Wild West Town

“We had a band called the Rather Raw Nots. Originally it was Luke Bourke, myself and Mandy Evans, we were the band. We had to literally set the whole thing up, build the stage and get people to come. The stage was milk crates and bits of plywood and whatever lights we could make up – I had bloody fruit cans with light bulbs in them with gels on them. We had a cover charge at the door, it was $3 donation (how are you going to pay 10 performers with that?). Lubja filled up his milk bar thing with those little twist tops, you know not the normal ones, but the tiny little mini ones, and sold them for about $5 each – he was reaping it in! He was pretty supportive – he offered the space and let us do what we wanted and sold his “twisties” at exuberant prices and kept running down to the pub to get another box of them. It was pretty funny.

I just remember it was kind of like a wild west town, we’d still be going at two in the morning…they were totally loose nights, there was no “12 oclock, everyone out”, as long as people were having fun we kept going. It was totally open-ended in that respect and we did get a few locals coming in and I remember getting heckled one night and getting told to play AC/DC and getting quite perturbed. You had all that going on because they were like “you’re in our space” so there was a bit of that. But you had this nice juxtaposition, you had all the Macedonian guys, they weren’t budging, they were still going to play their poker, and all these artsyfartsy lot would come I and go into the other room, they had to come in through it all. And there was bit of cross-fusion in the end.

We were all unemployed artists you know living the dream and somehow we pulled it off, we managed to organize a week of performance café.”

– John Bonner, 17 August 2017

Image: Still from archival video taken by Tom Pence in 1991 – L-R: Amanda Evans, John Bonner, Luke Bourke, Ann Martin, and in front Star Cafe audience member

Image of 83 Wentworth Street, Port Kembla opposite The Star Cafe in 1991
Still from video footage shot by Tom Spence, provided by John Bonner