Bec the photographer picked me up at noon. As she arrived I was just putting the finishing touches on my new Bon Scott Singlet, in preparation for the big concert. My mate Hana did these great Bon Scott Bulging Crotch and Mischievous Face drawings for me, and I turned ’em into an iron-on transfer. Although there are a gazillion AC/DC shirts for sale, they all tend to be a bit “samey”. But it’s safe to say that nobody else in the world has this particular piece of merchandise yet!
Bec was taking me to Hamilton Hill, a suburb ten minutes out of Fremantle, for a photoshoot with an AC/DC family. That’s right, a whole family. This was not just one or two diehards. We’re talking twenty six fans in an extended, three generation clan, gathered together to prepare themselves for the Bon Scott statue unveiling concert. They had discovered Bec’s advert in a local milk bar, and invited her to come along and shoot their pre-concert ritual. And I was lucky enough to go along for the ride.
[Bec the photographer arrives in Hamilton Hill…]
Bec pulled her beige Datsun into the driveway, next to a couple of big utes. One of them had been hand-sprayed in matt-black, and was adorned with a full row of those bullet-hole stickers surrounding an AC/DC decal. We navigated all her photographic equipment through the gap between the utes and found ourselves surrounded by a friendly army of AC/DC uniforms of all ages, shapes and sizes. My customised singlet attracted whispers of appreciation. “Man, if you printed up more, you could sell heaps of those at the Freo markets!” someone said.
Tania showed us into the den, a veritable wunderkammer devoted to Bon, Malcolm, Angus, “and the boys”.
There were so many people present in the little den that the task of setting up was a bit like getting ready for a chaotic school photo. While Bec plugged in the lights and lined up the camera, the younger family members put finishing touches on their outfits, or fixed themselves (and me) Jim Beam and cokes in specially branded AC/DC whiskey tumblers.
I chatted with Gary. At 51, he’s one of the oldest members of the clan. He showed me a copy of The Bulletin Magazine, with an article about AC/DC. There on the second page, in glorious black and white, was a photo featuring Tamara, Jacob, Jayden, Tania, Teresa, and Raelene, posing outside a concert back in 2001. “We were so stoked when we saw this,” Gary said. One of the teenage girls chimed in: “The week that magazine came out, we would go to the newsagent to look at it on the shelf almost every day!” I snapped a photo of the magazine, and then Gary carefully folded it back up again, and put it away for safekeeping.
[The whole clan, oldest to youngest…
Back Row: Graham, Gary, Liz, Chantelle, Deby, Judy, Raelene.
Second Row: Darren, Tania, Tamara, Teresa, Tina, Vance, Jess (u cant see that well), Jamie (M), Jaimee (F).
Third Row: Cassie, Taylor, Kristie,Tenille, Chelsea, Renae.
Front Row: Kacee, Kaylem, Reece & Jarrad.]
The shoot began. First of all, everybody bunched in together organically, without any instructions. Bec fired off a volley of digital photos while I held up a light diffuser for her. Then she tried out various combinations: all the ladies, all the men, just the kids, various nuclear families, and so on, finishing off with the whole clan lined up in order of oldest to youngest. Everyone was very upbeat and happy to participate. I think it must have been quite special for the family to collectively show pride in such a direct way. (NB: the photographs I’ve linked to above are just my happy snaps. When Bec processes her shots, I have no doubt they will be far superior).
After the shoot, I sat down with Tania to write down everybody’s names and ages. I figured it’d be good to be able to match them up to the photos. But it wasn’t easy for me to get my head around. It went a bit like this:
“Well, let’s see, there’s Graham and Judy, Graham’s 57 and they’re partners. Judy’s 49, she’s the mum of Jaimee, but Graham’s not her dad. Jaimee’s a girl, she’s 18, but there’s another Jamie, spelt different, he’s a boy, 21 years old, and he and Tina (30) and Teresa (31) and Tamara (33) me (Tania, 34), we’re all the children of Deby and Gary, who are 54 and 51. Teresa and Vance (30) have Jarrad (10) and Chantelle (2), and Tania and Darren have Tenille (14), Renae (10), and Reece (8). Tina has a daughter called Taylor, who is 12. Tamara, she’s with Jamie (21), and they’ve got Kaylem (5) and Kacee (4). And then there’s Liz (51), who is Vance’s mum. Oh, and then Kristie (13) and Cassie (11) whose mum Judy died last year, Judy was Deby’s sister, so that makes Kristie and Cassie Deby’s nieces. Raelene (39) is Darren’s sister in law, and her kids aren’t here today. Darren’s sister, she also died a while back, her name was Shelly, and her daughter is Chelsea (15). Hmm. I’m not sure if we’ve got everyone…”
Ai caramba! I tried to construct a haphazard family tree to make things simpler. But I’m not sure that my scrawled genealogy really clarifies much at all…
The mood in the den was very laid back. Teresa, the cheeky one with frizzy blond hair, told me a story about last year’s concert. She was right up the front while the Angels were playing. She got up on her partner Vance’s shoulders and flashed her tits at the boys in the band.
For those unfamiliar with rock and roll culture, you need to understand that this practice of tit-flashing is a rock concert standard. It’s not a symptom of female subjugation under a patriarchal society. Rather, it seems to afford a voluntary moment of mutual aesthetic appreciation between heterosexual male performer and female audience member.
Of course, it may seem unfair that the whole thing is facilitated by the poor girl’s male partner, who is not only groaning under the weight of his flashing girlfriend, but is also in a worse position than any of the surrounding men if he wants to cop a look. But such are the sacrifices one must make in order to be graced by the gaze of the great.
“Anyway”, Teresa went on, “so I lift up my top and flash my tits at Buzz, the Angels drummer, I really like him, but he’s not looking my way. I keep hoping that he’ll glance up from his drum kit and see me, but he’s really concentrating on just playing the song. So I’m up there what seems like forever, and by now everyone except Buzz can see me, and all the guys in the crowd are turning around and taking photos of me on their phones, and I’m feeling like a real idiot. I start to pull my top down again but then Raelene says “Nah Teresa ya gotta keep going, he’ll look up in a sec” and then finally Buzz looks up and he grins and points at me with his drumstick and I can come back down again.”
During the photoshoot, and while all this adult talk was going on, an AC/DC mix CD was playing through the den’s crisp sound system. The kids would sing along when they had an idle moment, mouthing the words cheerfully, or chirping the sometimes very adult-themed lyrics in such an innocent way that it was hard to tell whether they really understood what they were singing.
Before we left, I nosed around and took a few shots of their collection of AC/DC stuff: a Highway to Hell stool; a set of AC/DC branded toy trucks (still in package); a chrome clock; a home-customised bench with a row of carefully stencilled skulls (by Vance); and even a batik quilt that Tina had designed and commissioned from a local craftsperson on a trip to Bali (“It only cost me $18 dollars, would you believe?”). Oh, and after my bourbon and coke, of course I had to visit the loo, where even the little dustbin was on fire.
We finished up our drinks and headed out to the bus stop to catch the 920 to Fremantle. It was damn hot out there, and I hid from the sun under the shelter with my adopted family. We waited. The bus took its sweet time. But spirits were high. We were on our way to the concert.