Just upgraded to a new host!
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Just upgraded to a new host!
If you see any issues with the site, add them to the comments.
So, here it is, the new and improved FunkyJ.com for 2016.
When I started writing for dB Magazine and inthemix in 2002, the web was nascent and you had to look hard for material on the various artists I interviewed. Nowadays with wikipedia and google it’s really simple to find information, and I hope this writing will be added to that pile, and be useful to others.
It’s a little laborious copying and reformatting all my old interviews, so it will take a while to get all my content online again.
However I feel my writing is still valuable, not only for myself as both dB Magazine and inthemix have changed radically over the last 14 years and some of my stuff has vanished, but I also hope it’s useful for anyone who may interview these people in the future.
Oh, and just a note about the articles – the wordpress publishing dates I wrote them – or at least the creation dates the computer recorded me writing them. Publishing dates would have usually been a week or so after the creation dates. There may be some errors with this and the articles in general, but I present them as I wrote them, not as they were edited.
On the Comedy Channel’s Hit & Run, they asked comedian Tommy Dean, who delivers outspoken and political stand up, to be campaign manager for a porn star in a local Queensland election. He jokes that all he heard were the words “Porn Star”. This was very similar to my experience when I was asked if I wanted to interview someone from the Naked Women’s Wrestling League. The only words I heard were “Naked” and “Women” – two of my favourite words, especially when combined. So, I jumped at the chance, ignoring the fact that the phrase had “wrestling” in the title, as well as the warning that someone had already picked up the DVD to accompany the interview, and they were deeply disturbed by it.
For, when you first hear the term “Naked Women’s Wrestling League”, it doesn’t really sink in. Even when you consider the term wrestling, it seems oxymoronic. I thought it would be a titillating experience akin to Foxy Boxing. You know, two chicks gently slapping one another in a suggestive manner. I thought that it would be some kind of fun slap and tickle romp in jelly or mud, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. For the Naked Women’s Wrestling League is all about wrestling. The fact that the stars are naked is secondary to pile drivers and submission holds. Imagine moves that The Rock would do to Mankind, or Hulk Hogan to Andre The Giant, and then picture them as naked women, and you’ll get the idea.
Now, for some reason, this DVD didn’t turn me on. In fact, I cannot honestly see how it can turn anybody on. Because, like real wrestling, it looks real, and it looks like it would hurt! I know that it is all staged, but these ladies don’t have much to protect them from pinches, punches and rope burn. When I interviewed NWWL star Ninja Chops, I expressed my concern at the possibility of rope burn and other injuries in uncomfortable places. “There is no prospect to think of pain,” she begins in badly faked oriental accent, and I know that I’m not going to get the answers I came for. “It is about the passion and the amazing feeling you get from being thrown onto the mat, thrown into the ring. The red passion in my opponents eyes, the fire burning within, feels soooo good,” she purrs. Ninja Chops, being Asian, is perhaps the least endowed of the wrestlers, and maybe her slender frame allows her to be thrown around with less damage to herself.
On the DVD the extra features, which I found to be much more entertaining than the actual wrestling itself, features the girls training with the same trainer used by Trish Stratus and Edge of World Wrestling Entertainment, formerly World Wrestling Federation or WWF, but they had to change it because of people kept getting wrestling confused with the World Wildlife Fund, and probably expected pandas to smash chairs over each other. “Much training is done. I train with sensei and wrestling coach on wrestling mat. Many hours of training is spent, yes, to learn all the moves to capture my opponents fire and take her down with my mighty will!” Ninja Chops breathes. “Most training is with me nude, to make moves that follow my body movements and to strengthen the most… virtuous parts.” Ah huh! I took that to mean it’s beneficial to train nude so you know where to grab and be grabbed without fingers or toes slipping into places that could turning this wonderful DVD full of MA 15+ “family entertainment” into something that could only be sold out of Canberra.
Speaking of the DVD, it’s hosted by Carmen Electra and Megan Summers, two names you can’t google at work without being busted for ‘viewing unsuitable material for the workplace”, so you know this is pure class. Unsurprisingly enough, the production values throughout are quite similar to the other entertainment Electra and Summers are known for. Admittedly a naked wrestler doesn’t have the same opportunities for product endorsement that clothed wrestlers can, so we’ll probably not see this reach the lofty ideals of the WWE Smackdown, for example. Ninja Chops disagrees, saying her name alone should sell any endorsements. For some reason, I don’t think her bravado will pay off in this case.
I was curious as to why someone would want to do this. There are far safer and less painful ways to be naked and still earn a living. Could Ms Chops see this as a stepping stone into the WWE perhaps? “NWWL is enough for my passion and to see where my fighting may lead. This WWE falls within the sphere of my life, then I will fight, but NWWL is just fine for me.” And what do her family and friends think of her profession. “Far, far away my family know not of television or pay per view. They know I fight virtuous, and I fight for them with courage and much passion.” Fair enough, but she did also mention she was from Canada.
I had to wonder what someone who spent the majority of their day throwing naked women around did in their spare time. “Well my side job is special massage”, she says, and here I feel like putting quotes around the word special, and I don’t want to insinuate anything but if you heard the way she said it you would want to as well, “and I do hair cutting for various, famous celebrity. I do that naked for very, very special customers,” she adds seductively after asking me if I needed a haircut. I decline, and wonder how the hell I’m going to pull this off… the interview, I mean.
Darin McFadyen was sick of the way the world was treating its population. “We know you’re sick of these companies trying to sell you sex, respect and a six pack of cool in a can. Like working 6 1/2 days a week to buy a £200 pair of trainers is gonna turn you into Busta Rhymes. I’m not buying this bullshit and I know you’re not either”, his webpage screams. Littered with anti-corporate, anti-war sentiment, dripping with irony and unique style, this isn’t some indie left wing kid ranting on his Blog. This is Freq Nasty’s Video Nasty web portal, offering a glimpse of what the Video Nasty show is all about. It’s a two year long project of extensive Audio-Visual appeal combining the music of Freq Nasty with custom made graphics, 3D character animation and bold political undertones, described by McFadyen as “the visual equivalent of Michael Moore and Public Enemy getting pissed on the set of Monsters Inc. during an anti-globalisation riot.”
“The idea behind the Video Nasty Experience is to encourage a little bit of critical thought about what is going on in the world around us at the moment,” McFaydyen begins in his softly spoken manner. “I think it’s very important that in spaces like clubs, and the arts in general, that people react to what is going on in the world at times like this. When the idea of any kind of dissent is being discourage by the government I think it’s a good idea to get out there and inspire each other to question what’s going on out there. The idea isn’t necessarily to hammer any particular viewpoint into people’s heads, just to help people realise it is ok to express a viewpoint,” he adds. “The goal isn’t to preach to anyone, it’s more ‘hey, here’s my viewpoint, what’s yours, and what are you going to do about it?’”
Combining visuals, text and sound, the Video Nasty experience has toured all over Europe, including Russia. “I kind of wondered how well the show would work over there, because I wasn’t sure how many people would speak English,” he muses. “A lot of the show is typographically based,” meaning viewers would be exposed to large amounts of text in English. “However, it seems that generally everyone of a clubbing age speaks a little English there, and with the graphics as well, it illustrates the points we are trying to make. And if they didn’t understand they all got into the music, which is good as well I guess”, he adds, chuckling.
The show will soon hit Australia, although sadly not Adelaide. “It’s quite expensive to drag about the place. We have to bring a down sized version to Australia, but in Glastonbury we had 60 screens and projectors, so when you cost the price of hiring them and the attendants it can be quite a lot!” he exclaims. “But all the visuals we’ve had in the Europe shows we’re bringing to Australia,” he adds.
As he’s been on the road, McFayden hasn’t had time to write new music, but he is just starting to ease back into it. The sounds and influences on his last album, Bring Me The Head Of Freq Nasty have now gained momentum in the breaks scene, being copied and replicated by many producers, whereas when it first appeared it was very much on the cutting edge. “I dunno, I might go retro with this next album, make some disco breakbeat record or something!” He laughs “I’m just mucking about with stuff, doing whatever I’m feeling at the time I think will come out,” he explains on the process of writing music. “The whole record develops and gains shape the further you get into it. It’s difficult to see what it’s going to come out when you start an album, but once you get the majority of it, it clicks.”
McFayden is looking forward to playing in Adelaide, as he’s never played the same gig as Japan’s DJ Krush. “That will be wicked!” he exclaims as I tell him. I mention that he and Krush are two DJs who I’ve seen numerous times, but are never the same twice. “Yeah I do try and shake things up in some way when I come over,” he agrees, adding, “This time it’s a bit more difficult because more and more people have the same tunes. But I try to add a different flavour, find a different angle.”
Yumi Stynes is the lucky “hostess with the mostest” of Channel [V]’s Room 208. Juggling a career in television and a young child, this cute, happy, energetic young woman’s story is the stuff of legends. One day she’s making sandwiches in a Melbourne takeaway – the next moment she’s being kissed by Robbie Williams live on national television. Now hosting TXTr, Australia’s first live SMS request show, and Room 208, which is going on the road with an all-ages event, we talked to her about her career and the show.
Stynes had some idea of what she was going to be in for when she was picked in Channel [V]’s “search for a reporter” contest. “I used to host radio shows for 4 years while at uni, and worked at a radio station in the Torres Strait Islands for about a year. And I used to do other things here and there like make music videos for friends and stuff,” she says. Her first time on air was “pretty scary… I can’t really remember it. I remember that I thought that all I could do was try my absolute hardest, or I’d hate myself if I didn’t give it my all… I know it sounds pretty wanky, but that’s how I felt. I had to completely lose myself, forget about being inhibited and being coy, just grab it by the balls and have a laugh doing it.”
Losing herself is something she’s become adept at, judging by her on air escapades. “I’m kind of immune to embarrassment now,” she laughs. “I got hypnotised once. That was pretty bizarre. I ended up dancing pretending like I was Madonna.” Another time the camera zoomed out to find her on top of someone’s shoulders at the Big Day Out. “He was just some guy I asked ‘can I sit on your shoulders?’” she giggles. “Covering the Big Day Out this year was pretty awesome. We had free range of the venue, and we had technology that meant as long as we could see the broadcast van, which was on top of a hill, we could broadcast from anywhere in the festival”, she says. “And it was just the most exciting thing to know there were thousands of people watching, and we were bringing them something you don’t really see very often – that really raw, high energy you get within a rock festival”.
Sometimes when people get positions in TV by winning contests, there’s a certain animosity towards them. Not at Channel [V]. “Most of the people who work at V aren’t frustrated presenters, they’re there because they want to be,” she says. “It was really a massive thing for every one at the channel. It was a huge endeavour that everyone had to pitch in with, so they were all invested in it, and when James (Mathison) and I got the job they all thought that we were their ‘babies’”, she says, laughing.
Stynes hosts the show TXTr, Australia’s first live SMS show. “We get great SMS’s on the show TXTr. They’re always really, really clever. We did a Father’s Day special, and we were asking what advice their father’s gave them, which was kind of an open topic – people could take it how they wanted. There were a lot of straight forward responses, but heaps of really black ones, like “my dad was always too drunk to give me advice”, and “Fuck you Dad, happy Fuckers day!” You get the whole gamut of intelligence and age groups and seriousness,” she adds. “My favourite one was one after Enrique Englasius got his mole cut off, and as a TXTr topic we had “What did Enrique do with his mole?” People who texted us had hilarious answers, like ‘it was going to be the major prize on the next big brother’, and another one was ‘he chopped it up and made guacamole with it’” she giggles.
Her other hosting job is Room 208, which got it’s name from one of those corporate ‘brainstorm’ weekends. “Well, with Channel [V] everyone just parties, plays loud music and gets silly”, she says. “At this conference, everyone went back to Jabba’s room. People were flicking the lights and having fun dancing to loud music, and someone came up with the idea that we should do a show that was “just like that”. It sounds like one of those ridiculous ideas that never goes anywhere, but somebody remembered it the next day…” And Jabba’s room number was of course, Room 208.
If you’ve never seen the show, it’s kind of like Soul Train for the chemical generation, and it’s quite funny to watch. Stynes describes it as “it’s like a party on TV, but there’s a competitive element where the best dancer takes home $1000”. Stynes thinks the Karaoke segment is the funniest, and says, “There’s times we can’t talk on air because we’re laughing so much. We like it because it gets played back pretty soon after filming, so we can kick back without being sweaty and hot and crazy and watch it and laugh. But at the same time we’re there with them. The people at home do have that distance so they can take the piss.”
There have been times in the past where off handed remarks can cause trouble, as Stynes discovered. “There was this large girl dancing, and Mike (Kerry) says to me ‘What would you call that move?’ and I said ‘I think that’s the horny lesbian,’” she giggles nervously. “But even before the show was over, the girl comes up to me with tears in her eyes and says ‘I’ve got family members watching – I come from a Greek Orthodox family… do you have any idea what you have just done?’ and I was like ‘Awwww… Fuck!’ It was awful – I didn’t mean for it to be taken badly”.
Last time Room 208 toured, they shot the footage and edited it back in the studio, but this time it’s being filmed and mixed live. “We’re trying to get the essence of each city we visit”, Stynes says, “and it’s going to be massive. The studio is smaller than it appears; it’s really the size of a large bedroom, and the clubs we’re visiting have quadruple the capacity,” Stynes says excitedly. “Adelaide was one of the most successful dates on the last tour. The people were just mad for it,” she says, “Absolutely hyped!” and she hopes this time people will be just as keen.