I love breaking convention and try something different, unusual. That pretty much sums up my new book Opportunities. It revolves the around the lives of three mature aged women that work in a an Opportunity Shop (Thrift Store) in a country town. Who writes about mature aged women? I read somewhere that it was taboo, so of course I couldn’t resist.
Opportunities started as a short story I began to write just for fun. Then two of the characters from The Road to Engle Byen wanted to join in on the action. Who was I to refuse them a role in this book. Enter Easton and Dylan. They arrived in town and met the women that work in the Op Shop. Taking the lead from the men that are unashamedly in love, the women begin to question the guarded way they have been living their lives. The world has changed for the better, they no longer have to hold onto their old fashioned values and lifestyles or do they?
Of course someone finds themselves transported to Engle Byen, except this time they know.
This story will be an e-book and printed editions due for release in November 2018.
Brisbane bound. With a suitcase and a handful of Madonna CD’s I relocated to the ‘Sunshine State’ Queensland. I’d never been to Brisbane before, there was work on offer and I wouldn’t be alone. I moved there with some friends/work colleagues/friends. I left a bustling nightlife and cosmopolitan lifestyle but I was free of the cold, dark and often lonely Melbourne.
I’d heard Brisbane was like being transported back in time by ten years and it was full of homophobes. That all turned out to be true. Everyday felt like a ‘holiday’, I loved where I worked and despite labelling the newcomers ‘Mexicans’ (that’s Queensland talk for people from the southern states) the locals were so friendly and welcoming. The lifestyle was laid back.
There was one gay club ‘Options’ also known as ‘Slop-tions.’ And one gay bar, I rarely went there. It catered for the more mature, red checker flannel shirt brigade that enjoyed swelling beer. It’s still there today, but I won’t name it as I’m sure it’s changed since then. Brisbane was a lot gayer than I’d expected, despite the state government’s reputation of being fiercely homophobic. Living in Brisbane was the only time anyone had ever called out homophobic remarks to me in the street.
SEX. Banned! I had difficulty getting my head around this. The Queensland government banned Madonna’s SEX book from sale in Queensland! All the dinosaurs that ran the state were up in arms about something they hadn’t even seen. As we all know that book was a beautiful work of art, not some sleazy magazine that you could by freely in any adult bookstore. It went on to being one of the top selling books in the world and reviltalised flagging books sales at every bookstore that sold it. Bad luck Queensland! I had to illegally import my copy on the black market from Melboure.
I was the happiest I’d been my whole life in Brisbane. I’d shed my skin, I no longer had to be the boy everyone wanted me to be. I could be who I wanted to be. I felt such freedom. Even though I loved my parents dearly, the break from them was liberating. With a smaller pool of men to choose from compared to Melbourne, I felt I would be more opportunity for ‘the one’ to find me. I was ready to meet and fall in love with a beautiful man from Brisbane. We would live together in a beautiful Queenslander house with a pool and a white picket fence. Oddly when people met me they would ask if I was from Melbourne. I’d ask them why they thought that. They all answered with the same response, ‘we don’t have clothes like that in Brisbane.’ What? It was bizarre, I had time travelled. It wasn’t like I was asking for a potato cake instead of a scallop, (though I did that too)
I went to a dance part and was wearing denim shorts with the top button undone and zip slightly down, the CK underwear poking out the top (remember that look a’la Marky Mark) To me it was nothing, the trend was catching on in Melbourne, but Brisbane had never seen the likes of it. I was taken aback by the number of responses I recieved they were shocked at what I was wearing, even though I was at a gay dance party! I was mocked every time I wore a white Bonds singlet in public, ‘only old men wear them’ they’d say. Yeah bitch, and next year you’ll be dressing like me. And they did (well perhaps a few years after that). I became used to the culture shock and small-minded mentality. I didn’t find me a beautiful husband in Brisbane, and after much agonising (well a little) it was time to move back to Melbourne.
Finally, it’s happening to me. After kissing a lot of frogs, I fell in love. He was handsome, had a beautifully chiselled face, dark eyes. Intelligent, confident and full of grandiose ideas. We found a flat in the gay capital of Melbourne and moved in together. This time I know it’s for real. Everything was going well, we had some ups and of course some downs. He once asked if I still loved him, I said….wait for it…..’Borderline.’ I felt like I was going to lose my mind.
After a few months cheating began. I’d never been so in love or so hurt before. As my inner Madonna kicked in, I left. Madonna didn’t raise me to be taken advantage of, she raised me to be a strong confident person. Without her I may have still been a doormat. I always saw the best in everyone I was really easy going and was often taken advantage of, though I didn’t see it at the time. The vulnerable weak willed all forgiving boy next door type had left his shell and put himself first. After he left my life, something incredible came into it. Come on Vogue. One of the best Madonna songs. I tried not to play it, I tried real hard. I knew that song and the Dick Tracy soundtrack were going to etch this difficult time forever into my mind. In years to come I feared Vogue would be ruined by this memory.
It was a cold dark winter, I felt deep pain, like a slash across my stomach with a knife but I Vogued on through it. Our friends had become friends with each other. I kept bumping into him at nightclubs. He seemed happy, I tried as hard as I could to pretend the same. Ironically, we ended up dancing to this song.
He was back in my life. I forgave and forgot. It only lasted a few months until it was over again. I felt better this time, I knew it just wasn’t meant to be.
‘When you know the notes to sing’ Brisbane bound. With a suitcase and a handful of Madonna CD’s I relocated to the ‘Sunshine State’ Queensland.
Why can’t you be like the other boys? You’re too skinny. You’re too quiet. You’re shy. You’re ugly. You’re girlie. Poof. Pansy. That’s just a sample of what I endured during my formative teenage years. Oddly is was ok to tell someone they were too skinny as opposed to calliing someone fat. I can’t recall any positive comments anyone ever made to me. I had zero self-confidence, I felt shunned, outcast, unwanted by anyone but my own family. I stayed inside my shell, it was safe in there.
It took Madonna to make me slowly come out of that shell. I admired her strength and courage. She embraced her difference and f*ck what anybody else thought. Her famed soared over the next few years. Being proudly and defiantly different is what made her popular (and her music too of course). During the 80’s there were a plethora of diverse artists, too many to mention. They too all played a part in influencing, changing and shaping me. For this blog post though I am focusing on the single biggest influence on me, Madonna.
As the years went by I found myself in a gay nightclub. I was in my early 20’s and never been kissed. Still living at home, I would bid my parents farewell as I headed off in my car into the night leaving behind my persona as the clean-cut boy next door. Neatly hidden in the boot of my car I kept my escapee clothes. The clothes weren’t too out there, but no doubt not to mother’s liking. Transforming from the awkward clean-cut boy next door to a confident, bright, flirtatious male version of Madonna. This club played all the best music, all the music I loved. When ‘Into the Groove’ was played, I was my own version of Madonna in the video clip. I flirted and teased all the boys, let them think they had a chance and then move on (mainly because I was scared, but they didn’t know that).
They wanted to be with me, ugly, skinny, shy, girlie me. These were my people, I felt comfortable and I fitted in. We all had something in common, I was surrounded by other gay people just like me. I embraced being a creature of the night. I had plenty of energy, I would dance all night, my only fuel was the music and a glass of coke. I had the confidence to walk into this club on my own, I wasn’t actually alone, I was with Madonna.
It wasn’t love at first sight. There was a plethora of music shows on Australian television during this time. It was on one of these shows that I first laid my eyes on this flouncy girl dancing in a choreographed routine on stage with two backing dancers. Throwing her arms around in the air, jumping up and down. Her long waving hair falling over her face despite it being loosely tied back into a ponytail. She sang a song I found irritating and boring. Holiday. Blah!
After seeing this video a few times it still did nothing for me. After enduring it yet again, at the end of the clip the television presenter mentioned another song by her and showed a short clip of it. That clip was Burning Up, her name was Madonna. Confusion reigned as I tried to reconcile that this girl was that girl. That faceless girl that sang that amazing song I’d fallen in love with on late night radio. It couldn’t be I thought, the songs were completely different.
The Burning Up video began to receive airplay, it was to be her next single. This Madonna girl was rolling around on a road, sexy and playful. I promptly rushed out and bought the 12” remix version, playing it over and over again. Her grainy black and white image on the cover, the choker chain around her neck. The gazillion bracelets and studded wrist bands she wore threw me over the edge. This is Madonna, not that girl flinging her arms in the air singing that awful Holiday song.
I was sitting in the hairdressers one sunny Saturday afternoon and heard something that piqued my attention. It was a song called Lucky Star, next was Borderline, then Burning Up! I had an endorphin rush. Madonna? My Madonna? Song after song captured my attention. Side two started. Ugh! Holiday. I was never an LP buyer, due to so many dud songs they usually contained. Shortly after I had that LP. I played it over and over and over again. Madonna oozed confidence. In interviews she came across as intelligent, self-assured, cocky, brass, sassy, and sexy, she knew what she wanted. Embracing being different, constantly defending herself to the media that kept trying to pull her down. I got her, I understood her. I wanted to be just like her!