Debbie Harry doesn’t like things to be polished. That goes for Ghost in The Shell (“They’ve cleaned it up – and it was such a good anime,” she says with a sigh), as much as it does the sound of her music. Blondie, the rock band with which the singer-songwriter-bombshell has long been synonymous, grew out of the mid-’70s New York punk scene. Although ‘punk’, as Debbie reminds us, didn’t officially exist at that stage. Continue Reading
Comic books weren’t really a part of my childhood – but superheroes were. The Wonder Woman TV series was on when I was a kid, and it just changed my life. Here was this ridiculous woman in this ridiculous outfit, jumping over cars and punching bad guys. It was just so enthralling and empowering. But I didn’t make the transition into comic books, because the very odd time that I would see a comic book at the newsagency, they’d be all about Thor and Hulk, and I would think, Who the fuck are these characters? Continue Reading
“My father is African-American and Spanish. My mum’s Aboriginal, Malay and Mauritian. My father was in the marines and met my mum in Perth. It was a whirlwind love affair. At the age of three, we moved over to the States and lived there till I was nine. It was an interesting experience, getting to know my African-American culture, but I felt very insecure, because over in America, a lot of people said, ‘You’re mixed,’ because I have mixed ancestry. I didn’t understand what that meant. Continue Reading
“I was never into conventional Australian sports as a kid. When I was about five, Mum started getting a bit worried, saying, ‘You need to get out of the house.’ So she found this ad in the local paper for a circus school, signed me up and I just kept going. First you learn tumbling, cartwheels and backflips. Then juggling, aerial skills, trampoline – all the basic skills every circus performer needs. Then as you get older, you find the one you really like doing, and that becomes your speciality. For me, it was hula hoops, which is now my full-time career.
“I saw another girl performing it at a circus festival when I was about 13. I thought, She looks pretty cool; she’s got a cool costume on; I want to do that one! So it was really random. I had a few teachers, but most of it I learnt off YouTube. I’d be in my lounge room after school and on the weekends, I’d find a video I liked and replay it hundreds of times, looking at every little thing that person was doing, and just repeat, repeat, repeat. I smashed a lot of things in my house – I still do. But it’s all about patience. Like anything with circus, it’s just putting in the time and the effort.
“My act is choreographed, very similar to a dance. So I’ve got the music, I’ve got the costume, I’ve got the vibe. It’s normally about five minutes, and I just pack in as many tricks as I can. I’ve got a lot of skills that I’ve honed from different countries, because different countries have different specialities in hula hoops. China’s known for very flexible tricks; Ukraine’s very good at juggling. I’ve trained with them and taken what I can. It requires a lot of multi-tasking, balance and knowing what your body’s doing. But after seven years it’s kind of become muscle memory; I don’t think at all. I can do it asleep at four o’clock in the morning.
“There’s about 15 professional hula hoopers in Australia and we’re all friends. If we’re in the same city, we’ll meet up, train together, exchange tricks. It’s a really inclusive community, and I think that’s true of circus in general. All circus performers are welcome at other spaces around the world; you just have to give a heads up if you’re coming. So I can go to Portugal, for example, and say, ‘Hey, I don’t know anyone here, I’m a circus performer, help me,’ and people will open their doors, give me a bed, tell me who I can train with. It’s like a giant family.
“Personally, I like to make all my costumes myself. I’m always looking for costume designs at Spotlight. At the moment, I’m really into 1950s traditional circus outfits, like full corseted costumes – they look so beautiful. My favourite outfit is this vintage 1950s crop top with swing dancing frills. It’s white and got matching high-waisted pants. I actually found it in an op shop in Paris. I’m always op-shopping.
“We don’t have any specific diets. Just try and lay off the ice-cream, that’s about it. I always try and keep fit, but I think circus does that for me. It’s very therapeutic. It’s actually used as therapy for people with disabilities, social insecurities or anything like that. Everyone can get something out of circus. There is no too young, too old, too inexperienced. It’s great for joint movement, flexibility, all-round fitness, focus and self-confidence. No one walks out of a circus class going, ‘Oh my god, did you see my thighs?’ Everyone comes out with a really positive outlook on life.”
Image: Olga Bennett
This article first appeared in frankie magazine issue 75 (Jan/Feb 2017).
There are few cinematic depictions of suffragettes aside from Mary Poppins, whose acts of civil disobedience included refusing to include references with her CV and polishing a stair-rail with her arse. But the real bloody and violent story of British women fighting for the right to vote is finally coming to the screen. Suffragette is the second feature film by director Sarah Gavron, 45, whose first encounter with feminism was watching her mother become a local politician and fight her way through a “very male world” to ultimately rise to the position of London’s Deputy Mayor. Continue Reading
From her sharehouse bedroom in Sydney’s inner-west, Kaylene Milner creates graphic sweaters with artwork celebrating punk and rock legends. Her one-woman label, WAH-WAH, features collaborations with Aussie icons – including The Hard-Ons and The Meanies – and most recently, US rock lords Dinosaur Jr. The 28-year-old designer grew up in Wollongong and created her first tribute garments as a teenager. “I would personalise a lot of my t-shirts, just painting over basic little Bonds t-shirts with psychedelic designs,” she says. “I’d look at my favourite albums and reinterpret them myself, just with fabric paints from Spotlight.” Continue Reading
“I grew up with so much internalised homophobia. And I just took that on board from the society around me. In Australia, to present as butch as a queer woman is thought of as this outdated ideal. The turning point for me was going to the States, where people were attracted to me because I was masculine, not despite me being masculine. Continue Reading
“Cut the comedy festival shit.” So said the Ballarat university drama teacher, whose job it was to “ruin” the egos of then drama students Broden Kelly, Mark Bonanno and Zach Ruane. Since then, the Melbourne boys have ditched the theatre blacks and formed Aunty Donna, a sketch comedy troupe, boasting over 100 thousand YouTube subscribers, and a live comedy festival show – that just sold out. “So take that, Sergio,” Broden says. But none of Aunty Donna’s members, including its behind-the-scenes crew, anticipated a career in sketch comedy.
Lis Harvey doesn’t buy into other people’s idea of sexy. The 30-year-old Brisbane photographer launched her own underwear brand, Nico Underwear, celebrating simplicity and minimalism, because nothing else felt quite right. Continue Reading