Current Issue #488

Beer and Other Sins: Blood and guts and hiccup cures at Dick's Place

We’re two bottles into a six-pack of low-carb beer when Dick Dale looks over the coffee table and notices I’ve got hiccups.

Dale wears a Jaws t-shirt underneath a black button-up shirt over a grey long sleeve top and cut glasses on his head. The walls of his office look like his brain has exploded. Scattered around are unframed movies posters from obscure, trashy B-grade horror films, lashings of leopard print, old movie props and esoteric pieces of artwork.

“Wait there,” Dale says as he leaves the room. “Trust me. I’m the barman.”

In the same way people find god, Dale came to punk in 1981 while sitting in a classroom in Rockingham, Queensland. The way he describes it, Rocky was “deep redneck country” and the “meat capital of the world”. There was AM radio, Joh BjelkePetersen, the meatworks and not much else.

It’s embarrassing, he says, but one day in Year 10 a classmate handed him a Sex Pistolscassette and that was it. After school, he worked for a time with a soft drink company and saved up to make a three-month punk rock pilgrimage to the UK.

Cross paths with Dale once and it’s impossible to forget him. It is possible he might be the only person in the entire country who can credibly claim to have been banned from every significant live music venue on the east coast in rapid succession.

Those with long memories can recall times like when Dale, as the vocalist of the band KAMIKAZE, carried a headless, limbless dress mannequin painted up like a zombie out onto the median strip in front of the Crown & Anchor and set it ablaze in the middle of a show.

Others knew him as bartender and band manager of The Squatters Arms on the west side, a bar which opened with ambitions to be Adelaide’s CBGB. It is closed today and the building which housed it stands empty, but for a brief, shining moment it served as a refuge for every band too weird or wild to play elsewhere, and every social misfit.

Ask him, though, and Dale will tell you how music was always just the sideshow. Film, he says, has always been the main event and since 1997 he has been running the Trasharama Film Festival.

Get him going and he’ll rattle off a string of directors and movie titles both famous and obscure. If it’s bad taste, poor form, wildly over-the-top, totally disgusting or an entirely outrageous disaster piece, chances are Dale has screened it for either his or the public’s amusement.

As a director, Dale is the guy who invented his own genre: the Splatter Punk Video Nasty. Lately, he’s been organising a crowdfunding campaign to produce his own film, Ribspreader, featuring cameos from horror movie greats like Laurence R Harvey of Human Centipede II infamy.

It was the first thing he mentioned as I stepped to his front door, past the half-built prop electric chair on his porch and the zombie mannequin he’s named Sindee, the Undead Cheerleader who serves as his mascot. He talks about the project with the single-minded focus of someone in the middle of a creative obsession.

And now, two beers in, I find myself sitting on his couch with the goddam hiccups, feeling like an idiot. Dale comes back from the kitchen holding a whisky tumbler.

“Try this,” he says with the tender tone of someone administering a cure. “Red cordial. It’s the cheap stuff, but it works.”

The red liquid is thick in the glass.

“Shot it down. One hit.”

I do as he says and the sickly sweet, synthetic raspberry flavour spreads across my tongue. I feel the liquid slide its way down my throat.

“It’s an old fix, but it works,” he says.

“All gone?” He asks after a moment.

We wait in silence. Nothing happens.

“Always trust the barman.”


Royce Kurmelovs

Royce Kurmelovs

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Royce Kurmelovs is an Australian freelance journalist and author of The Death of Holden (2016), Rogue Nation (2017) and Boom and Bust (2018).

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