Penny Rimbaud interview

I’ve been approached by a number of people regarding my interview with CRASS founder, musician and author Penny Rimbaud, so here it is – #4 on the list.

My experience with Penny was interesting. I found him colourful – a shockingly handsome man – but also fundamentally patriarchal, typical of his generation in this respect. Penny sees himself as evolved, but his body language, use of space, and much of his ideology amounts to the usual half-baked Summer of Love platitudes dressed up to seem radical: same old. I go into significantly more detail about this in my book, Apple: Sex, Drugs, Motherhood and the Recovery of the Feminine, not about Penny in particular, but the beliefs to which he subscribes.

We need people like Penny – colour and energy and music are fundamental to a meaningful society – but philosophically speaking, he’s not particularly relevant. Having said that, I loved the way he really makes an effort to understand existence. And his aesthetic is glorious.

Photograph by John Gentile

HE was a married literary giant, SHE was a teenage writer he seduced …

“If he had photographed me without my consent I could have legal recourse, yet I am expected to shrug off this repeated use of me as the basis for his most iconic female characters …”

From my story about Martin Amis’ exploitation of our five-year relationship.

Why did I write it? Because Phoebe Phelps was, for me, the end: closure.


Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times // new review

From my review of Robert Muchembled’s Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times, out today in The Weekend Australian:

“The sense of smell is also thought to be responsible for feelings of love, a drive understood by researchers as a form of ‘olfactory ecstasy’. Olfactory fingerprints – or ‘smellprints’ – are unique in both constitution and impact, causing us to be ‘literally led by the nose’ to the beloved. The rightness of a signature smell releases floods of hormones, committing it to memory” 🍎

Still of Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche from Chocolat.

Meals Matter // new review

From my review of Meals Matter: A Radical Economics through Gastronomy, by Michael Symons, out in The Weekend Australian today:

“Rejecting the Platonic abstraction of human appetites, Symons argues that it is in the fundamentally Epicurean restoration of simplicity that human beings can again find meaning and happiness. Neoliberalism, he writes, corrupted liberalism. Nineteenth century economists reframed healthy impulses as greed. The social sciences, too, ‘joined philosophy in dismissing eating and drinking as unworthy’ even though political philosophy and economics are, as he points out, founded on the question of how we should feed ourselves and one another …” 🍎

Photograph by Ellen von Unwerth

The inhuman face

From my lead review of philosopher @marion___zilio‘s glorious new book Faceworld, in today’s Weekend Australian Review:

“Zilio wonders if the ‘return’ of the mask – as symbolised by the filtered, edited selfie – heralds a deepening unease borne of ‘the proliferation and exponential diffusion of faces since the invention of photography.’ And then there is this: masks liberate their wearers, creating a space in which judgment is suspended. In the place of self-knowledge, the mask issues a command for self-completion. We may start with a selfie, she writes, and create ourselves from there.” 🍎

Kylie Jenner on and off Instagram

My interview with Marilyn Manson #throwbacksunday

Below, an excerpt from my interview with alt rock star Marilyn Manson, whom I interviewed in 2007. Here he calmly discusses choking, spitting at and hitting his mother. I’m actually writing about this sort of thing at the moment in my new book Apple: Sex, Motherhood and the Recovery of the Feminine, which will be published early next year.

Manson sounded relatively sedated throughout the interview and only became annoyed once, for which I was thankful. Other than the domestic violence towards his mother, substance abuse, general perversity and abusive incidents involving minorities, he was actually kind of charming.

You can find the full interview in MOUTH, my anthology of interviews with an assortment of scoundrels, wastrels, monsters and heroes.

MOUTH is available as an ebook here and through all the international branches of Amazon 🍎

Marilyn Manson interview © Antonella Gambotto-Burke

Cover shot by Quentin Bacon

Dead From the Heart Up / Gavin Ldn

“That doesn’t fly with me –
The gear, the green, the infinity pools
You’re dead from the heart up,
Embalmed in a sarcophagus of cool …”

From Dead From the Heart Up, my very first song with Gavin Ldn, music by the wonderful Alex McGowan – aka Captain Future – from The Future Shape of Sound. So subscribe subscribe subscribe and send it as a gift to someone you love – or used to love – during lockdown.

I draft the vocals for my next song in the studio next week (music by John Robb of postpunk heroes the Membranes).

Lockdown has been complicated for every musician I know – no more crowds or live performances – but we’re all working a way through it.

The good news? It has allowed me to passionately focus on my upcoming book, Apple: Sex, Drugs, Motherhood and the Recovery of the Feminine, which will be published early next year. More on Apple soon 🍎

Woody + Mia: A Hitchcockian take on Abelard and Heloise

“Farrow’s response to their affair was agonised but also calibrated. By focusing on Allen, she didn’t have to address the far more threatening narrative contained in her daughter’s choice of partner: that Soon-Yi did not like, love or respect Farrow and may have had good reason for doing so …”

Homeschool on lockdown like a boss (even when you feel like a total failure)

Last year I instructed my daughter to write a critique of the Oscar-winning Vittorio De Sica film Two Women. When we reached the rape scene, she said, ‘I don’t think this is PG, Mama.’ It was rated R. ‘Oh, well,’ I said. ‘The sex is contextual.’ And that became our starting point⁠ – war as experienced by women. The point is this: get creative …”

Lockdown listening

If you find yourself at a loose end during this super-peculiar time, browse – and share share share – my podcasts. I interview composer Magnus Fiennes, punk icon Jah Wobble, Ese from Ese and the Vooduu People and addictions visionary Chip Somers among others. Some of the musicians play live. And I run through some exquisite music by everyone from Sevdaliza, Unloved and the Pistols to the Dandies, Iggy Pop and Ma Polaine’s Great Decline 🍎