Friday, September 29, 2006

Are you a local artist?

The Melbourne International Arts Festival Local Artist Card 2006

The Melbourne International Arts Festival would like to invite professional, practicing artists of all disciplines to take part in this year's Festival - by seeing shows, attending forums, discussions and master classes, and by joining us and visiting artists at the Festival Artist's Lounge, The Shed.

The Local Artist Card enables the Festival to provide artists with discounts and access so they can maximize their Festival experience. The Artist Card is about affordability, and due to the Festival's ability to manage the initiative, limited to the first 800 Australian artists to put their hand up!

What does the Local Artist Card offer?

Present your Local Artist Card to receive the following:
  • Concession Tickets - two concession tickets to each Melbourne International Arts Festival controlled event (ticket entitlement to the named artist card holder for a maximum of two tickets to any festival controlled event on presentation of the artist card at Ticketmaster outlets). Photo ID is required at time of ticket purchase.
  • Rush Tickets - check availability from 2pm on the day of the performance from the Festival Ticket Booth, Melbourne Visitor Centre, Federation Square (for all events); the Arts Centre Box Office(for Arts Centre events), and Malthouse Box Office (for Malthouse events).
  • Artists Lounge - Access to the Festival's Artists Lounge for you and a friend! Come see a show and then join international and local artists in a relaxed, social environment. The Festival’s 2006 Artist Lounge, called The Shed, is situated on the Yarra River and is part of the Arts Centre complex. It is a private lounge for the exclusive use of Festival staff, crew, local and international artists participating in the Festival and Local Artist Card holders. The Shed will be open from 10am until late evening throughout the Festival, from Tuesday 10th October until Saturday 28th October.
PREVIEW night at the Festival Artist's Lounge, The Shed - Come and help Festival staff and artists warm up the bar for international guests! Tuesday 10 October, check here for more details closer to the date.

How do I get a Local Artist Card?

If you applied for and received a Local Artist Card in 2005, simply send your NAME, current POSTAL ADDRESS and EMAIL to and we'll use your details from last year to issue you with a new card.

Otherwise, simply fill in the online application form at

NOTE: All Cards will be POSTED to applicants in 2006, so please provide us with a complete, current postal address. If, for any reason, you do not wish your card to be mailed directly to you, please let us know so alternative arrangements for collection can be made.

I want my body back!

Fitzroy's Screen Sect hosts a chiller/thriller lineup of classic horror films during The Age 2006 Melbourne Fringe Festival, and for the rest of October.

Adam Spellicy has curated an
Invasion of the Body Snatchers mini-season over three consecutive Mondays, comprised of:

"They're here already! You're next! You're next! You're next!"

Plus rounding out October, catch John Carpenter's 1988 film They Live on Monday October 23 and the Howard Hawks-produced, 1951 Christian Nyby film, The Thing From Another World on Monday October 30.

Screen Sect is a night devoted to rarely seen, obsessively loved and criminally neglected cult classics of cinema. Revisit old favourites, uncover hidden celluloid gems, indulge guilty pleasures, or just get yourself an education.

Where: Bar Open, 317 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
When: Every Monday, upstairs from 7pm.
Cost: Entry via membership: $5 for 3 months


Wednesday night was the opening night Fringe Festival artists' party; last night the somewhat slicker opening of the annual Fringe Furniture Exhibition; and tonight, oh tonight, the opening night for a score of shows at the Festival Hub: the North Melbourne Town Hall, the Lithuanian Club, and other adjacent venues; and one hell of a party!

Between now and October 15th the city is alive with artists doing what they do best. I've scheduled 28 shows so far, and there's even more I want to see.

Take a risk.

Take a punt.

Do the Fringe!*

* It's something akin to the Frug, but with more tassles, I'm led to believe.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Aah, Iceland...

Here's a clip for you from Mum, one of my favourite Icelandic bands, for their track 'Weeping Rock, Rock'...

And here's another, for the sublime 'Green Grass of Tunnel'.

It was just over a year ago that I saw these guys live, in Amsterdam. I'd love to see them perform in from of a home crowd in Iceland. Maybe one day...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Blog is the Life!

Actually it should be 'The blood is the life!' to quote poor, deranged Renfield, but never mind...

Nathaniel over at The Film Experience is having a blog-a-thon focussed on vampires, my favourite of favourite movie and literary monsters. It's going to be a vast multiple blog-post linking frenzy, with the common factor being a post about cinematic repersentation of vampires in one form or another. Sweet!

Now all I have to decide is what to blog about: lesbian vampires? Too easy perhaps. Homoeroticism in vampire cinema? The use of blue filters in Hammer Horror movies? Perhaps some of the stranger vampire movies out there, such as Billy the Kid Meets Dracula or Mexico's Santo en el Tesoro de Dracula, one of the seeming endless adventures of the masked wrestler Santo? Oh, so many possibilities and such delightful decisions await...

And thanks to Glenn over at Stale Popcorn in Geelong, on whose blog I discovered this delicious opportunity!

Mainstream media ignores brutal bashing

Early last Thursday morning in Ballarat, a 60 year old man was attacked by four assailants, who dragged him from his parked car, sexually assaulted him, bashed him, pissed on him, then forced him into his own car before stealing it. He was released after an hour, after further abuse. His burnt-out car was found several hours later.

Why have I heard nothing about this in the mainstream media, with the exception of the Ballarat Courier? Can you imagine the hue and cry if this happened here in Melbourne to a 60 year old woman, or if the victim was an elderly man who was assaulted in a home invasion?

There's a simple answer. It's because he was asking for it, because he was cruising for sex at a beat in a Ballarat park shortly after midnight.

I can't begin to say how pissed off it makes me that the mainstream media have ignored this assault, which the Ballarat police have described as "savage and disgusting".

What's even worse is that only a month or two ago, the commercial TV networks were whipping up a moral panic about beats and public cruising in parks, at beaches and in toilets. Well, they've got what they wanted: a pack of thugs taking the high moral ground. The journalists responsible for those stories now have this man's blood on their hands as a result of their sensationalistic reporting.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gender transition

A writer friend of mine, Tom Cho, has set up an unofficial website for the Monash Gender Dysphoria Clinic, seeing as the Clinic doesn't have one of its own, despite being the major means whereby Victorians (not to mention referrals from across Australia and beyond) can transit gender. The site's in its early days yet, but already has an FAQ, resource section, and summarises some of the information provided by the Centre to its clients. Please feel free to disemminate the URL widely!

Guess who's coming to visit?

My mum, Maggie. Fuck. This means I have to spend the whole day doing all the housework I'm usually either too busy, too lazy or too unconcerned about to do. It's probably a good thing, actually, because the place is a fucking pigsty...

Edit: And just in case people get the wrong idea, I actually get on really well with my mum; it's just that I always feel compelled to clean the place up before she gets here, despite the fact that she knows it's only an illusion of domesticity.

I've just dusted the study. Dusted, for fucks sake. Oh well, at least I now have a clean desk for the first time in months. Time to tackle the bathroom next. *shudders*


The lovely DavetheScot tagged me a couple of weeks ago, and for a variety of factors I've only just got around to responding to this particular meme.

Given that I spent most of Saturday recovering from a debaucherous Friday evening that included stripped-bare (literally) circus from acrobat, catching The Meanies and the splendidly entertaining Digger and the Pussycats at The Tote, the accidental but very welcome company of Ms Fits and her handsome fella (does he have a brother please Fits?), lines of speed in the toilets at the Cobra Bar, and finally Kamikaze Trio at Pony at 2am, I think a post discussing sober literary pursuits is entirely in order...

1. One book I've read more than once.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R.R. Tolkien. Between the ages of 14 and 21 I read this book a total of 18 times, if my memory serves me correctly. I was enthralled by the grandeur of the novel's scope; the attention to detail Tolkien poured into Middle Earth's history, culture and languages; and the classic good vs evil narrative, which drew upon an array of myths and archetypes, only some of which I was previously familiar with. I liked this book so much that I not only tried to teach myself Elvish as a teenager, I also started mapping and detailing a fantasy world of my own...

2. One book I would want on a desert island.
A Cruising Voyage Round the World by Captain Woodes Rogers, which contains the details of his discovery of the marooned Scottish sailor and privateer Alexander Selkirk, whose extraordinary adventures inspired Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

3. One book that made me laugh.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling. Quite a few years ago now, having heard so much buzz about this then new book that was all the rage among primary school students, I decided to read it: my excuse at the time was that I was working for a youth arts organisation and felt it important to stay in touch with our client base. Hah. Actually I was just curious to see what all the hype was about. Having dropped in at the Fitzroy Library to borrow it, only to be told that all six copies were out on loan, and with a considerable waiting list ahead of me, I bought a copy instead, and started reading the book over a late lunch at Red Tongue cafe. Within the next hour, two of the cafe staff had come over to my table specifically to ask what I was reading that was making me laugh so much. If that makes me a kidult (although I prefer rejuvenile) I plead guilty. Later books in the Harry Potter series have grown stale and indulgent, but this book really was a delight to read. Given the squillions it's made the author, thinking of all the publishers and agents who originally rejected it as unpublishable also makes me laugh.

4. One book that made me cry.
At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill. In Dublin last September I saw a superb dance piece by Welsh company Earthfall based on this novel, which is set in the lead up to the ill-fated Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916, and was inspired to buy a copy of the book the next day. I finished reading it on the plane home, and found myself trying to stifle my sobs during its dramatic climax. It's a deeply engaging story about two teenaged boys who are caught up in the tides of love and history; written in language that's as playful yet complex as its protagonists; complex, engaging, elegaic and beautiful.

5. One book I wish I'd written
Generally, pretty much any book that's ever been published. My own 'literary' career (which lurched from Tolkien homage to authoring role playing games, to performing spoken word, completing the third draft of an unpublished 'queer noir' detective novel, to currently working as the news editor at MCV) seems to have stalled in the last few years, so here I shall pay my respects to any author who not only completes a book, but sees it published. Kudos to you all.

More specifically, I wish I'd written a book as explosively good as the debut novel from a much respected and much loved friend of mine, Christos Tsiolkas: Loaded. It's an intense, passionate, stark and relentless book. "Its sparse words burn," I said of it, in a review in my queercore zine The Burning Times back in the mid-1990's, when the book was first published. And they still do.

6. One book I wish had never been written.
I'm going to cheat and name two. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, and The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Both books have been responsible for an awful lot of fuckwits behaving hideously to their fellow human beings.

7. One book I'm currently reading.
The Curer of Souls by Lindsay Simpson, a new novel about abuse and murder in a boys' prison in convict-era Tasmania, written by an ex-Sydney Morning Herald investigative journalist. A publicist at Random House sent me a copy a few weeks ago, and having finished my previous reading, I found this one on top of the pile. It's too soon to say if I like it or not yet, but the SMH review called it 'painstaking and multifaceted' and notes that Simpson has 'a sure touch' although they might perhaps be just a little biased given her previous association with the paper...

8. One book I've been meaning to read.
What Good Are The Arts? by John Carey. I was sent a review copy of this book, which is described as 'idiotic' by Jeannette Winterson, and 'incisive and inspirational' by The Guardian, presumeably in the theory that I would discuss it on Triple R. It's a study of aesthetic values, a discussion of the nature of art and our experiences and reactions to it. Currently it's sitting on my coffee table on top of a pile of other unread books, next to a pile of unread media releases, and a stack of new release CD's which I'm planning to make a start on listening to this afternoon...

9. One book that changed my life.
The Joy of Gay Sex by Dr Charles Silverstein and Edmund White. Quite seriously. Picture this scenario: it's 1986, a pre-internet, pre-ATM world. Barely 19, I've just moved from Moe to Melbourne, to start a new job in the public service and a new life in the big city. My contact with the gay community has been severely limited, to put it mildly; I have several unresolved issues to work through regarding my sexuality and masculinity; and quite frankly, I was so sexually inept at the time that when I first tried to fuck a guy, I attempted it without lube. Ouch. Then, in the old International Bookshop in Swanston Street, I found The Joy of Gay Sex. More than just a sex guide, it's a resource to love, to life, and a self-esteem assembly how-to kit that provided me with emotional advice as well as a solid grounding in the mechanics of rooting. It was, quite literally, one of the most important books I've ever read.

10. One book that made me think.
A Secret Country by John Pilger. Reading this book was like having a spotlight shone into the dark corners of Australian history. It was revelatory.

There, wasn't that interesting?

And now, I tag Donald, Born Dancin', and Fangirl, whose choices I suspect will be far more intellectual than mine. And dammit, I was going to try and work in a discussion of great graphic novels of the mid-1990's in here somewhere, and I completely failed...

Friday, September 22, 2006


The so-called ‘ex-gay’ movement, which claims to be able to ‘cure’ people of their homosexuality, is deeply entrenched in American culture.

Organisations such as Focus on the Family (the influential voice of the Christian Right in US politics) Love in Action, and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) run prayer meetings, hold exorcisms and employ a variety of therapies (including the dubious practise of beating pillows with a tennis racket to assist gay men rediscover their ‘guy-ness’) in order to help gays and lesbians heal their ‘broken’ sexuality.

With the increasing influence of the Pentecostal movement and the Religious Right in Australia, as typified by the Hillsong Church (whose founder, Frank Houston, resigned his ministry in 2000 after admitting to committing paedophilic offences) and the Family First Party, the ex-gay movement is now targeting Australia.

Liberty Christian Ministries in NSW, which aims to provide “support, hope and education to Christian men and women who struggle with unwanted same sex attraction,” is one such organisation. The Queensland-based Exodus Asia Pacific, which claims to have “been helping men and women find a way out of sexual brokenness” since 1987 is another.

Here in Victoria, charismatic Christian singer-songwriter Adrian Rowse says he wants to help young people “who are struggling with issues of same-sex attraction.”

Rowse, who “asked Jesus into my life sitting on the toilet one day aged five or six,” is the founder of East Ringwood’s Roundabout Ministries.

“The ministry began when God put it on my heart to begin sharing in churches and youth ministries about my own journey with sexual brokenness and struggle through my teenage years,” he explains. “I thought I was gay and struggled with porn from my mid-teens onwards and so really struggled deeply with trying to figure out why I felt the way I did, and why I could struggle with these things when I was a Christian and deeply loved God.”

Today Rowse claims to be heterosexual, and happily married to his wife Chelsea.

So can you – assuming you want to – really ‘cure’ homosexuality? Not according to ex-ex-gay Anthony Venn-Brown.

“Ex-gay programs exist because some Christian churches persist in placing same-sex-attraction in the category of a sin and perversion. This is ludicrous in this day and age,” he says. “Any intelligent person today knows that sexual orientation can’t be changed.”

A former leader in the Assemblies of God, Venn-Brown says he tried Christian counselling, exorcisms, 40-day fasts, all the transformation methods that the ex-gay movement claims can heal ‘broken’ sexualities in order to turn himself straight.

“I actually spent six months in Australia’s first live-in ex-gay program back in 1972, going through what is known as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy. It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, [and] took me years to get over.” Venn-Brown says.

Since publishing A Life of Unlearning, an autobiography detailing his experiences with the ex-gay movement, Venn-Brown has received hundreds of e-mails from people in similar situations as himself.

“One person told me he attempted suicide three times after his failed efforts to change [his sexuality] kept him in depression.”

According to the Hillsong Church, in which Venn-Brown used to preach, depression, like homosexuality, is a sin.

“The bottom line is: depression is a supernatural spirit of destruction straight from the devil,” the church stated on its website earlier this year.

Such erroneous claims are just one of the reasons why Venn-Brown is actively opposed to the ex-gay movement increasing its foothold in Australia.

“Ex-gay programs have been operating for three decades now and have a horrific history of failure,” he explains. “In the early 1970’s mental health professionals acknowledged that same-sex-attraction was not an illness. As usual it is taking some Christian denominations decades to catch up.”

One Christian group that still has its head firmly in the sand on the issue of sexual re-orientation therapy is the Melbourne-based fundamentalist organisation the Salt Shakers.

In a recent members’ newsletter, Salt Shakers’ executive officer Peter Stokes falsely claimed that the American Psychological Association (APA) had changed its stance on re-orientation therapy.

“Homosexuals CAN change and they should “be allowed to do so” – says APA President,” Stokes wrote.

APA President Gerald P Koocher did state that the “APA has no conflict with psychologists who help those distressed by unwanted homosexual attraction,” provided that the client is entering into such treatment of their own free will. However the APA has since clarified its position on ‘curing’ homosexuality due to misrepresentation of Koocher’s comments.

“For over three decades the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure,” the APA announced in August. “There is simply no scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.”

This was something that playwright Matt Crowley knew in the 1960’s, when he wrote the groundbreaking The Boys in the Band (later filmed by Exorcist director William Friedkin).

“You may one day be able to know a heterosexual life if you want it desperately enough,” says Harold, one of the play’s arch gay characters. “If you pursue it with the fervour with which you annihilate. But you'll always be homosexual as well. Always Michael. Always. Until the day you die.”

This article originally appeared in MCV #297 on Thursday 21st September.

Some other helpful links:

Ex-Gay Watch
Anything but Straight

Thursday, September 21, 2006

On the radio today...

This week's SmartArts featured interviews with:

  • Oriel Guthrie, the director/producer of the Australian hip-hop documentary Skip Hop Volume One, released last month on DVD through EMI.
  • Young artists John Bartley and Royce Ng came in to talk about Death and Preservation, their debut exhibition examining the re-emergence of rituals and symbols of death, produced in collaboration with Holly and Rowam McNaught. It opens next Wednesday 27th October, 6-8pm at Viewing Space Gallery (Level 6, Room 16, the Nicholas Building, corner of Swanston Street & Flinders Lane) and runs til October 7th.
  • Dianne Reid, the artistic director of Dancehouse, joined us to talk about their latest two-week season of new works, SpringDance: "Two programs of Australian and International work, dealing with the body in conflict. Featuring an all female cast, investigating darkly poetic images of physical and emotional states, of human behaviour in times of war or inner turmoil." The season runs from tonight, 21st September, until October 1st.
  • Simon Yates from circus company Acrobat came in to chat about Smaller, Poorer, Cheaper (pictured above), their latest show, on at the Meat Market, North Melbourne from tonight until October 1st as part of The Age 2006 Melbourne Fringe Festival.
  • In Cerise Howard's fortnightly screen culture segment A Fistful of Celluloid, we discussed the Palme d'Or winning The Wind That Shakes The Barley (powerful, occasionally awkward, and a little over-rated but a strong film al the same); two new Australian films, the excruciatingly bad Macbeth, doomed junkie drama Em 4 Jay (which adds little that's new to the familiar genre despite superb acting from its two leads); and Iranian soccer saga Offside (which Cerise praised highly; sadly I haven't seen it).
  • And finally, in our visual art review segment Art Attack, Tai Snaith discussed the City of Melbourne's laneways installations, and recommended you investigate them all...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A dream to some...

"A dream to some. A nightmare to others!"

I've just finished rewatching John Boorman's hopelessly dated yet somehow still marvellously evocative take on the Arthurian legend and 'the matter of Britain', Excalibur.

This epic, operatic film was released in 1981, which given that I saw it in its original cinematic release, means I was probably only 14 at the time. In retrospect, that was the perfect age at which to witness this story of knights, villainy, love and tragedy.

The grandeur and passion of Excalibur have stayed with me to this day, and tonight I found myself mouthing certain lines even as I quietly laughed at the production design or the flawed over-dubbing of certain actors; and moved to tears even as I was marvelling at the early screen appearances of the likes of Gabriel Byrne (Uther), Patrick Stewart (Leondegrance), Liam Neeson (Gawain) and Helen Mirren (Morgana).

Without a doubt, though, my favourite actor - and character - in the film is Nicol Williamson's scenery-chewing turn as the magaician, Merlin (pictured above). Williamson's remarkable intonation imbues his lines and character with such life, that it has stayed with me until this very day. It was such a delight to watch the film again, even though (especially in comparison to The Lord of Rings, which Boorman allegedly had wanted to to make instead of this film) its battle scenes lack vigour and scale, and its screenplay condenses so much of the action that the viewer's only real attachment is with the story itself rather than any of its characters.

I've had a passion for the Arthurian legends for as long as I can remember, which is probably the fault of Enid Blyton - I seem to recall reading her retelling of the core Arthurian stories about the same time I first read of Robin Hood, circa grade three, in 1974, aged seven or eight. Thinking about it, I can even remember the name of the Blyton book in question: Tales of Bold Adventure. I wonder if it's still in print?

And even at that tender age, I am also aware that I was totally fixated upon the male characters of the stories - I wanted to don green tights and dwell in Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood and his Merry Men; or ride alongside Sir Lancelot and King Arthur, without the likes of Maid Marion and Queen Guenevere getting in the way.

Boys' own adventures indeed!

I am a sexy gay blogger

No really, I am. Mark, whose blog is called Sexy Gay Blogger of the Day certainly thinks so. If I ever run into him at a conference/gig/gallery opening I shall probably gently lick one of his ears while asking if he wants to come back to my place and look at my etchings...

I think I shall go and purr quietly to myself now, while I sip this glass of absinthe and watch the news.

Belay that ye scurvy dogs!

Richard Watts, your pirate name is:
Second Mate Domingo the Black

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sweet, sweet tabloids...

It's amazing what you find when you're scouring the net for stories with gay content for work. These choice tidbits from UK tabloid The Sun should keep you entertained...

Brickie sacked for being hunky

HUNKY teenage labourer Joe Norman was sacked from a building site at a girls school — for driving pupils into a frenzy.

The 18-year-old, who had spent the summer helping to build an extension, started getting wolf-whistles when classes resumed after the holidays.

Girls at the Catholic school would yell: “Oi, fit builder!” Then gangs of them started to CHASE him down corridors... (click here to read the whole story).

'I fell for identical brothers'

RANDY Amanda Bennett bagged herself a real twinset – by bedding a pair of identical brothers.

And it was only when she got them between the sheets that she could tell the difference between the boys.. (Full story here)

Gay sailor axed for rookie romp.

A SAILOR has been booted out of his Navy base for allegedly romping with a male trainee.

Fitness instructor Sam Connell, 22 — who is a Mr Gay UK finalist — is said to have had consensual sex with a 20-year-old recruit in the gym.

Top brass ordered him off HMS Raleigh in Plymouth at just an hour’s notice. There are strict “no-touching” rules, banning fraternisation between trainers, senior ratings and recruits at the base.

A top-level investigation is now being carried out by Navy detectives.

An insider said: “It’s a massive embarrassment for the Navy.”
(full story - and pic - here)

Aar, me hearties!

Just a little advance warning for those of you who might have forgotten, that tomorrow, September 19th, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Huzzah!

Group nouns?

Ok, so we have:

A herd of antelope
A shrewedness of apes
A troop of baboons
A clutter of cats
A bevy of otter
A parliament of owls
An ostentation of peacocks
An obstinacy of buffalo
An implausibility of gnu
A float of crocodiles
A gloom of goths
A charm of finches
A murder of crows

What do we call a collective of bloggers, please?

Sunday, September 17, 2006


This is my 301st post on this here little blog of mine - which, given its rather lucklustre beginnings, is quite an achievement!

Rather than recapping on how and why I started blogging, let me quickly recap on the last few days instead.

Friday I was supposed to go and see the opening of a new show at The Malthouse, but I was pretty knackered, so stayed home and watched a couple of DVD's instead: the gay film Defying Gravity, which I'd been wanting to see for ages (about a closeted gay frat boy - not great to be honest, and rather dated now, but still capable of moving me to tears) and Dreams in the Witch House, based on the short story by H. P. Lovecraft, and part of the US Masters of Horror series. I bought it on Amazon a few weeks ago, and then of course got a media release this week announcing that the whole series is about to be released locally...

Saturday I started reading a pile of grant applications for Arts Victoria (I'm a peer assessor on the New Work: Presentation panel) before heading off to the innaugural gay grogblogging get-together at the Prince of Wales, organised by DUP. Not a huge turn out, but a lovely afternoon spent in the company of Adrian, Aaron, and R*yan talking about everything queer under the sun. Next I headed out to Yarraville, to the home of poet Paul Mitchell, for a delightful evening of continued drunken shenannigans. A couple of years ago myself, Paul and two other writers, Andy Jackson and David Prater were teamed up as part of a poetry slam; last night we (without Davey but with the added company of Ryan Payne, the new editor of Voiceworks) had a get-together, which involved an excellent meal, several bottles of wine, absinthe at Aqua et Vino, and bad karaoke at the Commercial Hotel. Great fun. I ended the night by heading into the city for a 'hucks night' - a combined hens and bucks night party for a couple of friends I met through Q + A, before I literally staggered home...

Sunday: Worked, procrastinated, blogged, drank, fretted about my finances, etc. Grant applications are really starting to shit me, I have to say; I think this might be my last round on the panel.

But, here's a few things that have cheered me up today.

The G-man has blogged about the Emperor Norton, who's birthday it was today. Hurrah!

Then I watched the regular trailer and the uncensored trailer for John Cameron Mitchell's new film Shortbus, which I'm seeing soon at a media preview, and cannot wait to see.

Now I'm tired, and I'm going to bed, so I can get up at 6.30am and write my bloody 'Art of the City' column for Beat magazine before heading into the MCV office....

Fucking beautiful

I'm taking a break from labouring over a thick folder full of Arts Victoria grant applications. I've just read a truly beautiful blog post and the tears it inspired are still trickling down my cheeks. I thought you might like to read it as well.

His Noodly Appendage

Tired, hungover and happy today after a debaucherous afternoon and evening yesterday - more of which in my next post. I have shitloads of work to do this afternoon, but I had to show you this video - undeniable proof of the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster - I have been touched by His Noodly Appendage! Aarrr!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Death of a President

The shock and outrage this tele-movie is causing is hilarious. I wonder if the ABC will pick it up over here? Probably not the way their Board is stacked these days, I suspect, more's the pity...

Wigging Out

I took Thursday night off work to go see Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Athenaeum again, in the company of Mike and his Perth mate Donald, who's in town for a few days (and who it was a pleasure to finally meet). Assorted other Melbourne queers and friends such as the G-Man were in the audience (Cameron tells me I did an excellent job of selling the show at the patry I was at last Saturday night) and I daresay a good time was had by all. Certainly the audience gave another standing ovation.

Hedwig was just as good the second time around. The season's been extended until Sunday 24th, so go see it!


On the show this week, I talked with:
  • ACMI's Kristy Matheson, about their Focus On Early Hitchcock, which is now showing until Sunday 24 September
  • Luke Mullins, actor and creator of the one-man show Autobiography of Red, a homoerotic retelling of one of the labours of Herakles, together with the show's sound designer and composer, Jethro Woodward. Autobiography of Red is running at The Malthouse until Sunday 24 September.
  • Mario De Pasquale, from Mario's Cafe, about the new art lending library they've established in conjunction with the Footscray Community Art Centre.
  • Lachlan Plain, the director of Lament: Candles and Compost, a show about resurrection and decay that utilises shadows, puppetry and sound, and which is running from September 16 - October 1 at the Abbotsford Convent. For details on this and other independent theatre please visit
  • Olivia Allen from new theatre company Ignite came in to chat about their production of the 'unstageable' surrealist play Jet of Blood by Antonin Artaud at Theatreworks in St Kilda.
  • The charming Morganics joined me, to chat about his one-man hip-hop stage show Crouching B-Boy Hidden Dreadlocks, on this weekend at the Arts House Meat Market in North Melbourne as part of their URBANology program.
  • And Peter Rose, editor of Australian Book Review, joined us for our monthly look at the world of letters, and discussed Angela Bennie's book Creme de la Phlegm.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Camp for Comment - Beds for Bloggers

I am posting this delightfully shameless plug for one of my favourite arts/media festivals in Australia, to which I've been almost every year since it began, because I think it represents a great opportunity for people to get involved with a very special event and cool crowd of creative peoples...

* * * * *

CALLING ALL BLOGGERS, indy publishers, radio makers and anyone else that is making their own media...

Are you out there creating and publishing your own thoughts and interested in getting together with like minded folks, then plan to be in Newcastle from 28th September - 2 October.

This Is Not Art Festival (TINA)
and the National Young Writers Festival (NYWF) wants Australian independent media makers to come along toAustralia's largest annual gathering of independent media makers andstay and play for free!

is the place where Australia's most interesting young writers, media makers, publishers, digital artists, musicians and troublemakers get together and we want you to be there. TINA takes place in Newcastle, NSW over the October long weekend and incorporates The National Young Writers Festival, Sound Summit (independent electronic music and hip-hop festival), Electrofringe (Australia's largest digital media arts festival), The National Student and Emerging Media Conference (Campus newspapers, radio, etc) and much more.

Check out the website to find out the extensive list of who's who in the world of independent media, to name but a few, The Chaser, Is Not, Mess+Noise, Voiceworks, Vibewire, Frankie and Crikey...

There's bands galore, radio, TV and the list goes on.

So, if you're making your own media in the form of your own blog, community radio show, podcast, independent publication or web based publication that comes out regularly and have been doing so for at least 3 months. Plus you agree to write or say something (anything!) about the festival- such as your attendance at the festival, or you could comment on the festival itself- review, preview, interview, it doesn't even have to be positive! TINA will also try and help set up interviews with other guests if that's to your liking.

Agree to those terms and you can get:
* Free entry to about two hundred panels, workshops and sessions at the festival (ok, so they are free anyway!).
* Free accommodation in their campground (it's BYO tent!).
* Some free drinks and the chance to meet all those people who you only know by pixel and print at the Bloggers Booze Up event on Saturday evening.
* The chance to learn a thing or two (and contribute to TINA discussions) about everything from writing and editing, publishing, reviewing, legal issues, sedition laws, independent marketing, advertising, DIY pornography, computer game development, zine making and all the other crazy stuff that goes on at the festival.
* The opportunity to spend a long weekend hanging out with Australia's largest collection of independent media makers.
* The opportunity to spruik your wares at a FREE table TINA's famous Zine Fair - Australia's largest and most diverse collection of independent publications.

See for more information or email Marcus Westbury at with an outline of who you are what you do - but be quick, first in first served!

Defending Justice

RICHARD WATTS speaks with dancer Paul White about a dramatic new production at the Malthouse Theatre, exploring life in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Most Australians would now be familiar with the name of David Hicks, the young man who allegedly served with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and who has since been held at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay for almost five years without being charged.

Although Hicks still languishes in solitary confinement, his story has been told through a powerful documentary, The President vs David Hicks. Now Honour Bound, a new production at the Malthouse Theatre, further explores David Hicks’ situation.

“One of great things with this show is that it isn’t preaching to the converted,” explains dancer Paul White, a cast member in the production.

“It’s been touching the Australian public and turning the spotlight onto them. A lot of people have seen that their ignorance about what’s going on in Guantanomo is actually a huge contribution to why [Hick’s incarceration] is still happening.”

The dynamic production, which has been created in consultation with Hicks’ father, features dance, video projection and aerial work in order to convey the loneliness and frustration of David’s long confinement.

Instead of seeking to present specific moments from Hicks’ life since he was picked up by Northern Alliance militia in Afghanistan in 2001, writer-director Nigel Jamieson and choreographer Garry Stewart have focused on broader themes.

“There are a lot of elements to it,” White explains. “All the characters are ambiguous, in that we don’t play out specific storylines or roles. It’s our job as dancers to present the inhumane treatment that the detainees are being subjected to, and we do that through fairly rigorous and vigorous movement.”

Theatrical productions which incorporate multimedia to such a degree as this production does can often feel chaotic, with the video projections seemingly tacked on to the rest of the show. This has not been the case with Honour Bound, White says.

“It is difficult incorporating new media, especially video in theatre, but in this work, for me, it’s been really successful. We have some footage of Bev and Terry, David Hicks’ parents, and it brings a real humanity to the piece, which is not normally the way with video. In Honour Bound though, it really works. It takes you on a journey with the dance.”

White himself has also gone on a journey with the show, having expanded his repertoire and skills to include some aerial work, which is an integral part of the production.

“There’s one scene, set high up on the back wall, which is like a bird’s eye view of an interrogation scene,” White says. “In another scene, the performer spirals from the roof down to the ground. It adds this ethereal, dream-like feel to the show. It all works so well, the ropes and the flying, because it’s symbolic of the constraints that Hicks is being subjected to.”

Honour Bound is now showing at the CUB Malthouse Theatre until October 1. Bookings on 9685 5111 or

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Vogon poetry

A reference by tobytoby to bad poetry set me off on a quick quest to find some Vogon poetry. Not only did I find the text I was looking for, I also found a Vogon poetry generator. God I love the internet.

Here's the poem that was generated for me:

See, see the committed sky
Marvel at its big vomit-green depths.
Tell me, Martin do you
Wonder why the basselope ignores you?
Why its foobly stare
makes you feel seedy?
I can tell you, it is
Worried by your fromendrone facial growth
That looks like
A mould.
What's more, it knows
Your gurgling potting shed
Smells of pus-ball.
Everything under the big committed sky
Asks why, why do you even bother?
You only charm smegma.

Monday, September 11, 2006


To quote Bill the Cat: "Ack! "Thbbbt!"

Here, ladies and gentlemen and gender-fluid/non-gender-specific people*, is a brief outline of my day so far.

7am: Got up
Walked to milk bar.
Came home.
Breakfasted and glanced at The Age - didn't take in that it was September 11 until much later in the day.
Partook of panadol and Berocca.
7.25am: Started drinking 600ml bottle of Coke.
7.30pm: Wrote 'Art of the City' column for Beat, trying to balance wit, bitchiness, and wry observational humour with a sense of curiousity about the arts and the public's need to know. Left out reference to XXXXX in the toilets at YYYYYY doing A) fat lines of coke and B) ZZZZ's even fatter cock.**
9.34: Leave for the MCV office.
9.45am: Wondered why people were staring at me on the tram: worried I had cum stains on my jeans or had fly undone; realised it was because I was wearing my 'Nazi punks fuck off t-shirt." Must remember not to catch tram full of private school girls next time; their giggling was really fucking irritating.
10.03am onwards: Wrote several news articles, blogged, surfed the net, chatted with co-workers, rang Victoria Police Gay and Lesbian Liasion office, etc. Not as productive a day as it could have been due to lousy night's sleep. Consumed another 2x 600ml of Coke during the day, as well as a packet of salt and vingear chips, and a chilli Chicken Don from the Japanese take-away up the road. Worry about too much sugar in diet then decide than compared to amphetamine and alchohol intake it's fuck-all. Then worry about liver and nasal passages. Consider developing a heroin addiction instead.
5.12pm: Left work.
5.35pm: Got home, opened stubbie of Mercury dry cider, started downloading e-mails, remembered I had to be in Northcote at 6pm, swore, skulled, left home.
6.01om: Arrived at Wesley Anne in Northcote to meet with Sarah Ford-Haimann, the producer of the Fringe show who I'm mentoring. Drank another stubbie, discussed show and ways I could hopefully contribute.
7.07pm: Waited for tram. Got impatient. Walked several stops, pas strange bald man dancing wildly at tram stop several stops down.
7.38pm: Got home after tram trip via bottle shop to buy wine, and video store to return overdue DVD. Swore quietly to myself on leaving DVD shop because I now owe $10 in fines and quite frankly, the movie wasn't worth it.
7.39pm: Opened bottle of white wine.
7.40pm: Started reading through 173 unread e-mails dating back to Thursday, most of them media releases and/or interview requests.
8.35pm: Gave up, drank more wine, put on dinner - fettucine and a simple tomato, onion and garlic sauce.
9.04pm: Considered doing dishes, had another glass of wine instead.
9.05pm: Started blogging.
9.19pm: Considered either A) reading through more e-mails, or B) sitting down to start reading huge folder of Arts Victoria grant applications. Considered resigning from Arts Victoria advisory panel.
9.20pm: Laugh bitterly, decide to drink more wine, sit on couch, start listening to pile of review CD's amassing on coffee table, and read on the 11 books I've been sent review copies of.
9.21: Start searching for decent 'Bill the Cat' image online.
9.26pm: Think about renouncing life of material pleasure, debauchery and hunky 'straight' boys who want to try cock for the first time, for a blameless life of aesthetic minimalism and sobriety. Laugh wildly. Hit 'Publish Post' button.

* Not including Barry Humphries, who's turned into exactly the sort of social conservative he used to mock.

**Actually this never happened, I was just teasing you.

My brain hurts

God, what a wild few days its been.

Tuesday night was the opening of Macbeth, as previously mentioned (and I've since heard from a few other people who also hated it with a passion - god it's a stinker!).

Wednesday night saw me dappered up in a pinstriped zoot suit, attending the media launch of The Age 2006 Melbourne Fringe Festival at Billboard nightclub. A throng of artists were present, including the delicious Town Bikes and some spunky circus boys; and Arts Minister Mary Delahunty went all hip-hop on us and delivered her speech as a rap: "I'm the minister for Fringe; call me Mary D."

Best. Speech. Ever.

Fringe runs from September 27 - October 15. Check out the website for details.

Thursday I DJ'd at Q + A as is my wont, and crawled into bed at about 4am, only to be woken by neighbours' renovations at 7.30am. There's nothing quite like the gentle sound of a buzzsaw in the early hours to help your hangover... *groan*

Friday night I popped over to the Colonial Hotel on Bruswick Street for half an hour, to say hi to my friend Cerise, whose birthday it was, and to see her band playing. I was ridiculously tired though, and found myself rapidly getting far too drunk, so I left quite early and collapsed into bed with a happy sigh.

Saturday was taken up by a four hour masterclass in dramaturgy, as part of the Fringe's new Outside Eye project, for which I'm going to be helping mentor a spoken word project.

Soon after getting home I happened to check out mskp's blog, and discovered that she and tobytoby were going to be having drinks nearby in Fitzroy, so after a quick call to ascertain her location, off I went. Blog-friends in real life are excellent people, I've discovered, to my joy.

I'll be hanging out with some of Melbourne gay bloggers next Saturday, and also very much looking forward to it! Am also looking forward to seeing tobytoby in a boxing ring soon, trading manly punches with someone; especially seeing as I've never actually been to a boxing match before...

Saturday night I dappered up again and took Cerise as my plus one to see the Melbourne premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Athenaeum, starring iOTA as Hedwig. OHMYGOD. What a peformance. Such amazing stage presence, charisma and vocal range. AND WHAT A SHOW! Funny, tragic, touching, beautiful, savage. I can't believe it's taken Hedwig so long to come to Melbourne. YOU MUST SEE IT DO YOU HEAR ME? NO EXCEPTIONS, NO EXCUSES. GO - GO NOW!

Clem liked it too, although she hasn't blogged about it yet.

Even before the show had started Cerise and I were enjoying a glass of bubbly or two, and we continued to partake in the libations afterwards as well.

Thence I went on to a splendid South Yarra party in an art deco apartment, then Control HQ, and eventually (although I don't remember exactly what time I got there) the Peel. When it closed at 7am I staggered home with a young delightful young man in tow, whose name I only vaguely remember - Rob? Bob? - something like that... His chest was much more memorable, and made rather a lovely pillow, until he remembered at 2pm that he was supposed to be at a BBQ and crawled out from my bed to make good his exit. Gave him my number; bet I never from him again; he apparently had a girlfriend. How do I manage to find them?

Went back to bed. Woke up at 6pm (!!!) feeling rather wretched: the price one pays for a spectacularly splendid evening. Watched a DVD, a gory horror-comedy called Slither (about all I was capable of) forced down a meal, and crawled back into bed about 11pm.

And I can't wait to do it all again!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Geoffrey Wright's MACBETH

Oh. Dear. Me.

How do you spell 'inept film-making'?


Geoffrey Romper Stomper Wright's new feature is a badly-directed, badly acted film that simultaneously manages to blacken the names of several good actors (take a bow, Sam Worthington, pictured left) and that of the Australian film industry. No mean feat, although while watching it, and afterwards, at the Docklands after-party to which we were bussed from South Yarra's Jam Factory red carpet premiere, Mike and I had to keep reminding ourselves that at least it wasn't as bad as The Book of Revelation.

Contemporisation of Shakespeare, when it works, works well, as evidenced by the likes of Richard Loncraine's Richard III (starring Sir Ian McKellen as the villainous king) and obviously, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, which stripped the play back to its bare bones, and was successful as a result.

This update, which sees the film set in the milleu of Melbourne's modern underworld, fails on countless levels.

It lacks drama, pathos, tension and well-developed characters. Too many scenes are mishandled, such as a painful, slow-motion fight scene towards the film's climax, which smacks more than anything of a director who was unsure how to handle action.

The majority of actors (even the deliciously handsome Sam) fail to impress in their roles, either too bland, or allowed too much room to toss in jarring throw-away lines that distract from Shakespeare's text. Too few of them bring anything resembling gravitas to their roles, and some of the pivotal soliliquies are either cut, delivered as voice-overs (as if Wright lacked courage in the idea of characters speaking direct to camera - but it's Shakespeare for God's sake, what else are they supposed to do?) or delivered too abruptly.

The tragedy of Macbeth - compelled to murder in order to maintain his position yet hating himself for doing so - is never really explored. Lady Macbeth's character is equally underexplored.

Elsewhere details are laboured and ham-fisted, and scenes are rushed and contrived. The appearence of the witches (presented as irritating school girls in uniform, who for some reason hiss at the camera as if they were characters in a 1930's B-grade vampire movie) is just one of many details which totally fails to engage in this dreadful and dreary production.

That said, there are some positives: the lighting, for instance, and Gary Swwet as King Duncan, but they are few and far between.

In summary: avoid at all costs - unless you're offered free tickets.

Oh, and the quality of the opening night after-party was a significant step down from that for The Book of Revelation in case you were wondering - cheap grog which ran out way too soon, a DJ who seemed intent on mixing in as much Portishead as he possibly could, and not enough nibbles.

Tomorrow night brings the launch of The Age 2006 Melbourne Fringe Festival - at least that, I know, will be good!

God bless you La Nadine!

Browsing blogs this morning - a regular exercise designed to bring my brain up to speed - I found the following delight-maker over at La Nadine's blog.

The Advertising Slogan Generator

Click on the above link.

Enter your name.

Hit the 'sloganizer' button and see what you come up with.


Ain't that the truth?

This is the coolest thing I have seen... well, today!

Monday, September 04, 2006


Steve Irwin, 'the crocodile hunter', has been killed while filming a new wildlife documentary of the Queensland coast.

No, he was't eaten by a crocodile. Poetic justice is rarely that sweet.

He died when a stingray's barb went through his chest. Ouch!

Remarkably quiet weekend

For the first time in a ridiculous number of weeks, I had a relatively quiet weekend.

Friday night I relaxed at home after scoring for a mate; Saturday's highlights were the live OB (outside broadcast) for Triple R's Film Buffs Forecast from the Westgarth Cinema, dinner in St Kilda with Mike, followed by a new play, The Habib Show (dinner was good, the play wasn't, as Mike has already discussed); and Sunday I did some writing, worked on my Beat column, visited a mate Jeff, who's come down with chickpox, and watched a DVD.

That's it.

No late-night drug fuelled romps. No drunken binges. Either I'm getting sensible, or I'm getting old. Alternatively, maybe I just needed a few early nights?

Given that this week is already starting to fill up with social events - the premiere of the new Australian film Macbeth tomorrow night; the launch of The Age 2006 Melbourne Fringe Festival on Wednesday - somehow I suspect that things are about to get crazy again...

Friday, September 01, 2006

10 reasons this week was cool

1. A Sunday afternoon spent in the company of the lovely Lisa G - friend and sometimes collaborator/performance partner, whose work I respect and whose company I always enjoy. We lingered over excellent nosh and generous glasses of wine before going our seperate ways, but I carried part of the calm of our conversation with me into a turbulent week.

2. Copies of my latest publication - a sourcebook for the roleplaying game Stormbringer - arrived in the post. Holding the physical manifestation of one's passions and imagination in your hands (not to mention the end result of many months' laborious rewriting in order to par your thoughts down to a concise 73,624 words) induces a sense of pride, accomplishment and gratification that cannot be matched by even sublime experiences such as falling in love.

3. On Wednesday night I attended the official farewell dinner for outgoing Voiceworks editor Tom Doig, and was introduced to the delights of North Fitzroy's Moroccan Soup Bar - shame on my friends for keeping this place secret for so long (and shame on me for not perusing The Age Cheap Eats Guide more studiously!).

4. Walking my not-too-drunkenly-way home across the Edinburgh Gardens thereafter, I was entertained by fire-twirling ferals and drumming under the stars: is their tribe's return from the desert a sign that Spring is truly here?

5. My other absolute sign that Spring is well and truly with us is the jasmine that grows over many a Fitzroy back fence; on Thursday, as I strolled home from Triple R, the sweet scent of jasmine was everywhere along Gertrude Street.

6. As if to confirm the above, the weather on Wednesday and Thursday was absolutely delightful: as The Lucksmiths would say, it's t-shirt weather.

7. The bloke I saw walking along Gertrude Street today at lunchtime would disagree, perhaps: he'd taken his t-shirt off, and was carrying it on one hand, and a six-pack in the other. If the Brits consider the first cuckoo the sign that Spring has truly arrived, may I please be allowed to count the appearance of the first shirtless spunk on the streets?

8. The film was dreadful but the company was excellent: the official re-opening of The Westgarth Cinema on Tuesday night.

9. A jam-packed radio show on Thursday with some truly entertaining guests - including the chaos associated with hosting Gersey live in the studio - followed by a long but rewarding meeting of the National Gallery of Victoria's Youth Advisory Committee (of which I'm a member, due to my years spent working in the youth arts sector, not my desperate attempts to stay young at heart); and then a chaotic but definitely fun live broadcast from the Melbourne Writers' Festival; and lastly several hours DJ'ing at Q + A afterwards.

10. Waking up today to find a message from David Bridie on my answering machine - not exactly a usual occurance, I must say!