by HELEN RAZER
Back in the mid to late nineties, I was relatively famous. Oh. I know. I know. That’s a petty, unbecoming claim and one I would not dare to make were it not for the fact that it is both (a) true and (b) information necessary to the unfolding of this story. A story, by-the-bye, that ends with me not being famous at all. Obviously.
Stay with me, here. I promise this story has a point which is neither me nor my yawning lack of fame! This story is about another girl. We’ll get there.
When I was twenty-one, I landed the kind of job that exists more in teenage imaginations than it does in the actual world. I became a broadcaster on the ABC’s FM music station, Triple J. A fan, a show-off and a chatterbox, I couldn’t have dreamt of a job more suited to my otherwise useless talents. I talked non-stop about rock for a living.
Every life has its moment of perfect combustion; that white-hot time where you find yourself ideally suited to your environment and your era. This was mine. “Indie rock”, as we called it then, became immensely popular and so did the people associated with its dissemination. So it was that a loud, frequently unpleasant and elitist young feminist who dressed EXACTLY like Courtney Love ended up in all the women’s mags and frequently drunk on television panel shows calling people “sexist” and “racist” for no good reason.
Look, I’m certain I was annoying. I was under-informed and over-exposed. I fired ten-dollar words like bullets from my MAC-red mouth and I disagreed with everyone on principle. I can say with some confidence that I would have found me annoying. People didn’t have social media as a means of critiquing the “top down” media back then so I get that some young people would have felt frustrated revulsion for this smart-arse apparently “representing” them and the music they loved. I get it. I do.
But, I didn’t really “get” the jar of urine appended with the anonymous note “Die Slut” that arrived one day in the mail. I didn’t really get that men I’d never met yelled at me to tell me that they wouldn’t find me worth raping. I didn’t get that one stranger had a world view so shattered into pieces that all he could see was some luminous version of me. The better known I became, the more brutal the attention became. It reached its perverse acme with the stranger.
The stranger pursued me for months; maybe even a year. He spent most of his days in and around my office waiting for a chance to hold me. He was, as a doctor who had committed him to the psychiatric care from which he often fled told me, “delusional” and, as such, was utterly sure in his belief that I was his wife. His wife, apparently, whom he had wed “in a special place”. “A special place”! My life was beginning to feel like a cheesy daytime thriller. Radio Horror: The Grunge Rock Stalker Story.