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Dunedin's reputation as a 'music Capital' has too often rested on notions of the tortured artist - a pale waif like being riddled with trackmarks, prone to wailing into the microphone; or alternately, impassively straddling ones noise emitting guitar. The waif artists may have been known for breaking the law but there is an essential passivism about their rebellion that makes them unlikely candidates for bad boy status.

Lads have always been present for those who knew where to find them, generally within the halcyon triangle of the Cook, the Gardies, and the Fat Ladies Arms. These are the blokes of rugby, beer (preferably speights) and frequent lay's (though not, perhaps, as frequent as they would have you believe).

However, in the wake of England's 'New Lads' of a few years back, Dunedin has witnessed an emerging trend of new laddism led by local punk band the Ho' Dogs; a laddism cooler, sharper, and more likely to be seen in polyester than Barkers stretch'n'sweat. The Ho' Dogs negotiate the slippery slopes of a sexual politics whose complexity is intriguing and often contradictory.

Equal parts G.G. Allin and Jarvis Cocker, the Ho' Dogs grew out of local troublemakers the California Girls Cartel, who made their headquarters in the abandoned California Girls Strip Club and indulged in bouts of shameless self promotion as to their supposed debauched ways and sexual prowess. The Ho' Dogs and associated bands The Aesthetics, Big Organ, and the Trash Gordons have generated a scene known for it's 'dirty' rock'n'roll and onstage bravado.

Fueled by beer and testosterone, an easy sexism is overlaid with a sense of irony and play hitherto unseen in Dunedin guitar culture. This is, most definitely, a boys club. Boys predominate at Ho' Dogs gigs and take centre stage; the female component of the audience appearing largely as admiring onlookers, girl groupies in a performance where balls, quite frankly, do count. Lead singer Tim Doe, frequently clad only in underwear, tiny belly protruding from pubescent body, shouts abuse at the audience, dodges beer bottles and grabs other members of the band and audience - sweaty boy pressed to sweaty boy in exuberant embrace.

This onstage physicality is reinforced by a lyrical content obsessed with the male body and in particular genitalia. With such illustrious song titles as Blood on my Cock and Shave my Cock, the organ becomes an object of narcissistic fascination to the singer:

Blood on my cock
Glass in my fist
I'm jerking off

Over you

Juggling deftly, the 'Dogs manage to avoid polarizing the issue into one of homoeroticism versus strictly hetero(sexism). True new age boys of the 90's, the Ho' Dogs inhabit a shifting terrain of sexuality where gender stereotypes are available as anyone's toys. From their opening gig at an art gallery to their performance suspended over the pool at a local 'Swimathon' they have paraded with knowing looks and casual struts.

Not exactly what you'd call subtle, the 'Dogs have bombarded Dunedin with extensive media campaigns and largely self written articles espousing their virtues (or lack of them), making them one of the cities most prominent bands, despite being banned from several key venues. Such profile is not always appreciated: witness a band currently doing the gig circuit whose major hit (the catchy I Hate The Ho 'Dogs) features a performance where The Ho'Dogs split seven inch Faster than a Greasy Whore is dramatically torn up and thrown away to a cheering audience. Reviewers have also been known to be a little harsh on the band with one such reviewer subsequently threatened with physical violence by an over protective 'Dogs fan.

You win some, you lose some; but the Ho 'Dogs take it all in their stride. Defiantly politically incorrect and frequently offensive, they remain one of Dunedin's more hard to catorgorise phenonenoms. Their intrigue lies in their unpredictability, the hint of a smile behind the brashness, the way they swerve between apparent planned cleverness and silly boyish antics. Young and oh so pretty, these boys wanna rock, and they wanna do it now....

We fuck every day we can
So we get our thrills
We fuck every way we can
While you pay the bills

Emma Bugden
20 June 1998

(Lyrics from Blood on my Cock and Fuck Your Wife
by The Ho' Dogs, 1997/98)