Chopper, apart from being a notorious crim has tried his hand at a few other enterprises. Firstly there were the books – at least ten of them. I must admit I have only read the second one – subtitled ‘Hits and Memories’. I remember a vivid passage where Chopper gets into a barfight. Somehow, he manages to pry the eyeball from the socket of his opponent, and then plonks the orb into his glass of beer. Then to everyone’s (or at least this reader’s) astonishment, he then chugs the whole glass down.
Next Chopper tried his hand at the music industry. The album, Chopper and the Blue Flames, wasn’t received well. In fact it caused some minor controversy as Chopper’s vocal was recorded ‘secretly’ while he was still in prison. This upset some members of the community because he was supposed to be paying his debt to society, not launching a media empire.
Once out of prison again, Chopper then ventured into the world of fine art. He painted a series of intense canvasses and naturally, held an exhibition. I am sure it was a psychiatrist’s delight!
A spiel for ‘Chopper Heavy’ – uploaded by Choppermanagement.
Then there was a line of Chopper Beer, available from all good bottle shops. After that came his spoken word / comedy tour. His partner in crime was Mark Jackson. Jacko made a name for himself as a flamboyant Australian Rules Footballer. Undeniably talented, but his on field antics attracted more attention than his skills. Coupled with propensity for showmanship was quite a hostile temper. Regularly he’d be suspended, and have to spend time on the sidelines after striking his opponents. Eventually he was forced to retire from the game – he was too controversial. A lesser man would have just faded into obscurity – but not Jacko.
Next he launched a singing career – despite the fact that he couldn’t hold a tune even if it had handles on it. His single ‘I’m an Individual’ – which had a sing-a-long chorus featuring the phrase “I’m a Inda ‘bloody’ vidual – you can’t fool me!” – was a surprise hit.
And for your viewing pleasure (you wont thank me), here it is – uploaded to Youtube by nzoz1985
Jacko then went to ply his shameless brand of self-promotion in the United States, where he appeared on the television series “Highwayman”, which starred Sam J. “Flash Gordon” Jones. As far as I am aware, the show was never shown of Australian TV (if it was, it was at some god-awful hour – like 3 am in the morning).
So what we have in Wild Colonial Psychos is two of Australia’s greatest self promoters telling various anecdotes from their wild careers. As this is basically just a stand up comedy or spoken word show, there’s not too much point reviewing the show. The camera work is nailed down, the lighting is poor, and the set is less than inspiring. The sound levels fluctuate, and on occasions it is even hard to hear some of the dialogue because some people near the mic and laughing too loud. So this is a bare-bones production – but you don’t watch a show like this for the production values, you watch it for the Chopper and Jacko – well, at least if you’re interested in them.
The show starts with Mark Jackson doing his thing, and it’s amusing enough. You’ve got to remember that Jacko and Chopper are not comedians – and some of their tales are not meant to make you laugh. Jackon’s best moment comes when he tells the tale of his big break in the USA and bumping into Frank Sinatra. It’s an old story, and I doubt it really happened, but it’s good to hear it given a local spin.
When Chopper comes to the stage he looks pretty awkward. He does not look at home speaking in public, and at times grips the microphone with two hands – but his stories are engrossing – if slightly unsettling. There’s nothing politically correct here. His first story concerns a prison assault on a muscle bound Croatian homosexual. It’s not a pretty story.
Wild Colonial Psychos is driven by its two storytellers and their rough diamond personalities. If you aren’t interested in them or curious about the lives they have led then I’d suggest this production isn’t for you.
Apparently a follow on to this show has been released on DVD, which has the addition of Roger ‘The Dodger’ Rogerson, the disgraced New South Wales police detective, telling his tales of crims, crime and corruption. To find out more about ‘The Dodger’, check out the Aussie crime drama Blue Murder (which has an outstanding performance by Richard Roxburgh),.
Just to end, I thought I’d relay one of my favourite Chopper anecdotes. It’s not related to this DVD review in any way. It relates to some television appearances he made (and was set to make many years ago). The first appearance was on a night time talk / variety show hosted by a woman named Elle McFeast (Libby Gore). In the waiting room Chopper was plied with a large amount of alcohol and when he came on he was visibly drunk and his behaviour couldn’t be described as elegant. This, of course, caused national outrage!
Later that week, Chopper was scheduled to appear on the Midday Show hosted by Kerry Anne Kennerly, but after the furor over Chopper’s last TV appearance, the powers that be at the TV studio decided to cancel Chopper’s interview. In Chopper’s place, one of Sydney’s more prominent and outspoken radio personalities appeared on the show. As the interview proceeded, a voice off camera interrupted Kerry Anne and said that Chopper was on the phone. Kerry Anne declined to take the call, but asked Mr. Radio if he would like to talk to Chopper. Mr. Radio puffed out his chest manfully, and said, ‘Yes. I’ll tell Mark ‘Chopper’ Read just what I think of him!’ Mr Radio started to list reasons why Chopper was a disgrace to the nation. Of course, Chopper responded – but before I tell you what he said, first a little background information on Mr. Radio. A few years prior to this interview, Mr. Radio had been arrested in a public toilet in London. Allegedly he was caught masturbating. Back to the interview. After Mr. Radio’s tirade, Chopper simply interjected, ‘I wasn’t the one caught having a wank…’ the line went dead. Chopper didn’t hang up, the TV station pulled the plug on the interview. If there is a moral to this story, ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!’