Politics and rebellion were not the only things that motivated Arthur’s soul, music also propelled him forward, without it he wouldn’t want to keep living. He’d been like this since his early youth, first Ray Charles, then Sam Cooke, James Brown and Otis Redding capturing his heart as a boy in the '50s/60s. From the ‘Sixties to the early ‘Seventies he shook his booty to "The Rolling Stones", "The Easybeats", "Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs", "Lobby LLoyd", "Wild Strawberries", "Python Lee Jackson", "Tully", "Purple Hearts", "The Chain", "Wendy Saddington", "Jeff St.John", "The Kinks" "The Who" and ""The Yardbirds".
Okay, not Punk, but some of the Aussie bands were inspiration for the Grunge that was to come, like Kurt Cobain getting off on Lobby LLoyd. Artie danced to most of these Aussie bands at clubs such as "Biting Eye", "The Catcher" and "The Thumping Tum" in Melbourne, (he was 17 in 1967 and 27 in 1977 when he washed up in Sydney.)
In Australia of the ‘Seventies and ‘Eighties rock music was a virtual religion for him, he sacrificed his youth on the altar of electric euphoria, chasing his favorite musicians from one end of New South Wales to the other, bands like “Died Pretty”, “Hunters and Collectors”, “Dragon”, “XL Capris”, “The Saints”, “The Angels”, “Box the Jesuit”, “The Nerve”, “Monroe’s Fur” and “Lubricated Goat”. But of them all, his biggest lust was for "The Divinyls", Chrissie Amphlet turning him on as no other woman ever could, he swirled his head and a fountain of joy spouted from his crown every time he danced with her and Mark McInty’s scintillating performance upon the stage. Musicians and he went together like honey and oats, like sex and love, they exploded at gigs like powder kegs, and sometimes he did the graphix to light the fuse.
Consumerism and money-power were the ruling ethos of the 'Seventies, the true God rampaging across the planet, and the Beast had to be tackled on its own ground, in the city ghettos, and somehow tamed, or spat upon, but sadly it was the Punks who ended up being tamed. The Beast always seems to win as everybody is conned into selling out, Money Rules. The Punk cult got co-opted by middle-class fashionistas and wankers from art school like Malcolm McLaren, but actually was created on the streets by true innovators like Johnny Rotten and his fellow disaffected, unemployed youth wailing from their crumbling housing estates, eager to "do it yourself" with black plastic garbage bags and garage bands.
Arthur fell for the culture of Punk, the look, the art, the music, and he took on the philosophy, seeing anarchism as an alternative political system to the exploitative high capitalist world that had dehumanised him. The Punks in general, Rotten included, seemed to just want to put the finger to a straight-laced, class bound society that was relegating working class youth to the trash-heap. Being outlandish and disrespecting the sacredness of private property was their M.O. If asked about his own punkness he would openly admit it was his "gayness" that led to his disaffection with the world.
"Punk" in Auz for him didn't mean a history of its origins, that it first erupted in Brisbane with the Saints single "Stranded", or in Melbourne according to a documentary by Dickie Lowerstain. Even an art-school wanker in Sydney boasts he started Punk in the early '70s with a few paintings, the laughable egotist. Arthur didn't give a shit about where it first took off, The Stooges in New York actually being the first to make music that was rough, raw and challenging, the Auz style, such as AC/DC carrying on the torch from those wild '60s bands such as Lobby Lloyd was in. His "punk's night out" was about a street fag running for his electric-music cosmic fuck.
To Arthur it seemed they had a nihilistic heart that actually wanted the world destroyed so as to begin again. Nothing was sacred and to the dispossessed, cracked youth there seemed no future, the fleeting moment had to be torn apart and sucked dry, for you were dead at thirty. If poverty didn’t kill you then there was always the promise of nuclear war, global pandemic disease or environmental collapse to bump you off before your time, (mostly it ended up being gang warfare, car crashes or drug overdoses that did the young in early.) A complacent world of middle-class consumers was greeted with a punk snarl and a kick to the guts from an avant-garde wearing black fish-net T-shirts and torn, red-tartan pants. And for most of these alienated youth there WAS "no future", they remained slaves, breeders, consumers with limited potential, horizons and educations. The Beast, Mammon, the System steamrolled over everyone like Satan on ICE.
|Art by Stu Spasm.|
|Urban Guerillas at the Grand Hotel 1978.|
The Trade Union was the other fun club, behind Central station, up a steep flight of stairs, two floors of bars and bands, where he saw so many great bands but he guessed most memorable was the night Bo Didley played and Arthur was with his horrible girlfriend, Sylvia Saliva; she had the ill manners to throw a beer can at the blues maestro and call him an old fart. The bouncers jumped her, twisted her arm to breaking point and dragged her down the stairs and flung her onto Fovaux Street, to be run over by the traffic.
He saw Midnight Soil at the “Stage-door Tavern” and hated them, the back-up band were cool but he'd seen epileptics perform better than the lead singer, the bald Christian, no bad boy of rock, more like a politician growing wings in a cocoon who went on to find fame in the heart of pollie gronkland as a Labor Party Minister, getting a bad name for himself as a sell-out on the Kooris and environmental issues. But at the original, ultimate Punk pubs, “The Grand” at Central Railway and The Civic up the road in Pitt St., he truly got lobotomized by The Rejex, Urban Guerillas, Suicide Squad, Bedhogs, The Kelpies and Soggy Porridge, teenage garage bands that went nowhere except into Sydney Punk mythology and Artie's electro-heart.
Artie himself hired Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls for a benefit gig for Radio Skidrow at The Graphic Arts Club. Then there were all the pubs that had live music, The Annandale, The Bald Stag at Leichhardt, The Sandringham at Newtown, The Lord Roberts in Darlinghurst, The Piccadilly Hotel, Kardomah Cafe and The Manzil Room on Kings Cross, and the Lansdowne off Broadway, Max's Inn at Petersham, many more his brain too boggled to recall, all venues where Arthur wrestled in mosh pits getting a blood nose or a black eye from his exertions, laughing in intense euphoria, he felt life’s fun couldn’t be any better.
|Box the Jesuit.|
Such was the renaissance in music bursting from Sydney's seams Arthur has forgotten many of the tidal wave of bands so he asks for their forgiveness if he has left many of them out in this reminiscing, his brain getting wiped several times from acid, pot, ecstasy and general anesthetic from surgery after getting bashed up or car-crashed up. Bands such as INXS, Radiators, Pel Mel, Mi Sex, Ayers Rock, Hudu Gurus, Madroom, Tsk Tsk Tsk, Psycho-surgeons, Feedtime, Kamikaze Kids, Ragadoll, The The, The Reels, The Church, No Fixed Address, The Choir Boys, Iced Vo-vos, Nunbait, Jimmy and the Boys, Wendy and the Rocketts, The Dirty Three and one of his most smashing favorites, that rocked his orgasm, Regurgitator, from Brisbane!
A lot has been written about this music scene in Sydney of the '70s and '80s from the point of view of the musicians themselves, such as in Bob Blunt's 2001 fanzine book "Blunt". While Artie put on a lot of gigs around the city, designed the posters and flyers for them and showed his grungy movies at them, in the main he was merely a punter, a die-hard fan and this is what he would always stress in a rave about the "scene", he was a rock'n'roll addict. The bands that were his especial favorites, who he chased around to all the hot clubs, were Urban Guerillas, Died Pretty, Secret Secret, XL Capris, The Scientists, X, Thug, Tactics, Monroe's Fur, Box the Jesuit and Lubricated Goat, many of them became his friends and he would never forget the electric orgasms they gave him, as well as the art jobs.
|Frenchs' Tavern, BADDEST of Rock Venues.|
He enraged the ignorant mob further by responding to their sneers with the information that the original meaning of the term “punk” was jail-house slang for someone who took it up the arse. He rarely met any 'gays' in the "rock'n'roll scene", homophobia ruled; he was never closeted about his sexuality and copped lots of shit for it, often barred from 'straight' pubs, excluded from inner circles, wiped from the record. For all the liberal lip-service, especially nowadays, back then fags just weren't liked, it was a supreme Het, macho scene, but he didn't give a shit, he was a warrior and he demanded respect by his very nerve.
Without thinking about it, Arthur put down his Super-eight camera and rushed over to the mob of arse-holes who were beating the kid into the gutter, jumping upon their backs and throwing punches indiscriminately, flailing about in a fury so that the rednecks backed off, stunned by his Tasmanian Devil-like presence. The Punk kid was able to extract himself from their clutches and escape with Arthur back to “Rags” where he cursed his fellows for their cowardice and announced that poofy, old Arthur was the only guy with guts in the whole crowd. Arthur had finally made it as a Punk.
He bleached his hair white and gelled it into horns on either side of his bald head and painted his face to look like Freddy Kreuger in drag, and he stepped on toes and got on nerves everywhere he went, even when he didn’t mean to. He was mad for his art, a fool for his times, a tawdry street-punk for his troubles and while he basked in his infamy, he didn’t give a shit what anybody thought. A wild life was all about shining as a character, not being a limp dish-rag.
He would run seven hundred miles for a hot, chaotic electric-music show, dash his brains against his own skull head-banging up a white-light orgasm to match the band’s ecstatic musical smash-up, the keening mob swaying, seething, jumping, pulsating like a monstrous blob of mindless protoplasm with a thousand squirming limbs. He rarely had money for the entrance fee to these gigs but as a die-hard Punk he figured "where there was a craving there was a hole in the wall" and no venue was able to keep him out, he would find the unlocked back-door, the tear in the cyclone fence or the design for the door pass and forge a copy.
Thus he rocked to all the great bands from ‘Radio Birdman' in a pool-room on Oxford Street to ‘The Divinyls’ at a wet T-shirt Bar in Ballina on the North Coast, from ‘The Angels’ at a football stadium in outer-suburbia to MX War Headz at the Tin Sheds Poster Workshop, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Roundhouse, NSW Uni. to Laughing Clowns at The Trade Union Club, from “Box the Jesuit” at the Mandolin Cinema with soft porn movies in the background to “Monroe’s Fur” naked at the Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills. And believe it or not, he gave Tex Perkins his first gold-top mushroom and then they all went to The Evil Star Pub in Surry Hills tripping and jumped in a frenzy to Beasts of Bourbon. (Now that Tex is famous he might possibly deny it, but Artie couldn't give a fuck, they were all young and reckless then, now they're all old and fucked up.)
He literally hit the ceiling again tripping on Goldtop mushrooms with Johnny Lydon and ‘Public Image’ at the old Tivoli Nightclub on George Street and he's sure Johnny appreciated his manic dancing, at one point in the gig The Punk Master asked him how he liked it and Artie could only respond by blowing in his pants. Artie also got his twat pumped orgasmic at the anarchic gigs in various Sydney Squats, “The Dri-Horrors” at Pyrmont Squats, “The Nerve” at Jelly Headz Garage in Chippendale and “Lubricated Goat” and "Thug" at the Gunnery Squat in Woolloomoolloo, the ultimate in grunge venues.
It’s a miracle Arthur came out of the Sydney Punk scene with his sanity intact as he experienced too many delirious, frenzied romps to electrified guitars, crashing drums and amplified, melodic screaming. Some people lived for football or poker machines, Arthur lived for rock’n’roll music no matter its evolution, chasing it as one of the great contemporary arts, alongside of film and literature.
At a Punk gig, Side F/X, in the old Marist Brother’s School turned squat in Darlinghurst, a boy standing next to Arthur had a beer bottle broken over his head while innocently listening to his favorite thrash music. For years afterwards Arthur heard the echo of the piercing shriek of pain and betrayal the poor lad let off as the glass shattered resoundingly upon his skull.
|Lubricated Goat, best Grunge Band of the '80s.|
Breaking into a cold sweat, he watched them focus upon a wimpy, new-wave type guy, hair nicely coiffed and dressed in the latest trend, blithely enjoying the volatile music. Like sharks on a feeding frenzy they rushed in for the attack, beating the poor fellow to a bloody pulp, his screams engulfed by the cacophonous music, other bystanders looking away, praying they wouldn’t be next.
Other witnesses at the back were also struggling to find refuge in the darkness for the Skinhead devils were now lashing out ferociously at anyone within reach. Arthur grappled his way through the bleating music-lovers, the band ‘X’ screeching like a choir in Hell down the front, the cacophony punctuated by the sounds of soft flesh yielding and stifled moans whimpering up the back of the dark, grotty room.
|Dragon, not so Punk but great '80s rockers regardless, unforgettable performance on top of Victoria Park Swimming pool with The Angels and Split Enz.|
And all these rambunctious rock'n'roll hi-jinx didn't get him far in the staid Sydney art scene, all of them middle-class twats who never experienced abandoned, ecstatic dancing or got even one slap in the face; on meeting them wherever, they beamed jealousy from their beady, greedy eyes, their art was wallpaper and their souls upholstered with dollar notes, and they never gave him an even break.
|More of the Trade Union Club.|
But Punk sure was BAD fun while it lasted.