Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lots Of Lesbians

Friday afternoon, the arts editor was desperate for one more theatre review. I'm a pretty good last minute guy (lots of practice - I leave everything to the last minute). I decided on a play showing just around the corner from me. It's at the former studio/gallery of Madam Lash and it's a lesbian love story, based on a true story that happened more than 100 years ago in Memphis. None of my regular plus ones could make it so I went solo, not really giving anything much thought.

The play is one of the many Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival events, and yep, the old church was full of lesbians. It was a wall to wall lesbian fest. Lesbians of every age, shape and size. I don't know how they did it but they all oozed essence of lesbian. It's like they all went to lesbian boot camp. Thing is, I guess I thought this might be the situation but I didn't think there would be a problem. But inexplicably I suddenly felt a bit self-conscious as I sat there waiting for the lights to go down and the play to start. If I was one of them, for example, what would I think of this single straight guy here to see one of our shows about us? I'd probably narrow my lesbian eyes and think, "Hmmm... what's his game then? Why does he want to sit with lesbians and watch a play about lesbians? Does he even know this is a lesbian event? Could he be that stupid? I mean, sure, he looks bright and intelligent and, you know, quite fetching. In fact he could just make a few of us lesbians here turn with those twinkly blue eyes and his general air of sophisticated masculinity..."

You get the picture. I just didn't know if I'd really stepped in it but I did know it was too late to back out. You hear about people accidentally walking into gay club nights - was this a similar situation? I couldn't believe I was starting to think like this. Then again, this is me we're dealing with. I'm a walking, seething mass of insecurities.

I started wondering if I should maybe act like I was waiting for someone - a lesbian friend for example - and why aren't they here yet? Glance at my watch a lot, that kind of thing. I wondered how to sit. Maybe I should act a little camp because surely it would be okay for a gay guy to be here because... it just seemed a reasonable thing to think at the time.

Suddenly I was horrified to realise that in my nervous absent-minded fidgeting I had rolled my program into a tube and was holding it like an erection in my lap.

"Shit!" I hissed loudly, drawing the attention of almost every lesbian around me. "Sorry about that. I didn't mean to do that. I didn't mean to make my program into a phallic symbol. It was an accident. Complete accident. I know such things are abhorrent to people like you, which is why I would never dream of doing it on purpose. It's just that I'm surprised to be a bit nervous by all the, um, carpet mun..."

I trailed off, not really sure if the term carpet muncher was relevant anymore. I mean, I'm a man of the world. I've accidentally seen the pictures on the internet and there's not a whole lot of carpet out there these days.

Still, lesbians are generally a hirsute lot so it was a fair bet there were one or two carpet munchers out there. Hmm, I thought, suddenly relaxing a little, we do have something in common after all.

After the play, the review of which I'll post here later, I made my exit as soon as the applause had died down. Through the heavy red felt curtains into the little entrance vestibule and the large Gothic door was closed. Two hefty lesbians were grappling with the heavy bolts. More lesbians came through the curtains and pretty soon the small area was full to its industry regulation safety limit of lesbians and one pathetic straight guy. I really didn't want to accidentally touch any of them on their boobies or anything, especially not after The Phallic Program Incident.

"I think they've locked us in," said the lesbian tugging at the bolt.

"Don't be stupid," replied her lesbian partner. "Why would they lock us in?"

Absurdly, more lesbians were crowding in from behind and it was increasingly difficult to not touch any lesbians. And it was getting hotter than a room full of lesbians.

"Oi," the lesbian bolt fiddler said, apparently to me. "You're a man, you know how to get us out of here."

"Ah," I replied, unable to see a damn thing because it was darker than a room full of lesbians too. "Erm... do you push or pull... I can't see... am I supposed to be lifting maybe or... "

The lesbian partner of the lesbian bolt fiddler decided that she would have a go and brushed me aside.

"Fine," I Told her. "Give it your best lesbian shot but I think you'll find it's stuck quite - "

The bolt clanked into place and the huge doors swung open. The two bolty lesbians looked at me and laughed, not in a cruel way but it hurt anyway.

"Yes," I told them, "I am a man, but I am a poet. We're not very good at manual things."

*(I hope) No lesbians were hurt in the telling of this lesbian story.*

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Grumpy With Grumpy

Here is my next Grumpy column for the good people at Tsunami magazine.

Grumpy

With the release of the Rocky Balboa, I decided that it was about time I had a new nickname. When I made this announcement to my girlfriend (whose nickname is The Dreaded One due to her fluro dreads), she rolled her eyes. “Um... is this going to be one of those conversations?” I wasn’t sure what she meant, so I explained my position. Just look at Sylvester Stallone. Rocky is cool, Rambo is cool, even Sly is cool. And don’t get me started on The Italian Stallion. “So you want to be called The Australian Stallion. Is that it?” I shook my head dismissively and said “Nononooo... unless you want to start calling me The Australian Stallion.” Her silent stare articulated ‘you are an idiot’ perfectly. I explained that Grumpy had never really done it for me and that I thought it was time for something a little bit cooler. Something with a bit of zing. A bit of pizazz. A bit of bingbangboom. Grumpy’s an annoying Disney dwarf at best, an inaccurate adjective at worst. “Then why,” The Dreaded One asked, “did you choose Grumpy? You chose it, you made it stick. You thought it was funny and ironic. You are Grumpy now. You can’t just change your name like that. Anyway, as nicknames go it is cool, in its own way.” That last bit made me suspicious... like when a girl tells you your willie is ‘just the right size.’ Like, come on, why not just point and laugh? Would it kill them to say ‘it’s so big it hurts, but in a really nice way...’ Where was I? Oh yeah, nicknames. I thought for a while before coming up with something I liked. “What about T-Bone?” I asked. “I am not calling you T-Bone,” she monotoned. Maybe she had a point – T-Bone is the name of one of those roided up play acting wrestlers. What was I thinking? “Okay, something a bit friendlier. How about Scooter? Can you start calling me Scooter please?” “What is wrong with you? I’m not calling you Scooter. You don’t even have a scooter.” Damn – foiled again. “If I get a scooter,” I countered after 30 minutes of intense strategic thinking, “will you call me Scooter then?” I tried rivers (Hudson), weapons (Switchblade), animals (Stingray), famous writers (Shakey), archaic writing instruments that come from birds (Quill), but to no avail. I guess in the end it was one of those conversations. The Dreaded One, it seems, is always right.

Screw You Guys

I haven't been posting because I keep opening the blog and looking at that image of Meow Meow (check last two posts) and it kind of stops me in my tracks. 'Kin 'ell. Is she the perfect woman? I wonder who she is. I don't care who she is - she held my hand, she made me laugh... I would use Arj Barker's sig on my spastic doodlings as toilet paper in comparison, and I treasure Arj's acknowledgment of my existence.

Also there's new job stuff to deal with and alstooaswell being right on the leaping off point of starting a novel (writing, not reading). So it's kind of been screw you guys... all three of you... totally screw you.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Meow Meow Review

Following on from the previous post, here is my review of the latest Meow Meow show, currently playing at the Sydney Opera House. I wasn't sure what the mag was going to make of it but the editor said she likes it.


MEOW MEOW

Dear Meow Meow,

As you made your elegantly disheveled appearance, clambering over the audience and making some of them carry your stuff to the stage for you while you stole their drinks, I confess to feeling tiny prickles of disappointment. Was this going to be an identical show to last year’s? However the disappointment soon vanished as I realised that there are some rare and wonderful things in life that one simply can’t get too much of. Forgotten details came flooding back and in no time at all I was again seduced by the sheer force of your personality, I was in awe of your towering ego and amazed by your musical and comical genius, and by the end of the show I was almost comatose with desire. I think I am more in love with you than you are. (Shh - it is possible). I love the way you so effortlessly tap into the simple and raw honesty of a Jacques Brel number one minute - your essence a vortex of heartbreak - then turn a song on its head the next and become the embodiment of daffiness. Your grasp of languages from East to West hints at an intelligence to match your smoldering sensuality. Clearly you have the ability to break hearts with song, yet you choose instead to interpret cabaret classics (as well as pop fluff) in comical ways, accompanied by a flexible physical repertoire that would make the great clowns weep with envy. And when not drawing heartfelt laughter from the packed room with comical interpretations, physical flirtation or an ironic disdain for your besotted audience, a spontaneous and random sight gag was pulled from your “bag of stuff”... the mannequin costume change made me smile out loud. Convinced that the volunteers you selected from the audience were paid performers, I was shocked and I swooned when you took my hand and lead me onto the stage. Remember me always as the one who dutifully thrust the lyric pages between your parted thighs... Ooh – this was meant to be a review, not a love letter. Erm... this was a brilliant night out, extra bits added to last year’s show. Mardi Gras bit was tinsely and gorgeously camp and as hilarious as the rest of the show. Go see it. She’s excellent.

Until 24 February, The Studio, Sydney Opera House.
LEE BEMROSE

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Beyond Glamour

Just saw Meow Meow. The show started off the same as the one I saw last year and at one point when she was enlisting the help of audience members I said to The Dreaded One, "They are acting too funny and being too natural. They are all plants." My tone implied that I know such things.

Famous. Last. Words.

Minutes later I was dragged on stage with this utterly sexy and talented performer, holding the lyrics page while all sorts of physical mayhem went on with me and a bunch of other "plants".

At one point she crowd surfed to the back of the theatre before asking where are my lyrics, and I should have crowd surfed up there with the sheets. But fucking hell it's a bit daunting when you're not expecting to be up there in the first place.

She crowd surfed back down to the stage, kind of climbed on top of us all, did this head-height splits things with the other "plants" on stage supporting her and she prepared to sing. Looking at her rather nice, lingerie-clad arse, I thrust the lyrics sheet between her split legs for her to read, and consequently I now know what the laughter of a packed theatre sounds like from the stage.

Of the Sydney Opera House.

Cheap laugh. Nice sound.

Meow Meow is total babe and totally worth seeing. She is talented enough to let you know she can do the heart-fucked cabaret thing, but she's also got a wicked sense of humour.

Looking forward to writing the review to this one.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Faction

What do you do when you have an idea for a short story, but it's going to affect your relationship with someone? I mean, it's fiction, no question, but the germ of the thing undeniably comes from something recognisable in reality.

Quite a lot of my fiction - and probably quite a lot of fiction everywhere - comes from the idea of taking reality and stretching it out of shape, twisting it, kneading it into something different. In real life things go the way they do, but for the sake of telling a story you say, "Yeah, but what if it didn't happen like that? What if it happened like this? Or what if they had said this instead of that?"

I used to believe that real life and real people are there for the taking; that a good story is a good story and if I need to use a real moment, to hell with the consequences, I will use it.

Maybe I'm just going soft because now I'm not so sure. Do you write that story and risk affecting the relationship, or do you leave it in your head, knowing that once they read it no amount of explaining that it's just a story is going to prevent the dynamics of the relationship changing?

Just wondering.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sappy Valentine's Day

I walked into the room tonight while there was a story being shat onto the airwaves about some utter wanker in the UK who wrapped a house in a bow or something and flew his vomitous girlfriend in in a helicopter and had an excrement of a media circus waiting so that he could... what. What was he doing? He was masturbating on public television, that's what the smarmy twat was doing. Fuck - it wasn't even Valentine's Day. It's Valentine's Day here tomorrow (okay, so it's late and it's technically tomorrow now) so he'd gotten in two days early... What the crapping hell is wrong with people?

Idiot.

Idiots.

Bah.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pubelocks

Passerby: "Your hair is amazing!"

Dreaded One: "Thank you!"

Me (dazzling all within earshot with my devastatingly sophisticated sense of humour): "That's nothing. You should see her pubes."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Gumshoe Journalism

I have a story deadline of tomorrow, and the story has not happened. I was to supposed to do an interview with a director via email. I sent the questions to the person representing him, and she just kind of vanished. She only works office hours and I didn't get her mobile phone number before close of business on Friday. I gave her my mobile, so you'd think she would have called at some stage to ask how the questions are going, but no. Just nothing. I have nothing. Nothing but a deadline. In reality the deadline is first thing Monday morning, so I still have plenty of time to think about what a good story it would have been.

Last time something like this happened, the result was pretty funny. Maybe I should do the same again. Gumshoe Journalism? Why not.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a story to pull out of my arse.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Write Stuff

Right. Change of plan. Can't post any more of the story because I've just realised it's the beginning of a novel, and I'm in the mood for taking another swing at a novel. It just hit me last night and bang - stuff came together. There's 5,000 words there and it's screaming out to be the first chapter of a novel. I can have three sample chapters off to an agent in a few short months, if I set my mind to it.

So. A fast paced crime novel while at the same time trying to write a kids' picture book? Why not? Not to mention the other writing projects. (This weekend I'm writing a story about the stage adaptation of a kids book written by the princess of Japan... wacky shit, man).

Also, I officially have an agent starting the process of selling a magazine feature in the USA and the UK. I've had to send in a bio and PDFs of published work because they only deal with professionals... aaaahahahahaha... professionals and me.

Seriously though, I have to feel good about that and feel like I'm on a bit of a roll. After contacting the glossy here about copyright the editor suggested I write something for a new section they're running and I have the perfect idea. Have a couple actually.

So for the time being the blog will return to it's mostly normal program of silly twitterings and twatterings.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Quick, Part Two

Out in the street it’s mild and there’s something in the air, a feeling, a vibe. Everyone is going to a party somewhere. Everyone’s happy about something. It’s Friday night in the city.

Quick walks among them. He watches them. Sometimes he smiles at them and they smile back because they think he is one of them.

He could have brought some of his own stash, but he likes to score from strangers. He enjoys the distrust and the tension, the unspoken rules of the game. He decides to hit The Lounge tonight, hasn’t been there for weeks.

But he sees a couple of guys up ahead and knows immediately that there’s something going on. They’re talking too much, saying things to passersby. Quick chews his gum and lets a certain intensity bloom inside. The intensity fills him, swells him, widens his eyes and juts his jaw. These kids will see him.

They will see me, but they won’t see who I am.

“Hey matey,” they say right on cue. “Dude.”

Quick stops walking and looks at them, smiles in just the right way. He waits to hear what they’re offering. They tell him in a too loud and brash way. Quick laughs a little and looks around and is quietly impressed with their boldness, and comforted by their stupidity.

“Where?” he asks them. “Not here,” he tells them because he thinks they might just do it out here on a crowded street. He nods to a lane up ahead and starts to walk towards it, and they fall in behind him.

The lane is dark and dirty and you can feel that countless deals have been done here. At the end they are only twenty five metres from the crowd and the light and the cars with their thumping speakers and blaring horns. But no one will see or hear, no one will care what happens.

“What have you got?” Quick asks, looking from one to the other. One wears a T shirt that says Pornstar, the other’s says Funky Nuts. Neither of them suspects a thing.

Pornstar asks if Quick has heard of Mobies.

Quick nods. “Heard of them. Haven’t tried them.”

Pornstar is pleased with this. He nods and smiles and tells Quick that Mobies are new, just imported from Amsterdam, the best on the market. Pornstar’s sidekick is starting to look a little nervous now, like this is taking too long, like he doesn’t like doing deals in dark lanes. Or like they’re a couple of scammers peddling shit.

“Show me.”

Pornstar swings his satchel around and a beat later is holding up a clear plastic bag with about twenty bright green pills in it. He fingers one out and holds it in front of Quick’s face. Quick has seen images of Mobies and thinks the whale looks authentic.

“Thing is,” Quick tells them as he relaxes his weight and rolls his shoulders. “You just can’t tell what you’re getting. These look like the real thing, but they could be shit.”

Pornstar cocks his head to the side in mock affront. He puts on an expression like he’s Quick’s new best friend.

Some jungle techno beat starts to unwind in Quick’s head. It’s a dark and primitive beat, it thumps and cracks, an ominous echo reverberates. Quick contains this. He resists movement, but it overwhelms and he feels his head move, a subtle bounce and he lets go. He lashes out at these jokers, has them by their throats before they know what’s happening. He drives them into the wall, knocks the air from their lungs. He pins them there, his head bobbing to the beat, his eyes wide, full veins bulging.

“I want the truth,” Quick tells them, glaring first at one, then at the other. They look back at him with innocent fear. They just don’t get this. They know about violence, they see it from time to time, fleetingly and in the distance, but it doesn’t feature in their world. They don’t know how to deal with it.

“Seriously man,” Pornstar stammers. “They’re the real deal. No shit.”

“Lift the bag up. Okay, now take one.”

Pornstar frowns at this. Quick looks at him hard. He can see the kid’s not on anything, not yet.

“Take the fucking Moby,” Quick says, each word a falling weight. Funky Nuts wriggles a bit, and Quick tightens his grip. He eases the pressure, however, on Pornstar’s throat. “Do it,” he says.

Pornstar fumbles about with the packet. He pinches one of the pills and holds it up for Quick to see. Then he pops it into his mouth and swallows hard. Gags a little. Opens his mouth for Quick to look inside, but there is no need.

“Now what,” Funky Nuts asks in a tight voice. “We’re gonna wait for it to kick in?”

Quick glares at him briefly, then looks back at Pornstar. “Take another one.”

Pornstar’s eyes widen a little at this. He tries to look at his friend. Quick shoves their heads against the wall. Pornstar takes another pill from the bag and raises it to his lips. His skin is pale and glistening with sweat now, and his hand is shaking. He flicks the pill into his mouth and Quick feels his Adam’s apple move up and down against his palm, feels the spasm like he might throw up.

“Another one,” Quick says with a cruel smile.

“Fuck this,” Funky Nuts mutters as he thrashes violently out of Quick’s grip. “You’ll fucken kill someone like that, you crazy bastard.” He falls to the ground and seems unable to get back up. He moves backwards on his backside, paralyzed with fear and hysteria.

Pornstar has also had enough. He twists and crouches down before pushing away from the wall. Quick wraps both arms around him, twists his right arm back. He grabs the bag of pills, twists and shoves Pornstar away. Momentum carries him forward and he falls over his mate. Quick moves in their direction, and they scramble to toward the street.

Satisfied with their authenticity, Quick pockets the Mobies and gets out of there. He knew he was going to score tonight, but he didn’t know it was going to be this much fun.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Quick, Part One

And now for something a little different. This is story first appeared in a magazine called Crime Factory about four or so years ago. It was my first attempt at a crime story, of sorts. It was fun to go for something different. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed writing this one. If you like it, I'll keep posting installments. Feel free to let me know what you think. And in case you are wondering, I borrowed my blog name from the character, not the other way around.

Quick. Part One

Quick leans close to the mirror. He looks at the fine wrinkles around his eyes and wonders how long he can keep getting away with this. He knows that others might find the wrinkles attractive, in their way, but to Quick they are worse than ugliness; they are the truth. He pulls his skin tight. Minor surgery would do the job. Something to consider. But not yet. There is too much pleasure in the integrity of the deception.

Quick runs a hand through his short, frost-white hair. It is almost dry. He scoops some styling wax from the jar and works it through, messing it up nicely. He pulls a few clumps into haphazard spikes. He slicks his trimmed eyebrows down, pausing to touch the silver brow ring, a recent addition he regrets not doing sooner. He runs his forefinger over the razor line of hair that runs from his bottom lip to just under his chin. He steps back from the mirror and looks at himself. He smiles with satisfaction. He turns the smile into a big friendly one, a big happy ain’t-life-cool high beamer. He winks at his reflection and clicks a finger gun at himself; not a hint of the truth there.

Quick walks into the kitchen to pour a drink. He takes the vodka from the freezer and pauses, catching sight of his ghostly reflection in the window. Naked, pale and sinewy, round shoulders and strong lithe arms. He turns slightly to the side, flexes his chest, tightens his flat stomach. He hunches his shoulders slightly and makes his shoulder blades jut like folded wings. He is immaculate; he still has the power to make them love him. And he has the power to destroy them. He looks through his reflection into the lights of the city far below.

The chilled vodka washes over the ice. Quick swirls the glass, then sips, tips his head back as the cold liquid sears his throat. He thinks about doing a line, decides not to, not yet.

He pulls on his baggy pants with the straps and pockets and Velcro patches. He slips his feet into a pair of elasticised trainers, his red and black Predators. He twists into a tight sleeveless T shirt, basic white with no logo, and throws a light polyester jacket over the top. He chooses the wrap-arounds with the gun metal frame and the bright orange lenses and wears them on top of his head. Later, some gum, the pills and the sweat will complete the illusion.

He looks at his watch; too early to leave yet. He drinks some more vodka and puts on some music, some driving trance, dark and hypnotic and exhilarating. It’s so good it almost makes the drugs redundant. But he cuts a line on the glass coffee table because tonight is not about the music. He does the line and tips his head back. He sinks back into the cushions as the music takes him out into the night, into the darkness above the lights of the city. He feels a rush of immortality, but contains it. He brings himself back and back until he can see his reflection in the window again, still, silent, in control. The music continues its relentless beat, and Luke appears. Quick sees Luke dancing his strange and beautiful dance with Heidi. They dance in the glassy void. They laugh and dance, spinning and spinning. Quick knows what’s going on. He goes with it. He stands and he too starts to move to the beat. He copies their smooth gangly moves, not just the feet but the hands too. Especially the hands. Their hands sway and flutter, strange creatures fleetingly real. They aim their finger tips at each other, gaze into each other’s eyes and lose themselves in these fantastic moments of swirling light and sound.

When the other one appears at the edge, still and vigilant, Quick nods, points briefly with both hands and turns away.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Arj Barker Review

I saw Arj Barker at the Opera House last night. Very funny guy. I have to review the show so this time I took notes. This was the first time I have ever taken notes for something I have to write about. I've always relied on memory but the last stand up act I reviewed I got a bit drunk and had a great time but the next day could not remember any of the details. Like, not a thing... other than the name of the comedian and that I laughed lots. It was a difficult review to write, but I think I got away with it. At least there were no letters of complaint.

I just wanted to jot down key words that would jog my memory and bring the details into focus. Thing was, I was really quite self-conscious about taking notes. It always seems like such a pretentious thing to do: "Ooh - look at me. I'm a reviewer. I have to take notes for my review which I must take notes for, being the professional reviewer that I am. I am important, you see, unlike the rest of you who are just here to sit back and enjoy yourselves. I have to concentrate and take notes. Are you noticing that I am a reviewer? Are you wondering who I write for? Are you wondering if I am a famous reviewer? Because that would be nice, if you wondered if I am famous, because although I am not a famous reviewer, I could be. And that's what all this note taking business is all about. Fuck me I like how taking notes separates me from the rest of you and, you know, imbues me with an air of importance and maybe even a little mystery, and being mysterious is even more fun than trying to appear important..."

So I took a scrap of paper instead of a notepad and kept the pen (my Spiderman pen in case anyone did spot me taking notes because this would at least look like I wasn't taking myself too seriously) and paper out of view, scribbling discreetly during the high points when everyone was distracted by the funny stuff on stage.

In the foyer after the show I checked what I had written and I had been so secretive, so utterly hell bent on keeping the pen and paper out of view, that I seriously couldn't understand a Goddamned thing. It was gibberish. It was spastic doodles no matter which way I turned the piece of paper. It may as well have been Mandarin. Some of it looked like it was Mandarin.

Mr Barker was signing autographs, so I joined the queue and when it was my turn I showed him the piece of paper and explained what happened. I asked if he could make any sense of my notes. He looked and said he could not. I asked him if he would mind signing my piece of paper. He wrote on my piece of paper "Be kind, thanks, Arj Barker, 2007."

This is currently my favourite piece of paper. It's official proof, if ever I need it, that I am a fucking idiot.