Brisbane’s ouTsideRs collective are putting on their dancing shoes and stepping out to The Globe Theatre this Saturday night for their first 2009 show – Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride.
So I donned my raincoat and caught up with self-confessed Spoken Weird artist, Ghostboy to ask about the show, the influence of Hunter S. Thompson, Slam and abstractions… he had plenty to say.
You describe yourself as a Spoken Weird artist. Give us the low down on that.
The “low down” is an excellent day beat in Kings Cross where cheap artists can blow their horns. Most poets are into the “beats” as they wanted to do their father, yeah? Mine was too short, so I read a little Ginsberg and did myself instead.
“Spoken Weird” is a term that captures what has been described as my “righteous anger”, my need to touch people (not just with words), my sister surrealism, and my total lack of connection to the spirit or intentions of either the current spoken word or poetry “scenes” and hence those terms. I feel like an other, outside the scenes and inside the host body (poet/ex-wife David Stavanger) whose kidney I rent = alter ego is the loneliest number. The phrase comes from a wonderfully sexually charged and highly unreliable Melbourne musician Yilton Kreen, and I co-opted it as a way to feel like my artistic highway was full of the right hitchhikers and detours – you want a lift with me, you better bring a towel.
It also speaks to the irreverence I feel for (and seek from) poetry/spoken word yet rarely seem to encounter – I seek the mad joy found in the abandoned ones, the ones who just experiment with life and breathe it into the mike…very very rare, like me wearing beige or enjoying a poetry open mic.
“Spoken Weird” also best captures my work with my lovers and muses Golden Virtues: part words / part song, out front of the strangest punk kabaret musikale beast to come out of QLD since Lady Florence….this project is really starting to explode, with upcoming gigs at the Melbourne Fringe and our first aural infection underway in the studio, and is now the Virtues only focus as a band which is taking it down to new heavens (and they are so raw / sexy / talented, and open to sharing a stage or skirt with me too). www.myspace.com/ghostboywithgoldenvirtues
Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride is the first ouTsideRs gig since the monthly event wound up late last year. So what can one expect when they do buy their ticket?
The return of the wildest free form show in Australasia. Acid droppers & drop outs welcome. The first Ghostboy with Golden Virtues live show since the infamous bed breaking finale at Woodford including new tracks and strokes for all the different folks. We will be shitting on the chest of fun – my chest will be proffered to all takers with quality shit on offer. We will also be launching our first video clip for Wolfish on the night directed by Jacob Schiotz shot gonzo style in New Farm Park. James Cruickshank (The Cruel Sea) in solo Hells Angel mode – he is worth washing your hands for and not touching your joystick on a Sat night alone! Mz Hinemoana Baker is making a guest appearance (hopefully in cabaret song mode – wait & see); & the lovely Pascalle Burton debut balling her new set based on jazz, sex and her deepdeep love of scrubs. Throw in our MC Tessa Leon (back from SA for this), twin security guards Sezsu on the door and the the usual ouTsideRs surprises = including the make-up of the HS Thompson Orchestra (think then excuse yourself from the room, wash your bottom twice and smile) – and you would have to be a horny monk with a new whipping boy to miss this one.
The event will be held on Hunter S. Thompson’s birthday. How has the great man of Gonzo influenced your own work?
I am new to HS Thompson words as I can’t read, but not his spirit. However, I was once in love with a Mexican salsa dancer who took me down south to Playa de los Muertos, where we made love fortnightly and he read me Fear & Loathing through the cone of the his Bullmouth Helmet while we ate bbq’d iguana and threw the stereo into the mouth of cortez.
I will hand over to Pascalle here from ouTsideRs, as she is the most hunter hearted lady I know, and she had this to say:
Hunter S Thompson is one of those word artists that when you meet them for the first time, whole planets are opened up. He was fearless, and full of fear. He was wild and exciting. He was smart. So smart you wonder how all the politics, sport, literature, music, art and humour didn’t make him explode. He drove fast through the American Dream and didn’t mind calling out ‘Swine!’ through a megaphone at any given moment. But this was not a man who wanted to throw acidic insults at just anyone – he had an incisive sense of right and wrong and who was worth fighting for. His internal compass was rarely swayed and very often prophetic. And if he was in your corner, he knew all the hooks and punches to guarantee a knockout victory. Like all of us, his version of truth was his own. Unlike most, he had fun riffing on reality and raving lunacy and was interested in the repercussions of his rantings. Some people have a lot to say but say it weakly. Some have a way with words but not much to say. Here was a man with a desire to go fast and hard into the fire with a deep love of words at his core.
I love this: Some people have a lot to say but say it weakly. Some have a way with words but not much to say. So much is instantly revered today in poetry/spoken word – too many fucking worshippers, not enough goddesses (and devils!!!).
You are also heavily involved in the Australian Poetry Slam. I recently read that Slam has become a brand name, not an attitude anymore. The motto: I WANT TO BE A NONCONFORMIST JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. In another article, Slam founder, Marc Smith said, now there’s an audience, and people just want to write what the last guy wrote so they can get their face on TV. Well, O.K., but… this show wasn’t started to crank out that kind of thing.
Got to respond to this first – you can read lots of things about slam, as much has been written: good and bad. The fact is, get to a slam (and actually enter) and then form your own view, all views entitled. The motto of slam was never to not conform or conform (what a wank of a quote), just to entertain and invite all to participate. Slam as an attitude – no, slam is just a show not a t-shirt. It is not a form, not a style, it is not a brand – though here I agree, some see slam as a career opportunity rather than a calling. Lets just call it = slam is just a great show, using a certain format with limitations and restrictions on some poetic forms and expression, with different flavours and intention wherever you go which won’t speak to all. Poetry open mics are just a community service where poets rarely listen and celebrate the ordinary way too much but they offer a sense of belonging somewhere and word virgins get a chance to start the walk to the actual bedroom. There is nothing more to either, the general quality of the art at both can be substandard and on occasions stunning (as are lovers and takeaway Chinese) yet both are vital and needed to keep fostering new voices and putting the artform into the public and media consciousness.
The actual audience cares little for such discussions – increasingly, neither do I. And I am not just heavily involved in the APS, that is just the end result of having been at the heart & groin of slam in QLD since its real emergence as a viable and relevant form via ouTsideRs in 2005. I just got called to slam, like herpes, then had had the opportunity to work closely with my slam mentor and soul friend Marc “So What” Smith (US) – the true founder /forefather and social activist of the slam form. I have hence developed a deep respect for & understanding for both him and the initial intentions of this important form of art entertainment, particularly in its vital confrontation of traditional poetic live forms & performance and in breaking down the notion of “passive audience” and concepts of direct inclusion of all in some form of poetry. I am most proud of being one of the few Slam MCs who has never compromised his/her slam approach or philosophy regardless of the context or gig – I have pissed plenty off and lost opportunities at times for it… shit happens but my head is always high. Crazy Elf in Melbourne deserves credit here in this respect too…another true slam warrior, we have great fun MCing slams at Woodford together.
Where do you think Slam is at in Australia?
It is becoming a beast that some want to tame and sell at the market, as has happened in the USA. The Australian Poetry Slam is great in that it is a national event creating big media attention for the form and providing paid work to spoken word artists – it also (particularly in QLD) is taking slam to regional areas where there is barely even a regular writers group or open mic. However, the big prize money and size of the spotlight can also encourage a homogenised form, where the artist sets aside their natural instinct to try and strategically please or shock the crowd – better to slam off for a Culture Club LP or some tinned sardines, but the same thing can be said about most poetry journals, where form and aiming for their peers or the editor’s stamp of approval seems to ride over risk and originality. Both lead to boredom and breed familiarity, which some seem to dig as it can be comforting like warm milk and nan’s cookies but personally often the most innovative work scores badly or doesn’t make it into the big poetry mags: that’s where you will find me, yawping loudly on the edges stroking my 2nd chin!
As for QLD – I, as did Marc, believe it is one of the most vital and unique slam cultures in the world – it is not just about winning; it dosn’t promote a particular style – it is an avante garde fire forum where we make all welcome (and uncomfortable), even those that just walked in to use the toilet (best beat in Brisbane is an ouTsideRs toilet after the 3rd act – take a kranksky and a napkin, and don’t forget to wash their face).
* What is the most significant abstraction in your life?
Plagiarism. Hey, you naughty Mr Shark , you stole this from Michael McClure Personal Universe Deck – you need to credit the questions we fear sir.
(Consider this Shark’s fin slapped… an oversight in my original email G’boy, but you know this Shark wears spectacles and loves a good reference – see below for full details)
Architecture – I am hugely invested in how we are built and why the buildings collapse. Who is the writer you see when you look away from the mirror? How many times can a man come? When does an alter ego become a citizen not just a skin tenant?
* Question taken from Cinnamon Turquoise Leather: (A Personal Universe Deck), Michael McClure, Talking Poetics from Naropa Institute
And finally, is it true poetry started in your right testicle?
No, David’s right testicle. He was experiencing alot of swelling and couldn’t come for weeks. The first doctor thought he may have delusions of testicular grandeur; the second just wanted to take his gloves off and touch it. Finally, I made my way up into his singular kidney (David has a drinking problem – he hates water) and set up my first milk crate studio in 2005. Better than the last one – was stuck in the bowel of Warren Beatty, man he was full of shit. Ishtar for f&*^&sake!! That was me he was channeling in his fantastic portrayal as a hip hop politician in the 1997 film Bullworth – I can’t wait to move on from this dud root of a poet to a strong Dutch sailor or a small dog in a big kennel. Woof!
The Psychiatrist can prescribe you pills.
The Psychiatrist can give you a script
or several pills dependent on the diagnosis.
they can give you pills to stop worrying
pills to start having an erection again
pills to stop obsessive thoughts and irrational beliefs
such as the world is going to end or the sink is dirty
like a big wet asshole.
When you leave the office
the psychiatrist starts smiling and swallows several pills
then smiles some more. it collects ties from around
the world and often dreams of showing these
to its patients but fears they will not understand
as the patients are all crazy.
The Psychiatrist can give you a title.
The Psychiatrist can give you a new name
so that when you start barking on the train
you can introduce yourself on your own terms.
when you are at its desk
it will not smile but will frown
if you say you are not happy:
if you say the pills make you feel
small it will only write more.
The Psychiatrist is a doctor.
The Psychiatrist can take your pulse
or remove your kidney should the
situation arise. More likely they will
take your money and tell you
you should be okay in 12 months
but something will always be
wrong with you.