Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Shoot 'Em Up at the Gunnery.

The Gunnery by Jonno O'Driscoll
Once upon a time there was a haven for artists, freaks, punks, pagans, renegades and junkies, it was the quintessential Transient Autonomous Zone for misfits and it barely survived, by the sea, below the red-light district of Kings Cross, Sydney. It looked like a forbidding fortress, a dark cubist castle clinging to some old disused wharves and, as in much urban myth, fairies, elves, ghouls and witches were attracted to it as a perfect hide-out. The world of law-abiding citizenry found the joint anathema and tried various ruses to close it down and, in turn, the dysfunctional youths residing therein, rebelling against staid Society, struggled to keep their grungy space and outlaw lifestyle happening. It was called the Gunnery and it was a squat.

Arthur was there close to the beginning of its foundation, a participant of its bacchanalias throughout its existence, and there at its crushing end. This tale is his personal recollection of the place, as a somewhat dispassionate observer as well as a contributing artist. Some would say he made it up from his own twisted imagination, a self-deluded fairy spinning bullshit. What is history? Hearsay, gossip, anecdote, folk-tale, opinion, social record, political essay, revisionist propaganda? Arthur’s version was at least apocryphal, telling of the times, not a critique, more his personal description.

If there was a hot scene in inner-city Sydney, he was usually drawn to it, sometimes by sheer intuition: Darlinghurst and Pyrmont Squats, The Piccolo Café, The Tin Sheds Poster Workshop, French’s Wine Bar, Garibaldi’s Restaurant, The Trade Union Club, Selina’s Rock Music venue at Coogee, wherever art was cutting, music was banging and rebels were agitating, Arthur was in the middle of it.

Front Entrance of The Gunnery.
For a few brief years The Gunnery Squat was one of the most incendiary of creative hot-spots Sydney has ever seen. A colossal three-story, brick cube brooding by the Finger Wharves in Woolloomoolloo, it was once a Navy artillery range, with a sound-proofed dome at its heart surrounded by a labyrinth of rooms. It lay empty for twenty-one years, till the hairy Ewok brothers and Sardine, nasty trannie par excellence, cracked it in the mid-1980s. For a short time they scratched out a desperate existence within its spooky depths but soon tired of the primitive conditions and moved on. Then a gang of avant-garde grunge-nutters moved in and, with a lot of guts and verve, turned it into a happening artists’ colony. 

Every big city deserves an oasis for outlaw artists and the Gunnery was it: exploding with over-the-edge creativity, it was a school of hard-acts-to-follow and a sanctuary for restless, klunky dudes like Arthur. The Gunnery scene was something of a social experiment, a human zoo wherein was caged all types of misfits: heterosexual men trying to avoid the macho redneck masculinity of Gronksville and getting into the arts; homos finding a sanctuary of acceptance and respect for talent; lesbians building a space to do their own thing, dance parties and cabaret for women only; trannies brazenly taking on the world from a fortress of dare-devilry, demanding recognition and equal rights; risqué artists dismantling accepted norms, refusing limitations and going past the edge of the herd to discover their own style, knowledge, potential.

Butchered Babies.
And it was attractive to very sassy heterosexual women as they felt safe there, for the men weren’t going to stand over them, boss them around or sexually harass them, they actually felt protected, it was a magically creative milieu and they could express themselves to their full potential. Gutsy women such as Pollie, Zeb and Honey put their own Grunge band together, called Matrimoney, to challenge the men’s rock and roll hegemony; it was the era of post-Punk do-it-yourself, don’t be afraid, challenge whatever authority got in your way, and the girls were equal to the boys in whatever field they chose, music, painting, fashion, style, brains, nerve, talent.

The experiment was successful in that the disparate mob managed to create a happening artistic/philosophical milieu, a Temporary Autonomous Zone where brave-hearts were free to do what they wanted, create intriguing art, shit-stirring, subversive, satirical, but only for a short time, eventually they had to move on, for the big bad world came in to take-over.

On the ground floor was created a challenging art gallery and also a few band-practice rooms, “Box the Jesuit” being the Underground Grunge stars who rehearsed there and who everybody adored. At the heart of the building, on the second floor, was the dome where the Navy used to fire its artillery, thus the name of the Gunnery. Lots of shooting did occur in the building, only it was shoot-ups rather than shoot-outs. The artists used the dome as a theater for loud sound-scapes, performance art and cabaret, Arthur himself doing a few shows prancing in front of his animated cartoons while story-telling. On the top floor was the bad-arse rock venue, all Sydney’s hottest grunge bands playing there, Box the Jesuit, Lubricated Goat, Monroe’s Fur, Nunbait, Thug, they ripped it up from the dark shadows, film-noir lighting the electric guitars, punters watching from old movie-theater seats at the back of the room; the rockers brought the roof down on his head and blew Arthur’s neural switchboard. Fuckkkkk! Electric music was their biggest addiction!
Box the Jesuit
The punters would stand like zapped zombies as close to the band as they could get and shuffle, shimmy, shake, shiver, twitch, jump, loll, bend, send eyes rolled back in the head in shock, stoned, boned, honed to the base guitar crunch, demonic angels in lizard-brain limbo. It’s long been the same high for the electric music cognoscenti, doped to the beat of ‘Sixties Psychedelic, ‘Seventies Punk, “Eighties Grunge, ‘Nineties Rave, ‘Noughties Trance, homo sapiens and stormy lightning-bolts together make dance.

Of course the joint wasn’t a smarmy musical paradise somewhere over the rainbow, it was a seething den of iniquity, lust, jealousy, addiction, grumpiness, manipulation and rancor. It was a real fractured fairy tale, a “Game of Thrones” played out in a derelict warehouse, where constant struggles for power and kudos ensued among clashing personalities while an evil white mist penetrated the corridors to capture innocent souls, twist hearts and destroy fates. And dark powers took advantage of the ensuing chaos to push their own selfish agendas of money grubbing and pseudo-stardom.

For Arthur the tragedy was that Punk Culture, Grunge music and heroin-chic went together like guitar, mic and drums, the beautiful and the damned thought they’d get on top of it and, with spaced–out eyes and bedraggled hair, they’d look way cool. Drug-dealers tried to be the coolest in this arts scene by controlling it, but themselves ending up imploding into gutless road-kill along with their customers, that army of addled, clever freaks rampaging through the Gunnery. It became a site of brain-numbing intoxicants and incestuous infighting for the kudos of who was the BADDEST father-fucker of them all.

There was an infamous witch, dealer to the stars, who had many artists in her thrall. If she couldn’t do home-delivery to the Gunnery because she was too out of it, the most cutting of rockers would make pilgrimage over to her “sound-studio” dungeon in Newtown and wait patiently for hours in the front-room while the Black Witch scrabbled to find a vein for herself. After tedious hours, the rockers getting to know each other intimately while waiting, she’d allow them in, one by one, to be extra nice to her, the hottest of stars grovelling, so they could get their own blast of rocket to the moon white-noise. Her power over these rock-stars was embellished by sometimes allowing them to use her filters which were still sodden with gear, such was the vast quantity of substance she was using. Even Kurt Cobain found her when Nirvana came to Sydney, he needed an anesthetic for the pain in his guts, the spotlight of fame, the terror of existence that he suffered from. He O/D on her strong shit and ended up getting his stomach pumped at St. Vincents Hospital.

All this nightmare-folklore horrified Artie, he saw the Skag Hag coming from seven hundred yards off and stayed clear of her. He was at least ten years older than all of the dark-castle’s denizens, he’d been around, inner-city Melbourne of the ‘Sixties, sleeping in the jungles and back-streets of India in the ‘Seventies, then the school of teeth knock-outs that was Pyrmont Squats in the ‘Eighties, surfing the gutters, cafes and brothels of Kings Cross and inner-city Sydney, and as such was no sucker for expensive thrills and nasty highs the kiddies of The Gunnery were indulging in. When he eventually realized what all the wannabe artists and young tear-aways were fooling themselves with he laughed bitterly and spoke boo-hoo platitudes, “To succeed in class-bound Sydney is tough enough without drugs adding to the trauma!” But they weren’t listening so he shut his mouth and left them to their devices.

Pyrmont Cottages by Sully Herman.
He chose to live at a safe distance, remaining resolutely in his beloved, derelict Pyrmont cottage, about seven kilometers away, which was a battle to survive in itself, daily under attack from skinheads and junkies. He nevertheless delighted in patronizing the Gunnery Squat at all hours, most days of its existence, fitting in like a jagged jigsaw piece with the picturesque crew of devos, and what a fearsome crew of kooks they were, enough to scare any government official or art’s careerist out of their chic, black suits.

They’d all be around the communal dining table, drinking, laughing and philosophizing, and one by one each pixie would disappear for a half-hour, returning with glazed eyes. Arthur wondered why they’d suddenly become slow on the uptake and they in turn would look at him as if he were missing out on some secret initiatory rite of the IN-crowd. Then he’d flash on their Omega-man eyes and be amazed at their stupidity. “What the fuck! Didn’t they want a life?”

What is it with drugs and artists? It’s like they’ve got some inner void to fill or freak-out to cover over, or perhaps it’s being crushed at the bottom of the heap, in an unjust System where only family connections count, where Art is in reality political propaganda and must bear the stamp of approval from the State, whoever rules at the time gets to say what Art is. It was a time when bums could not dream of being the next Van Gogh, Verlaine or Mozart, they would just die in the gutter unknown, and all this shit drives them to distraction. 

Drugs and artists seem to go hand in hand, they need the tranquilizing, the inspiration, the raw death’s edge to break-through mundane life and generate the wildest art; absinthe and opium, whiskey and heroin, artists generally need to be intoxicated to bring on their hallucinations and revolutions. But it’s what can also defeat them, bust their  butts till not even a decent turd is produced, and all fond hopes for an artist’s paradise get shat on as well, their colonies collapsing in disorganized delirium.

Urban Guerillas.
The pain, the pain,  of just plain being in an uncaring, unjust world, the pressure to succeed, to stay on top, to deal with the sniping, to pay the bills, to kiss the arse of who ever was on top. Oh yeah, there’s always the dope-high on the music, the searing guitar notes like steel ribbons slicing your nerve-tissue, the base and drums fucking your flesh better than sex, stoned to the gills on white-light powder that takes you back to earth’s womb while tossed on an ocean of noise. That’s Artie’s imagination again, he’d never really got into it except for Molly, but he guessed drugs and electric music would have to be stunningly symbiotic.

An awful lot of the regulars at the Gunnery were poly-drug indulgers, anything left on the communal table would get snaffled up and quaffed, especially smack, that most invidious and seductive of intoxicants, shot up in every nook and cranny, as it was considered very cool in the ’80s and early ’90s to be a junkie; all the world’s top rock and rollers were notorious drug addicts.

In the ‘80s their idols were all junkies, Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Nick Cave, even their heroes of the silver-screen such as Scorsese and Robert De Niro got caught up, nearly killing themselves with speed-balls, cocaine mixed with heroin, John Belushi actually falling for the dirty deed. (And before this famous crew were Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. And before them were Ray Charles, Charly Bird Parker and Billie Holliday. It seemed that if you aspired to be a legendary musician you had to go the hard road of junkiedom.) What hope did the gutter people have, they couldn’t even lift their heads to look at the stars, all they saw was their leaking squat roofs, drowning in a downpour of frustrated poverty.

Many movers and shakers of the '50s and '60s, politicians and media stars, got energised on speed/vitamin shots from Dr. Feelgood, Marilyn herself high from a shot when she sang happy birthday to JFK.  Soldiers in many conflict zones have gone into battle screaming high on drugs, speed in Germany, heroin in Vietnam, opium in Afghanistan, meth amphetamine in Syria. Thus the raging rock and rollers, in rushing into their rebellion against straight-jacketed society, got berserker drug-fucked to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. 

Drugs, drugs, drugs, all the world is crazy for drugs, humanity's evolution into self-aware consciousness probably got propelled by drugs, mushrooms, opium, ganjha, yage, soma. Arthur's early education was perfected by an obstacle course of LSD and of late he danced ecstatic with MDMA on New Years Eve, but he always lived by the sage philosophy of "all things in moderation", just enough to get off but always in control. This rave is not Arthur's moralistic sermon against drugs, it's more a thank you note to himself for staying healthy, avoiding the pitfalls and having a long, adventurous life.

The '80s was the era when hard drugs really dug deep under the unwary fool's skin, like an extreme sport, death ever present, with no safety-harness, no shooting gallery, no needle exchange, no social worker to hold your hand and boo hoo hoo. To get a fit a junkie would have to steal, beg, argue, cajole, fight, hassle pharmacists till they relented and handed the gear over. Arthur wasn't just strong and smart not giving into the deep stone, he was also a wimp, putting junk in his bloodstream frightened him, as well as the milieu of scoring: the gangsters, stand-over merchants, and professional killers leaving bodies behind all the way from Thailand, Afghanistan and Mexico... uuuggghhhh! It gave him the creeps. 

These were the late '80s when serial killer cops like Dodger Rogerson were on their rampage, running the drug trade from Kings Cross, bumping off anyone who stood in their way, the Gunners lucky to survive the onslaught. Arthur was not so lucky, to keep the attention off themselves corrupt cops framed innocents such as him with armed robbery charges, crimes they often arranged themselves.

The State didn’t need the cops to barge into and close-down freak-zones like the squats, the dreary white powder did it for them. (Look how the Hippie sub-cult of the '60s got fucked over by smack.) Punks believed in the urban myth of live fast, die pretty, touch death and earn your rock and roll credentials. Arthur viewed it caustically as a suckers’ philosophy for lost-soul dreamers. He was proud he never touched the poison, someone had to be a kind of role model to prove it could be done, creativity without zombification. 

He didn’t give a flying fuck for the stoned rock and roll idols. He abhorred the act of shooting up and passing out, it was anathema, his skin barrier was sacrosanct. He was the type that wanted to get up and go for it, take the world out there by the throat, not get lost in the void of his intoxicated head.  (Sadly for him he still ended up a deadbeat like most long-term junkies, it wasn’t just drug addiction that limited potential, it was also attitude, mental health and emotional balance to handle the fact that there was no equal opportunity in this world.)

When they all sat around the long, cluttered table in the Gunnery's common room, drinking, smoking, arguing, debating, regaling each other with anecdotes and political intrigue, Arthur didn’t have a clue that most of them were stoned out of their brains. He burbled on with his speculations about a future techno-green world while the zoned-out Gunners did ‘the zombie jig’. They saw Arthur as a bit of a strange one, a drug-free freak, a possible wowser, not quite with it, not hardcore decadent; yet he had been through the mill twenty-one more times than them, bashed as a child, bashed and raped as a fag all his life, his potential stymied. He saw their heroin excesses as weak-willed, stupid, dangerous, and sure enough most of them went through hell for the next twenty-one years trying to crawl out of the hole they’d dug for themselves. As for Arthur, his drug of choice was pot, he enjoyed smoking it on some bluesy days, it was a sacred herb and he could grow it in his back yard, not go through some black-hearted witch.

Artie didn’t think he was better than the naïve Gunners, he was just as reckless, only in a different way, he had his mind in a whirl with his sex-addiction, with the chip on his shoulder from a working-class background, from his anarchic rebellion to a world he considered fucked him over. Whenever he felt the compulsion to fill the void he went and sucked dick in some dark back-alley instead of putting a prick into his vein. He wasn't confused enough to fall for further handicaps such as drug addiction, life had been tough to survive and it got tougher the older and more hopeless he got.

The Gunners didn’t get that out of it on drugs that they couldn’t create anything. They got stoned just enough to ameliorate the pain of existence in a fucked-up world, then they filled the void with soothing art: music, painting, sculpture, performance, poetry, dance. It was only when the Gunnery finally got defeated by the Beast of the State that the individuals got into really nasty drug habits that destroyed them, like ICE, turning them into ghosts of themselves, for they were scattered to the winds with no support group there to back them up, nor sanctuary to hide them and give them succor.

If there weren’t such draconian laws against drugs, addicts could be more relaxed, about the cost, the source, the partaking and the dreaming. Their lives would’ve been more stabilized instead of criminalized, their minds at peace instead of hysterical, and they would’ve created more product, their artistic output enhanced, hopefully as contribution to Society instead of getting trashed and killed off as deviants. Arthur was all for the legalization of whatever drugs people want, the "war on drugs" was a mammoth, murderous, corrupt failure.

Every fractured fairy tale has its cast of naïve fools and amoral villains, the dark castle of the Gunnery providing a shooting gallery of such quirky protagonists for the world to take pot-shots at. There was a hard-core gang who were at the center of much of the action, whom Arthur found most interesting. On the second-floor was a guy they called Lord Huff as he was always in a tizzy, hoping to run the joint with the pretense he was Lord of the manor. A brilliant sculptor, he was unhappily gay and confessed to Arthur that his uptight, homophobic mother had sent him off for psychiatric treatment in his early teens and the psyche drugs he was made to take had led him into a terrible personality disorder. He then worked the Wall in Darlinghurst as a male prostitute and this fucked him up further, becoming a drunk and pill-head, and a nagging, zealous renegade.

He had tried hard for the first few years not to fall for the predilection of white-powder addiction, lecturing like a demagogue against its iniquities. But eventually he gave up his resistance and fell heavily into the quagmire. For all his ditzy inebriation Lord Huff was the clever handyman who got the electricity and water supply functioning for the whole building. He was also the main organizer of the venue, creating festivals, taking bookings for the performance spaces, playing intermediary with the “straight” world that tried often to get its foot in the door, the go-to man if you wanted any dealings with the joint, and he performed his duties with remarkable efficiency, considering his constant stoned head-space.

He had a ballsy, performance-artist sister who also fancied herself Queen of the dump, she sat upon a throne of skulls of her own imagination and screamed orders to the peasant arts-junkies scurrying about the fortress in mock-fear of her wrath. She thought she could revive the German cabaret scene in inner-city Sydney, imagining her black-leather S/M Neo-Nazi posturing was sexy. She ferociously desired to be a rock and roll outlaw, without any musical talent, just the sawing of a bread-knife across the steel strings of an electric guitar, and the fucking of every cunt-struck guitar player she could get her mitts on. She was very strong-willed and with her brother created a family power-clique that ruled on two floors of the building, considering themselves kooky prince and evil queen of the grunge castle. Wannabe Gunners had to appease her snarling temper-tantrums and cater to her twisted desires to gain membership, many of them calling her “The Dark Cloud” instead of the Big Queen when they hoped she wasn’t listening.

There was the resident genius artist, Jonno, painting like a one-eared one-eyed madman, no surface was safe from his anarchic brush. He was hung over from a childhood incarcerated with the Christian Marist Brothers and, trying to forget about it, he got skag blown into his brain and turned into a zombie at the darkest hours of the day. Smacked off his face he painted demented, wonderful masterpieces; to bother to be an outlaw-artist from 1984 one had to be deliriously mad. Lord Huff and he built an art gallery downstairs where group shows were held every week, Arthur often participating with some outrageous work, such as the collage he made of beautiful penises cut from a hundred porn mags, all piled in a heap with eyeballs glaring from their midst, of which The Dark Cloud, a pseudo-feminist, complained, not getting its political irony.

Then there was poor Madge, another maniac painter, labeled a schizo as a child by over-zealous parents, she also got her brain screwed from too much psyche treatment. Plump and daggy, she had the notorious reputation of being found in the pig enclosure at the Royal Easter Agricultural Show, grunting like a fat sow, maddened from the mental torture meted out to her by her redneck background. She was a talented painter nonetheless, Arthur forgiving her the time she’d broken into his room and covered his walls with fluorescent graffiti.

Yet another fearless explorer of the dead-stoned unconscious was tall Bawl, genius guitarist and the Dark Cloud’s bewitched fuck-buddy, he spent half his time perfecting his music and the other half fighting, fucking, placating, plastering her with the smack she nagged, demanded, harangued him to go get for her. Nothing could fill the void of her egregious addiction, she’d get whoever she could onto the gear just so she could have a taste. 

There was the day Bawl wouldn’t cave into her carping and she ran at him with a huge carving knife, he threw at her the first thing that came to hand, a roll of barbed wire that wrapped around her legs, like garters for the torn black-stocking look she favored, her screeching to wake the dead, such sado-masochism not so cool to her anymore.  Sardine, uptight trannie ordinaire, called the cops on him in defense of brutalized womanhood, the cops growing more weary by the day of the one thousand and one emergencies happening at The Gunnery that they were called upon to sort out.

There was a small army of young naïve wannabe artists who got themselves caught up in the live-fast bullshit, without knowing what they were doing nor how it would forever-after effect their lives. This was the late ‘Eighties, an era where youth could still bludge on the dole, chase their artistic dreams, spend their days lolling about and honing their craft like guitar playing or oil painting, eschewing the “straight world” of ‘nine to five’ jobs, not paying rent or mortgages. Unlike in 2016 where youth seem solely focused on a career of making headway in a competitive capitalist world, (you can’t blame them as a stable lifestyle of regular employment with decent pay is hard to get; there isn’t easy access to the dole or squatting anymore.)

Benny Boop
One such ingénue who let himself get screwed up was Benny Boop, a twenty-year old painter, studying at Sydney College of the Arts, innocent and ripe for corruption; smack got him by the balls, heroin-chic was “In” baby and everybody wanted to be where The Wave broke, to drown young and provide a pretty walking corpse. He let the scene influence him, he liked the smack high very much, it became part of his life forever after, he eventually got work in disabled childcare and he painted like an angel while stoned, to this very day, proving a drug-dependence doesn’t have to end totally hopeless.

Another lost soul was beautiful Pete Harlot, slamming drummer, cosmic dreamer, for awhile one of the challenging Lubricated Goat band who dared to perform naked on television; he was possibly secretly gay and couldn’t handle the pressure in the straight, macho world of rock and roll. His brains flew with his drumsticks, drugs dripped out of him like sweat, he was a real sweet-heart and Arthur could’ve fallen for him if he wasn’t so mad; in Arthur’s experience, of all the variations on musician-madness, drummers were the craziest.

One of the bands who regularly played at The Gunnery was Monroe’s Fur, the base player was a well-liked fellow named Guy and he had a gorgeous girlfriend named Sybilla. She was a performance artist who did shows with the band, once crawling about the stage between the band members’ legs dressed as a caterpillar like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Her beloved sister had committed suicide and poor Sybilla found it extremely difficult to get over it, delving into heroin in an attempt to forget. She was a beautiful girl, a tragic figure whose wan beauty was made all the more phantasmal by her melancholy as she flitted within the spectral night-lights of the wharves filtering in through the giant windows at the front of The Gunnery.

The Butchered Babies, Wendy, Mia and Hazel.
Arthur wasn’t the only one who kept his distance from the lure of “white light” poison, there was also Annie, Indian Aussie dancer, stripper, performer, ditzy and vivacious, scammer, palm-reader and crystal ball gazer, she could get her palm lined with your silver at the mention of an astrology sign while convincing you that your aura dictated it. The iniquitous squat washed over her without her ever committing to anything or letting anyone know who she was or where she came from. She kept a room there but never actually lived in it. When the Gunners finally broke into it, fed up with her ghost-act, they found a lot of their own belongings scattered throughout which she’d purloined from their rooms after wandering the building like Lady Macbeth with sticky bloody hands. 

Don't mistake Arthur's sub-text, the Gunnery wasn't only about drugs, this story is more a meditation upon the pitfalls of dangerous ART. To reiterate, not everyone fell into the drug trap. Goose and Susie from Box the Jesuit weren't into it, music was their high. There were two young interlopers, Marcus Gills and Jen Smith, innocent as Hansel and Gretel in the dark urban jungle, offered the luscious white rock-candy at many a party, told they had to pay their dues if they wanted to run with the hard rock crowd. They avoided the nonsense and listened to Arthur when he advised them it was fool's gold promising a wealth of false consciousness. Sadly, Jen was murdered in Newtown a few years later while trying to get money from an ATM, she was such a good, smart soul but it still didn't save her in this cruel world. Thankfully Marcus stayed strong and smart and went on to be a brilliant filmmaker.

The Gunnery contained a rat’s warren of rooms all personally designed to suit the quirky personality who squatted within. For example, the Big Queen’s room resembled a brothel’s bondage dungeon. Freaks such as Punk-Raj, who had lived with the Ananda Marga in Calcutta; he wanted to be a sacred Hijra, men who underwent a sex change to be the Goddess’s earthly rep, he decorated his room to look like a Hindu temple. Some time ago he had his nuts cut off and tossed down the drain, then spewed when he discovered he could’ve sold them for twenty thousand dollars to an organ swap-clinic. He had a mate, Holly, a tall, pale fairy who couldn’t decide whether she was a boy or a girl, swapping backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, she spent her life at a male brothel blowing twenty guys a night.

 There was a crew of curious artists drifting in and out, participating in the events but never getting quite fucked over. There were the Wroble sisters, Arthur especially liking Fiona as she was always kind to him, unlike most wannabes whose paths he crossed. Other cool cats were Marianne, Chokita, Wendy Sharpe, Lou MacDonald, Maya Green and Scott McPhee. But hidden in the mob of  artists crowding in were pretentious rich kids scrabbling for a walk on the wild side of the Gunnery as part of their C.V., declaring in later years they were instigators of the scene when they most likely only visited once for a gig.

Arthur was much bemused by one such dilettante named Mal Licious, a rich boy slumming it for the Bohemian kudos. He’d gone to King’s College, snootiest school in Sydney where they dressed in red soldier's suits like the Rum Core of the convict era. He thought he was the epitome of good taste, absolutely the coolest cat meowing at the Gunnery. He was a spoiled brat from a millionaire real-estate family, they would always be there to drag him out of any hole he threw himself into and buy him whatever career he finally settled upon. But like the rest of the fools, “rushing in where angels fear to tread”, he also got himself a heroin-habit thinking it was ultra-cool, he’d made it to the “William Burroughs” world of “live slow, pay dues, act tough, fuck-up, get monthly allowance, get saved”, doing time in expensive dry-out clinics like The Buttery to get over it.

Hanging around the infamous squat venue was a musician named Tex Gherkins, and Artie got friendly with him. He was not yet the famous Aussie rocker he would later become, he had little money for rent and also hankered for that funky, Bohemian cachet squat living could provide. In the grunge-music loft Arthur explained to him the meaning of his tattoo, a dragon chasing its tail around his upper left-arm, representing the contradiction of drug addiction and seeking enlightenment. Hoping to get Tex’s musical interest in his big movie project, he then told him of the double-entendre, oxymoron meaning of his movie title “Virgin Beasts”, as in Rimbaud’s poetry where he used clashing opposites to undermine accepted norms, and he saw the light-bulb flash above Rex’s head. “Oh yeah, I get it, like chasing the dragon through black milk, very interesting.”

Then there was Sybilla’s girlfriend, gorgeous Wendy Wish, another precious performance artist, leading light of the “Butchered Babies” that put on shows at rock gigs; popping up in the middle of the clashing drums and guitars, all the crowd would gather round while the girls posed in Lindsay Kemp slow motion, dressed in Marie Antionette gowns and wigs or Vampyrella black lace, bloody fangs exposed. She made a career in trapeze strip-tease shows and posing naked for Hustler magazine. She thought she was safe if she stuck to merely snorting smack but got herself a nasty habit nonetheless. She steered clear of hooking, unlike a few of the other women such as Maya the Waif who got such wicked habits they ended up hustling on street corners in Darlinghurst; not to put that profession down, hookers are the best people, but the way things stand in our fucked up society with pea-brained males ruling, the women sometimes get abused terribly by the gutter mugs.

In the middle of the vast building was the sound-proofed dome, where once they let off controlled bombs, and where the Gunnery devos exploded their own devices, uncontrolled. It was a perfect performance theater and there were many zany cabaret shows held there, like amateur extravaganzas, where any histrionic freak could push their silly act and get applause. It was fun to sit in the audience and wittily heckle the performances, the audience reaction vital to the klunky creativity. But sometimes the abuse went too far. The night Arthur did his song and dance routine in front of his animated cartoons there was one smart-arse in the audience who went over the top with the participation-factor, heckling everybody with inane, offensive comments, breaking up the routines as if he were the star of the show, nobody could get a word or a warble in; even such anarchic fare can get spoiled by one loudmouthed fuckwit.

In the interval, Arthur found the guy downstairs and told him to shut his stupid mouth, no one wanted to hear his nonsense. He gave Arthur the finger as he turned his back on him and waltzed up the stairs like he was master of the dump, ready to deflate a few more flaky performers. Arthur chased after him in snarling annoyance and grabbed his collar from behind, jerked him heavily backwards, then jumped upon the nerd’s chest as he fell down the stairs, riding him like a surfboard all the bumpy way to the bottom.

When they crashed to the ground-floor, Arthur commenced banging the guy’s head on the cement paving, shouting, “This is what smart-arses get when they get too smart!” Much to the shock of his comrade artists, being comatose peaceniks, they had to drag him off and tell the fellow to run for his life. The flaky dopesters now saw Arthur in a different light, he was the back-alley wildcat set loose among the pigeons. Actually, they didn’t know what to make of him, drug-free but more flipped-out than the most drug-crazed.

Lubricated Goat.
The top floor continued as the wildest of grunge rock and roll venues, electric base-guitar and drums thrashing and shaking loose the bricks from the ancient architecture. To give the space a decadent flavor, they hung carcasses of beef in front of the bands, piled up sculptures of industrial waste or simply projected films by Arthur and friends above their banging heads; it was the nastiest underground club for jaded, warped rockers where they could mulch right down in the darkness of the theater seats without anybody telling them how to live it. As much as she tried even The Queen of Dark Clouds couldn’t curtail their enthusiasm with her bossy bullshit.

It was delicious fun for electrified nutters like Arthur, one of those rare sites where a restless grunge addict could always count on getting a no-holds-barred electric hit, with no bouncers, managers, owners or rules to quash the excitement. He had to get past the Gorgon glare of The Dark Cloud to get up to the gigs, she was always guarding the donation box, ready to rip it off, sitting in the lap of one of the drug-fucked guitarists as if she was their dominatrix muse. When she spotted Arthur she would hiss some pleasantry like, “Don’t cumm in any corners while you’re here”, to which Arthur would snarl back, “You gotta mouth like a rat-trap with a rat caught in it!”

In general, every day was a gabfest of pissed-off art critique, fringe politics and conspiracy theorizing, a mob of delinquents deliquescing around a huge, wooden dining-table cluttered with art materials, books, dirty dishes, rotten food, drug implements, booze bottles, overflowing ashtrays, torn clothes, the lost gold of the Incas could’ve been under the piles of refuse, and hanging over it all was an elaborate candelabra, to give that extra touch of Bohemian funk. The grunge Gunners argued, laughed, cried and fell apart at this table, like decadent French poets drunk on their own genius at self-destruction.

Lord Huff reigned over the table like a low-rent Count Cagliostro, dressed in cape and goatee beard, he was a know-all, pompous authority on every subject of import, it was gossiped that a few dills had to fuck him to get egress to this manky version of the ‘dead-poets society’. As deadbeat, drug-scrambled art-wankers they gained the ire of the local rednecks who always seem to infest Housing Commissar ghettos such as the one by the wharves of Woolloomoolloo and, in the midst of the beatniks’ rollicking dinner-parties, hurled missiles would crash through the windows and shatter down upon them, like a punk’s stormy downpour to suit the smashing music and raucous ribaldry that reverberated throughout the building.

Sometimes, on one of those rare nights when all was quiet, suddenly the Navy boys from the ship-yards would break in drunk as punks, screaming that the building was still theirs and they were gonna beat the shit out of the dirty squat poofters. This was when trannies like Sardine and Holly would step from the shadows and use their winsome talents to mollify the  marauders, sweet-talking them into a back room and sucking their burning cocks, relieving their warrior machismo of tightly wound up tension.

Straight-faced officials, screaming ambulances, clanging fire trucks, angry cops turning up every other day, did not impress the local rednecks, they saw the Gunnery as an infestation of iniquity in their midst and gave its natives the evil eye, a shove or a punch whenever they ran the gauntlet to get to the wine-shop in the middle of the Housing Estate. Not everybody hated their guts though, a couple of Pubs were quite tolerant of the squatters, the Bell’s let them run up a bar tab, the Tilbury ran an electricity cord into their dark castle when they blew their power-board, the local petrol station gave them credit till one of the junkie girls took too much, didn’t pay and fucked it for everyone. The other working class pub, the Woolloomoolloo, really gave them a hard time, the squatters were seen as rats who’d fled some sinking ship.

Matters were not improved with the local community when the Gulf War erupted and the sailors marched past the building on their way to the naval depot beyond the Wharf. The Dark Cloud hung out her window and abused them with appalling curses, imagining she was an astute, leftist rebel, making Arthur shudder as he thought the poor lads were simply sucked in by the State and about to face death, not needing a brainless harridan like her to add to their anxieties. When the Gunnery mob eventually needed support to hold onto their cutting-edge arts factory, they found few rushing to enlist, tolerance of the colorful eccentrics having worn thin. (The Dark Cloud once declared to the assembled outsiders that she didn't want fame, she wanted infamy, so in this story Arthur was going to give it to her.)

To Arthur they were more like bad-seed, demonic angel helpmates, giving him a fascinatingly anarchic milieu to wallow in, and abetting him in finishing his great non-masterpiece, “Virgin Beasts”. Jonno painted thousands of his animation cells, Lord Huff created some marvelous props, the musicians jazzed up the soundtrack, and the building provided a free-for-all studio for his pick-ups shoot in which the Gunners participated as freaky extras.

He ignored the fact that Holly fucked his cameraman in a back-corridor, but he was furious with her trannie girlfriend, Sardine, for borrowing his video-playback monitor to watch a fluffy soap and, in drunken hilarity swung from the water-pipes built into her ceiling , broke them and spilled a torrent of water upon the television set, blowing it up. He got a hold of her at a rave party held in the building the next night, finding one of his treasured props swinging from a chain around her neck, a Mercedes Benz logo. He gave it a good yank to break it off and nearly choked the bitch in the process. For this she hated him forever after and gave him a bad rave with any waxy-eared oaf she cornered.

Arthur, playing at being the "house troll", couldn't help creating mischief by satirizing The Queen of Dark Clouds and her supposed star status. Having given him a hard time previously for being a poof and worshiping dick, suddenly she was very friendly and ingratiating, knowing he was completing a film, and he took cruel advantage of her fame-whore lust. He needed a gang of extras to dress up like grotesque monsters in bestial masks and then cannibalize each other, particularly two mutant horrors to fuck on a manky couch, and The Dark cloud was chuffed to play one of the rapacious freaks. Arthur got her to wear a monkey mask and attached a huge red rubber dick to her groin and, with it sticking out from under a tou-tou, she leaped upon another monster and tried to poke him between his spread legs.

The Dark Cloud took quite a shine to wearing the penis, she ran back and forth waggling and wanking it, giggling, eroticised, flabbergasted, as if she’d discovered a whole new identity. For ever after, she displayed penises in her performance art, imagining she’d cottoned on to an original idea; she was possibly thankful she’d been transformed into a monkey in Arthur’s film as no one would recognize her and thus she could get away with it. They were friends for awhile, two dysfunctional exhibitionists bitching together, then they had the inevitable falling out and had only sour pusses for each other, she was too much of a megalomaniac, pretentious and junkie-oriented for his wizened, cynical soul.

Every year, for the few years of its existence, the Gunnery crew hired a truck and entered into the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade as a grungy float from metro-sexual Dumpsville. How exhilarating it was for Arthur the night they decorated the truck with “Virgin Beasts” motifs and sailed into the caterwauling multitudes lining Oxford Street, the Gunners as drunk as skunks and as high as blow-flies, flinging the movie’s promotional flyers into the masses of howling mouths, adulation of sorts raining down upon him for a few fleeting moments even though no one knew who he was. He adored the mad bunch of Gunnery bastards ever after for doing it for him, it was mostly social outcasts like junkies who saw subversive value in his art, and he had a strange kind of co-dependency with them.

With this he seemed to have achieved Gunnery-totem status, no mean feat considering the eccentric, acerbic nature of its denizens. The brooding brick cube down by the sea was definitely the IN place to be in Sydney around 1990, no Underground sojourner could claim full Grunge credentials unless they’d hung out there, the dump was ultra-notorious.

But entropy had to set in, the Gunnery disintegrating under the weight of its own anarchic licentiousness, the squalor of poverty, the wearisome interdiction from the world at large, and the deleterious influence of drugs took their toll, their arts squat was only a “Temporary Autonomous Zone” after all, the party had to end sometime. There was always a freak dropping from overdose in one of the shabby corners, The Dark Cloud herself, iron-gut Queen of the Deviants, was found by her boyfriend Bawl, stiff and blue in an armchair, not quite dead; he had luckily come home early and was able to save her in the nick of time.

When the corpse of a young man, a stranger,  was found in a car parked in the loading-bay, dead from an heroin overdose, the first thing a villain they called Madman did was search the body and take his stash of drugs, then call an ambulance. In junkie folklore this purloined substance is referred to as “dead-man’s dope” and is reputed to give a particularly deep stone.

On another gruesome night, when Arthur was lolling by the communal dining table, it was suddenly announced that Madman himself had dropped dead from more noxious drug injecting and was lying in an attic room, cold and still, while his fiendish brethren rushed about in a panic, pulling on their long hair and wailing appeals for assistance. “Help, help, help! Somebody do something!!!”

Arthur took a deep, depressed breath and marched into the cubbyhole, directing one freak to massage his heart while he gave the dill mouth to mouth resuscitation; he also demanded a bucket of cold water be thrown in Madman’s face by the cupful, over and over. One of the wailing mob, running about like the proverbial headless chicken, was told to go ring for an ambulance while Arthur blew and blew, huffed and puffed, the poor guy’s chest banged and thumped till his sternum cracked and the bucketful of water splashed frantically into his face enough to drown him.

On and on it went and Arthur despaired of reviving the fellow, minutes seemed to drag by, Madman was blue and dead. Then suddenly he sat bolt upright and spurted out a fountain of water, moaning about being wet all over. He was cold sober and, as he was relating how he’d visited a celestial airport waiting-lounge where he met old friends who’d died previously of drug-overdose, suddenly the ambulance guys rushed in and without further ado, against his spluttered protests, shot him up with a huge hit of Narcane that straightened him out like an electric shock. They then dragged him off to hospital and punished him with an uptight interrogation that lasted till dawn, him crawling back home in the morning regretting his fun night out.

Gunnery Festival Program.
Some of the Gunnery crew got their brains smacked, their bodies wracked, their lives hijacked and when Arthur met up with them twenty years later they looked like voodoo dolls who’d had the life sucked out of them by Body-snatchers, zombies returned from crypts of their own personal apocalypse. Arthur remained adamantly sympathetic to drug legalization, to simply give it to those who couldn’t figure out any other way to live, but the contemporary world was not benign, and the junkie’s life was rotten, full of death, disease, hate and thievery, much running about and sucking up to monsters, and thus insupportable.

Lord Huff had become quite a buddy to Arthur, they were like evil twins, having enormous fun terrorizing the Underground circuit and, being clever with his hands, he could be called upon to fix anything. Later on, after the collapse of The Gunnery, he organized a few more slummy galleries and could’ve become an effective salesman for his hopeless artist friends, only he evolved from smack to consuming crystal meth, getting ‘iced’ daily, he ate holes in his brain and became unbearable to be with, speeding about garbling loads of codswallop, screeching loud enough to crack mirrors, nonsense like Arthur shouldn’t eat red foods or sit in certain train carriages, like all madmen he was absolutely unaware that he’d gone nuts.

Then they had a big argument where Lord Huff stool out the front of Arthur’s room and called him every rotten fag under the sun, for all his neighbors to hear. It was the living end. After a fourteen year friendship, Arthur had to let him go; if he drank battery acid though told tirelessly not to, and he continued to do it, what could Arthur do for him? Eventually he did dry out from drugs and have a good life, contributing his services as a volunteer across the city, amazing that he had the strength, Arthur ending up a bigger deadbeat as he had only himself to recover from and that wasn't possible.

Art by Stu Spasm.
Sweet Pete Harlot eventually lost the plot and it wasn’t just his heroin habit that did it. Trying to make it in the rough and tumble world of rock and roll fame was a killer, one needed a thick skin and a cut-throat attitude and Pete was the ultimate softie, not even able to cut a record deal and always running from any confrontation. But it was Sybilla that did him in. She could handle her depression no longer and committed suicide by overdosing on smack. The Skag Hag who had sold her the dope had the nerve to go to her funeral, and her family, who knew very well the truth of the matter, wanted to kill the monster but had to restrain themselves, it would have been unseemly, and drugs are a personal choice of the needy.

Pete had found her lying in her squat bed, arms clutching a photo of her sister upon her breast, white as Death’s bride. He never seemed to get over the shock. When flung from the Gunnery he moved up north to Nimbin, took too many drugs and was found screaming at his hallucinations upon the street. When Arthur visited him twenty years later in Lismore he was a shadow of himself, like the fairy prince turned into a frog, he could barely speak rationally, his clothes were filthy, his toe-nails grown long and horny as a troll’s, as if the magic soul he’d revealed at The Gunnery had been drained from him and only a husk was left behind.

And dear mad Madge, perhaps the best painter of them all, encouraged into occasional heroin by her peers, avoided overdose but ended up dying at thirty from a heart attack, her body ruined by all the psyche drugs pushed on her by disapproving parents. They were uptight caravan-park managers from Woy Woy who considered art the most ridiculous of careers and threw the bulk of her amazing oil paintings into the garbage. Sumptuous depictions of the animal unconscious, her friends clung to the few surviving masterpieces; Arthur had one of them, an abstract wildcat-come-human in silver strutting across a luscious red field, hanging above his bed-head to remind him of the transience of invaluable art.

Holly, the wishy-washy trannie, became a washed out replica of her old self, unable to work the brothels, she haunted the city’s toilets like an eternally young Dorian Gray seeking cheap thrills where she could find them. Eventually a miracle ascended from Hell and IT transmogrified into a Greek Orthodox priest, able still to get around in long black dresses with a Gothic crucifix clanking around ITs neck. Punk-Raj, Holly’s sister whore, sued his surgeon for negligence, declaring he had not been properly counseled about his sex-change, deciding he’d rather be a boy after all as they had more freedom.

Mal Licious, effete poof about town, was the assistant sound editor and one of the contributors who helped ruin Arthur’s rock-music film, "Virgin Beasts", fore-grounding the sound-effects instead of the music and, at a party in the backyard of the Gunnery, brayed to the collected freaks that the movie was nothing but a heap of shit without his glorious sound-effects work. Arthur snapped, he was a poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks and was never going to get an even break, and many of the spoiled brats he met along the way made sure he’d get fucked instead.

He smacked Mal in the gob and threw him onto the smoldering bonfire where he thrashed about for a few seconds before some of the Gunners dragged him off. They then all turned on Arthur and, while some held him, others beat him up, not too heavily, just enough to let him know they didn’t appreciate his violence. To Arthur there is no justice in this world, for upper-class, dumb Mal, who had succumbed to smack and spent years in recovery, went on to be the curator for modern art in Darwin and eventually owned his own art gallery in Indonesia, which shows you can’t keep an uptown boy down for too long.

As Arthur grew into old age he was able to watch many a cutting artist who'd been a junkie since the age of twenty-five also attempt to stay alive but as they reached fifty and beyond, their hitting life hard broke through the body's evolved hardiness and they didn't get past fifty-five, including their great rock heroes. Their immune systems had been compromised and they fell prey to many diseases, most often cancers of the liver, pancreas, bowels or breasts. 

And Arthur thought of them every day that he creaked on, sweet and crazy souls such as Peter Read from Thug who was a joy to hang out with, and while frustrating in his wildness when it came to actually getting something done, contributed some of the wonderful soundtrack to "Virgin Beasts". Though himself supremely healthy, Arthur in his sixties often considered bumping himself off as he found the existential burden of responsibility in an unjust world maddening. And to do it he would love to just give himself a heroin hot-shot, to finally be the junkie he'd long struggled not to be.

Thug with Peter Read on the far left.
Many of the Gunners went in and out of heavy smack habits, attending dry-out clinics, turning to Christianity, tearing through soul-numbing Nazi methadone programs, clinging to their girlfriends or families like rafts in a sewer, they lost their looks, curdled their personalities, damaged their livers and burnt up their brain cells, and were hard put to cut carrots for a living, they forgot about cutting-edge art. Gorgons like The Dark Cloud would argue the truth,  she ended up with her talent half-baked and her star diminished, resorting to hoary old black-magic tricks like cutting chicken’s heads off as performance art, nearly slicing off the fingers of her latest cunt-struck male-drone boyfriend, whose job it was to hold the poor chook’s head in place. 

Stoned much of the time, she lived in a cloud of confusion. In a cabaret act with Mia from "Butchered Babies" she'd cooked up the brilliant idea of pulling a string of razor-blades from Mia's cunt for the delectation of the audience. Only she forgot to put sticky-tape on the edges of the blades and cut poor Mia's miff to shreds in the nutty fiasco. Another time she got onstage with a candle burning atop her piled up hair-do and while she croaked her "Salon Kittie" song and dance number the candle's flame spread to her hair and her whole head was about to go up in a conflagration. The audience merely watched passively, let the bitch burn, and Artie half agreed but he couldn't handle the tension. After waiting eternal moments, the fire spreading, he suddenly leaped up to her and swatted her head violently, bang, bang, bang, to put the flames out, much to her irate protests. Later on she swore the fire was part of the act, very daring, but Arthur thought she was full of shit, he'd saved her from terrible scarification.

By 2016 she’d swear blue in the face she never touched junk, had outgrown the black bondage gear and was reborn as some kind of white-robed nun, a humanitarian to the down-trodden. But the estranged heart probably remained deep in that neo-hippie front, fame-whore an addiction that never lets go. She eventually revised her place in the story of the Gunnery and became the savior heroine, referring to herself as "a leading light" in an article for the Murdoch Daily Terror; being a political illiterate it never entered her head she was flirting with one of the biggest reactionary forces in existence, responsible for inciting much of the war and inequality in the world. 

Too addled to write a book, if she got a ghost-writer she'd likely wipe Arthur’s presence from the Gunnery's history: everybody not only wants to get into the act, they want to take over and be the only act worth mentioning. It’s who gets the right contact and prints the book or makes the video first that wins and, in the end, nobody gives a shit, winners are history's spinners and all that’s won is more shit. Thus was Arthur’s cynical surmise.

The Gunnery had created quite a bewitching notoriety as far as an “arts space” was concerned and, like H.G Wells Martians, beady, greedy eyes turned towards the place in interest. If the Gunners hadn’t been so drug-crazed, lazy and ineffectual, they might have fought off the powers-that-be with the appropriate pieces of legal paper and managed their oasis for a few more creative years but, while they flopped amid their heaps of moldy, theatrical garbage, a smarter group of cut-throats made viable proposals to the government for the wonderful building.

Another gang moved in on them. “Art-space” were a bunch of toffy-nosed careerists who’d successfully conned millions of dollars out of the art’s bureaucracies for years to run ‘alternative galleries’ and seeing the potential of the Gunnery, its fame having reached their hairy ears, they were determined to grab it for themselves and their forgettable trendy conceptual arts ephemera.

A major State politician, Peter Collins, arts minister, surrounded by his minions, visited the fortress by the sea to have one last parlay with the squatters, to find out what they wanted and if they could be accommodated, perhaps with another building. In the middle of the meeting The Dark Cloud showed up, she screeched invective, she couldn’t help herself, she was negativity personified, it was her default mode of operation, there was to be no compromise, she’d rather they were all thrown into the dust-bin of history. The bureaucrats were dismayed, even her brother Lord Huff cringed, any chance of a future for an alternative arts colony was lost, the pollies fled in disarray.

The “Arts-Space” mob and their bureaucracy-climbing career-lust was the final testimonial on the Gunnery’s headstone and, after a flurry of eviction notices, time ran out and the cops were called in for the last shoot-out showdown. Most of the fans had deserted, only the hard-arsed inner core remained to defend the premises, loyal Arthur by their side as they barricaded themselves upon every floor.

The Dark Cloud was nowhere to be seen, all the huff and bluff, the howling and scowling in the previous weeks was for theatrical effect for the arts bureaucrats, a drama-queen like the bitch with the poisoned apple from “Snow White”, ugly but memorable. One of the squatters, Simone, held her whimpering baby to her breast, like a deformed Madonna sculpture, the boy had hideous cold-sores covering his mouth, and the other frayed insurgents ranged protectively around her, holding guitars, paint brushes and glass bhongs as weapons. The pigs had to axe their way into the building through several heaps of piled up furniture and industrial waste to herd the ragged incumbents from their ruinous lounge-rooms, tumble them down the many stairs and toss them out onto the unfriendly wharf-front of Woolloomoolloo, Arthur with them, while the cruel sea raged nearby.

The whole Wharf area got revamped to millionaire’s cloud seven, (Russell Crowe owns a palace there); the Gunnery was turned into a magnificent art gallery for upper-crust twits to quaff their champagne within and titter over the banal crap the authorities labeled as true art. The upstairs lofts got refurbished as residences for the favored State-sanctioned and visiting foreign artists on approved government grants.

Arthur cringed at the plastic-fantastic, hoity-toity reinvention of the Gunnery and never visited the premises again, no matter how snappy their propaganda or trendy their art show. Renegade artists always got shat on, they wouldn’t deserve the name otherwise, and for Arthur there was to be no lawless arts factory where he could find lasting consolation as a participating member, the apparatchik-aristocracy of Australia not built to handle such a place.

A rigid class-bound State always takes over as THEY have the power to create the world in THEIR image, but real artists live on, in folklore, in garrets, in every nook and cranny, and in posterity; the myth of The Gunnery won considerable cachet in later years, many gronks who had nothing to do with the place claimed they were residents to give their careers Bohemian luster. The world has always been full of wankers, especially in the arts, for the kudos and the money. Repeat, Arthur couldn’t give a shit. He lived it, it was intense fun for seven years, then it was over, like a fractured fairy tale he told himself at bedtime before he went to sleep.

Box the Jesuit with Beloved Goose Pressley Who Died Young from Leukemia.

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.