Bikes, Babes and Beer at the Crusty Demons
Finding a meaningful connection in a foreign subculture at a failing franchise
There’s this six-foot electric red-head with tall, thick leather boots and a neck tattoo waiting in line behind us. Her hair colour’s probably from a bottle called ‘Brazen Bitch’ or something. I imagine in a bar she’d be breaking a pool cue over someone’s head for looking at her funny.
I stare straight ahead. We’re waiting to get into a Crusty Demons show we scored tickets for. I feel like the gentry from Downton Abbey attending a cockfight.
At least I’m wearing black.
It almost didn’t go ahead. The wind in Geelong finally dropped under 25kph after a cyclonic few days meaning the show would go ahead that night. Anything over 25kph puts the motocross riders, who spend the night doing acrobatic stunts at risk.
My husband’s mate who works for them is decked out in Crusty Demons merch and a cap from Monster energy drink, three green claw marks down the middle.
He’s giving us the dirt on the event.
Despite their full title: Crusty Demons of Dirt, there is a considerable lack of it. Any damage to the beloved Geelong Cats stadium can incur upwards of $2000 for a patch of grass.
Not so badass.
He’s mooched us past security and now we’re strolling around the fresh clipped grass, followed by the eyes of diehard fans who paid VIP rates to be there early, up in the stands.
Two huge inflatable ramps are set up opposite each other with three smaller metallic ramps leading up to them both. The dew is a worry too for the riders landing, someone had already been shipped off in an ambulance that day.
The Crusty Demons franchise has been around since 1994, a ragtag bunch of testosterone jacked men pulling out stunts and pranks like Cirque du Soleil meets Jackass, always with a thumping heavy metal soundtrack. Names like Macka, Maddo, Jacko.
You know, really high-brow kind of stuff.
They’re trying to revive the whole thing with these tours but it hadn’t been a huge success. After the Demons cancelled a show in Sydney after five minutes, disgruntled fans set their Facebook to notify them of updates so they could troll the organisers.
It’s my first night out baby-free courtesy of visiting parents. We could be fly-fishing for all I care, I’m stoked for the freedom. Maybe next time it will be the ballet.
But, here we are, Metallica blasting our ear drums as we check out the site. People spilling into the stadium, every variety of skating/biking subculture, a uniform of black, ripped jeans, dreadlocks, Vans, mirrored sunglasses, lip-rings and silver chains.
A kid near us mentions Harry Potter which dings of cognitive dissonance. I want to cover his mouth and whisper “don’t let them hear you! They eat nerds for breakfast!”
Then there’s Bubba, a hefty guy in overalls who tags along with the Demons, playing up the Southern, dumb American shtick. The butt of all jokes. “I’m old and fat!” he jokes to the VIP fans getting the pre-show tour. I can’t help but feel sorry for him.
Is skewering yourself for fame worth it?
He’s certainly well-known in this circle. Just like the riders we walk past who leave kids breathless, fumbling for jerseys and Sharpies for an autograph. We meet one of the rider’s girlfriend’s in the commentary box, bored, scrolling through Instagram.
As we follow Dave-O around, he’s a someone. Even if it is just in this context. People perking up when he approaches, on the verge of saying something but not sure what. He even signs a few autographs.
The show starts with ARE YOU READY TO GET THIS PARTY STARTED!? And it’s everything you would imagine, there’s flames punctuating each jump, the Crusty babes in their thigh-high boots and air-hostess level makeup doing a slutty version of the Macarena on platforms.
The MC’s are losing their mind over every single scissor kick, Shaolin backflip and Indian air. Everything is superhuman! Elite! Rock solid! Hard hitting!
It’s like they took notes off the Tekken voiceover guys.
They do a great job at hyping the increasingly beer-fuelled crowd shovelling deep-fried chicken in their gobs.
I notice a young guy with his son sitting in front of us. He’s got the full skater uniform on with a silver chain and he’s snapping selfies with his little boy and posting them on Snapchat. He’s opening up this part of his world to his son.
I realise what a completely different experience he must be having from me.
Despite the organisers, the people behind the scenes struggling to pull the show together, there’s just enough magic to make this boy’s night.
I repent of my judginess and enjoy watching the two.
I’m transported back to my Dad’s lap while he plays the piano, same age. A gateway into his world. Doesn’t matter what kind of world, even if this one is booze-filled with scantily clad girls.
I’ll stick to Downton Abbey and ballet for now.
The show ends with all the riders jumping one after the other, the crowd goes wild and everyone pours out buzzing.
Apparently it’s the best show they’d done.
I notice the red-head woman on our way out an give her a smile, grateful to be part of this weird and wonderful world for a night.
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