The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'chopper read'


Melbourne underworld hitman/standover man turned spoken-word artist/painter/celebrity/brand Mark "Chopper" Read's latest venture is a board game based on his criminal career:

Using bullets for pieces, the game starts at the dole office, and players visit brothels, standover notorious criminals, get busted by police, go to court, go to jail, before finally making their way to Tasmania.
For their sins players also have to go through a shocking form of Russian roulette. At the roll of the dice, put their fingers in a silver vice - and one of them gets a small electric shock.
Chopper, his marketing people and the game developers (a Queensland outfit who call themselves the Blowtorch Group) haven't neglected the brand tie-in potential either, recommending that players may care to consume Chopper Heavy Beer (which, from what I recall, is quite decent) and Chopper Nuts whilst playing.
"It's no longer illegal what I do these days but it's bloody criminal what I get away with," Read said. "But I haven't had a penny out of it so far."
It's interesting to note that board games are considered so safe these days that the chorus of condemnation has been all but absent. Certainly there have been no wowser politicians promising to see about getting it banned, as happens in Australia whenever a controversial video game or non-mainstream movie comes out.

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This evening, I caught a train to North Coburg, getting off at Batman station (yes, to the Americans in the audience, we do name our railway stations after superheroes here, because we Australians are weird), and walking through darkened streets, with the occasional desultory-looking art-decoish bungalow that has seen much better days, looking for an art gallery located at 8 Lyon St. After considerable walking through this wasteland, I started wondering "what sort of art gallery would set up here?". Eventually, I found it, in a former factory/mechanic's shop/similar, across the road from the only other sign of life in the neighbourhood, a bikie clubhouse (the Foolish Few Motorcycle Club, I believe), some of whose members mingled with the hip young artists and miscellaneous troublemakers.

The art varied; it was mostly "underground" art of various sorts (think "ooh, am I OFFENDING your BOURGEOIS SENSIBILITIES? Good. *Fuck* *you*, SUBURBAN YUPPIE PIG!"). A lot of stencil art (some very intricate), done on old car doors, some of that homie graf/stencil/sticker hybrid stuff that's going up all over the city (there was one piece by "Monkey" and someone else, depicting a fantastic world, with their tags all over everything; got to love the hip-hop culture's tendency towards self-mythologisation), underground comics from members of Silent Army, someone's set of nude drawings of female artists (done as a set of postcards, yours for $10), and underworld hitman-turned-artistic cause celebre Chopper Read's own paintings, showing crude figures of big-breasted women with Ned Kelly helmets (alas, I'm not sufficiently well-versed in contemporary art to tell whether Chopper's art is a work of postmodern genre-crossing genius, a curiosity of "outsider art" notable more for who made it than its own virtues, or a publicity stunt). Chopper didn't seem to be there, though there were quite a few bikies with short-cropped hair, tattoos, big bushy beards and, in one case, Nazi patches. Which, I suppose, made the whole thing a lot more edgy and hardcore and "keeping it real". Oh, and Cameron Potts was there, in his "Osama Bin Laden World Hero" T-shirt. Meanwhile, a band (consisting of members of Jihad Against America and/or The Eggs, I'm told) made noises with distorted guitars and a theremin.

Many of the artworks had prices that wouldn't leave much change from a grand. I wonder whether many well-heeled collectors will trek out in their BMWs to the industrial wasteland to pick up a stencilled car door for their open-plan loft in St Kilda or wherever.

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Move over Che: some outfit in Victoria are producing a beer named Chopper Heavy. It's described as "Australian style", and also features on the label an irreverent doggerel verse about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I've no idea what the verse has to do with Mr. Read (perhaps he's a poet as well as a hitman and visual artist?), or indeed whether he has licensed his likeness to the brewery.

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Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read is a true modern renaissance man. Underworld hitman, author (of criminalogues and childrens' stories), the subject of a popular film, and now the latest sensation in the art world, with his first art exhibition almost selling out in two days. The style of his artwork has been described as "primitive pop".

''He has a number of styles. He has a Nolanesque-(Ned) Kelly - it's been sexualised, so she's a Mrs Kelly,'' Mr Chapman said. ''They're all very bright and colourful.''

The exhibition is open until the 9th, at Dante's Upstairs in Fitzroy.

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