Fred Negro's Pub comic strip about St Kilda is the subject of a rock documentary

Fred Negro’s Pub comic strip about St Kilda is the subject of a rock documentary

Negro says the police vice squad pressured venues to ban the band for a year. So, the band played on at the Prince of Wales Hotel under different names.


“We weren’t really trouble. It was just a party band,” he said.

“All the punk bands were so serious. They were very political. So, I thought we’d have a muck around. We started writing songs about going to buy a pizza at Toppo’s (Topolino’s restaurant).”

Negro drew cartoon playbills for St Kilda venues, then for over 20 years, from 1989, he drew a weekly satirical cartoon strip, called Pubin the street newspaper press.

The cartoons depicted genitalia, drug use, bodily excretions, orgies and profanity. Negro says he was also documenting his community about him, from books he was reading to meeting funny taxi drivers.

St Kilda was his museum. Many characters were real people such as musicians Tim Rogers and Tex Perkins. Negro drew the birth of his own son, Rowdy.

The late guitarist for band The Birthday Party, Rowland S. Howard said:“You haven’t made it in the Melbourne music industry until you have appeared in Fred Negro’s Pub Strip.”

Increasing complaints about the cartoon led to a parting of ways between Negro and Inpress, after over 1400 strips, but the strip is still going in the Munster Times zine.

Negro, now 63, has shown his art in exhibitions, and created several Pub books and a graphic novel Piranhas in Love that he co-wrote with Elizabeth Reale.

Negro still plays in bands including the F— F–s and The Peptides, and hosts walking tours of St Kilda.

Fred Negro (with microphone) in 1984 performing with his band I Spit On Your Gravy next to a punk fan.Credit:Joe Holzer

Pub: The Movie director Andrew Leavold, 52, first saw Negro on stage in 1992 when one of Negro’s bands, Brady Bunch Lawnmower Massacre, played in Brisbane.

Leavold considered Negro a genius, booked him for Queensland gigs and became his friend.

Asked what drives Negro, Leavold says there is a hedonistic aspect “but I think it’s more about liberation”.


“Fred doesn’t like anyone telling him what he can say in his art, or how he can do his art and he certainly doesn’t like anyone telling him what he can and cannot do on stage.”

Negro plays the clown but Leavold hopes the film helps people take him seriously as an artist.

“I think that art can be hilarious and entertaining and irreverent and salty and earthy, and all those epithets that you can apply to Fred’s work,” says Leavold.

“I would really like people to see the totality of Fred’s experience and say, ‘yes, he’s done an amazing body of work over the last 45 years’.”

Apart from one unhappy three-year stint living with an ex-wife in Brighton, Negro has remained in St Kilda, and doesn’t intend to leave. “What for? I’m happy where I am,” he said. “It’s a great place.

“I just wander around in a daze, making up songs, thinking of cartoons to do.

“I know about a million people. I have a laugh everywhere I go. Because everyone’s so f–ing funny.”

Pub: The Movie is screening on Thursday at Kino1 Cinema and on Saturday at The Astor Theatre.