So I’m in makeup getting turned into an Avon Lady to shoot my big two word scene for Stefan Elliot’s Swinging Safari. You know my line. The whole country knows my line. “Avon Calling”. I’ve been learning it all week. Imagine if I stuff it up! I can tell you it’s bloody depressing being turned into a frumpy door-to-door saleswoman when you’re seated beside the glamorous Asher Keddie.
I mean, she got flicks. And a sexy little jumpsuit. I have a zip-up blue uniform. I get the feeling Keddie won’t be swinging with the Avon lady no matter how liberated her character is. We’re both mums. We’re talking about our kids. Asher is interested that I live in Byron Bay because she wants to bring her kids there for a holiday. “Is it safe?” she asks, referring to our recent spate of shark attacks.
Ironically, Keddie is starring in a film (alongside Kylie Minogue, Guy Pearce, Julian McMahon, Jeremy Sims and more) where none of the parents ask these sort of questions. I’m feeling a bit mean because Keddie is so much better looking than me, and the Avon lady character has taken over. I say "Nope. Sharks everywhere." Keddie’s mouth opens in horror.
In Swinging Safari, sharks are the least of their problems. This is the 1970s. There’s no safety, no sunscreen, and basically no supervision. Elliot’s film is a love letter to parenting in the '70s, when the humble thong was both footwear and a disciplinary item. This is a reminder that we used to be dangerous, but damn, we also used to be fun!
Set in an Aussie beachside suburb that could be anywhere on our eastern seaboard, the setting just looks so familiar. I can smell the vinyl. I can still hear my mum shouting "If you kids are going to fight - do it outside". That was the catch cry of the '70s.
There was no time-out intervention. No googling the basics of NVC (non-violent communication). Basically parents didn’t get involved unless you broke the lava lamp or stabbed a hole in the bean bag.
Then you were in for a hiding so best you bolt up a tree and hope by the time you got home mum and dad had knocked off a few beers and forgotten. Back in the '70s, kids, you had to work out stuff themselves.
The parents of the 1970s didn’t do helicopter – they did lolling in a polyester kaftan on a plush new shag, scoffing cocktail onions and Coon cheese on toothpicks marvelling the new push and pull Tupperware beetroot container and Mavis’s epic camel toe. 1970s parenting was the antithesis to now.
Swinging Safari taps into a parenting portal back in a time before mummy blogs, Etsy posts on eco-friendly handmade toys, or constantly stressing that I am somehow damaging my kids by not dressing them in organic cotton. In the '70s, everyone was damaging their kids. It was called a childhood. Imagine being a '70s mum!
No bullying on Insta for dressing the kids in nylon jammies and asking them to light mummy’s ciggie. Kids could even duck down the shops and grab you a carton. Most mums saved up their best smoking for long trips in the car! And not just any car!
The two-toned Valiant with no reversing camera and no seat belts. I mean who needs seat belts when you have straps? The straps were in the ceiling for gripping when Dad’s thong got stuck under the accelerator and he did burnouts around the corner. There certainly were no booster seats! Imagine how much easier your trip to the shops would be without having to buckle and unbuckle a squirming kid in the car! And you could leave them in there. They didn’t overheat because you left the windows down
Child safety wasn’t for them, it was for you and it was called the pill. Babies rolled around unrestrained in the backseat in their bassinets. Oh, and everyone drove drunk then. You just shut one eye and hoped for the best. It was a thing. (Warning: I do not endorse drink driving in any way).
Kids were tougher back then. They could fall off stuff. Like roofs and bikes. No-one wore helmets. If you wanted to protect your noggin, you stuck an ice cream bucket on it. Kids re-enacted the feats of Evil Kenevil wearing not much more than a tank top and thongs. It was fear that kept you safe.
There were no warning signs. No Powerpoint protectors. No cupboard-locking devices. Kids got yelled at. Or smacked on the bum. That pretty well stopped you pulling the kettle down onto yourself. It wasn’t the fear of burning water, it was a burning butt from the sting of the strap.
In the '70s you could feed your kids processed food. Devon on white bread. In a plastic lunchbox. With a cordial chaser. Cancer and diabetes in a box. And they survived.
Kids didn’t have the internet. If they wanted to check out porn they had to go under your bed and find your Playboy stash. And turn pages.
There were no mobile phones. You couldn’t contact your kid 24 hours a day. If you made a time to meet them you had to actually turn up. Well most times. If you forgot, they’d just walk home. Because back in the '70s, kids could actually walk to and from school. They could walk the streets.
In fact, they played in the streets. They were allowed to use explosives and blow up letter boxes. If they did that these days they’d be on a terrorist watch list.
This is the landscape of Swinging Safari. It’s like looking into a kaftan and colour infused kaleidoscope of chaos. When it comes to experiencing the free-wheeling flippancy of the flirty '70s, the era of progressive dinners and the lioness cut, this burnt-out mummy blogger wants in.
I’ll be the one with an ice cream bucket on my head and a casserole in my hands. Now if only Jeremy Sims will let me in!
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Becker Film Group.
From director, Stephan Elliott, who brought you The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, with an all-star Australian cast including Kylie Minogue, Asher Keddie and Guy Pearce.
SWINGING SAFARI is the hilarious new Aussie comedy that celebrates summer in the 70’s. It is a love letter to a time of boxed wine, bad hair, bad styles, bad choices, and good times.
Swinging Safari hits cinemas across Australia this January. Visit www.swingingsafari.com to buy tickets to the hit comedy of the summer.