This article was originally published in Frankie Magazine #20.

Regardless of your geographic tendency or sociological demographic, by the time you hit early adulthood, you will have had the misfortune of spending a Friday night at ‘The Cliché.’ The Cliché is a chain of nightclubs around Australia that use the same dingy decor and audio aftershave from DJ Lobotomy to attract a specific clientele. A Starbucks for sleazes.

Breath on nose. Hands through hair. Eyes on boobs. Foot in mouth. For honest, underground kids, the reality of the pub sleaze is a distant memory that no indie safehouse could ever rekindle. Or could it? Perhaps there’s a force at play more brazen and corrupt than any Dazza in a singlet, and who could inflict more emotional damage than Spiro the legal exec ever could. Let me introduce the concept of the Indie sleaze. A story that no Frankie reader should miss.

A few years ago, I happily did my head in about the paradox of approaching girls in bars. I felt like some social Archimedes sitting in the bath of my own self-loathing. If I start talking to a girl, won’t it be bleedingly obvious that I’m attracted to her and she’ll think I’m cracking onto her and hate me? You reeker! I exclaimed. Thus I did nothing but carefully implode on myself and grew so confident about the severity of my neuroses that I deemed them entertaining enough to express on stage. My mumbling, bumbling, fumbling stage act grew vaguely popular, to the point where I found myself in a verifiable position to speak to ladyfolk. To be honest, after a few years of hit and miss gigs and doing some serious ‘work’ on myself, I’d grown to be, oh and it pains me to say this, kind of confident. This did not fit in with my high school idea of myself or my stage persona at all. Frankly, it was becoming a real downer.

After speaking to these arty, bohemian girls, wrapped in grandmother’s wallpaper, eyes like manga moons through Venetian fringe, I detected a fragility that would be alienated by any bravado or showmanship. Despite the emotional rush of the after show, I had to ensure that I was no Pepe Le Pew to their…ah…the cat…that Pepe Le Pew chases around. So, drawing inspiration from another cartoon character, I modelled myself on Eeyore. With eyes and voice lowered, I found it wasn’t hard to draw from the well of low self-esteem that was constantly bubbling beneath me like the rivers of slime in Ghostbusters Two. I didn’t feel manipulative at all, if anything, I was being acutely honest, and taking an opportunity to offload my past tales of loneliness and frustration to someone pretty who seemed interested. Rather than pour on the charm and one liners, I’d pour on the insecurities and monologues. And with pink ribbon tied to my listless donkey tail, I was dubbed ‘the indie sleaze.’ A softie with a hard on. Where was the sex in the city episode about this?

The title was given to me by a girl who I met for debrief drinks a few months after a one night stand. Her complaint was that I’d been far too nice and sensitive and expressive and emotional for a fling, and that she’d assumed from my behaviour that it meant something more. “You’re the worst kind of sleaze,” she’d said. “At least with dodgy guys you know it’s just about sex.” By removing myself from the disaster men of ‘The Cliché’ I had managed to create a mutant hybrid of their behaviour which hurt girls even more. Whereas they’d be trying to feel her breasts, I’d be trying to feel her childhood. When they’d been breaking out of the house, I’d been breaking eggs for breakfast.

Thus, I became so paranoid at being known as a sleaze that I lost all my confidence, and went back to good old fashioned sitting in the corner at 2am staring at girls out the sides of my glasses. I was miserable, and genuinely felt like I needed saving. Now, that’s when the offers really flooded in.