My First… Blogging Challenge #3

This week’s topic is My First Obsession. You can find Kerri’s post here.

I had the usual pre-pubescent obsessions with horses but living in a flat in Bondi meant I never owned my own horse and after a few school holiday horse riding camps my equine obsession faded and was replaced with possibly my life obsession: boys.

Representing the beginning of this journey is Leif Garrett.

Leif 1


Leif 2


Surfin’ USA came out in 1977 when I was 9 years old so more than likely I simultaneously loved horses and boys.

Just like today when young girls fall madly (and totally inexplicably) in love with Justin Bieber, One Direction and their annoying ilk, I fell madly (and totally inexplicably) in love with young Leif and his cohorts Shaun Cassidy, his (more mature) brother David Cassidy, The Bay City Rollers, the embarrasing list goes on and on.

I listened to their awful “original” songs and their slightly less awful covers (which at the time I did not know were covers because young girls are idiots) on constant rotation. The cassette tapes played and rewound and played and rewound.

I thought they were the most wonderful humans on the planet: beautiful, talented, smart (!!) and just a gift to all us mere mortals. What I wouldn’t have done to somehow fall into their orbit… goodness only knows what I would have done should I have been granted my pathetic wish.

So this early obsession has led to a lifelong obsession with boys and music… I’m a lot older now but quite obviously not a lot wiser.

My First… Blogging Challenge #1

Kerri over at Life & Other Crises has started a blogging challenge which I think will be quite interesting and I certainly need some motivation to get blogging again.

Here is her post about the challenge and her first act of rebellion.

Here is mine…My First Act of Rebellion:

I was such a goody goody in primary school I’m fairly sure there were no open acts of rebellion until high school but something happened in Year 7… I like to call it hormones… which turned me from the aforementioned goody goody into a full on, snarling, manic rebel.

Apart from the hormones I think just annoying my parents would have been a major motivation for my oppositional behaviour. I probably didn’t think about it like that at the time but I certainly see it pretty clearly with the benefit of hindsight.

1980: Year 7, Term 3 I moved from St Catherine’s (a private C of E Girls’ School in the Eastern Suburbs, where I attended for two terms due to a scholarship) to Malvina High School in Ryde (a very much public school known affectionately as Molevina). This was the start of the what I now know to be the best years of my life.

I met my soon to be best friends A and F and we plunged head first into the world of subcultures. This is probably what I consider my first act of rebellion.

Our first forray into pissing off our parents by dressing “differently” was what I call the Rocky Horror phase. It wasn’t a true subculture but it had all the makings of one. Specific clothes, a group of people who identified with each other, music, “style”.

My memory of this time was dressing in a black tutu with leggings (one leg black, one leg red), a stripey red and white t-shirt, very vintage very pointy shoes and a giant bow in my extra frizzy hair (arrived at by braiding wet hair overnight into a 100 tiny plaits). We hung out at the newly opened Hoyts Cinema in George Street with the older Rocky Horror crowd – we loved the movie though we had never been to the midnight screenings ourselves, being only 12-13 at the time.

Our crowd was gay boys and slightly creepy (in hindsight) older men – I clearly remember a 30 year old sailor. (I now ask myself, why the fuck were these people hanging out with barely teenage girls.)

I felt at my most rebelious during this time sitting in the cafe at Hoyts, smoking a cigarette (how I hated smoking but how I loved the idea of how cool it made me look – ha ha) and sipping a cappucino… waiting for whoever would drop by to hang out on any particular Saturday afternoon.

If our parents were confused and upset by this phase it was just the entree… soon enough the Konaraki boys came to our school and introduced us to the world of punk and it became much worse very quickly on the rebellion front.

Is Fun. Is good. OK?

It is possible that it is illegal for someone my age to like Fun. They are a cool/hot/sick [can someone under 30 please insert appropriate word meaning “good”?] band upon whom I have recently stumbled. I am always late in embracing the latest music sensation.

I’m not a broadstroke new music hater like Big Jay. In his opinion if it was made in the current millennium it is bad, with few exceptions. I like to give new music a try before I poo poo it. Since I no longer listen to young people’s radio stations like Triple J I don’t have regular opportunities to taste new releases.

Via the children I get exposed to their musical obsessions du jour. While Miss M’s love of Taylor Swift and Pink sits nicely with me, Will’s interest in hip hop is leaving me very cold (why so many “bitch” and “ho” references Snoop?).

So, like in this case, my love of Fun has come from an obtuse angle. I started reading about my girl crush Lena Dunham’s boyfriend, the guitarist from the band Fun. Of course I had never heard of Fun but mentioned my interest to a friend who said “oh yeah, they’re great”. All of a sudden I kept stumbling upon references to them online, in magazines, everywhere. I needed to have Fun. in my life.

Having never heard a single song of theirs I downloaded the album “Some Nights” (which was released like 15 months ago) and now I love it to death. It makes me happy. Possibly it’s hipster music which scares me a little because hipsters are kind of scary, no? But I like it so much.

Thank you Lena for “Girls” and now for Fun. Please don’t dob me into the hipster police.

I need a hot shower (for my brain)

Book Review: “Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of KISS” by Peter Criss with Larry Sloman

You can’t unknow the things you know but there are times when I wish you could. I earnestly wish I had never read this book, not because it’s badly written or boring but because it has shattered an illusion I have been living with for the past 35 years.

It’s important to understand how much I loved KISS from about the age of 9 or 10. Circa 1978-1980 they meant everything to me. Their words and music spoke directly to my heart and my yearning pre-pubescent soul. No-one on the planet understood me like these strange men in make up, spandex and monstrous boots.

In those days media was a very different creature to what we know it to be now. Pre-internet, iPhone and 24 hour news cycles us kids relied on TV Week, Tiger Beat (imported), Countdown and the occasional TV news or Sunday paper snippet to keep up to date with our idols. So it took a long time for me to build up any picture of who Paul, Gene, Peter and Ace were as real men.

Even in recent years I still had a very Vaseline-on-the-lens, soft-round-the-edges view of what their reality was. Yes, that whacky Gene had slept with some countless thousands of groupies; yes, Peter and Ace were druggies who’d been kicked out of the band for their bad behaviour. Because I had loved, and had continued to love, them so much I didn’t dwell too much on these distasteful topics. After all, this is what rock stars do, right?

I had read Gene’s autobiography a few years ago and it had provided a few details but was really a very broad brushstroke recollection. Gene is all about the KISS brand, he’s not into allowing the truth to scare away a potential consumer.

I had been alerted to Peter’s book by a colleague at work who is also a massive KISS fan. He had started reading the book, told me to read it and had then left to go on holidays. The next day he sent me this message: “Not sure what the amazon policy is but you should return your copy of Peter Criss. Hang onto your fond memories of the band don’t ruin them discovering the truth”.

If only I had heeded this sage advice. It is one thing to glimpse or suspect the bad behaviour of rock stars, it’s easy to file those stories and rumours under “those crazy boys” or put them down to media exaggeration or simply sweep them under the rug in your conscience. It’s another thing to read the stories in black and white graphic detail and ponder the depravity of a human being who could commit or condone such behaviour in the name of “fun”.

I don’t want to go into particular details. Suffice to say the sorts of things these boys did on tour to entertain themselves is simply disgusting. Not only was their mistreatment of women beyond appalling (sex with willing groupies is one thing, public humiliation and endangering lives is something else altogether) but their drug fuelled destruction of property for entertainment makes me see them in a very different and unflattering light.

Peter is an angry and hard-done-by individual and he uses this book to let rip on those who have done him wrong. He is merciless on Gene especially. Yet he comes across as a whiny victim, a man who is keen to blame those around him for being mean, underhanded and dishonest yet he is blind, or at least dismissive, to his own disgraceful behaviour and complicity in the dire behaviour of those around him.

Particularly offensive to me is his view of himself as a man with a special relationship to God. He seems to have convinced himself that God understands him, is forgiving of his horrendous womanizing while he is married, his drug taking, his prodigious ability to behave badly in any given situation.

I thought I’d be reading a garden variety biography of the man who has long held a special place in my heart; Catman, the man responsible for “Beth” one of my all-time favourite KISS songs, the quiet, mysterious drummer with the enigmatic smile. Instead I am left to deal with a much darker reality than I suspected and the sadness of knowing that I will never reclaim the naive love I have harboured for these men and their music for the past 35 years.

Some things are better left unknown. The truth can and does hurt you.