If you thought Kylie Minogue was over-exposed in soap, hit singles and a media presence rivalling that of the Royal Family, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Trevor Johnston ponders life after Neighbours.
For Kylie Minogue. today can mean only one thing: ifit‘s Thursday. it must be Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She will not however be opening a new brown ale bottling plant. nor is she about to hold top level discussions with the lads from Viz about a guest spot in Fat Slags Play Beach Blanket Bingo, for Kylie is visiting the jewel onyneside today to grant her very special blessing upon the shiny new Warner Brothers multiplex cinema where she is later to meet the assembled representatives of the British regional press.
Calmed by a freebie nosh-up and winefest. the hacks have gathered in force to hear Kylie personally answer their questions about her debut feature film The Delinquents. A powerful tale of Antipodean adolescent amours. the movie due for a Boxing Day release is already being billed as a 12 certificate steamy sex sizzler whose unbridled depiction ofexplosive teenage desires could be set to shatter the family image of Melbourne‘s mini-megastar for. er. at least the next couple ofweeks.
Adapted from Criena Rohan‘s
Australian modern classic. described ;
by one scholarly source as (ahem) ‘the Brisbane novel‘, The Delinquents details the fortunes of one Lola Lovell. as played by Minogue. a precocious fifteen year-old who breaks all the conventions ofsmall town 1957 Australian life by taking the rebel stance of rock‘n‘roll music to heart and running offwith her boyfriend Brownie Hansen (Charlie Schlatter). While he hopes to join a ship in Brisbane as a deck-hand. her wide-eyed plans to be with him at sea are to be disrupted. as the next few years bring a catalogue of maternal interference. unforeseen pregnancy. backstreet abortion, and dead end waitressing jobs that only lead to reform school. In the end. the courts decide that Lola and Brownie are to be forbidden from contacting each other. and the couple‘s young love faces its sternest test to date.
‘I wanted to do it because it was Australian and it was real‘ says the pint-sized pin-up, who at a slender five foot one is a positively elfin presence. ‘It‘s not a musical. and it‘s very different from anything I‘ve done before.‘
Well, this much is true. for despite the knee-jerk reaction that KYLIE IS SHITE. The Delinquents is indeed a presentable enough entertainment. and far from the shocker we’d been hearing about. Although beset by a high cliche’ quotient, the film is convincing. funny and sad in most of the right places. Mr Schlatter may do little beyond looking pretty when draped only in a bedsheet. but our Kylie makes fora plucky heroine. Enduring the mild degradations Lola has to pass through. her performance laudably avoids the Little Miss Ultraclean we‘ve seen in Neighbours and her videos. to emerge as something approaching a credible human being. She even merits a rousing cheer when she delivers a swift upper cut to the crinkly old dragon in whose suffocating care the authorities have placed her.
While the movie has to some extent overturned this viewer‘s lowly expectations. the press conference is the usual farrago. Predictably. the tabloid mentality in the front row proves unable to control his curiosity about the filming ofthe love scenes for more than a few minutes. Still. having lived with Britain‘s constant shower of media tat for a couple of years. Kylie proves more than adept at giving such prurience a quick body-swerve. ‘People have gone to see the film with the preconceived idea that the film is all about taking your clothes off. and they‘ve been disappointed.‘ She curtly adds. ‘lt‘s not about abortion. not about
hopping in the sack. it‘s a love story. I‘d rather have my twelve-year-old going to see The Delinquents than watching Rambo.‘
Not having personally witnessed the Kylie phenomenon before, the plethora ofwalkie-talkie toting security personnel surrounding her. and the young fans pushing up against barriers outside. were ample evidence that one was firmly in the presence of teenybop stardom. Yet. although it‘s become writers‘ stock-in-trade to say so. the 21 year-old Ms Minogue still appears remarkany unaffected by all the potentially ego-inflating attention.‘What‘s happened to me over the past few years has happened very quickly. but it‘s been a smooth incline so I‘ve become used to it'. she says from underneath a rather large peaked fisherman‘s cap.
Actually she was still at school when she landed a part in Aussie soap The Sullivans. before joining the cast of Neighbours in 1986 for a role that was only meant to last for twelve weeks but which was to take up the next 2 years. Of her time in Ramsay Street. she reflects that ‘it‘s like eating chocolate cake. one spoonful too much and suddenly you feel sick. Neighbours was good when I did it. but I want to keep the memories of it as it was. If I went back I might think ‘What did [spend two years in this smelly, smoky green roomfor?‘ However. it was at a Neighbours benefit concert that her rendition ofher first Australian single The Locomotion (later to be re-recorded and a British hit) caught the attention ofStock. Aitken and Waterman and took her to Britain to record with the then fledgling PWI. label.
672.568 copies later. [Should Be So Lucky was established as an anthem for a generation. Neighbours
was topping the ratings in Britain. and Jason Donovan soon followed his on-screen spouse into the top ten. While Pete Waterman continually defends his productions as pure pop escapism. for many critics the recognisable SAW sound epitomises the bland facelessness of the late Eighties chart machine. Remember Kylie's hits (Jot To Be Certain. Hand On Your Heart and Wouldn't Change/1 Thing”? I don‘t. Answering a question whether she‘ll leave the SAW empire for the next album. Kylie seems notably ill-at-ease. and it's unlikely she has much input beyond supplying the vocals and sporting a succession of unwise midriff-exposing halter tops in the videos. ‘Well. I may or may not leave them.‘ she ponders. ‘At this stage I haven‘t thought too much about the next album yet. Yes. sure it might be a good idea. but that‘s not to say that Iwill or I won‘t. I'll consider it. It‘s healthy. to be working with different people.‘
For someone whose album sales now exceed 2 million. such a response might seem a little dithery. and certainly lends some credence to the pop puppet theory. With her .N’eighbours days now firmly behind her. and bearing in mind the fickleness of the young record-buying public. she probably needs The Delinquents to establish her as a big screen actress ofsome credibility. Not that the eleven-year-olds waiting outside in the cold with their Kylie scarves and bags concern themselves too much with such things.
Anyway. time is running out. sol take the opportunity to ask Kylie how she herselfanalyses the breadth ofher success. ‘Well. the best Ican come up with.‘ she smiles benignly. ‘is that for kids they can look tip to what I do but it's kind ofonly just out ofrcach for them. It‘s like they could almost be doing the same thing.‘
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ist 22 December 1989- l 1 January 199115