Heaps Gay Masqueerade - Sunday 3rd September
Feel dusty today. I hosted a dinner party in my backyard in Petersham last night. I clean forgot to think about music. But there’s always the friend who has a hits of the 90’s playlist, and who gifts you a banana lamp.
“We need to turn it down now,” I hassled, full of party-angst, as a neighbour stared down at us from her window like an Edward Hopper figure.
“LET THEM CALL THE POLICE,” he was urgent with desire to stir shit up, to have a goddamn Saturday night.
But that was last night, and with that party now long behind us we start our evening at Kings Cross Theatre for a Sunday matinee. I sip a beer through the show and by the end it’s warm in my hands.
Stepping out into the empty street, a 14 year old asks us to cheer his friend on while he films him doing a kickflip on his phone under the Coke sign. The brightest lights now emanate from the kebab shop. Kings Cross is quiet and I feel weird and sad.
We uber to the HPG Festival Hub. The driver won’t drop us outside – it’s now one way due to construction – so we get out and walk through the silent industrial neighbourhood. Then, in the distance, we see a vision, a Gatsby-esque Green Light: an illuminated headdress of condoms, a 60’s mini dress and a belt of globes. We have arrived.
The door crew welcome us, and tell us that tonight we’re supposed to be someone else. They ask for our favourite words. “Brioche”, I blurt out in a panic. Inside, Marcus tells me his word was “chest”. We admit these are not our favourite words. We resolve to think further on this in the future.
I wander past an open caravan with a flat screen telly and a bed in it, past a circular laser-light installation, towards the stage. Lupa J is haunting, and a small but devoted contingent of festival-goers huddle and vibrate, absorbing her pulse.
I take a seat in a tiny projector cinema playing an art film on loop. It features a woman in a red dress in different landscapes, frozen, then disappearing ghost-like into the floor. All that remains are her massive shoes. A dance party throbs behind us while a drum thunders somewhere in the distance, perhaps between the giant neon Y and D of “SYDNEY”.
There’s a kind of greco-roman ritual happening across the space – a circle of sheer, white sheets, within which women cover their own and each other’s bodies with white clay, washing their skin in water. It is guileless and beautiful, a moving sculpture.
Now I’m watching an installation that feels secret and dystopian, a figure covered face-to-toe in a black dust suit, carrying buckets across an emergency tape line. Transfixed, we are joined by a guy clad in bondage. Sidling up, he points to the figure and says, “I’m guessing this isn’t part of the work?”
I reply, “Oh, I was guessing it was!”
We all feel embarrassed and confused. The mesh man hugs us both, long and slow. I can feel his pulse in his neck. We feel better.
We are the last three on Ayebatonye’s dance floor.
Everyone here is working hard to crack open the chest of the city, get to the red beating heart.
Everyone here has a good crowbar and some serious elbow grease.
Written by Eleni Schumacher