Martin A was the first guy shot for Elska Perth, and with him came the first impressions of Perth. That began with the drive to meet him at his house in Guildford, a suburb of the city. That drive reminded me strongly of North Texas, of the suburbs far north of Dallas, a city where I lived for two years. The landscape is scrubby, the existing older homes remind you of a past era when farming this close to the city still happened, and then there's the fact that whatever old homes are left are being swallowed up by new developments where people can fulfil their dream of a detached house with a garden and swimming pool, made affordable by sheer virtue of distance from the city centre.
Over the course of Perth Shoot Week, this Texasy impression faded away almost entirely. I realised that Perth rather is what fast-growing American cities like Dallas could be, if only they cared a bit more about aesthetics and less about money money money. I recall hearing a news item when in Dallas where the hosts were arguing about the high costs of building a new high school, asserting that the architecture was too pricey. Specifically they were talking about portions of the building that had rounded edges to the bricks, and one of the hosts kept shouting, "Rounded costs more, rounded costs more!"
My next impression came from Martin's home. One of the first things I noticed were all the framed photos of him and his husband, including with family around. This kind of happy gay family is still too rare in places like Texas, yet I know this is changing. I also noticed many souvenirs and tchotchkes from their travels around, including a set of coasters from Newport, Rhode Island, near my own current home town. Aussies love to travel, and sadly most Texans I met towed the sad old line, "Why should I travel abroad when there's so much to see in my own country?" To be fair, while this can be taken as nationalist ignorant bullsh*t, the truth is that Americans get so little time off from work that they can hardly travel even if they wanted to. I hope this too will change.
My next impression was about openness. As we got to shooting I found Martin very happy to do full nudity, which of course is never something to complain about. Most Perthians were proud and unafraid to show all of themselves. In this regard I don't know how to compare Perth versus Dallas. I'll just have to try to make an issue there one day. When I left Dallas after my two years there, it was largely due to homophobia at my workplace, which left a bad taste in my mouth that I attributed to the whole state. I'm open to having my impressions changed, or reaffirmed - in any case, to know more.