Published January 10, 2004
4.30pm: We were somewhere around Albury at the edge of Victoria when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like, ‘I feel a bit lightheaded – maybe you should drive’. And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going at about a hundred kilometers an hour with the top down to St Kilda.
My assignment seemed simple, in theory. Interview the infamous anarchic electro-punk duo, the Midnight Juggernauts. See the show, take the free drugs, get the story. Indeed.
Sydney, 2pm: I meet my subjects in a dark hotel bar in downtown Sydney, notepad in one hand, warm Bloody Mary in the other.
There’s been a change of plans. As Gadaffi procures keys for a two-bit rental car, Noriega explains they have to go to Melbourne pronto to play some kind of warehouse party at midnight (of course). Am I in? Sure, hey I’m the editor, man. Exploit those privileges.
6.20pm: Gadaffi drives with the reckless abandonment of a punk-rock vampire – pale skin shimmering as we overtake overweight truck drivers in a whirlwind of burnt rubber and speed cameras be damned. The speed we took just two hours earlier balances the continual swigging of vodka nicely. Surprisingly, this feels normal. We try and paint our toenails black. Soundtrack: ‘Secret Messages’, ELO.
8.10pm: A failed shortcut sets us back – Gadaffi’s insistence he ‘knows these roads like a lover’ proving inevitably false. First break: Drinking black coffee at a roadhouse and smoking stale rollies under a sprawling night sky.
Noriego: I smoked my first cigarette when I was 12, in a whorehouse in Paris.
Gadaffi: That’s a filthy lie you dumb fuck. It was in Texas. We were both in Texas.
Noriego: [long pause]. I’m hungry. Let’s make a fire.
10.45pm: The open road begins to give way to the filthy edges of suburban Melbourne. As traffic lights begin to slow our incessant speed we smoke too tightly rolled joints and I quiz the two on when they first met. As Noriega slices a grapefruit with a large hunting knife – dinner – he tells me of a psychic connection over obscure 80s producers, the name Georgio Moroder repeated several times. Earlier incarnations such as Dragonlord, Mig 15s and Bleeding Walls are also mentioned. He talks in a low murmur, maintaining an intimidating eye contact that’s hypnotically sexual. As we almost hit a stray dog, Noriego realizes with a thoughtful calm he doesn’t have directions to the party, chewing slowly on a blotter of acid.
12.00am: We’re lost.
12.13am: We’re still lost, doing lines of cheap bikie speed off the front of a book on astrophysics Noriego “swears by”. Soundtrack: ‘Looking For Clues’, Robert Palmer
12.37am: We screech into a drive-through bottle shop and disengage from the beast to enquire about the location of an unknown, underground party. The hoped for outcome here seems vague.
The boys both move with a toned down rock star stagger – again the phrase ‘vampire’ seems to resonate. In their long black coats, wild hair and (lets face it) fuck-off good looks, the two cut a formidable figure.
The sales assistant is a young girl named Mandy. Twenty-five going on 16.
Noriego: Is Mandy short for Amanda?
Mandy: No. It’s just Mandy.
Noriego: Huh. That’s weird.
Gadaffi: [babbling] We’re looking for a party. The party, we’re looking for the party. We’re supposed to play at THE party – do you know where it is, where the party is? Mandy? [yelling] Mandymandymandy!!
Noriego: You’re incredibly beautiful. What’s your phone number?
He pulls some paper and a pen out of his pocket. It’s the flyer. We jump back in the car. On the stereo: ‘Reign in Blood’, Slayer.
1.17am: The minute we get to the party I feel like I’ve become an extra in The Crazy Acid-Soaked Punk Circus Movie – the type of underground hit that might have starred an assortment of Brat Packers if we were located in 1982. What makes me realize its 2005? People are actually doing meth. Cultural cringes aside, the candlelit alleyway\abandoned warehouse thing is working for me.
Gadaffi and Noriega are whisked off to some ritual involving a sound check or tequila shots, by a midget with piercing green eyes.
2.09am: I’ve made a new friend, Cindy. Cindy is a doll-pretty Virgo dressed in pink who loves Bret Easton Ellis and whose boyfriend “is always on tour, so he doesn’t mind”, as her hand snakes around my waist. We watch the show together, front and centre, her lips occasionally playing on my neck.
It’s sweaty, dirty explosion of electro rock: This could be a soundtrack to Lost Boys 2 or any cyberpunk fairytale. Its New Order turned nasty – there’s something about this music that’s dangerous, unpredictable.
3.30am: The party moves to a dimly-lit club nearby called Sofies. Couches, lamps, a jukebox that seems to only have the Rolling Stones on it. The next few hours are a blur – like a movie watched half asleep and only half remembered. Key images: A midget doing a jig on an unsteady card table, amid shouts of laughter and drunken sea shanties. A packet of cocaine being passed around, lines off the flat stomach of a surprisingly smart underwear model who speaks Latin. Everyone argues over whether a seahorse is a fish or a mammal, for what seems like hours. Everyone dances to ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. Everyone makes out to ‘Satisfaction’. Flaming shots illuminate grinning faces, briefly, devilish and from another world.
6.15am: As the night begins to lose battle with the coming day, the three of us slouch back to someone’s apartment [I’m still not sure who]. I shower, feeling burnt out yet somehow refreshed. In the bathroom, a framed portrait of Bjork eyes me curiously.
We all curl up on a warm, yellow king size bed, a mess of tired limbs, and as I fall asleep Gadaffi whispers to me that they’ve never actually been to Texas.