Kids of the 80s

underneath the stairwell wham!

Luckily for me, I started heroin when I was 15 so I missed out on all that lovey dovey shit that so many kids waste their teenage years on. I hadn’t even ‘done it’ before I got into the smack, I was pretty much only at the fingering stage which was alright but I didn’t want anything to do with the whole ‘fucking’ thing because of its implications: babies, love and AIDS just seemed like part of the adult world. The funny thing is, after getting into smack, me and my mates all thought guys that hung around girls were gay. We couldn’t understand why any young upstart would want to hang around chicks when girls didn’t like punk, destroying shit or hard drugs?!?!?


This was in the 80’s so all the birds were into Wham!, Culture Club and worst of all, A-Ha. I used to try and talk to them about stuff like Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ project and they would tell me that it was ‘boring.’ This is what Star Wars (Strategic Defence Initiative) was about: The Russians had thousands of 100 megaton thermonuclear ICBMs aimed at the U.S. The Star Wars program was proposed as a collection of military satellites that would use x-ray lasers to shoot down the ICBMs when they were in flight.

underneath the stairwell strategic-defense-initiative-star-wars-railgun-picture


I was convinced that I was going to be killed in a nuclear war and that any society that was part of the arms race was fucking insane, so I sought out the complete antithesis of society and authority; smack, punk and vandalism. But all the girls in my class were more interested in George Michael which shows how dumb they were.

So while all the losers at my school were falling in love, having their hearts broken and getting all depressed and shit, me and my pals were getting fucking high on number four heroin, puking everywhere and doing full on criminal damage and annoying the hell out of everyone with the punk and oi! blaring out of my portable stereo. Being teenagers, we got away with a lot more than we would have if we were older.

It is also fantastic how at 18 they give you a clean record! You would have to be an idiot not to take full advantage of that. Of course, heroin is not the healthiest of pursuits and several of my teenage pals didn’t make it.

underneath the stairwell frank boothAnyway, the reason I am going on about this, is because I didn’t experience the whole ‘broken heart’ thing until I was 26 and I had very odd reaction to it. What I did was this: I locked myself in my room and watched Blue Velvet over and over again. I became obsessed with Dennis Hoppers character, Frank Booth and even went so far as to steal 9 tanks of nitrous oxide although that is an entire other story.

For some reason, I also became obsessed by Punch and Judy and even built an entire portable theatre with 13 dolls which was a direct replica of a Victorian era Punch and Judy show. Each doll took me two weeks to make and I hand sewed all their costumes.

The actual dialogue I used for the show was from an 1829 manuscript and I changed all the olde English into ‘Nadsat’ slang from Clockwork Orange. In my mind, Frank Booth was a modern version of Punch and I made Punch sing ‘In Dreams’ and ‘Blue Velvet’ in my show and say many lines from Frank Booth when I busked it at Circular Quay.

Of course, I had an ‘adult’ version of the show that I would do at performance art nights where Punch would fuck his dog etc. Interestingly, there was a Punch and Judy professor (show man) on the first boat that arrived at Sydney Cove and up to the early 80’s, there was always a Punch and Judy show at Circular Quay.

Punch and Judy was so popular in Victorian London that it was the only voice of dissent against the monarchy that was tolerated. If people had enacted anti-monarchy scenes in the theatre that were typical in a P&J show, they would have been hung. P&J shows were so popular with the lower classes, that if the authorities had tried to censor them, there would have been riots.

underneath the stairwell punch and judty


Certain P&J characters like Scaramouch have their origins in Roman times, and Punch himself before he was anglicised was an Italian character called Punchinello. The Victorian version of the show however is what I was interested in as it was so fucking violent and dark.

Here is the basic premise: Punch kills his baby because it won’t stop crying. His wife, Judy discovers the murder, so Punch clubs her to death. Next, he embarks on a murderous rampage where he kills everyone including a policeman and a judge. After these murders, he brags about how no one on earth can bring him to task, and then the devil appears. Punch has a hard fight with the devil, but wins in the end. There are several theories about the psychological origins of Punch and Judy; here are some of the more interesting:

-All of Punch’s killings have a sexual motive: the killing of the baby and wife Judy to cover up incest, the killing of the dog, Toby to cover up bestiality and the rest to further hide his sex crimes or in response to homosexual rejection.

-The originator of the British Punch and Judy show was a killer filled with remorse at his crimes and aired them publicly to alleviate his guilt.

Anyway, the downfall of my Punch professor days was its popularity. I made a lot of money busking with it, but there is a bottle shop right at Circular Quay so by the second show I was drunk and fucked and doing all kinds of crazy shit, like putting in the dog fucking scene. There were complaints and I was having altercations with the Silver Man cunt that was down there. I gave it to a friend when I left Sydney for Canada, but I only ever knew her nickname so I can’t track her down. All I know is that it is at her mum’s place somewhere on Australia Street, Newtown. One of these days I am going to make another one.