Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A pop cultural time capsule: Approximately Panther

“What was the Charleston if not a Victorian go-go?” (Douglas L. Panther)

Where is Douglas L. Panther now? In 1966, he was a writer (or self-proclaimed ‘drunken reporter’) for Go-Set magazine, starring in the fabulous teen documentary Approximately Panther and pontificating on the daily lives of Melbourne’s groovy youth.

But then, much like a one-hit wonder or a one-night stand, he dropped off the radar. At least, as far as I can tell. A fairly extensive Google search reveals a big fat nada in terms of his current whereabouts or activities, which seems odd, as the man was clearly not publicity shy. Maybe he’s changed his name? Gone into witness protection? Been abducted by aliens? To be honest, nothing would surprise me, considering his, well, unique presence in Approximately Panther.

The drunken reporter at work, baby.
“Maybe mini-skirts are simply wide belts?” (Douglas L. Panther)

This half-hour gem of a film, directed by Peter Lamb, takes us on a guided tour of Melbourne’s pop culture scene in 1966. From the discotheques and drag races, to the house parties and radio stations, it’s a fun-filled romp featuring interviews with the likes of a young, very earnest Lynne Randell, Bobby and Laurie, model Jenny Ham, band/venue manager David Flint, and a rather pompous fellow (a poet, apparently) called Adrian Rawlins spouting bollocks about “pop rejuvenation” and how he knows The Rolling Stones.

Lynne Randell chats to Panther about teenagers
Jenny Ham discusses fashion; Panther puffs on a dart
There’s amazing footage of the Running Jumping Standing Still performing for a moving, grooving crowd at legendary discotheque the Thumping Tum, as well as The Loved Ones doing “The Loved One” and Normie Rowe being mobbed at the airport. And then there is Douglas L. Panther.

“There is no such accessory as a hairy chest. More in demand is a combination of masculine beauty with gentlemanly chic-ness and attentiveness to feminine fancy considered effeminate a few years ago.” (Douglas L. Panther)

Nice fringe, Panther.
Usually with a ciggy in his hand and a knowing smirk on his face, young Douglas cuts an unforgettable figure. His longish, brushed-back hair looks like it’s going to spring out of control at any moment, while his half-hearted fringe seems to be wondering why it’s there. When he’s not banging away on his typewriter, he’s discussing “wenches’ expectations” and the erotic motivations behind fashion. He’s hilariously pretentious and strangely endearing at the same time.

But why take my word for it, when you can watch the doco in all its glory here?

Related post:
Melbourne song of the month: 'The Loved One'/The Loved Ones (May 1966)

No comments:

Post a Comment