead stay up his end of the squats. Stewie sneered how he’d had enough of Arthur’s imperious ways and he could fuck off, though Zac was welcome to stay in his room if he wanted. Four gutter-rats surrounded them, baring their yellow teeth and Arthur moved into a defensive posture with Zac behind him to protect his back.

Stewie’s scrawny best mate waved an acoustic guitar in the air and Arthur snatched it off him and smashed it over his head. Stewie made as if to jump in and Arthur socked him hard in the eye making him stagger out of the way. When the junkie-mate tried to take a wild punch, Arthur grabbed his arm, twisted him about and flung him full-force upon some sharpened bamboo stakes sticking up from the jungle of a garden, piercing his puny flesh wickedly. Arthur looked around to see how Zac was doing with the other two but they had all stood back to watch the fracas, curious as to who would survive. Arthur spat into the face of his adversaries and they all cringed and lumbered away, vowing backstabbing revenge.

Arthur asked Zac why he didn’t pitch in and help give the rascals a beating they’d never forget, so they’d leave them in peace and domestic bliss. The boy squinted his eyes in disdain and hissed,
“I hate violence! You’re a brute attacking people like that. Why are you always so angry? Beating up our fellow squatters is not the answer. It really turns me off.”
“But they took our room, they deserved a beating. What, are you going to let those bastards walk all over you? Well I’m not! I’m getting your room back for you!”

Arthur realized he had a major wimp on his hands, painfully lodged in his heart, and he wondered what further battles he was willing to fight for this irresolute fellow. He marched back up to the room, tore the new lock from its hinges and threw the junkie’s junk from the broken window. He yelled for Zac to join him if he wanted shelter but his mate had turned sullen and wandered off into the derelict buildings for the rest of the day, and no amount of yelling could roust him out. Artie felt maybe it was best he was shat of the wooss, life with him wasn’t that much fun, more of a chore. For all the disenchantment, as the sun set, back came Zac, looking for succor and attention, and Artie was relieved to see him.

Despite countless guerrilla tactics he still could not get his hands inside the boy’s pants though he had made it to the amorous position of holding him in his arms while Zac leaned back into him and listened to odes of adoration whispered into his eager ear. Such affection was endearing and exciting, also painfully frustrating, with no sexual climax, causing Arthur to blow his top over and over, day and night, and their friendship became one, long boring squabble.

After years of spiritual concerns and cosmic consciousness Arthur got a thirst for the materialist philosophies and he obsessed about political action rather than yogic practices, though he kept up the exercises for a revolutionary had to be fit and healthy if he was to man the barricades. Zac fed his anarchist fervor with non-stop rabble-rousing diatribes as he was enamored of the idea of the spunky rebel and Arthur tried to play up to his rabid Maoist expectations. They encouraged each other to attend all the rallies, marches and ‘shit-stir clubs’ like the proverbial regulars of the “rent-a-crowd” and they demonstrated on every issue the Left held dearly reprehensible. Uranium mining and nuclear proliferation remained their main bugbear, Arthur possessed by the fear that the future would end “On the Beach”, of Bondi possibly. They camped for months outside the Lucus Heights Nuclear reactor trying to warn the workers and the locals about the dangers of the nuclear industry but no one was interested, they considered the protesters to be unwashed, lunatic fringe dwellers dossing in humpies and tee-pees, whining about phantoms. Abominable security guards would drive into the camp late at night in their jeeps and knock down their tents, wrecking the photo displays and peaceful idyll, causing the anti-nukers to abandon their protest.

Then it was discovered that uranium ore was to be shipped out of a Sydney inner-city port and the social discontents cum eco-nuts got all stirred up, massing at the White Bay docks days before the shipment was to be trucked in, sitting round campfires and singing rousing workers’ songs to boost their spirits. Late one night, trying to be sneaky, in hurtled the trucks loaded with the deadly yellow-cake, and the crowd was ready, rioting with an ecstatic fervor, hurling rocks and bottles, punching and kicking at the army of police and security guards threshing and trashing, laying about them with their batons; water cannons and Molotov cocktails exploded, screaming banshee women attacked snarling truckers, the roaring crowd pushing and scrambling, Arthur laughing maniacally, it was better than the mosh pit at a rock concert, how he loved a riot in the name of a just cause. 

With only a few broken bones the uranium was crashed through the blockade and loaded upon the container ship. Arthur and comrades were seething with dismay over the transportation of such ultimate poison through a major city and they were determined to stymie its further progress. 

As they sat in a huddle planning their mischief, a famous ‘Green unionist’, Jock Sunday, turned up and tried to calm their over-excited radicalism with his experienced wisdom, asking them not to do anything rash, like storm the ships. He got his picture taken with them for the newspapers as if he was Captain of the Elf Brigade but this gang eschewed sage advice and avuncular leaders, they already had their own ideas for action.Perhaps he'd been put upon by the Dockworker's Union to quash the disruption, more likely was the fact that his son, Michael, was a rambunctious member of the gang and a good mate of Arthur's and Jock didn't want his boy getting a criminal record. Not too many years later Michael died in a car crash, he would've been safer if he'd stayed in Arthur's milieu, and not a week went by without Artie remembering the dear boy.

That night a group of black-faced eco-commandos climbed the dockyard’s hurricane fence, outwitted the patrols of security guards and stealthily climbed aboard the ship, hiding in every possible nook to carry out a ‘sit-in’ protest. The guards combed the ship and chased them mercilessly, tackled them to the ground and arrested them; for Arthur, it was his second big arrest, on criminal trespass charges rather than civil disobedience. As he was dragged to the Black Maria police van he looked about for Zac and saw him sauntering off back over the fence with some girls he’d been chummy with and thus, forlorn, Arthur faced his incarceration without the side-kick who’d inspired him to be there.

Friends and sympathetic lawyers bailed the eco-pirates from their Central Court prison in the morning, a crowd waiting outside to cheer their release, and still Zac wasn’t there to hail his returning hero. He was off gossiping and smoking dope with his new-found friends and Arthur had only a raucous mob of strangers to pat him on the back. His imaginary soul-mate didn’t return to their squalid love-nest till later that evening and he didn’t seem to give a damn about what Arthur had achieved, suffered, contributed; if blockheads wanted to get arrested that was their business, Zac preferred quiet anonymity. Arthur thought the whole point of the exercise was to take on the cops and thumb your nose at the Beast but Zac considered him a grand-stander, an adventurer.

His warped, sexual view of Zac began losing passion as he zeroed in on his weak guts, the flakiness of his commitment, the frailty of his character, like all the armchair anarchists he would ever meet: all bull-shit, no action. His dream-boy was not so cool or supportive, looking more like a peeved imp as the months churned on. Arthur hoped he’d found all the specifications for the perfect partner in Zac, only to learn he was mistaken, the guy was perverse, a closeted gay, the way he always stared at Arthur’s cock when he was in the shower.

Artie hoped to be seen as intelligent, artistic, brave, charismatic and exciting and that Zac would cleave to him as a partner in whatever enterprise he might take on. Vacuous Zac continued to pretend a masculine virginity, and Artie just didn’t turn him on, his fetishes lay elsewhere, like with other shallow cads. Very early one morning, Arthur saw Zac sneaking out of the musky den of Kiwi Stewie, the arch-traitor and sleaze-bag and he suspected it would be Zac’s sadomasochistic style to have a rip-snorting fuck-fest with the arse-hole right under Arthur’s nose, such was his wayward contrariness.

With this heartbreak nagging at the edges Arthur had to face the court-case for his trespass charge where he and his fellows were sternly reprimanded for their wanton, childish behavior and issued with hefty fines. While that particular shipment of uranium was effectively moved to its supposed benign destination, their rioting was ultimately successful for a ban was put on further transportation of the deadly substance through the city and never again was uranium shipped out of Sydney. Arthur was proud but broke, on the dole, and he couldn’t pay the fines and neither could the others, they all faced eventual imprisonment, no fun for fairies or gum-nut babies. None of the huge crowd of revelers, rioters and well-wishers who partied at White Bay was forthcoming with the hard cash, anarchists being notorious tightwads. Arthur sincerely believed that civil disobedience action protecting a community from nuclear proliferation should be paid for by the community and so he instigated the first of his many political activist fundraisers, multi-media/art performances inspired by the happenings of the ‘Sixties, only with hard-edged political imagery instead of mindless, psychedelic whorls projected upon the walls.

Trying to make a last ditch effort to impress Zac, who gave his esteemed support, he hired Balmain Town Hall for a night and won the allegiance of a few rock bands for fifty bucks a piece to play the stodgy venue. The line-up included a rock quartet fresh out of art school called “Mad As Cut Snakes”, whom vapid Sydney trendies lionized for having hatched “the White Bay riots” just because they headlined the gig, when the truth is they had nothing to do with it, such hard civil disobedience beyond them, they played a few songs from a stage, that's it. In later years he wished he’d never hired them, his travail simply feeding their hunger for fame, money and celebrity the true gods of the 21st century. It was not the last time his efforts, style and content would be used as a stepping stone by others greedy to climb the shit-heap, he just didn’t realize what a fame-whore city Sydney was, being the most naïve of fools.

He designed a lurid poster announcing the benefit gig with newspaper-photos of berserker-pigs dragging peaceniks along by their hair down on the dirty docks, and he titled the whole shindig “Blood on the Streets”, capturing the imagination of every inner-city miscreant who clapped eyes upon it.

The night of the benefit was an explosive mix of rock’n’roll and ratbag poetry from the stage, and social-realist film and activist photography on the walls, with the crowd jumping and bumping. The suburb of Balmain echoed with the electric reverberations till the the pigs had to rush in with a noise-complaint and, when faced with the collective ire of a howling, rock-inebriated mob threatening to yet again riot, had to withdraw back to their lair, disgruntled and chagrined. The benefit carried on, threshing about like a giant centipede on hot coals and enough money was collected to pay everyone’s fines. One cheeky scallywag named Johnny Holmes jumped up on the stage and falsely announced that the front door takings had been robbed and could everyone donate some more cash. The hat was passed around and more dosh was collected for the cause and a fortuitous thing too for some idiot had smashed a porcelain basin in the toilets and the gig had to pay for the repairs.

He basked in the knowledge that he’d been a decisive participant in a multi-level, political happening, ignoring the surly Pigs who came in and stared at him curiously, malevolently, at the end of the night, as if fixing his cheeky mug upon their pea-brains, marking him as a trouble-maker. He was the proverbial legend in his own lunchtime and even Zac was warming up inside Arthur’s brilliant, revolutionary aura. He followed Arthur everywhere, sought his input on all he did, seemed to thrive by his side, until the wee hours of the night when he would fall asleep lying next to his beloved companion. Finally he allowed Arthur’s hands to wander further than they’d ever gone before, down the front of his underpants, fingertips entwined in the curls of his lustrous pubic hairs. That was as far as things went, again his caress was shrugged off and Arthur was thrown into the usual irascible temper at rejection, kicking Zac out of the room for the seventh and last time. Zac was burnt out from the heat of Arthur’s overwrought attentions and he fled back to Melbourne with his tail between his legs, to find shelter with his not-so-cruel family.

Like a repetitive motif popping up throughout his life, Arthur felt abandoned in the wreck of his domicile, bereft of his inspiration for world-shaking revolution. Darlo Squats had become intolerable, full of moldy rubbish and scrofulous hooligans, reeking of the smell of his defeat. Heart in turmoil, he occupied his empty days trying to crack other neglected houses to provide himself with a private squat, and marching off to any ‘cause celeb’ that flared up, throwing in his seven cents worth of firebrand raving and letting off a bit of agitated energy. 

Movie-mad as ever, he figured it would be interesting fun to show a festival of hard-hitting, political films at the next “Up the Earth” Festival in Canberra, to give those namby-pamby hippies a bit of eye-opening reality. He conned ‘Friends of the Earth’ to supply and transport down to Canberra a giant marquee and movie projector and the stack of films he’d dug out of the nation’s lending libraries. It was in the middle of this grungy cinematic extravaganza that Zac had to reappear, Melbourne having been unkind to him, all smiles and chirpy like the other naked cosmics swarming the festival, pleased to be reunited with the industrious, illustrious Arthur after a loveless break. Arthur had been trying to teach Zac Yoga for the past year and, stark naked like Adam and Steve, they went up on top of a mountain to exercise. While helping Zac to move into the headstand, his cock brushed up between the lad’s thighs and, with one athletic body leaning upside down against another, both were aroused. They collapsed upon a blanket, Zac opened his arms and legs voluptuously and, at long last, they kissed like magnetized lovers.

It was an idyllic spot, under a gum-tree, looking down upon the cosmic campers; they needed a smoke to settle their bashful nerves and, blast his luck, Arthur discovered he’d forgotten to bring matches, no joint was to be had, flattening the occasion’s frisson, otherwise they might have chilled out and grooved down into it. He’d come unprepared for the big consummation, not realizing it was on the cards here at the placid sequel to the original, infamous “Up the Earth” orgy; he had no lubricant, towel, water or snack. Arthur couldn’t grasp that he was finally having sex with his ultimate, beloved boy-toy; the irony of it unfolding above an army of ‘back to the earth’ heterosexual breeders and spiritual celibacy monks lay heavy on his mind as he tried to concentrate on pleasing his lover. For all his heroic build, Zac’s penis was quite small and Arthur could see that this was a major hang-up for his mate, though it didn’t worry him, he adored the boy lasciviously. He kissed the small erection gently and the boy came in seven seconds, and it was all over and he looked at Arthur with dismay and disappointment as if to say, “Now what? Is that all there is?” Arthur saw his chance for the ultimate fuck of his life melt away quickly like ice-cream in the desert and could only shrug, “I don’t know. You say.” Zac frowned, “I thought you were the master? Let's forget it.”

If they could’ve smoked a joint they might’ve ironed things out and given the lust a proper go, Zac ended up distant and Arthur was restless, the sun was setting and he wanted to get down the mountain to set up the evening’s movie show. He should’ve let the whole show go hang itself and concentrated on wooing himself back into Zac’s good graces, instead he made the wrong choice, as ever. In a dither over the sexual disaster, he ran down the rocky slope to hide amidst the film-cans and expectant cinephiles, leaving Zac to gravitate where he will.

Some new-age gronks were warned not to camp next to the generator that powered the theater tent and still they persisted in pitching their tents right next to it, hippies as pig-headed selfish as any so-called straight businessman. At seven o’clock they came charging into the marquee in the middle of a film-screening and squawked about the generator’s noise, it was interfering with their sleep. They carried on with their deadly serious caterwauling till the whole show had to shut down, the educational effort lost on the majority of séance junkies that mooned about the festival swapping astrology signs. Arthur’s career as a movie mogul looked to be strangled at birth by fungus-faced techno-phobes who preferred sleeping with their Earth mothers to inspired information lighting up their neanderthal brains.

Arthur and Zac tried to continue their thorny relationship back in Sydney, cracking one new squat after another, quickly getting kicked out by the irate owners, the soul-mates never fully harmonizing with each other in the meantime. They quarreled constantly over desires and ideologies and Zac’s self-worth was disintegrating from the poverty and abuse. He packed his bags for Melbourne, this time for good, slinging one last comment over his shoulder as he left, “You got in the short-term what you could have had in the long.” “Maybe it’s not worth the effort!” shouted back a fatigued Arthur.

Fending for himself in a tough city like Sydney, Arthur tried to forget about his insipid non-love life, getting involved in various contretemps and escapades, and all the exciting adventures Sydney threw at him made him a much stronger, wiser fellow than the starry-eyed fool Zac first met up with. About ten years later he ran into Zac on Glebe Point Road giving some punter in a business suit a hard time. Arthur knew it was him from his huge, round arse, squinty-eyes and the emotionally cold manner in which he was acting towards the other guy. Arthur introduced himself and said, "Hello Zac, do you remember me?" Zac waved a limp wrist as if to shoo away a fly, and squeaked like a little pansy, ”No, I don’t know you. Go away!"” 

Arthur spun away in shock, tears streaming from his eyes, all that sworn friendship and brave action forgotten, and his big butch dream hunk of a man had been a screaming little queen all along. He’d only become a damned revolutionary to please the guy, what a fuck-up! And he sang beseechingly into the wind, “No god save me from ever falling in love again.”

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.