The prequel to Engle Byen – A Place to Call Home, finds Michael living in his penthouse apartment in a leafy inner-city suburb of Melbourne, Australia. After the unsolved murder of his identical twin brother Zac, he embarks on a quest to find the killer. Michael’s usual happy go lucky personality is put to the test in a series of incidents of mistaken identity.
A bright light amongst all the grief and confusion is Paul, his parent’s gardener. Michael felt an instant attraction to Paul and it didn’t take long for Paul to succumb to Michael’s goofy charm.
Paul harbours a past he isn’t proud of and doesn’t want to reveal. Having worked through his issues, his life is back on track.
Michael’s best friend Dylan, a doctor by profession and a snob by choice doesn’t hide his dislike of Paul. Paul meets up with some friends from his past tempting him back into his former life. Paul creates unwanted drama in every aspect of Michael’s life, but Michael has a kind and forgiving heart which will change him forever.
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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!
Lying in bed in the dark fiddling with a knob, suddenly I take my hand off it. I feel a prick in my ears which shoots over my body. Overcome with endorphins I feel a sudden need to ejaculate, (to utter suddenly and briefly; exclaim. What were you thinking!!) Bright, energetic, bubbly, high-energy dance music enlightens my ears through the headphones. The sound travels between each of my ears in clean, crisp, clear FM stereo.
What is this new sound I’m hearing I wonder? I feel something inside me click and connect with the sounds and the voices. My first time hearing dance music on the newly created FM Stereo network. I push down the Play and Record buttons simultaneously to capture this sound on cassette. I try to be selective as to which songs I record as the blank cassette is nearly full.
I hear extended dance versions of a few songs I am vaguely familiar with in the shorter version format. This nearly sends me over the edge. I hear extra verses and different arrangements. New musical sounds pop and crackle like a coffee peculator. I’m drawn to it like it’s a big shiny disco ball (not that I’d ever seen one yet). After a song I later learn to be Hazel Dean’s Jealous Love another song is mixed into it. This one is a standout for me. The vocals are sexy, urgent, pleading, the music has me wanting to dance in the sheets. I’ve never heard anything like it before. A few weeks later I discover that the track was called Burning Up by a girl named Madonna.
Next post: Who Popped My Cork Part Five. Madonna and Me – The Early Years.