Farewell Uncle Chop-Chop

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Most folk in inner-city Australiana have a Chopper Read story, and now the man is no longer with us, you’ll get to hear most of ‘em. Here’s mine:

I was a guest at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival in 2003, the year my film Lesbo-A-Go-Go screened. In addition I was roped into Emcee duties for the Opening and Closing Night ceremonies; MUFF Direktor Richard Wolstencroft, in his inimitable fashion, had made our old Uncle Chop-Chop head of the Jury.

Final night of the Festival, it was my duty to introduce Chopper to a packed Palace Cinema audience primarily of MUFF filmmakers, friends, associates, Wolstencroft’s coke buddies, and assorted hangers-on. “Ladies and gentlemen,” I proclaimed with a sweeping, deferential gesture to the earless, almost legless tattooed gentleman in the front row, “the next Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Mark ‘Chopper’ Read!”

The thunderous applause died down and Chopper eyed the crowd snarkily. “Alright, alright,” he began in his unmistakable ocker-chic fashion, “settle down. Now, I’ve seen yer fuckin’ films this year, and they’re bloody rubbish.”

The room went silent white.

“You should’ve asked me for a few pointers about how to write a decent fuckin’ storyline. Like this, fer instance. One time I was given the job of doin’ a hit on this drug dealing cunt in South Melbourne. I found out he was a fuckin’ ANIMAL lover. So I takes this puppy and shot it in the leg, put it on the doorstep and rang the fuckin’ bell. Drug Dealing Cunt sticks his head out the door and goes, ‘Oh, no, a wounded puppy…’ and I shot him in the fuckin’ head. I take the puppy to the vet, dog’s still alive, Drug Dealing Cunt is dead.”

He fixed the crowd with another patented Chopper Read dead-eye stare. “Now make a fuckin’ movie out of THAT.”

You could almost hear the entire room say “Yes, Chopper” in unison before the nervous applause signalled his exit Stage Left. As he sat next to me in the front row I turned and peered into the hole where his right ear used to be. He faced me, glassy smug eyeballs boring into mine, and smirked, “I wasn’t too fuckin’ hard on them, was I?”

What else could I say to the future (God help us) Prime Minister of Australia?

“No, Chopper.”


About the author: andrew

Andrew Leavold owned and managed Trash Video, the largest cult video rental store in Australia, from 1995 to 2010. He is also a published author, researcher, film festival curator, musician, TV presenter, filmmaker, and above all, unrepentant and voracious fan of eccentric and lowbrow cinema. Lesbo-A-Go-Go (2003), Leavold's no-budget exercise in recreating a Sixties Doris Wishman-style exploitation feature, was followed by Bluebirds Of Peace And Destruction (2006), a hyper-real reconstruction of a famous Brisbane vampire slaying. The Search For Weng Weng, currently in post-production, chronicles Leavold's quest to find the truth behind the midget Filipino James Bond. His research on genre filmmaking in the Philippines formed the basis of Mark Hartley's documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed! (released internationally in 2010), on which Leavold is also Associate Producer. A PhD student at Brisbane’s Griffith University, Leavold’s thesis is soon to be published as a book entitled “Bamboo Gods And Bionic Boys: A History Of Pulp Filmmaking In The Philippines”.

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