The Worst Public Art in Australia

*clap*          *clap*           *clap*

That was for Canberra. My good friend Luke took nearly all weekend to tell me about Skywhale. What were you waiting for Luke? This is the kind of thing I need to know about IMMEDIATELY!

In case you missed it, Skywhale is an enormous hot-air balloon shaped like a whale with giant tits. Norks. Nipples. Funbags.

Moby Tit

The original $150,000-ish price tag has since ballooned (ha!) to in excess of $300,000. If I wanted to go on a balloon adventure on that kind of budget I would recreate a live action version of Up. Still, Canberra’s defending it and so will I, by pointing out the other bad public art all around Australia. This, my friends, is a collection of the worst of the worse.

(Side note: I am not an art expert/critic/boffin. In pottery class I made my mum a gaudy gold-painted pig. Heck, I can’t even get a Magic Eye to work. To me they are a trick everyone pretends to be able to see. A la “The Emperor’s New 3D Dolphin.” So I’m sure there’s something “I’m not getting”. I’m just choosing to be ignorant for the sake of comedy.)

New South Wales

OH GOD THE HUMANITY

This piece in Manly by Loui Fraser entitled “Crawl” is terrifying. It’s meant to be “inspired by the artist’s fond childhood memories of swimming at Manly”. But this Han-Solo-In-Carbonite nightmare statue has given me no reason to believe that there is not some paralysed mid-freestlying body still screaming inside. Whereas Michaelangelo famously removed everything “that wasn’t David”, Loui seems to have taken away everything that was oxygen.

Western Australia
KAPOW! Lightning!This black and white squiggly line is called “Arch” and it’s by Lorenna Grant. I figure she put the actual drawing of her sculpture down on the table for a minute, and turned around to see her 7 year old graffiti something that she thought was “actually pretty good!” If I picked up a Pictionary card that said “shit lightning”, we would arrive at pretty much the same thing.

Queensland

I’ve never been to Brisbane. But my girlfriends from there, so when I texted her and asked “what’s an example of bad public art in Brisbane?” She replied “there’s a giant sculpture that looks like a Penis in West End!”

And whaddayaknow! There is!

Adelaide

Oh gosh! Will I go with the pigs in Rundle Mall?  The letters that spell out “The Forest of Dreams” in four corners of a small park? The only thing I hoped for in that forest was to avoid receiving a handjob from a homeless man after 9pm.

But you just can’t go passed the classic.

The Malls Balls

I don’t even know their real “art name”. I just know them by the colloquial ”malls balls”. And yes, I have lived in Adelaide so I know the joy of walking down the Rundle Street Mall and seeing their glistening stainless steel curves poke up at you in the horizon. But let’s be honest: they’re pretty crap. It’s like the artist drew the number 8 on a blank piece of paper and said “so where do I pick up my cheque?”

Adelaide loves them though! Once they took the sculpture away for cleaning and forgot to give forewarning. There was an outcry! That’s why you should always announce when you need to polish your balls. ZING!


Victoria

NONE! Melbourne just does Art so perfectly. There’s absolutely nothing to fault about our glorious graffiti sprayed laneways, or lanky copper business men, or Federation Square.

Just kidding. This giant purse is a bit fruity.

 

You’re all right Canberra.

Mum’s Tears

My mum called me on the phone in tears today. There had been no family tragedy, no evidence of infidelity or no overly emotional episode of “Packed to the Rafters”. My mum is just feeling fragile because the unthinkable has happened to the endearingly overprotective parent. The final little birdy has flown the nest. That’s right, my little brother Peter has begun his “it will take 6 months but I’ll have the photos rotating on my desktop background for 6 years” trip of his lifetime. From what I’ve gathered, his itinerary will be half a year of tomato throwing, contiki tours and battling his strong resolve not to cheat on his girlfriend.

Faced with an empty four-bedroom home for the first time in 21 years, my mum turned the waterworks on. I have become used to seeing my mother cry. I’ve witnessed her salty tears mix with the detergent as she moaned nobody was helping her clean bottles for our annual “make enough tomato sauce for the whole year” event. This yearly obligation was Nonna’s proudest moment as the entire family gathered unreasonably early to crush cooked tomatoes into recycled bottles to be used in Lasagnes for weeks to come. As a kid I used to hate the 6am starts, heavy lifting and awkward cheek pinching from the older Italian Aunties. As a young adult I realised the lunch that followed the work was easily the best of the year. Nowadays I realise homemade tomato sauce beats Dolmios hands-down and I’m lucky to enjoy my entire close family engage in a Abruzzese ritual ironically falling on every Australia Day. I don’t think mum’s tears came from the same love of family tradition, but more what dad thought he was cleverly describing as a “period of change”. The double meaning was lost on me as a thirteen year old. I was just looking forward to lunch.

I remember hearing the tale of a similar three-child family and their moving out of home policy. After the two eldest children had left, the parents hung a sign on the youngest child’s door saying “check out time is 21”. My mum obviously did not share this enthusiasm for repurposing bedrooms into sewing rooms. For her, the idea of being forced into retirement from parenting is worse than losing the home to a fire. At least in an inferno we would all be together… saving the photo albums.

I had been the first of the children to move out. It was a life-defining move to Melbourne to make the law degree I was losing enthusiasm for more “enjoyable”. To celebrate living out of home for the first time I ate coco-pops for dinner. For once in my life I felt truly independent- no longer bound by the rules of bedtimes and nutrition. I was living with my two best friends in a house that could best be described as a “rental inspectors worst nightmare”. Since we didn’t own a vacuum cleaner we would wait until we could physically see dirt before we would scoop it up with our hands and wash it down the bath we never used. When mum came to visit her housewarming gift was small, yellow and saved our bond.

My sister was next to go. However her newfound independence only lasted six months and she quickly moved back to where the “internet was free”. One of the rules of living under the roof of my parents was that the single bed was non-negotiable. I once mentally feng-shui’d my room to try and create the dimensions required for a Queen bed. Annoyingly, there was a jut in the wall which prohibited anything bigger than a king single from possibly fitting in the space. Knowing full well that my dad had never poorly designed a thing in his life, I asked why this obvious flaw was overlooked. He simply replied “it wasn’t a mistake”. I believe I was… as the kids say… “cock-blocked” by my parents.

And now my brother is gone as well, leaving mum to face the agony of setting the table for only two. Receiving her phone calls is now a russian roulette of emotions. I’m sure I will never hear the end of how my brother immediately messaged his girlfriend to say he had landed safely, but at the time of writing, still hadn’t contacted my mother. On pointing out my brother’s check-in overseas mum dangerously commented that she “might need to get this Facebook”. Time for me to tighten my privacy settings. Zuckerberg hasn’t taken away my right to hide tagged photos yet has he? Some of those snaps would really make my mother cry.

I’m sure mum will be fine. We will just visit her often enough to remind her that our separation has not dwindled our fondness for her company. Still I will point out that tears should be saved for truly sad occasions like funerals, or when you’re extremely hungover and encounter a broken escalator. Finally, in what is conclusive proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I just collected a call from my sister. A guy at work talked her through creating an excel spreadsheet too quickly and now she’s crying. This outwardly emotional response is fast becoming a hallmark of the favourite women in my life. But as esteemed philosopher Jessica Simpson said in her seminal 2009 tweet- “every tear should live its purpose. Don’t ever wipe the reason away.” Thank you Jessica. Thank you.

Letters From A Stalker #1

Sometimes people ask me, “have you ever had a stalker?”
The answer is Yes. To me this is surprising: having a regular listener astonishes me, let alone a stalker.

My first ever stalker came when Dan and I were doing our weeknight radio show in Perth. I arrived at work before Dan to find this envelope in our pigeon hole:

First of all the envelope is addressed incorrectly. It’s “Action Battle Team” not “. Action Battle .” I know it’s a ridiculous name for a radio show but get it right. In retrospect I should have been impressed that the author of the envelope managed to get that much right.

Inside the envelope was a DVD and this poorly expressed letter.

I think the vibe of the letter is “thank you for providing me with hours of entertainment, here is a small amount of entertainment in return.” Oh Lesley… you have provided me with a lifetime of entertainment with the contents of that DVD.

When Dan finally arrived at work, we huddled around the jock’s room computer and watched the video spring to life. The first shot is a standard suburban living room. The walls are painted greenish, an open glass sliding door is to the right of frame and a blockmounted picture of ‘generic waterfall’ hangs proudly. The only other thing to see is a stereo sitting atop a TV, pumping out the radio station I work for.

Next a person, who I assume is ‘Lesley’, enters the left of frame. Lesley is wearing mismatching underwear and eating a chocolate bar. Lesley begins to dance. Lesley does not stop dancing for the next 45 minutes except to run her hands through her long hair and stare distantly at generic waterfall. Her dancing consists of a lot of sweating and rubbing. Lesley really, really loves to rub. I can only assume she is on a pill, because as the movie progresses the sweat gets heavier and the rubbing more furious. She loves the sound of her bangles in her ears and to shout “ABT!” over the sick tunes. Every time she leans forward her pointy face casts eerie shadows and her wobbly gut hangs freely.

Want to see it? Here is the first 2 and a half minutes of the video.

The only variation to the above is at about the 28 minute mark where Lesley inexplicably undergoes a costume change. Her garments change from red bra and mismatching black underwear, to red bra and mismatching turquoise underwear. And yes, thankfully this costume change does happen off camera.

Four things concern me about this entire affair:

  1. The whole putrid rave occurred in daylight hours.
  2. At times there appears to be some sort of dog outside the glass door. This means, this woman is in charge of a living creature.
  3. This lady is alone recording her semi-naked self unsupervised. Is she crazy? Maybe she has a day job? Maybe she is the office weirdo? Maybe she is just ‘kooky Lesley’ to her friends – that ‘chick who always does crazy shit on a Tuesday’.
  4. She mailed this letter to me.

Now I occasionally suffer from non-sobriety and have done some messed up things because of it. However, I have never obtained a video camera, recorded myself for an hour, burnt that video to a DVD, written a letter, printed the letter, obtained an evelope, found the address for Nova, addressed the envelope and posted the whole package completely fucked up without once thinking ‘maybe I’ll regret this in the morning?’

The whole thing is mesmerising. I’ve only seen it start to finish once, so I can confirm there is no nudity or other clues to her personality outside of sweating and rubbing. If you want to see the rest, come over some time and I’ll show it to you.

When I Met a Pornstar

In Februrary 2008 I interviewed legendary porn star Belladonna. Well, what she is able to do with a baseball bat certainly is legendary.

Belladonna

Me, Belladonna and Dan Debuf backstage at the Voodoo Lounge in Perth

Belladonna had been flown in by Australia’s most famous adult exhibition, “Sexpo”. So when she was in the studio, what do you get one of the world’s dirtiest people to do? Well, you call a sex line… of course! The challenge was – whatever the person on the phone line said, you had to go dirtier.

So who is filthier? The sex line operator or the world-famous porn star? (Extremely NSFW)

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At first, I thought I might be able to put this on-air with a few well placed censorship “beeps”. However, as it rapidly descended into perversity, I knew this interview would never see its day on-air. Apparently the question: “would you be willing to suck a dog dick?” is used as a practical joke on newcomers in the porn industry.

The rest of the interview is here. Please excuse my amateur stylings: this was one of my very first radio interviews ever.

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By the time this interview was over, I was genuinely charmed by the lady who provides adult entertainment for a living. Off-air we spoke about Australian restaurants, how her entertainment enterprise was developed and her desire to “buy an island” with the spare cash she has kicking around. Her ‘husband’, who is also her webmaster, sat happily and quietly in the corner listening to me awkwardly flirt with her. She seemed down-to-earth, switched on and endearing. I actually had to keep reminding myself that she has taken two 9-inch penises in her poo-hole at once.

The following year I was asked to interview two other pornstars: Ree Petra and Keisha Kane [audio] [video]

Compared to Belladonna, these two behaved more like you’d expect porn-stars-who-have-been-allowed-out-from-in-front-of-a-camera to behave. They certainly didn’t appear to possess Belladonna’s business savvy. I believe their native Englishmen would call them “chavvy”.

Sitting downstairs in my house is my most cherished possession. It’s a framed picture of Belladonna and I, plus a mounted signed baseball bat.

Oh, and the “kiss” in the top-left corner of the poster… that kiss was not made with her mouth.