Recently I received a request to exhibit the Portrait I took of Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue by the Performing Arts Centre in Melbourne (15th November 2014 - 29th March 2015). This is after the picture had some airtime on the Nick Cave film 20, 000 Days on Earth.
Numerous times people have asked about the picture. Here is a small excerpt from the story of that night which will be in my book 'Bathing Whiskey'.
26th January 1996
'Has to be said ..the crowd go fucking nuts when Kylie walks on stage and this showbiz alchemy weaves it’s disbelief .
I begin to doubt my plans for the night and realize I’m out of beer. Nick's show continues but I walk away. The frustrations and inner dialogue of the day beginning to fatigue as I head to the bar. Backstage I finally bump into Mark (Mordue), he’s extremely merry and clearly having a great time with his new found love. He’s intent on trying to cheer me up, sensing my disappointment. He grabs my camera bag and slings it over his shoulder .
‘Come on give up'! He barks ‘Porno for Pyros are about to start. Lets go out the front and have funnnn …’ And off he marches with my prized camera. We get up close to the stage and I’m all the time telling myself, never mind you tried ….Mark’s clearly been in the thick of the chaos all day and he and his date are pretty fried.
‘Porno’s’ come on and the place explodes. I’m really trying to join in searching myself for an eruption, a tremor. I am stirred by the moment sure. I love this band! But I still can’t let it go. It’s still there. Mark looks around and is clearly unsettled by my mood .
‘C ’mon cheer up ‘he commands as he starts jumping up and down. I realize he still has my camera bag dangling off his back and now it’s bouncing around swinging wildly.
Watching that makes my mind up for me. I get it back off him and decide I’m going to try to get into the artists entrance by any means necessary. My determination levels rise again and I feel re-inspired to the challenge, leaving behind the defeatist attitude and my friends oblivious in their moshpit.
As I arrive to the entrance I see Mick Harvey and call out his name. Much to my surprise he remembers me and my name.
‘Gerald what are you doing?’
(I had done a portrait session with Mick for Mark and Australian Style two weeks previous for his release of english translation Serge Gainsbourg covers).
‘I’m here to do a portrait of Nick’.
‘Well come with me then’.
I explain to him I don’t have the correct pass so I can’t go back there. He looks to me puzzled and assures me ‘You get a pass and I’ll introduce you’ and off he trundles. Instantly I spot a guy I vaguely know wearing said pass. Poor guy didn’t know what hit him. I’m in his face and removing his pass from around his neck explaining I only need it for a short while. Thankfully he doesn’t protest and I pass through the border patrol to the promised land. I march towards their tent area and the jovial mood is spilling from. Scanning I relocate Mick and approach him. As soon as he can he’s gone and back again presenting me to Nick Cave. Nick looks to me approvingly as Mick relates his portrait experience with me. As Mick is doing this Nick starts to yell out at the top of his lungs…’KYYY LEEEE!’ Suddenly Kylie Minogue appears and smiles her million dollar smile while all these fellows are hovering around pointing video cameras at the exchange. Nick rifles through a cardboard box and pulls out a child’s baby doll, there is a selection in the box and he seems satisfied with his choice. He looks to me, grins and says ‘Where do you want us?’
I squint and the brightest light source makes itself obvious. I point to inside the tin shed porta home and encourage the choice. The light source is one single flouro, I take a light reading and realize at best I’ll have to hold the camera still for a 1/4 of a second. We all position ourselves ready for the exchange and I take a few quick slugs from my can for luck. All the time the film crew hovering. The Polaroid stock weaves it’s magic as I follow the alchemy instructions. I pass the results to Nick and both he and Kylie look approvingly. Nick then shows the picture to the film camera. I grab the remnants of my can and throw it down.
Our little scene quickly dissipates but I stick close to Nick and ask if I can take a portrait of him by himself. He complies and we get beer together and join the others. I tell him I used to be a DJ in 1985 and ramble on about how Birthday Party was a firm dance floor favourite. He laughs ‘Stop it! You’re making me feel old!’ The guy whose pass I am wearing appears out of the darkness and demands it back.. Damm.
The music festival is in full swing and the crowd noise becomes overwhelming as Porno for Pyros finish their set. I decide to play my hand and say to Nick ‘thanks, I’m off to visit Perry now’ He smiles his slap stick smile and I chuckle as it is at this point that I realise all his undead antics are designed to provoke the teen spirit. He just has a wicked sense of humour. Why people take him seriously for ‘the prince of darkness’ only adds spice to his demeanour.