Werewolves of Melbourne – Lesley Jones
Broadcast: Monday 11 February 1986.
Werewolves have been a part of human folklore for centuries, and later
took the starring role in many of our books and films, filling us with
fear late at night, and giving us blood curdling nightmares… If we could
sleep at all.
Many of us thought that the Werewolf would remain a fictional character
forever, until Australian born rock singer Wolfie Rankin “came out” during
the “Aurora” concert in 1983.
Has it changed our perceptions about who and what the Werewolf really is.
Wolfie Rankin, Thankyou for coming into the studio tonight.
It’s a Pleasure, Thankyou.
I began by mentioning horror movies, and wonder if you think that there’s still a tendency for people, your fans included, to think about the werewolf as a blood thirsty creature of the night? and does it bother you?
No, not really, I mean it has been discussed among some of the other werewolves but we’re not generally worried about it, many of us grew up watching those movies, I certainly did…
You didn’t know you were a Werewolf until you were fifteen, right?
When you first transformed, what was that like? Was there any warning?
Well I remember having the odd twinge in my body and not worrying about it all that much, it wasn’t until after the fact that I looked back with Twenty-Twenty vision and went, Oh, So that’s what that was.
On the day that it happened, I remember being very stiff and sore and my fillings fell out.
It happened during the day?
Yep, Two PM on a Saturday afternoon, so pop goes that cliche. *laughs*
Would you mind taking us through what it was like?
Happy to, I know there are others out there who haven’t changed yet, and while I took it fairly well, others have a really hard time with it.
I’d been out walking Laddie, our Dog, with Dad after lunch and my body began to ache, it wasn’t too bad, but I remember sort of limping around and once I was home, I told Mum who was fairly concerned, especially after me going “Oh look, another filling popped out”.
She straightened my bed and made me lay down, and filled the hot water bottles up for me.
Good old Mum.
Yes exactly, Dad was worried too, I remember hearing him in the kitchen asking Mum if She wanted him to drive me to the hospital, Mum didn’t know what to do, but I’m glad they didn’t do that or it would have made things so much worse.
Anyway, once it happened, there was no pain, it was almost like my body let out this big sigh and all the tension left, and then it was like I had an erection over my entire body, and all the fur sprouted.
It felt lovely, really… but I also felt strangely drunk.
Then I noticed my arms, and my hands and just thought “Oh that’s nice”, and
about five minutes later it started to occur to me that I’m going to have to tell someone.
I thought of Teen Wolf…
So the movies got some things right then?
Oh, It’s generally accepted that if any movie got things right, that Teen Wolf came the closest. *Laughs*
My whole life is basically a better version of Teen Wolf, except the costume is better and I have a Guitar rather than a basketball. *Laughs*
So what happened then?
Well I wanted to panic a bit, but I couldn’t get up, and Mum came back and
that was that.
How did She take it?
It was difficult, She wasn’t sure what I was, or maybe even who I was, I think she had thought a few things which she still hasn’t told me… but there I was, all seven feet of me, with my legs sticking out at the end of the bed.
She wasn’t prepared for it, how could she be?
I’m grateful that she didn’t watch horror films, I think that would have made things worse, she had none of that imagery in her head so, perhaps, it was easier for her.
Dad was a different kettle of fish, I remember him coming in and looking at me, and his mouth dropped open, and then he said “You alright Son?” and I said “Yeah, I think so”… although my mouth wouldn’t work properly so I sort of mumbled it. and he nodded and that was that. It’s funny how some people react.
He wasn’t fussed?
Not at all, There’s a part of Dad which never grew up, which I think we all have, but I could just see that sparkle in his eyes that said “Cool!”.
I’m glad because I think it made everything easier for Mum.
Dad helped me get out of bed, and was somewhat surprised when he saw how big I was,
I wrapped my arm around him for support because I was still wobbly on my feet, My Dad is this big truckie and I think he was straining under the weight, so he’s trying to hold me up without falling over and I’m trying not to knock him over or run into anything, it was a mess. *laughs*
My whole body had changed into something new and I had to re-learn how to do everything.
I was getting around the house awkwardly, trying to walk without falling over and I was saying “Look at me, look at me” and then at some point I remember thinking “Oh crap, I’m naked”, so I went to the bathroom and put a towel around myself, and that’s all I could wear for a few days.
You didn’t change back?
No, I was like that for a solid month or more, so I was confined to the house. and you know, I’m generally an inside person, but not going out wore thin, I snuck out a few times, late at night to walk the dog with Dad.
I had no idea if I would revert to my old body or not, and I was worried that it might hurt if I did, or something would go wrong, if I’d die.
What kind of difficulties did you face over that month.
You begin to realise how much of this world is made for “normal people”, You don’t really get it until your body changes in such a drastic way and things which were easy to use can suddenly be difficult.
The first night I changed, I couldn’t use a knife or fork, so Mum cut things up and fed me as though I was a baby, I think she quite enjoyed doing that even though she was also still really worried about me.
It was difficult to use a toilet, I had to really think about that one but
eventually everything worked out well.
What about playing the guitar.
If anything, that seemed easier, for which I was grateful. Having claws at
the ends of my fingers was a real asset there.
Except I couldn’t sing, It took me a good few months to understand how my voice worked.
I remember reading an article earlier on where someone suggested you weren’t really a werewolf, and that it was all some sort of publicity stunt.
Oh yes, I’ve read a few of those too. *laughs*
They cited your ability to form words with a “dog shaped mouth” as impossible.
Well there you go, that proves it then *laughs* Fake as…
I do understand though, there’s a lot of things which shouldn’t be possible and people think well, logically, that can’t be right.
When you went on The Don Lane Show shortly after coming out on stage, didn’t that help?
Not really, I think a lot of people still think the whole thing’s as fake as the moon landing, I’m not fussed about it really, But the Doctors and Vets who examined me that night, were convinced that I wasn’t fake. but then they had difficulties with their workmates and patients so in retrospect although I wasn’t just trying to clarify my position, it wasn’t good for them and it came across as a bit of a stunt.
I know you’ve spoken about it many times before, but what was it like to come out on stage like that?
Difficult, I was more worried about the other Weres than myself, I’ve done well for myself over the years and have a nice big home with security, but not everyone else does.
Although we’ve never been all that secret, people just saw us but would keep it to themselves, people aren’t worried about Werewolves at all which sort of flies in the face of everything… it’s like “Oh, You’re a Werewolf? <pause> cool” and it’s a kind of a let down really *laughs*.
Certain People in Melbourne, the vagrants, the ladies of the night, the cops, always knew we were there..
But you know the band had no idea, and I just told them I’d make this big announcement and not to worry too much, just keep playing. it was ok, but it got a bit complicated later when we had to have a long talk about it, but after a month or so, we were just us again.
You mentioned the other Werewolves, are there many of you and where do you
There’s perhaps around thirty of us at the moment, others always show up. We have a place which has been converted into a sort of pub, we hang out there and then go for a walk if we feel the need for a lung full of smog… But I’m not going to say where it is.
mind if we dispel a few myths?
Not at all.
It’s bollocks, although I find I can’t sleep very well when there’s a full moon. I can change at any time, and so can all the others.
What about Silver?
Well I’ve been to a few lovely evenings where silver cutlery was involved, nothing happened. I can’t say anything about silver bullets as I haven’t been shot at and neither have any of my friends, I hope that remains the status quo.
Is it a curse?
*laughs* Definitely not, it’s incredible, I love it.
We’re still working on it, but it’s getting close to being finished, We’re hoping for a release date of around May or June and another concert in June or July we think.
AHA! A Scoop!
Wolfie, Thanks for coming in, and good luck with the next album and tour.
Thankyou for having me and for your wishes.
I’ve just been chatting to Wolfie Rankin and as he says a new album around
May or June, Sounds good to me.
It’s five o’clock here at Air FM.
Copyright Air FM 1986
Air Digital, Melbourne Australia.