Lillian O’Neil

It began when Safari Team (Blaine Cooper, Jonathan Oldmeadow and myself) moved into Melbourne Central for a couple of weeks. The room had a big diamond window that looked out onto the Melbourne skyline and stunk like the job I had when I was fifteen unpacking clothes in a surf shop in Torquay, plastic, glue and mass produced clothes. It was this smell, the endless, indefinable hum of a shopping centre and the interrogation-room lighting that made us feel as though we were trapped aboard some weird giant space colony. We were making a show about evolution and while we had the West Wing we, among other things, planned to make neanderthal costumes and film some snakes and baby crocodiles in front of a green screen. We didn’t know how to go about making costumes so we painted our bodies with latex, peeled it off and hung them up on coat hangers to dry near the window overnight. When I came back the next morning it was horrifying; the costumes hung in the West Wing shop window like a gruesome merchandise display. We took them off their hangers and tried to add hair; this involved cutting cheap wigs into pubic-hair-length strands and sprinkling it willy-nilly over said skin suits, as Blaine astutely remarked, “The place is carpeted in pubes.” We threw them in the bin. The crocodiles and snakes arrived a day later in the hands of a racist-alcoholic Steve Irwin type who ran a tight ship delivering live reptiles to children’s parties. He told us we couldn’t use the animals unless we swept up the hair, which we did, and he stuck around in his cargos shaking his head while we filmed his animals. It felt dirty. All in all, I’d say it was a weird time but a good time.