Perth's May 18 March in May demonstration was led by a very interesting character. Baloney Abbott is quite a sex symbol in his bright red “budget smugglers”, fake rubber chest and oversised “Proudly Australian” badge.
Waving a bloodied meat cleaver, he really brought the point home that the cuts are for the good of the nation. Only Baloney Abbott could lead a 2000-strong crowd of peasants with the chant “Budget cuts, all the way! Make the sick and the poor pay!”
Perth comedian HelChild has been impersonating politicians since she was a teenager. Baloney Abbott, the “Governator of Australia”, is her most recent effort. “He’s just like the real PM on a truth drug, or on a bottle of that incentive blonk plonk,” she explains.
The latest federal budget has been emotionally devastating for many of us. Yet HelChild’s comedy goes a long way toward uniting people and lifting their spirits.
It is side-splitting humour, but also an important political task. If we are too demoralised, we can’t fight back. But if we can laugh at our politicians, that can give us a sense of power.
As well as politicians, HelChild performs as a wide array of bizarre and ghastly characters. When asked which performances she is most proud of, she told Green Left Weekly: “My best performances were as Pauline Hanson in my solo Pride shows 2001 and 2002, and Dolly The Runaway Sex Doll ― equal rights campaigner for used and abused sex toys, on Melbourne Noise TV.
“Co-incidently, Dolly was put on with a doco on Melbourne sex slaves! And to my surprise I got fan mail and so did Dolly!
“Also, My Aquilla The Farting Feminist, who conquers sexism with uncontrollable flatulence, at Reclaim The Night 2010 and my performance of The Queen at Reclaim The Night and Occupy Perth during CHOGM. And my Baloney Abbott at the Equal Love Rally last year got people joining the rally and marching with me who were just passersby.”
HelChild is also a talented political sculptor. In Brisbane in 1991, she exhibited a life-sized “Official Portrait of Margaret Thatcher” with her flesh hanging from cow bones and with real horse teeth. Her giant political costume puppets of Richard Court and one of his cronies were used in several large Perth rallies in the 1990s, including a huge union rally at Parliament house.
HelChild has also contributed to the LGBTI struggle. Christian fundamentalists used to picket the Perth Pride parade every year. In 1994, HelChild took them on, and defeated them, with an ingenious piece of street theatre.
HelChild and friends dressed up as a group of mock Christian fundamentalist protesters, calling themselves the “Biddies and Codgers Against Everything”. Hilariously, they marched alongside the real protesters. The Christian fundamentalists havr not come back to protest the event since.
HelChild has some good advice for other artists and performers seeking to assist political struggles. They can do this “by not being afraid to use their skills to express their views. A picture says a thousand words.”
She suggests “offering their skills to activist groups. Filmakers, painters, photographers, sculptors and theatrical prop makers, printmakers, poets and media artists. If the media can be used to keep people ignorant, it can be used to awaken them.
“Satirical comedy has always been a useful tool in the fight over the centuries. So comedians must dare to don the jester's horns and ridicule those kings and queens. The more who are doing it, the harder it is to stop!”
HelChild is also keen to develop a culture of collaboration and support between artists and activists. As somebody who has been making art all her working life, she is well aware that it is often a struggle to make a living in the highly exploitative arts industry.
HelChild suggests that activists can support the artists who support them “by helping to endorse and advertise them”.
“A good introduction at a rally helps,” she says, “Many artists and performers help organise political and activist fundraisers. But they too need sponsorship for their projects. So artists and activists need to work closely together, helping each other and getting the message out.”
Look out for HelChild’s comedy at rallies and gigs around Perth. She runs her own punk caberet night called “Chaos Club”. It is on the last Wednesday of each month at The Beat Nightclub and features alternative bands, comedy and poetry.
If you would like HelChild to perform at your event, or if you want to donate money toward her work, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0405 162 149.
Baloney Abbott at a Green Left fundraiser.