Fondues, Corduroys and Key Parties!
If you recognise more than one of those three words then you were once probably knee-deep in the 70’s revolution – a mix of afro-hairstyles, flared pants and solid-gold dancers.
That’s how it was. I felt as though I revisited the 70’s this past week as I strolled through the suburb of Cooloongup, south of Perth.
Australian seventies homes are distinct. It doesn’t matter how subsequent owners have tried to mask their home’s past by rendering their walls and turning them white. Changing the texture and the colour doesn’t hide what a 70’s home is.
Back in the day, it was all about brown. Mission brown became the standard choice of colour when painting something that didn’t already have a natural brown tone of its own. Brown wallpaper, brown bed covers and brown tiles moved throughout kitchens and bathrooms.
Chunky brown brick, arch frontages and textured amber coloured glass windows featured in almost every one of these 70s homes. It was Australia’s way of bringing a bit of the mediterranean downunder during the era of disco – but it certainly made the homes feel seedy.
Timber, brick and mission brown became a canvass for leather lounge suites and lazy boys. Stereo systems were manufactured with rich mahogany veneers. It’s hard to imagine all this darkness existing inside the homes of yesteryear.
So I got to thinking why we accepted so much of it into what is a bright, cheery part of the world. Why live in a cave of brown when the blue, green and white outsides mock it so loudly.
I decided that it came down to the 70’s Flake lady: Y’know, the chick pictured blowing a chocolate bar. Everyone from the 70’s knew her.
She was the one making it, phallic-ly speaking, with a Cadbury chocolate bar, her glossy lips caressing and teasing the end of a Flake.
Oh yeah baby, that’s the one!
Don’t you look at me as if I’m a nutter. That was a very erotic moment for everyone who saw it. That’s why Cadbury did so well out of the Flake chick and her private moment of oral obsession. One of those ads were banned in some places y’know! So I’m not the only one!
Now you’re asking: What’s the Flake chick ad got to do with mission brown?
The virginal Flake chick was the idyllic 70’s icon of purity in femininity. Every girl wanted to be a Flake chick and every guy wanted their girl to be her. During a predominantly masculine, cocaine fuelled hedonistic decade, the Flake chick descended from the heavens to bring us the most simple of pleasures. She took her chocolate bar and glossy lips away from everyone else and did a very naughty thing – and we witnessed her time of discovery as though she didn’t know we were watching.
The mission brown home provided a perfectly dark backdrop for men to see their women against. It didn’t matter whether is was day or night, her femininity shone through the darkness, turning the bleakness into a sign of hope.
Of course, Farrah-Fawcett helped the cause by fattening females hairstyles around the latter part of the decade. A thick halo surrounded the heads of our goddesses and all it took was a teensy bit of backlighting to inflate the angel.
And when the key party was over and it was time to return this goddess to her rightful owner, she’d pop on her virginal white hat and appear just as pure as the day she was born. She’d re-paint those lips in her favourite gloss, reach for a Cadbury Flake from the fridge, lie down on the leather couch and position herself in just a way that a light from behind would charge her hair halo.
Hubby, who had just finished waving off his own key-prize, would re-enter the room with his whup-whup pants to see his angel glowing against the darkness, secretly making out with a chocolate bar. She was exquisitely gentle – and it was as though he wasn’t there. Alas, corduroy doesn’t creep up on anyone quietly but she played the game anyway.
Long story short, her lipstick soon became smudged and that hat ended up somewhere between the brown veneered speakers and the bowl of plastic fruit beside the record player. This virgin was conquered again and again; on the leather, on the rug, against a mission brown table and underneath a chunky brick archway.
When it was over, she still glowed against mission brown… but panted a little too.
And then the eighties ended such scenarios. Girls didn’t want to be virginal goddesses anymore. Feminism wanted the lights on. There was more to life than positioning oneself in strategically placed lighting to be objectified by men.
The rooms were fitted with cold, fluorescent surround-lights. Internal walls were painted in beiges, eggshells and creams. New brick homes were made of a lighter, smoother brick, the dark bricks in existing homes were rendered over and coated in pale tones. There was no hiding in the dreamy darkness anymore. There were no more angel-made light pools of fantasy to experience.
So there you go. That’s my reasoning to the mission brown life of the 70’s. That’s where my head went during my outing today. History probably didn’t happen that way for everyone but that’s what this writer imagined while enjoying a day-trip back to the decade of disco.
Incidentally, sales of Cadbury Flake bars have dropped since those days. Articles like this one explain more about what’s been going on with Flake recent times. It seems the ad’s successes in the past are what’s holding it back in the present.
Such is life. Enjoy my books and my wild imagination.