Waking the witch

Rosaleen NortonLiving in Sydney’s Kings Cross as I did for a big chunk of the 1990s, it was impossible to ignore the spirit of Rosaleen Norton – visionary artist, self-proclaimed witch and perpetual scandal magnet – who made her mark in a district whose bar for eccentricity was always set high-ish. Though she had moved on to another plane in 1979, you would still see yellowing snapshots of her in ill-smelling cafés, or even meet people who knew her. For a while I lived in the street which also held Roie’s last address. Later, on the dog-legged Kellett Street, where the brothels threw open their windows by day to reveal rows of industrial-sized washing machines rinsing away the previous evening’s eliminations, I once saw an older gentleman poking around behind the wrought iron fence of one of the street’s grand terrace houses. It turned out to be Kenneth Anger, scoping out locations for his own film version of Norton which sadly never eventuated (Kings Cross was that kind of place; at the deli where I used to get my lunch I would sometimes notice a dapper customer who stood out as the only man in the neighbourhood sporting a bow-tie who was not also policing ingress to a strip club. I had no idea who he was until he turned up on my TV accepting a Nobel Peace Prize, being activist José Ramos-Horta, later President of East Timor).

Anyway, back to Roie. For she may yet move among us once more, in flickering effigy at least. You probably know where this is going and yes, it does involve crowdfunding. The Witch of Kings Cross is a documentary in progress for which filmmaker Sonia Bible is currently raising finance to complete filming on interviews. The modest goal is already in sight, and I warmly invite you to consider helping her over the line, and to keep an eye out for the finished product. Read more here, and marvel once more at Roie’s occult dentistry in the pitch below, which also makes sterling use of “Spellbound” by ye olde Siouxsie & the Banshees (click here if you don’t see the video embedded).


  1. Rosaleen Norton’s fantastic rich presence lives on even after having shaken off her mortal coil. This unique presence she has left and which lingers, leaving a psychic aroma; – that’s when you know someone during their life has been tapping into real deep sources greater than ego and id, and flowering out of them. What a marvelous strange flower. Her ugliness – her sinewy body and scant breasts, anything but voluptuous, her teeth with overbite and gap in them, those arching eyebrows reminding one of a trident or other occult symbol rendered visible in the flesh – isn’t really ugliness anymore. It’s something else, transformed into curiously magnetic charms by her magic. She charismatically inhabits her odd physical characteristics like Nietzsche wore that great mustache of his, which only makes sense on him.

  2. thombeau

    A timely title, dear James, what with Kate being all the rage these days!

  3. Pingback: Places: Crowley’s Berlin | Strange Flowers

  4. Pingback: Through the storm | Strange Flowers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: