Crazy on Classic Rock: Origins Part 2
Austin Powers came out on 2 May 1997. At the time I was almost 3. While I loved comedy at that young of an age, I don’t think I would have understood it then. My sense of humour then was watching America’s Funniest Home Videos until late at night. My mum has home videos of me laughing at that show. The first real comedy film I liked was Rush Hour with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker and I liked it when it came out, back in 1998. My favourite line was “push the goddamn button!” I was 4 then. When I was about 10-12, I adored movies like The Naked Gun, Mrs Doubtfire, and National Lampoon’s Vacation. So I have a long history of comedy being my favourite genre.
I knew about Austin Powers from a young age because I’d see VHS tapes of it being sold in shops, but I didn’t think much about it.
Fast forward to the year 2008. I’m 14. I was bullied on a regular basis, both physically and emotionally. I wanted an escape from my humdrum life in secondary school in a small town where I didn’t fit in. For many reasons I didn’t fit in. I was a socialist, I preferred the mountains to the beach, my skin therefore was very pale (especially so for a Hispanic person – no one believed me when I told them I was mixed), I questioned authority, and I wanted to get out and explore the world. I had travelled around the US and Canada, but not really much outside of there. I wanted to see Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa.
How can a 14 year old escape? A 14 year old can’t drive or work. Movies it is. I was bored coming home from school and I was in the mood for comedy. I chose to watch Austin Powers. Little did I know that movie would change my life forever. My first impressions? It was hilarious! The aesthetics were beautiful and trippy. I badly wanted to go to London (and I ended up going for the first time when I was 15).
Right around the same time I was seeing a therapist for depression and she saw some hippie tendencies and persuasions in how I thought, comparing me to the people who went to Woodstock. That therapist was right!
I love to read about my favourite movies and I read about Mike Myers. He was born in Toronto to two immigrant parents from Liverpool. I could relate, except I was born to a Venezuelan mum. Growing up with immigrant parents, no matter where they are from, there are some similarities. I never really felt that American. I always had to deal with jokes about my mum’s accent.
I also loved to act, but sadly that love was killed when I was 14 because I had a terrible theatre teacher. She was homophobic and would victim blame me when classmates sexually harassed me. I still liked to write little stories, none of them were good and they were more fragments but it was fun.
I’d quote the movie all the time and I fell in love with England and started talking in an English accent. I suppose it was a coping mechanism. Looking back, it was cringeworthy, but one of my dad’s coworkers from London thought I did a decent job. Maybe he was taking the piss or maybe he was just being nice, who knows?
But the biggest impact of all? My love of the 60s. Sure, Austin Powers is no Mad Men as far as aesthetics accuracy, but it was still beautiful.
I always had a love of bright colours. I wore tie-dye shirts when I was a kid. The first time I ever tie dyed a shirt was when I was 6 for field day in primary school. Tie dying was one of my favourite activities at summer camp.
I got my first pair of platform shoes when I was 10. I looked like a giant because I was 5’ without shoes then. I loved the costumes in the movies from the pop art/Swinging London inspired dresses in the Austin Powers intro, Austin’s crushed velvet suits and ruffly shirts, Vanessa Kensington’s space age silver dress and black catsuit, and Felicity Shagwell’s playsuit and matching thigh high boots.
It wasn’t until later on, when I stopped caring what people thought of how I looked that I developed my personal style and dressed how I wanted to. It all started on Queen Street and Kensington Market in Toronto where I started amassing my vintage clothing collection.
How could I forget the music? Austin Powers had great songs like Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride”, The Who’s “My Generation”, and Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints”.
The music was key to the 60s. It wouldn’t be the 60s as we know it without the music. I can’t separate the two. Rock and Roll is one thing that inspired revolutions. The 60s was a sad time in history, but the music was there as a coping mechanism, to protest, and for young people to express themselves.
For me it all started with The Beatles. My friend in Toronto, Zsofia, called them a gateway band, and it was a perfect description. The Beatles inspired so many bands and shaped the future of rock and roll, and changed with the times. From there I got into The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and more. I’d spend my days on YouTube watching music videos from the 60s and 70s, wishing I could live back then.
To this day I still wish I was born in England sometime around 1944-1949 so I could enjoy the 60s to its fullest. If only I had a time machine so I could be there to live it. If I make it to the 2060s, I want to see the whole 60s look and sound with better human rights. I don’t care if I will be in my 70s then, I will wear my 60s clothes with pride.
A really honest, heartfelt post. I too was bullied in middle school, so can identify with your experiences. It’s great that your imagination and love of music carried you through, as it also did for me.
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