NICK: Running a full-scale gallery installation clearly wasn’t enough for us to be doing at a one-day festival, so Art Not Apart also featured the spiritual sequel to The Babyfreeze VIP Fan Cruise Of Lake Burley Griffin. The Babyfreeze VIP Fan Club Champagne Breakfast took place from 2pm-3pm (Rock Star Breakfast Time) in a tiny room at the National Film and Sound Archive. Champagne-like beverages were served to the crowd by Erin, who had joined the band as Bartender mere moments before the set started (SHOUT OUTS TO ERIN) and unsettling amounts of Impractical Dance Floor Food was passed around the writhing crowd. I ate as much barbecue chicken and pickles as I could while still actually singing the songs, much to the horror of all assembled. Handsome Luke’s plot-twist transition to Hollywood Handsome Luke (after having several of his songs optioned as film ideas) caused the set to devolve into a (super-dance-able) relationship crisis that as usual was solved in the nick of time by an emotion-drenched 6-minute-plus rendition of Defenceless (Loved Each Other). Trendoid delighted the crowd by finally tucking into his breakfast pinata. The audience as usual made the entire event by partying like mad under the most ridiculous conditions we’ve asked from them yet. This kind of positive reinforcement can lead to nothing good.
8 hours later I was lip-synching to Heart’s How Do I Get You Alone in full drag as part of my recurring role as part of the Sound And Fury Ensemble. The Art Not Apart edition of S&F was themed around the word ‘heart’, producer Cheneoh Miller couldn’t have known just how much I love that song when she assigned it to me. Doing lip-sync drag felt like and odd and frankly problematic challenge to be taking up on a bill that also included some top-flight Actual Drag Queens as well as some of Australia’s best queer performance artists, but for better or worse the crowd response to my little bit was super-warm.
Much meatier for me was an hour later when I got to actually sing Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box backed by violin and guitar. I’ve always considered it to be a modern torch song and so doing it in drag felt really right (though I took the wig off for it to indulgently live out my Hedwig-at-the-end-of-the-movie-fantasy. Yes I am an amoral perfomance-art fuckhole). It was genuinely a big challenge to live up to what I thought could be done with such a great, iconic song, the threat of campy vapidness loomed every second. The actual performance felt like a high-wire act, an athletic/artistic challenge that I loved every second of. You’d have to find someone who was there to find out whether I actually pulled it off or not.