December 2007 - January 2008

Encounters

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Kylie Minogue & Michael Hutchence

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

It was great while it lasted, according to Kylie. “I learnt a lot.”

They met at a bash after the Countdown Awards, the program’s final show, in July 1987. He was brooding, lascivious and charismatic, the rock-god frontman of INXS, a band whose name said it all. She was eight years younger, a girl-next-door soapie starlet whose pop debut, a bop-along cover version, had unexpectedly topped the charts.

Michael Hutchence had a bad-boy reputation and a widely reported taste for supermodels. Kylie Minogue had a steady boyfriend in Jason Donovan, her small-screen love interest.

When Kylie arrived, Hutchence was holding court, joking and drinking with his entourage. She’d been invited as a courtesy, and was a bit out of her depth, wide-eyed among the rock stars. Accounts differ, memories have blurred and nobody was taking notes. Some say Hutchence was drunk, others that he was just jesting. Whatever the case, neither party ever confirmed what he did the moment he noticed her.

Legend, however, is quite specific. And witnesses, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirm it. Michael jumped from his seat and flung himself towards Kylie, declaring for all to hear that he wanted to fuck her. The 20-year-old was startled. But before she had time to react, Hutchence smiled at her, spoke softly and slipped back into the crowd.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Countdown Awards,” Kylie told an interviewer. “I was worried that a lot of big-time rock-music people would look down on me. But they were all really nice. Michael Hutchence made an effort to come over and say hi, which was nice of him.”

A year later, Hutchence was nice again. When he spotted Kylie and Jason at an INXS show, he invited them to kick on back at the band’s hotel. By then, ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ had launched Minogue’s musical career into the stratosphere. While minions plied Jason with pot, Hutchence cornered Kylie and the two spent the evening sitting on his bed, heads together, whispering and laughing.

Another year passed. Kylie quit Neighbours to pump out million-selling chartbusters, vapid off-the-shelf Stock Aitken Waterman dance tracks made bearable only by her cute exuberance. In August 1988, about to commence her first international tour, ‘Disco in Dreams’, she took a short break in Hong Kong.

Hutchence, as it happened, kept an apartment there. The moment Kylie hit town, he was knocking at her door, charm itself, offering his services. Next thing, poor Jase was getting the flick.

By the time the two-year affair ended, it had transformed a singing budgie into a sex vixen and set Kylie’s course towards pop divadom. It didn’t do Michael Hutchence any harm, either. But he didn’t need anybody’s help in that regard.

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Shane Maloney is a writer and the author of the award-winning Murray Whelan series of crime novels. His 'Encounters', illustrated by Chris Grosz, have been published in a collection, Australian Encounters.

Chris Grosz is a book illustrator, painter and political cartoonist. He has illustrated newspapers and magazines such as the Age, the Bulletin and Time.

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