Pixie Sweatby Sacha Knox, images by Yusuf Laher / 12.08.2010
The first time I went to Origin I was picked up by the back of my dress and thrown out the door by a bouncer three times my size. I had accidently taken the fact that about five people were smoking on the lower balcony as a signal that this was the smoking section. Instead of spitting and swearing, I twisted my neck back in apology but the meaty tower would have none of it. Wait. I lied. I did swear never to return. I’ve made good on my promise even when lurking about the pub below on metal night (I hate metal nights), and longingly glancing up at a treacle trail of pretties heading in to the sweaty euphoria of gay night (much more fun when I’m craving some cheese). On Saturday however, I was glad to break my stubborn “rule” and succumb to the allure of Boo! reunited. Decidedly dressed down this time, I claimed my name at the door with a smile that curled up at the sides like an old sandwich. Most of my friends had gone to Oppi or couldn’t “afford” the entry cost but a few of the regular punks still congregated on the fake grass carpet upstairs. None of the downstairs kids had latched on to what was happening upstairs! Not even out of curiosity, but then again, they wouldn’t have got in, even if they had tried. Boo! was before their time and I’m suddenly aware of my age.
My wingman in Mudbox, armed with a new set of teeth and a spring in his step. I lose him early on to the music I’m avoiding. When I head down to the basement where Boo! will be playing, my old philosophy lecturer is standing on a platform, gyrating to swing. Next to him is an old man in khaki shorts and socks, a cowboy hat and a button-up butterfly shirt, similarly jiving (and that is, in this context, a perfectly apt word). In fact, the whole room is already heaving and impossibly full.
When Chris Chameleon takes to the stage in an industrial looking one piece. Everything about him makes me think of Vince Noir from The Mighty Boosh (but with less impressive hair) and everything else becomes a strange caricature. Whistling excitedly to my right is an old woman with long black hair and too many sequins, to my left, pretty young lesbian girls are kissing. Everyone’s too close and everyone’s smiling. My friend Carrie’s first words are, “Wow he’s aged! I used to have such a crush on him,” but she still breaks out her dance moves in her two-inch heels.
Everyone wants to know if Boo! still have it and the crowd is slightly fickle. They dig all the old songs with funk rhythms and alien voices but back away slightly from the operatic ballads. Is it just me, or is every song a love song? Ampie Omo is a virtuoso. He’s the only guy I’ve seen perform who can make a triangle look cool. And he’s on top form tonight. Riaan has a thick chain and a tight Pink T-shirt and I can’t get past the weird things he does with his mouth and tongue every time he hits a drum. They’re tight and even Miss Chameleon, every once in a while, inadvertently cracks her wide eyed, statuesque performance with a small stoked smile. I see a friend I haven’t seen for ages, irony dancing with her bum in the crotch of the boy behind her and I’m putting my takkies to good use. I’m really glad they aren’t playing on a big stage at Oppie and even gladder that I’m here.
As Boo! Break into song in a mixture of Beegies, Nirvana and Elvis Presley styles, with performance to match, the crowd gets tighter and Lappies, who has been jumping in the middle of the crowd throughout, goes even crazier. I have the hair of an ex-girlfriend of an ex-boyfriend (doused in too much vanilla) bristling up and down in my face but I don’t care, I’m having fun and forgetting all the song names. I stay that way, until I realize that the vanilla’s moved off; there’s more space now and while the die-hard fans are still going at it, the rest are dancing less. It’s a strange mix of cynicism and abandonment.
I have a special place in my heart for the off-beat but Carrie’s pulling a thumbs-down and disappearing up the stairs. That’s cool. More room for the weirdos. It’s even cooler that Pixie Bennet leaves with her entourage as Claire Angelique arrives, fur over shoulder and a friend with more piercings in her face than I can count. I guess you either love Boo! or hate it and that the social politics of sweating to sounds sung by a multi-gendered, makeup laden and glitter-spangled she-man have unfortunately changed for some. But I’m still dancing and thinking it’s really cool to hear a popular act minus the usual generic American accent. I wish the kids knew that Magic of Pegasus was a throwback and that Gary Newman can be cool in a local context. I wish they were here to see it, maybe then I wouldn’t have winced so hard at the comment flung out from behind:
“They kinda remind me of Qkumba Zoo.”
*All images © Yusuf Laher / Dude Photography.