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The Adventures of Zoë

INXS & Midnight Oil passes

Chapter 2 -

In which Zoë meets the good guys and the bad guys of Aussie rock

Zoë has to swing by Mary's place to pick her up for the trip into the City. Mary isn't the easiest person to work with—she's not terribly attractive and overweight (not that that matters), but she's also a neurotic bundles of nerves as a result, one assumes, of her rather odd childhood (abusive father, mother turned lesbian—this in the days before it was either fashionable or readily accepted). But, hey, she works for free. Or, well, for the free passes into shows and the proximity to the stars that Zoë gets for her in exchange for her photos. And today Midnight Oil had just arrived from Australia to begin their first US tour.

So, off they speed on a lovely warm and sunny California afternoon, wondering what the night was going to bring. One just never knew in this business. After all, the Divinyls' manager had been rather snotty and stuck up.  You'd think they meant something to somebody here in the States....

"Isn't it interesting," Mary observes as they make the 50-mile trek up Highway 280, "how all it takes is for one band from some new place like Australia to have a hit, and suddenly you find out there are tons more from there?"

"Yeah, well," Zoë absentmindedly replies (she always finds it difficult to carry on small talk with others before going into an interview), "that's because all the record companies send their A&R guys out there to sign somebody, anybody, figuring there's something in the water, I guess."

And so it goes until they arrive at Wolfgang's, which, unfortunately, is in a part of the City where it's next to impossible to find a parking place where you won't be wheel clamped and/or towed and/or broken into.

"Well," Zoë shrugs, "let's see if we can get away with parking on the Safeway's lot. Let's just hope and pray nobody notices this car is still here when the store closes tonight.  After all, last time I parked in one of the alleys a few blocks away, I came out to find a window broken and my interview tapes stolen."

Now, all we have to do is walk into the club at three o'clock in the afternoon, in broad daylight, in our night-time rock'n'roll clothes, without feeling like idiots, hope that everyone we're supposed to meet is actually here, hope that my interview doesn't get bumped for some reason or other, hope that we don't accidentally get left off the show's guest list tonight, hope that I can talk the publicist and management into granting Mary a photo pass even though the record company said nobody is going to be granted a photo pass, hope that they let me talk to Peter Garrett and not sideline me with the drummer, whoever he is, hope that Peter Garrett actually is a decent interview (if I do get him), hope that my car's not been towed when I leave at about 2am…."

Peter Garrett/Midnight Oil c Mary Hendrick/Artist Publications

Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil
The Kabi, San Francisco, CA, 1983

photo © Ken Settle/Artist Publications

But everything's fine as she and Mary enter the club; after all, Zoë is known at the club and can usually just walk in at sound check anyway—unless the band's management has thought to specifically request that everybody be kept out (which, granted, can happen). But nothing prepares Zoë for what happens next, as the publicist from Rogers & Cowen, a notoriously picky guy who supposedly hates almost all journalists, rushes toward her, waving the magazine she publishes in the air and—wonder of wonders—exclaiming:

"This is great! It's intelligent and it has street credibility! Channel 5 has 10 minutes, the Chronicle has 10 minutes—but you have an hour, or as long as you want! Oh, and you can have the only photo pass, too."

"Wow!" Zoë thinks, stunned, "wouldn't it be wonderful if life was always like this? Now, let's just see if this good luck holds…"

And it does. The interview goes great—Peter Garrett really is the good guy of rock, very socially conscious and all—Mary is given her photo pass while the big-time professional photographer from the Chronicle has to hand his camera over to security, and the club quickly becomes very crowded—it's standing room only in this place unless you want to go upstairs, away from the excitement.

And who wants to be away from the excitement? "Excitement is my lifeblood," Zoë muses, as someone else steps on her toes. And then she finds herself staring into the most beautiful blue eyes…

"Can I get you a drink?" It's the Oils' manager who has her practically mesmerized—he has the most beautiful blue, come-hither eyes.... But, remembering the Aussies' reputation of being world-class drinkers, Zoë says sweetly, "Oh, thank you, I'll just have a Long Island Iced Tea."

And has to smile when he returns holding the tall glass, exclaiming, "My God, what is in this?"

"Oh, five different types of alcohol—and a teaspoon of Coke to make it look like tea," Zoë giggles. Unfortunately, the rest of the night is something of a blur and the next morning Zoë can't even remember how she got home, much less what happened to Mary!

But that doesn't stop her from meeting up with INXS when they hit town, soon after.

Michael Hutchence/INXS c Ken Settle/Artist Publications

Michael Hutchence of INXS

photo © Ken Settle/Artist Publications

This time, the interview is in the lobby of the Hotel Miyako—a  lovely place, where the suites even have hot tubs in the bathroom. The record company has assigned her Kirk Pengilly who is nice enough, but of course Zoë had been looking forward to Michael Hutchence…

Nevertheless, things are going well enough until a gaggle of barely teens discovers them. "Ooh, we found them, it's INXS," they squeal as they descend on what had been a nice, orderly interview.

And then one of them looks at Zoë: "Oh, my God, you're Zoë! You did that interview with Echo & The Bunnymen! I loved that!" "Oh, oh, what's Ian McCulloch really like," the rest chorus, as Kirk looks on, bemused.

"Uh, oh," Zoë thinks, "now he's going to get pissed off and not want to talk to me any more, I'll probably be crossed off the guest list tonight, the photo pass canceled…"

But no! Once again everything is totally cool. The show is great as Zoë watches from the VIP boxes at the Kabi Theatre, where Michael Hutchence prowls the stage, oozing sexuality.

Kirk even arranged for a backstage pass.

"Ooh," Zoë shivers, "I feel a jealous girlfriend glaring at my back, "I think I'll just move away from Kirk here for bit," and wanders over to one of the Ferris brothers.

"You know," he nods toward Kirk, "he's such a compulsive type that when we were crossing Australia from the East Coast to the West, we stopped in the middle of nowhere, out in the desert, and he pulls out all these little plastic boxes of food, all nicely chopped and prepared for cooking."

But it's still Michael Hutchence, the "wild man" of Aussie rock, Zoë wants to meet, and though stone cold sober this time, she screws up her courage. "He's talking to someone else, with his back toward me, but no problem. I'll just tap him on the shoulder and…."

"Hi!" a very drunk Michael grins as he turns around, and slowly pitches forward until the brim of his hat is resting against Zoë's forehead, "How are you?"

Interview with Midnight Oil next
History of INXS next


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