Browsing Tag



Melbourne’s Top 10 Tram Stops

DOMAIN INTERCHANGE This is where all the action is, folks. It’s not just a place to switch trams, but also a place to run into people you haven’t seen for years. “Oh,” you say, “I didn’t know you took this tram!” Well, as a matter of fact, they take this tram every day to work. You start mentally reconfiguring your entire schedule in order to avoid this person in future while you engage in small talk that accidentally leads to a conversation about their failing liver. Continue Reading


The Coffee Connection

Like all self-respecting citizens of Melbourne, I’m an arsehole when it comes to my coffee. On average, I drink around five cups of Joe a day, and I like at least two of those Joes to be barista-made. But not made by any barista; I need my coffee made by my barista, otherwise I hate life, hate society and rue the day I was born. Continue Reading

Community Interviews

Curls, Curls, Curls

Love your hair, love yourself. This is the mantra that underpins the Curly Hair and Natural Hair Movements – a global community of women (and men) who are redefining standards in beauty by embracing their natural curls. At the forefront of the movement’s Australian faction is Neel Morley, whose Melbourne Salon, Neel Loves Curls, is one of the few specialist curly hairdressers in the country.

“This is a curly hair sanctuary,” he says, as he gently performs his trademark twisting and clipping technique to his client’s hair. “Curly hair isn’t taught in Australia. It’s very sad. And a lot of curly-haired people go to salons feeling like second-class citizens.”

I am one of them. I have naturally curly hair. Effie hair. A wog fro. Throughout my childhood, people used to come up and play with my long, curly hair, fondling it, making amused noises and walking away. It was as though there were a curious-looking dog attached to my head – like a mythological beast perhaps, like a minotaur, only cuter – and people took some small pleasure in coming over to have a play. It was for me as it is for anybody who finds themselves in the position of being petted by the general public: disgusting.

And so, like many of Neel’s clients, when the instruments of straightening became available to me, I embarked upon a lifetime of ironing my natural curls into oblivion, aspiring to conform to something more normal, more safe. I have roughly spent two hours per week straightening my hair for 12 years. That’s 5000 hours of my life (to date) I have dedicated to resembling somebody else’s idea of beautiful – and basically wasting my time.

Although the Natural Hair Movement has existed since the mid-1990s, it has been more recently that the community, also known as #TeamNatural, and their ethos of self-love and self-acceptance has found a wider audience. “A lot of women have just destroyed their hair and are just trying to bring it back to life,” Neel says. “I get people who say, ‘But I need to straighten my hair, Neel. I have a corporate job, I need to look smart.’ I always say, ‘If you wear your curls properly and you hydrate them, then they’ll look amazing.”

Neel sees himself as not only a curly hair educator (I left his sunny, Liberace-inspired mini hair palace with instructions to get hold of and study Curly Girl: The Handbook, a bible which I was assured would – and has – changed my life), but as a best friend to his clients who comes from across the country to seek out his services. “Channel Minnie Driver,” he says. “Channel Shakira. Some people haven’t seen their natural curly hair not frizzy, or they haven’t seen how their hair can sit really beautifully, because sadly there’s not a lot of hairdressers like me, doing what I’m doing.”

Neel recommends the Curly Girl method: no shampoo, no sulphates and no parabens. “The best things for curly hair are coconut oil and lavender oil,” Neel says. “Get a water spray bottle, pop some lavender oil in it and spritz it through your hair on day two or day three. It’ll refresh the curls.” Neel advises to seek out recipes from the Curly Girl bible, now available in all libraries across Melbourne’s northern suburbs, upon Neel’s personal insistence. “I’m a different realm,” he says, speaking to his level of curl obsession. “I spend 50 hours a week looking at curly hair and I don’t ever let go. It’s really hard.”

Image: Hilary Walker

This article first appeared in frankie magazine issue 62 (Nov/Dec 2014).

Creativity Interviews

Aunty Donna Are Really Interested in Activating Your Funny Bones

“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.

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Interviews Music

Heavy Metal for Beginners with… Karina Utomo

High Tension

HEAVY METAL IS A FORCE OF NATURE “I’ve always loved guitar-driven music. But growing up in Indonesia, we were limited to what made it to the one cassette store we had. I think our choices were Guns n’ Roses, Ugly Kid Joe and whatever. It wasn’t until I turned eighteen in Canberra that I went to my first hardcore show and it completely just blew my mind. Continue Reading