STACEY TEAGUE

kylie minogue’s gold hotpants permanently altered the chemistry of your brain

in 90s bedrooms      girls were secretly undressing their barbies
ripping the velcro off of their       pink playsuits
wondering what it meant to mash their plastic bodies      together

they coveted esmeralda toys from mcdonalds
had never seen the hunchback of notre dame
but they knew about   the way her dress fell off her shoulders
the soft white fabric    opening             draping over her breasts
corseted waist and       flowing purple skirt

then there was kylie minogue spinning around in her gold hotpants
ass fully out                  gold heels clicking on the dancefloor
while they were sitting cross-legged on the carpet                   10am on a saturday morning
faces too close to the television

they were tearing out pages from dolly and girlfriend magazines
that they dutifully saved up pocket money to buy
plastered walls with pictures of models
beach babes       skater girls       women who rolled out of bed looking like that

somewhere among them            a picture of a home and away heartthrob
his hair             bleached from the sun                 styled into small spikes

what about the mummy (1999)
taped off the tv and watched repeatedly
rachel weisz                  charmingly flustered librarian
brendan fraser            lighting a match on his jaw
begging the question
is this movie good    or is everyone just hot

as teenagers               they kiss their friends at parties for fun
                                      lips, tongues, hands, pressing

they write down sad lyrics               with gel pens
              in flowery notebooks
              leaden with longing and desire

they listened to bright eyes, rilo kiley,
& death cab for cutie on their discmans
                                       on the school bus home
waiting for something to happen

then it is real life
               no glittery music videos
no disney princesses or australian soap stars to objectify
               this is how we begin

move overseas
kissing women they just met
on         subway platforms
late night apartments
mashing              their plastic bodies together

it’s less a clicking into place
than the cracking of a snap bracelet
as it curls around the wrist

they rewatch the episodes of the O.C.
where marissa dates olivia wilde
the first time they hold hands
grinning at one another
              all dark denim mini skirts
                             plastic bracelets and
               thin eyebrows
it is short-lived
not to be taken seriously

after their first queer heartbreak
they are born again       into new places
they can now survive anything

it’s the kylie minogue hotpants
to crying in bus stops pipeline
that they never expected

now they collect childhood artifacts
in the inventory of      their chests
until they open and                  decide
                                              to let bloom

LISTEN to ‘kylie minogue’s gold hotpants permanently altered the chemistry of your brain’ by Stacey Teague

author photo Stacey Teague photographer credit Ebony Lamb

Stacey Teague (Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāpuhi) is a poet and teacher living in Wellington, New Zealand. She is a publisher and editor at Tender Press. Her poetry collection Plastic came out in March 2024 with Te Herenga Waka University Press.

Stacey comments: 'I was commissioned to write this poem by Overcom Mag for Bisexuality Awareness Day. So I had to sit down and have a little think about my own bisexuality. What came to mind first was my formative years and the pop culture that shaped me. Naturally I thought of Saturday morning chart shows, watching pop stars as I sat mere inches from the television. Watching the Home and Away omnibus on a Sunday. Thin eyebrows and discmans, a real "you know you're a 90s kid when ... " kind of vibe. I took this poem to two good friends who gave me some valuable feedback. I went back and reworked it, and it all just clicked. I intended it to be a lighter, more fun poem but it's gay so it's a bit sad too.'

 

(Note: The poet has removed one line from the original published version of the poem. —Ed.)

Poem source details >

 

Links

Stacey Teague's webpage

Stacey Teague's Te Herenga Waka University Press author page

 

Photographer credit: Ebony Lamb