Friday, March 23, 2007

Welcome to Oddelaide

Ah, Adelaide, my Adelaide.

I've been suffering from bloggers' block since I finished writing about Africa. I thought about deleting my blog and never logging in again because, after all, how could anything be worth writing about after that? But then The Weird came crashing in again.

Ah, The Weird. Where else but Oddelaide could one see, in the space of an hour:

  • a line of girls waiting for the doors to their strip club to open so they could get painted up and start work;
  • a little guy who looked like a dirtier version of Stig of the Dump baring his scrawny arse on stage; and
  • a pale and podgy man wearing nothing but white Y-fronts standing in the gutter talking to the cops?

Oddelaide is weird at the best of times, but right now it’s Fringe time and there are all sorts of comedy, theatre, music, circus and burlesque acts in town. Add to that the World Police and Fire Games, a car race, WOMAD, the Adelaide Cup and various food and wine festivals and March has been one crowded hour. We’ve had really buff filth and firies lugging bags of volleyballs and sweat socks about town, hippy world music lovers, bogan revheads, arty types and pissed racing princesses on top of all the usual suspects.

Of course, once March is over, that’s it. We go back to sleep until it’s time for the Christmas piss-ups.

Bloke and I have seen some really good shows this Fringe, like the Soweto Gospel Choir (which really just made me lonelier for Africa), but we also saw Rubeville. Well, some of Rubeville, anyway. The theatre group was from Melbourne and they called themselves The Black Lung (which appealed because of Zoolander. "~Cough~ I thnk I've got the... ~hack~ black... lung... pop!")

They’d taken over an empty Hindley St shop next to a strip club, brought in a bath to ice the beer at the bar and scattered about a lot of weird objects. There was a Cabbage Patch doll on a lamp table that looked as though it had been napalmed and a collection of mismatched chairs and couches that I suspect had been rescued from hard rubbish piles.

It was hot in the bar area and I couldn't seem to get served anyway, so we stood out the front waiting to be let in to the theatre space. One of the actors was prowling the footpath, smoking with a ferocious intensity. He was built like a skinny chimp and covered in smears of camouflage paint that made him look as though he’d slept in a food court dumpster. As he smoked and paced, he eyed the group of exotic dancers waiting by nextdoor's street door.

The girls carried cantilevered make-up boxes and wore sky-high white stilettos, but the real giveaway was that they were lining up at the front door of a strip club. Hard to hide that, really. But you’d think the owners would let them use the back door instead of making them stand on the street. It's not nice, yeah? I suppose they were called Mystique and Safyre and Rayne and had a level of flexibility of which I can only dream.

Seeing the actors before a show usually bodes ill. Just looking at Smoker Boy gave the show the stink of death. It was those fake shit smears, I think. We debated leaving then and there, but decided to give it a go. After all, we'd just eaten the worst hamburgers in the world at a dodgy Aussie-themed pub (at least the flies were authentic), so the night couldn't get that much worse. Once we'd shuffled into the theatre space, squeezing past a bed and a stack of signs that all read “'KISSY”, I thought perhaps I’d been wrong because there was an absolutely cranking band playing. The music was something between ska and zydeco and all the musos were wearing nightmare make-up and funky hats. One guy played the saw while another in fedora and waistcoat thumped on a double bass.

But then the lights went down and Smeary Smoker Lad appeared. He stalked up and down the stage, trying to cadge change from the audience and abusing people with a filthy schoolyard tongue. Eventually, he decided that someone sitting a few rows back from the front looked like a dirty bastard who might well be interested in giving it to him, so he climbed on a hard rubbish armchair and dropped his shorts, exposing a skinny and luminous arse. He started to sing, “Don’t you want me baby?” in a pathetic monotone and segued into an impression of a sobbing and abused child.

By then, my mouth was hanging open and my eyebrows had vanished into my hair.

We lasted another 10 minutes, through some pretentious wank about consumerism by a second, smearless boy and an attempt by a French-junkie-prostitute in a fluffy jacket to have sex with him.

There was no backstage area and as we slipped out, the arse-barer was standing at the back of the room, tying a bandage around his head. He bowed us out the door.

Yes, I was offended, but this show didn’t even have the distinction of being the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen. After all, I lasted through I bought a spade at Ikea to dig my own grave. Anything less than that is just kiddy stuff. Three years later, I'm still having trouble looking at hotdogs and cooked spaghetti the same way, having seen people trying to shove both of them up their bums. I still can’t eat lasagne, let alone smell it. But I survived, yeah?

Rubeville, on the other hand, was just pretentious twaddle, playing for cheap shocks. The thing that really left me wondering was the fantastic reviews it got from local “critics”. Doesn't the word "critic" imply that they are actually critical? I'm sorry - I thought that was part of our job description. They were just falling over themselves to say how daring and raw and so veryveryvery it was.

I think I’m getting old. But if life’s too short to stuff a mushroom, it’s far short to sit through shite theatre. After all, stuffed mushrooms at least taste good.

Oh and Mr Y-Fronts? Tss - Ford knows what the story was there. We drove past a police car with all lights flashing and saw him standing on the kerb, covering his man boobs with jubbly paws, just as a woman might if she were caught half-naked. But we’ll never know where his trousers were. Sorry, guys.

Edit: Ha, that's all I know! Rubeville won Best Theatre as voted by The Traumatiser's "critics".



At 6:59 pm, March 25, 2007, Blogger Mizanthrop said...

It's been 6 years since I called Adelaide home, but I remember the guy in the photo!

Back then he favoured baby blue coloured weightlifting gear, but he was an integral part of the late night yiros from the Falafel House experience. Ah, the nostalgia.

At 11:35 pm, March 25, 2007, Blogger audrey said...

Oh! Johnny! And Stig of the Dump! I loved that book when I was little...

At 7:16 am, March 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh johny! You know he has a MySpace site! hehe!

Man adelaide is a crazy place hey but amoung the maddness there are some geniune people...somewhere!!!

At 1:49 pm, March 26, 2007, Blogger Nai said...

I was just trying to explain the Johnny phenomenon to some pissed up Germans a few days ago! They had heard about him, but in their version he was a well known performance artist/busker (maybe he is, where do we send cash?) if I see them again I'll send them over here.
Don't you love the fringe? Aside from the stuff I actually do love, there is all of the stuff I love getting conversational mileage out of hating!
BTW, i do love your use of 'Ford'. Have you ever heard the BBC Radio plays of HHGTTG? I love the books, even liked the film, but the radio show was the best!

At 10:51 pm, March 26, 2007, Anonymous MikeFitz said...

Mizanthrop: Is the white legs guy in the photo an Oddelaide regular? And here was I thinking that he was just some poor footballer who had lost a bet.

At 11:11 am, March 27, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Mizanthrop, I haven't actually seen Johnny around recently, but I haven't been in the Mall much.

Audrey, I think we all wanted to live in a dump as children :)

Hails, I knew he had a website, but I didn't know he had a MySpace!

Nai, yeah, I'm a sucker for the Fringe and Festival. I've been dining out on I bought a spade at Ikea for three years now! Re "Ford", I like Hitchhikers' Guide too, but it's actually from Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. They thought Ford, Freud and God were all one and the same, but that he used different names when he was talking about different things. I rather like the idea :)

Mike, yes, Johnny's an Adelaide institution. He hangs about mostly in Rundle Mall and likes to wear things like Speedos with mismatched gum boots.

At 2:58 pm, March 27, 2007, Blogger Nai said...

Well colour me intellectually challenged. I've read Brave New World, but it seems Hitchhiker's has earned itself a place in my mind that Huxley never could. I do rather prefer the trivial to the sublime...

At 6:20 pm, March 27, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Nai, intellectually challenged, my arse :) I prefer Hitchhikers' myself. Huxley is pretty bloody bleak.

At 10:01 am, March 28, 2007, Blogger surfercam said...

Oddelaide - I love it. Every single person I know from Adelaide is Odd!

At 1:24 pm, March 28, 2007, Anonymous jen said...

I also haven't seen Johnny around for a while. I'm looking forward to the end of March madness and having some quiet time. I would like it if Womad, and the Fringe were separated out a bit so it didn't all happen at once. Oh, and if I could get my friends to get married in some month other than March, that would be good too.

At 1:10 pm, March 30, 2007, Blogger Ariel said...

Ten years, and I remember him too. In my day it was a hot pink shorts-style weightliftng outfit.

Glad you've NOT given up blogging after all!

At 3:08 pm, March 30, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Ariel, good ol' Johnny, eh? My favourite outfit is his black budgie smugglers with one black gumboot and one white gumboot :)


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