Starkie family reach for the sky with their Geelong performances

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Starkie family reach for the sky with their Geelong performances

Words by Tammy Walters

October will see the Starkie family activate the Geelong arts scene.

On Saturday 15 October, Bob ‘Bongo’ Starkie will be living in the 70’s for his Skyhooks celebration at the Wool Exchange, whilst his daughter, Arabella Frahn-Starkie will be presenting dance piece, Pictures & Ghosts at Platform Arts the week prior, on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 October.

Led by the animalistic screech of Graeme “Shirley” Strachan’s distinct vocals with continued celebration from the grumpy Hey Hey, It’s Saturday personality Red Symons, Skyhooks built a legendary legacy in Australia.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here

Skyhooks were the trailblazers of the shifting face of the rock ‘n’ roll in the 1970s, earning two of the country’s biggest selling albums, Living in the 70’s and Ego Is Not A Dirty Word, as produced by the head dad of cool, Ross Wilson. Their tracks were as top selling and charting as they were controversial. Six of their tracks from their debut album, Living in the 70’s, were banned from Australian radio, including ‘Just Like Me Cos I’m Good In Bed’. When radio behemoth and spawn of Triple J, Double J, launched in 2014, they made a huge impression making the contentious track their first spin.

Their NSFW legacy is continued live onstage by legendary mainstay guitarist, Bob ‘Bongo’ Starkie through the self-titled Bob ‘Bongo’ Starkie’s Skyhooks Show. Originally scheduled for July, the performance will see Bongo sharing the songs of the Skyhooks generation along with humorous and crude anecdotes into the band’s life and sparkling story.

“It’s a celebration of the Skyhooks, who we were and how we performed. It stands out alone. I’m just keeping the Skyhooks thing alive and injecting life into it. It’s a bit of fun! It’s a period piece,” laughs Starkie.

In stark contrast to the rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic is Pictures & Ghosts. Presented by Bongo’s daughter, Arabella Frahn-Starkie, Pictures & Ghosts gathers the recollections and traces of a dance. Communicated through dance movements as presented in person on stage and documented and screened through video, photography and notation, Pictures & Ghosts is a contemplation on the possibilities and pitfalls of the archiving of dance. The performance is an outcome of the 2022 Platform LAB program, under the creative development stream through Platform Arts.

“Last year I did a residency at Platform Arts and the work and a lot of the movement was really born out of the improvisations I did in that studio. It was a really lovely opportunity to come to a new place and make work. It’s really great to stage the work where it started really. The thinking started here and I’ve never made a solo before and it was a very contemplative and introspective time to come down on the train to spend the day here and just create and then go home and think. There is a lot of thinking present in the work,” says Frahn-Starkie.


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Whilst not a direct impact of her dad’s creative past, the dancer and choreographer was encouraged by both her parents to pursue her arts career.

“Mum and always were supportive of me to do whatever hobby I liked. I started dancing and I rejected that for a while, and dad was very supportive of the tennis and the soccer journey that I was on for a very brief stage, but then I came back to dance and I think just diligence and the confidence that you need to pursue something that is societally quite alternative came from dad. I saw dad every morning rehearsing guitar and practicing his craft and just giving it time. Whether that’s something you do as your job or something you do for pleasure, I was always encouraged to follow my interests which has led to where I am here today,” says Frahn-Starkie.

“Her dancing was always driven by herself. She would always go and make the bookings and work out what she wanted to do and I used to always drive her there and pay for it,” laughs Starkie. “It was self-propelled.”

He’s not disappointed Arabella didn’t take a leaf out of his book and go down the rockstar path.

“I’m grateful she didn’t,” he laughs. “I’m inspired by her, especially this last piece. It takes a long time to really form your originality and she’s standing out on her own. She has her own thing and it’s good. It’s a really good show!”

Tickets for Pictures & Ghosts can be purchased at the Platform Arts website and tickets for the Bob ‘Bongo’ Starkie Skyhooks Show can be purchased at the Wool Exchange website.