This is the transcript of the tape, recorded at the second interview between Detective Nicholby HARDUP and the victim Joseph BLING.
NH: O.k., it’s recording; so the time is three ( 3:00 ) p.m. on Monday the sixteenth ( 16th ) of January two thousand and six ( 2006 ). I’m Nicholby HARDUP from Wilpenia CIB with Joseph BLING and Joseph you attended on the sixteenth (16 th ) of December and we talked about some incidents that occurred when you were a child –
JB: Ha ham.
NH: -and unfortunately due to ah I don’t know, I can’t explain why; with the tape, there was a problem with Side A if I can just talk about those incidents again and we discussed prior to the interview; just if we can just discuss about your life, what led it up, what led up to the Park Cottage Theatre meeting with Leith MARSHAL and so forth.
JB: Ah. Certainly; well you know okay, so I’m Joseph Oliver BLING, I was born on the sixteenth ( 16th ) of June nineteen sixty one ( 1960 ) in Naracorte. My parents were migrants from the United Kingdom. When I was about four ( 4 ) years or three ( 3 ) years of age we’ve moved to Hackham where we lived for the next twenty ( 20 ) odd years or thereabouts.
It was round the time that I was eight ( 8 ) years old that I’ve taken an interest in theatre and became involved in local amateur theatre; so a few years later by the time I was about thirteen ( 12 ) or so, my mother brought to my attention auditions there were being held at the Park Cottage Theatre in Adelaide for a play called Camelot which is a musical. My mother brought it to my attention and I rang up and said I’d like to audition and she was happy to drive me into the city to audition so I put on good clothes, which in retrospect was kind of amusing since it was a pair of platform; it is the nineteen seventies (1970’s), early seventies ( 70’s ), so platform multi coloured shoes, and flairs, and body shirt, and I had longish shoulder length curly hair and, wore glasses and wasn’t an unattractive young man but wasn’t a head turner either just a sort of average kind well presented lad.
The director of the, of the production was a gentlemen called Murray RIVERS who was a rather big, happy sort of looking chap that wore dark rimmed glasses and the producer stroke star of the as yet produced production was Sir Arthur MARSHAL of the Hutt River Province which is how I came to know him. Later after I had got to know Art more intimately he had shown me stamps from the Hutt River Province he had at his house, and he told me about being a Knight in this place which was in Western Australia. At the audition I stood on the stage and was asked by Art and Murray who were in the auditorium of; what I would call a very intimate theatre, probably only seated a hundred and fifty (150 ) maybe two hundred ( 200 ) people, had a very small stage and it had just recently been extended so there was still some unfinished woodwork and this and that around and about the place. My mother sat up in the back row of the theatre whilst I stood on the, stage; her sitting there was unusual for an audition, I had been to other auditions so it wasn’t the first audition I’d ever been to but it’s the first audition I’d ever been to at the Park Cottage Theatre and the only audition I ever had at the Park Cottage Theatre. Usually you wouldn’t have your mother sitting up the back watching. That sort of added to my anxiety because it’s a bit nerve wracking auditioning, and this was my first what they called semi-professional audition ever.
There is no foyer or, I don’t believe the building’s there anymore but you walked in off the street into a very small area which basically had stair cases on either side which the stair cases led into the auditorium, so there was no foyer to speak of.
It was an afternoon, probably a Saturday or a Sunday and it was quite warm outside so my mother, I think came up the steps with me and we were told that we could sit down and; so we did, up in the back row. It was a bit odd because she was sitting at the back and when I think of it about it, it was very odd given the, given what eventually happened. Anyway was eventually asked to turn around and asked to walk up and down. I had to read a few lines with someone; I think it was either Art, or actually Leith MARSHAL who was the Stage Manager of the production. There was another boy auditioning called Edwin KOVANISH. I didn’t know him, but I remember thinking he was very good. He got the main part for a juvenile. I think I was told either then and there, or within twenty four ( 24 ) hours that yes I had a part, that there was a, a part as a page-boy, which it constituted being in various scenes and learning different songs and being a part of the show.
So it was kind of exciting for me, it was semi professional so I would be getting paid something like two (2 ) dollars a week I think, or thereabouts and I think it was something like eight ( 8 ) performances a week. Now I could be wrong with that but I think was like performing, not Monday nights but Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and I think there were a couple of Saturday Matinees as well so I think somehow it worked out to be that we would do eight ( 8 ) performances a week, and I was required for the whole thing. I was on in the first scenes, in, on stage; in the first scenes in the show you know, scenes in the middle of the show and scenes at the end of the show. So I, I couldn’t leave early or anything like that, and in those days the local train had not been built in my area, so it was a Briscoe’s Bus ride to come in to the city to do the show, but prior to getting, prior to the show starting obviously there’s a rehearsal process and the rehearsals took place in a venue at the back of a, a shop front in Duthy Street and, and so I used to get dropped off from Hackham to Duthy Street which; I’m not a hundred (100%) percent sure what the suburb is called but it’s close to the inner city, not far from, from from Urbrae College which is an agricultural college but I’m not a driver so I don’t know actually how far it is. Both my parents were quite supportive in terms of dropping me off and picking me up. But because it was so far and, and my, my father worked very long hours and my mother did shift work there were times when it was difficult for me to actually either attend a rehearsal or to stay for the full length of a rehearsal and when I suggested to the stage manager Leith MARSHAL, the man who I, who I was introduced to as Leith MARSHAL. His (Leith’s) opinion was that I needed to be at the rehearsals and I needed to be there for the full time and if it was necessary they’d find somewhere for me to stay overnight on occasions so that it wasn’t going to cause a problem. As it turned out they extended an invitation for me to stay with them at their place, they had a rather large house in Wattle Street, not very far from Duthy Street. Leith and Art lived together.
Well actually I, I don’t know that I, I thought of it as their place; I thought of it as Art’s place and, and Leith; the more I got to know Leith the more I realised that he was sort of Art’s right hand man or Art’s assistant or whatever; you know? I didn’t really question it, and realised over relatively short period of time I suppose over a few weeks, that, Art and Leith were often together and did things together and you know no one made any remarks about that and I didn’t really think deeply about it.
I couldn’t say now whether I would have identified them as being in a relationship as such of, of a, a, a, complex nature, but as far as I understood Leith was the stage manager of the theatre and occasionally performed in, in shows or certainly had performed in the Sound of Music for example. Leith told me he played the character of Rolf, because it had to be pronounced a particular way. There was a guy working backstage on Camelot whose name was Ralph… and the other Page Boy in the production was Eric HOBBS, and he had also been in other shows there, and so had Jane WEIDERHAUS.
Some of the cast of Camelot were new such as myself to the whole Park Cottage Theatre and some of them had been around for a long time. Barry GILL who was the set designer and set builder and painter had been married on the stage of the Park Cottage Theatre to one of the cast of South Pacific when they were doing South Pacific and I believe that South Pacific was the show that preceded Camelot. But again I, I you know this is pretty much thirty ( 30 ) years ago and so I think that was the case. But the, the reason why I think that was because Barry and I think it was Joannah, his wife, his, his wife was a large Italian woman and she played Bloody Mary I think it is, in South Pacific and there was still a lot of nostalgic or, or recent sort of goodwill around the fact that they’d been married on the stage of South Pacific and it was very romantic.
I am; I attended the rehearsals I was introduced to Edwin KOVANISH who was probably twelve ( 12 ) or thirteen ( 13 ) as well but he was a, a, particularly small boy, short, fine boned so you could almost go so far as to say that he might have been ah vertically challenged as an adult because he started off quite small, small for his age and I was also introduced to Eric HOBBS who played the other page boy, Jane WEIDERHAUS who played the, the lead female role , Genevieve, Kalvin KENNEDY who played one of the knights in the jousting scenes. There was Eric HOBBS’ father; Scott I think but I could have that wrong, but Mr HOBBS. There was a girl, young woman, called Emily RAVENHAIR a man called Leo ASHLEY they all played different roles in the show.
Eric’s father, Mr HOBBS had to drop out of the play late in the rehearsal period. So did the director, he had some sort of liver problem or heart problem, Murray RIVERS; so he had to step down and Arthur MARSHALL was going to direct then himself so he was starring and directing. The first time I ever met Art was when he was on the Saturday morning children’s television show at Channel Seven (7) and I took my guinea pigs and rabbit in for an on air show and tell sort of segment. That had been a few years before – I was probably eight (8) years old.
So the Duthy Street rehearsals had been taking place for a little while and we’d established that there was also a member of the cast who was either married or of a defacto partner of a person who worked with my mother at Minda Home. His name is Bill RAVENHAIR and I guess they were married because her name was Emily RAVENHAIR and there were times when my mother was quite happy for me to stay over at a friend of their’s place whose name was Kalvin KENNEDY who was also in the, in the play. So I had times when I could stay with Bill and Kalvin because Bill shared with, with Kalvin and my parents felt fine about that because there was this loose but, but traceable connection between where I was staying and, and who my parents knew.
But then there were incidents that occurred with Art the first of those being back stage at the Park Cottage Theatre, Art had his own personal dressing room and.
Q.NH: How old were you there Joseph when, when this happened; you talk about this incident.
JB: This incident is during Camelot and I guess I was thirteen ( 13 ), it could have been nineteen seventy three ( 1973 ) or it could have been nineteen seventy four ( 1974 ), I think it was the end of, I think it might have been the end of seventy three ( 73 ) going into seventy four ( 74 ) or it was the end of seventy four ( 74 ) going into seventy five ( 75 ) and I, I really personally need to go and check it myself just to be absolutely a hundred percent ( 100 % ) sure about that and I haven’t had a chance to since we did this last time.
But in the, in the dressing room which was adjacent to the back of the stage quite literally you would walk off the back of the stage and take maybe four ( 4 ) or five ( 5 ) steps and there was the doorway to Art’s dressing room. And he would disappear into this room and, and we would all disappear into the general, dressing room which was off to the; if you were facing the stage it was through a little corridor of to the, to the left hand side.
Now the Park Cottage Theatre was literally an old cottage that had had the auditorium; the cottage itself had been gutted and the auditorium and the, the stage had been built within the context of the original structure and it was sort of semi detached to a building that was like a, a dwelling next door that had been converted into the back stage area, the dressing room, the kitchen and a couple of tea rooms where after the show we were then, the page boys particularly would take out trays of scones and jam and coffee and such for the guests who would come and have a coffee and a scone and if they were lucky they’d get to meet the great Arthur MARSHALL or Jane WEIDERHAUS , you know get to meet the stars of the cast.
So there were all those little extra things that well we’ve always been asked to do and one of them was accompanying Art to his dressing room on at this particular occasion where I think I was thirteen ( 13 ) going on fourteen ( 14 ) or fourteen ( 14 ) going on fifteen ( 15 ). At the moment I think it was more like thirteen ( 13 ) going on fourteen ( 14 ). I was having a conversation with Art I quite liked him because he wore stylish clothes and he was on TV and he was a big imposing sort of character but kind of not threatening, he could be threatening just by his presence and because he was the director of the play now and the star of the play; you know he wore make up he was a person who wore make up and explained that he’d wore the make up because he was on television and he always smelt of Aramis aftershave; Aramis is a brand of, of aftershave or cologne but it was a nice clean sort of smell and he was always well presented and he had a good sense of humour so you know he, he, he had a good gift for the gab in terms of communicating with people and he spoke to me as though I was quite a mature young adult and when I say mature young adult I’m actually thinking he communicated with me though I was older and more emotionally developed that what I actually was. It made me feel special. Special as if I were an adult.
This particular day I think I had been helping out with tidying up or something, some part of the process of bumping-in; at this particular point in time I was invited into Art’s dressing room by Art, and he locked the doors behind me, I remember there were two locks on his dressing room door, you stepped down a step into the dressing room so it felt like a really different environment to the rest of the place. His dressing room had a big old seat, an arm chair and had his make up and his mirror with the lights around it and I don’t believe there were any windows in his dressing room, if there were, I didn’t notice them. I would have been about five foot ( 5′ ) tall, and a fairly light weight sort of kid probably about seven ( 7 ) stone.
He somehow was talking with me about people being able to love whom ever they wished and to love freely and, he told me that he thought that I liked Leith MARSHAL the, his, his stage manager stroke assistant and I said “yes” I thought Leith was really lovely. Art asked me about what I thought about the way that Leith wore his clothes and the way that he had his hair and I agreed that “yes”, Leith MARSHAL looked well in his clothes and his hair was nice. Art told me that Leith quite liked me too, and I just thought that was really lovely, you know that it was nice that Leith liked me. I didn’t think very deeply about it. Art explained that he thought it was important that people should be allowed to express themselves openly and honestly and be with whom they, they wish but that it wasn’t always possible, that it couldn’t always be done. And he told me he would like to be able to express himself however he liked, and if he wanted to fuck his dog he should be allowed to do so. Now I’m not really sure how he got into that conversation with me but I do remember it because it was an unusual thing to be hearing. I pretty much said I agreed with him, I remember wondering what he was getting at. Art asked me if I liked him and I said I did. He asked me to press my hand against his penis through his pants which I did do, then he asked me to open the fly on his pants and take his penis out. I did that. Art asked if I would suck his penis. He actually just told me to “Suck it”. He was wearing a pair of plaid zip up pants and a shirt, he was fully dressed but he asked me to unzip his fly and take out his penis and so I did, his penis was circumcised and erect. He told me to suck his penis and I said I couldn’t, I had done everything that he’d asked me to do so far, which was place my hand on his crotch, unzip his fly, pull down his underpants, get, take his erect penis out, I hadn’t thought very much about it as I was doing it I was just sort of doing what he was telling me, I wasn’t thinking about any consequences. I can, I can say quite honestly that I was exited and also scared. When he told me to “Suck it” I said, “I couldn’t” and he told me to pull it, you know. Now I wasn’t masturbating at that point in my own life so I didn’t really know what he meant, so he put his hand on mine and pulled his penis and soon Art ejaculated which I had never seen before and was grossed out by it, Art had some tissues in a tissue box and he asked for them. He reached out and squeezed my penis through my pants when I stood up to fetch the tissues, I think I had a pair of button up pants on, flairs, and I declined the invitation to pull my own penis, but it was erect by then. I just didn’t really know what he was talking about.