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As a young lady, I had a friend whose brother was the coolest guy in town, and he was a pinball player. I clearly remember their mum shouting 'you stole coins again for those flippers!' - he would empty her wallet to play. As a young girl, I thought the pinball parlour was a place where bad boys would hang out. It was not a place for a lady. And the one in our town was located next door to the strip joint, so I never actually stepped foot in there. So that was kind of an association made in my head, you know - pinball and bad boys.
We went out to pubs and different places and I just took my book and read. My partner would encourage me to play but no, that’s a bad boy thing - I like bad boys, but it’s their thing.
I was volunteering at Newtown Festival, we met up afterward and went to the old Sandringham Hotel where they had an Indiana Jones. He asked me again if I wanted to play but this time I said “oh yeah go on” and that was the first time I played. It wasn’t the shining flashing lights that attracted me to pinball, it was the complexity of the things happening underneath - Once I saw a pinball playfield lifted up I was like “wow!”
I got slightly obsessed - I kept a pinball diary. The date, the machine played, and the score I got. We would travel around Sydney playing machines I haven't played before and put it in my diary. Yeah, a bit crazy.
It’s just so exciting. You can play the same machine a hundred times and it’s a different game every time. I can’t think of anything else that you can do so repetitively with a different outcome.
My favourite part about pinballs is no one has an advantage over anyone else. Being male or female, tall or short, everyone is on equal ground. The first competition I joined was at the Town Hall Hotel and there was a gay couple - a lady in a wheelchair and her partner competing. And she was kicking everyone’s ass.
Z Ball Pinball League is definitely my home league because we are there to have fun, not win. The fun brings out the best in people. The best bit is telling other people about the league and trying to convert them. Anyone has a chance and anyone can win - Roger Z makes sure everyone gets a chance. It’s all about being together and learning the game and encouraging others.
There was the state championship, to qualify; you had to play certain machines around the city. I discovered an ACDC at the Oxford Art Factory and I was playing every day for a few weeks. It’s only open late at night and there was another player that kept beating me.
The very last evening of qualifying I waited out front to get in - security staff knew me so they let me in a bit earlier. I played and I beat the other person’s score just before midnight, and it was the most exciting moment. Without anyone trying to encourage or help me I was there on my own getting my own game and winning it. It was such a good feeling
And it got better - I won 2nd place in that championship and got the highest score of the day. The staff at the Hard Rock Cafe were super excited for me because I was the only girl competing. They brought me a tequila shot because they were so excited that I won a trophy.
Growing up in a communist country you don’t get a trophy unless you’re really really good at something. I was never really good at sports. That was the very first trophy that I won in my entire life. My whole body was shaking my hands were shaking - I was given a beer to calm my nerves but I couldn’t actually hold it!
Guys didn’t know how to take me. When I started playing there weren’t any girls. I heard some guy say ‘I don’t care if I’m last, I just don’t want to be beaten by a chick’. I put all my might into it and beat him. Being a man doesn’t give you any advantage. I’d sometimes be horrified by the crowd and think ‘these are not my people’.
I like reading, I like learning. I do enjoy being pushed to the limit, I like to learn new things and expose myself to different situations - and to actually get to know myself.
There are things that are important to me, things that I’m passionate about. Mainly human rights issues we still face in the 21st century. It is disturbing that Pauline Pantsdown's satire is still relevant twenty years later.
People are still racist mother fuckers and we still have an issue with people who love each other getting married. These are the issues I get passionate about, and they make me really angry.
Production, Writing, Design, Art Direction: Marc Bell
Photography, Design, Art Direction: Matthew Venables - http://mvenables.com