it turns out, Johnny / Vas is not put off sex at all, quite the
contrary. He turns out to be very precocious indeed, and this will
get his "dad" and
himself into serious trouble. The not exactly "white-knight-in-shining-armor" who
flies him down under is a dancer and socialite nicknamed Shamash. He is famous,
wealthy, and comes from a "good family".
one knows their secret, nor even Shamash's parents. This has its
disadvantages, to put it mildly, which I will not disclose
of spoiling the reader's
enjoyment. Vas grows up in the eighties (complete with pop culture
references, Grace Jones and Madonna) between his dad's beautiful
house in Paddington
(Sydney) and a private school away from the city. There are many
excellent pages about
Paddington and Darlinghurst and Oxford Street, where bourgeois
families rub elbows with debauched gays in search of cheap thrills.
of New York's Christopher Street. "Oxford Street. An escape
from the suburbs or a ghetto for local inhabitants?" (51):
shades of The Adventures of Priscilla
Queen of the Desert (Stephan Elliott, 1994), when Bernadette
wonders if Oxford Street happily protects gays and drag queens
from the homophobic
rather than unhappily locking them up in a pathetic ghetto. I
was slightly deterred at times, I must confess, by Drinnan's
sex, drugs, and prostitution
(I thought the prostitution was more restricted to another, more
rundown area of Sydney myself). He often seems to imply that
to this day, that
what Oxford Street is about. He makes little of Oxford Street's
drag pubs, which are
nonetheless one of its most persistent and popular attractions.
Call me naïve,
but every time I go to Sydney and my friends take me out clubbing,
I get the impression that many people are drug-free, not on a sex
rampage, and "just
wanna have fun". Maybe I simply haven't been shown the more
subterranean levels (figuratively and not figuratively speaking).
There are some hilarious
lines, like "girls who look like they've just walked off the
set of an Aaron Spelling production" (52), and he does describe
the nocturnal atmosphere very strikingly:
/ Vas is a "Lolito", undoubtedly. "What is
childish sensuality and sexuality? We imagine that somehow it just
comes into being some time, conveniently,
around the age of consent." (63) Who, if anyone, is
really to blame when Johnny "seduces" a grownup,
wonders Drinnan. That is one of the numerous controversial
questions he asks in Glove Puppet.
But I must stop here, and let the reader discover the rest.
Drinnan is no Nabokov,
he has a style
all his own, and many more years of success ahead, I trust.
Again, my only minor reproach is that he sometimes unduly
the sordid (as a
as when he writes: "[He drives past] all the other Saturday
night casualties, past the bottles, vomit, syringes, condoms
and dog shit that jostle for space
on the Darlinghurst streets." He should see the streets
of any large French provincial city: the dog shit on the
sidewalks of Sydneyas indeed remarkably
everywhere in Australiais very sparse. This past
sentence was need I add my attempt at metaphor-swinging,
statistics also make for interesting comparisons.
For those of our readers not so versed in feminism, Germaine Thingummy (Germaine Whatshername) is of course Germaine Greer. Further revelations and sadness follow, with more Oxford Street antics and tragic-comic statements about Australian gay and straight life. I would have preferred a happier ending, but presumably that has more to do with my love of things schmaltzy than with literary criticism. It is a pity that Drinnan's two booksplus Pussy's Bow (1999)are not yet widely available in the UK and the US, but you can always order them from www.gleebooks.com.au if you don't find them at your local bookstore.