"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." I really didn't feel like going to the 2006 Gay Pride March, or whatever it's called. Do i really need more photos of rainbow coloured flags and gay exhibitionists? No i don't. Once upon a time, Gay Pride marches had some political grunt. They had a point and a purpose. They promoted equal rights for homosexuals. But what's the point of a Pride march these days? Gays wanting to take their sexuality out and rub it in your face. There is just not much appeal, photographically speaking, in all that colour and life and movement. Yawn. But having no plans to go to Northbridge is useless once fate intervenes. Safari Bob phones. He is down at pcp (which, in this context, stands for Perth Centre for Photography, not angel dust), and is fairly intent on having a few drinks. I'm visiting Mayhem in her Death Bed. She has fallen into a swoon and collapsed, and is lying in state. She is expecting more of her friends to visit soon, and talk about how much they love her, and how much they will miss her, et cetera. I have seen Mayhem in this state before, and i know it is sometimes possible to revive her using lasagne, or beer, or cocaine. Or all three mixed together and applied as a poultice. On this occasion, however, Cooper's Sparkling Ale does the trick. She sits suddenly upright, takes a draught of beer, and miraculously arises from what looked like certain death. After her first, faltering steps, she is on the slow path to recovery. But she will not yet be drawn into a night on the town. "We have the garage sale tomorrow, Art Director," she points out. "We are going to Melbourne. We must cull." It's true; we must rid ourselves of all material possessions in order to embark upon that long, thirsty trek across the Nullarbor Plain. I'm just going for a quick drink with Safari Bob, i say. "Quick drink. Safari Bob. Not words that naturally go together." She shakes her head. "You ought to be culling, not sculling." I promise to be on deck by six a.m. to help her set up the Garage Sale - a rash promise if ever i made one, and one which is never to be fulfilled. Because the town is crying out for a fresh lick of red paint. And Safari Bob and i are just the men for the job.
I kickstart the motorcycle, and head out to buy a bottle of Bacardi and meet Safari Bob. The roads are blocked for the march, so i take it to the footpaths. The dykes on bikes are assembling their parade out the front of the pcp. There are cops everywhere, but it is difficult to tell which are the real ones, and which are the ones in the parade. Arse cut out of pants is always a clue, i'm thinking.
We drink, we watch the festivities, we show some punters around pcp. I take a brunette in the darkroom. The rum supply dwindles, and with it our common sense. Safari Bob has a damaged foot from dropping a wall on it, and has difficulty walking, so it suddenly seems a good idea to put on matching Hawaiian shirts and ride the motorcycle straight down William Street, right on James, and into ground zero. The Block. Artrage party central.
Things begin to go a bit awry on William Street. Smoke pours from the front of the motorcycle. We are on fire. I just keep going, with the half-assed half-drunk thought in the back of my head that the fire might blow out and the bike suddenly repair itself, but no. The corner of William and Roe Streets is a kind of motorcyclic Sargasso Sea. This is where my motorcycle was mysteriously and magnetically drawn into a steel barrier only a few posts ago. And now the bike is spiralling out of control in a seething vortex of smoke and flame. If i had a compass on me, it would no doubt be spinning on its axis. William and Roe is no ordinary intersection. It is a nexus of evil. We leave the 650 smoking quietly on the pavement outside the body piercing shop, and walk the last few metres into ground zero. We walk there on foot.
The Block party is still going. There are Blockheads partying wildly inside the marquee. From what i can gather, Artrage is an excuse for people (sorry, artists) to play dress ups, talk fatuously and throw parties at one another. Obviously, all this suits me fine. I walk by the doorman (being a marquee, the proper term is flapman), say "it's ok to take photographs inside" and whether this is a question or a flat statement is left hanging in a deliberately ambiguous manner as i continue on without breaking my stride. My AJA card and Nikon are slung casually, yet visibly, around my neck. The card and camera get me into parties and clubs where i would not normally be invited. These are the only parties and clubs worth going to, as I stand firmly by the Marxist principle that i don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member. ("Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, i have others." "A child of five could understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five." "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." And so on. R.I.P. Groucho Marx and his principles. Groucho, the only man ever to have eyebrows more rediculous than our Prime Minister's.)
Once inside, Safari Bob and i begin drinking in earnest, the night's earlier consumption of a bottle of rum serving us well as an apertif on our three course meal of alcohol, too much alcohol, and way too much alcohol. I take the odd photograph, but generally the night is about drinking beer and talking in earnest. I run into PCP Justin, and Donstar the Pink Minx, and Jude of Bankwest, who appeared in this blog recently in a leopardskin toque.
Also Irish Steve, who is completing a PhD in something or other and sporting a rather fetching set of Mickey Mouse ears. Our long and earnest conversation is one of a number of long and earnest conversations i have that evening, of which i can now remember nothing at all, other than whatever was said, was said at length and in earnest. I photograph Steve standing unnaturally close to a friend of his in a white singlet.
As is inevitable when completely totalled on alcohol, i am suddenly struck by the beauty of the girl serving the beer. I gaze at her with a combination of lust and reverence. Her youthful beauty is enhanced, in a strangely compelling way, by a vicious scar running across her cheek. "A know a gentleman," i say, "who got a scar like that whilst fencing." Oh, really? "Yes. Working with barbed wire can be quite hazardous." She gazes at me with a combination of incredulity and contempt. I order another beer. After they kick us out, Safari Bob and i go on a trip to The Moon. We make our entrance with the Art Director proclaiming loudly that all the staff are totally lazy and we will be waiting an eternity for service. "I'd like a crocodile sandwich, and make it snappy!" We seat ourselves at a booth and soon there is a huge carafe of red wine in front of me. "I'd rather have a carafe in front of me than a giraffe in a car with me." Mmm, white rum, beer and red wine. Halfway through the one litre giraffe, i realise it must be time to go. "Demlishun Blob," i slur ruefully at around three in the morning, "i'm garaging a car sale at six." We stare at each other confusedly. "I think." I leave Safari Bob drinking red straight from the carafe, and weave my way back towards Harley Street.
Remember kids. Binge drink responsibly. Art Director out.