September 2011

Encounters

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Helmut Newton and Alice Springs

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

One day in 1947, a rising Melbourne stage actress walked into a small Flinders Lane photography studio, looking to pick up some extra cash as a model. Expecting a whiskery old man behind the lens, she found instead a dashing young European called Helmut Newton.

June liked the look of the photos on the walls and Helmut liked the look of June. When his standard pick-up technique failed, he recruited her as his sales assistant. Within a year, they were married. “Photography will always be my first love but you will be my second,” he told her. “You talked me into it, you bastard,” she said.

June Browne was 23, four years younger than Newton. They were to remain together for the next 57 years. By the time Newton crashed his Cadillac into the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles and died, she was a renowned photographer in her own right, known as Alice Springs.

Newton was born Neustädter, the pampered son of a wealthy button manufacturer. At 13, already “besotted with photography and obsessed by sex”, he bought his first camera. A month after Kristallnacht, barely 18, he fled his beloved Berlin for the Far East, well-dressed but penniless. At 20, he was “a true gigolo”, a stateless consorter with Singapore taxi dancers. Shipped to Australia as an enemy alien in 1940, he picked peaches, joined the army and spent the war unloading freight trains in Albury. On discharge, he changed his surname to Newton, took Australian citizenship and used his deferred pay to open a tiny studio. “I love Australia,” he wrote. “I am happy here.”

While Helmut photographed baby outfits for New Idea and Shell’s new refinery at Corio, June was garnering laurels. Her Saint Joan at the National Theatre won an actress of the year award. In the ’60s, the couple moved to Paris. He became a celebrity, the king of kink, but the language barrier cost Browne her acting career. One day Newton, bedridden with influenza, suggested she cover a commercial job for him. The client didn’t notice and soon she was shooting for Elle and Depeche Mode. In need of a professional name, she shut her eyes and stuck a pin in a map of Australia.

As Alice Springs, she produced memorable portraits of some of the era’s iconic faces – Catherine Deneuve, Dennis Hopper, Terence Stamp and Charlotte Rampling. She shot her husband, too, capturing ‘Helmie’ at work amid strapping, high-class fillies in stiletto heels and nothing else.

Now 88, Alice Springs still has a sharp eye.

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.

Cover: September 2011

September 2011

From the front page

Trumpbath

It’s time for the treasurer to act

Image of Tim Fischer

Farewell, Tim Fischer

The former Nationals leader was a rare political beast

Book covers

Robot love: Ian McEwan’s ‘Machines Like Me’ and Jeanette Winterson’s ‘Frankissstein’

Literary authors tackle sentience and rationality in AI, with horrific results

Image from ‘The Loudest Voice'

‘The Loudest Voice’: a nightmarish portrait of a monster

The sheer scale of Roger Ailes’s wrongs defies the medium of television


In This Issue

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Triple zero’s emergency

Why dialling ‘000’ may not save your life

'Her Father’s Daughter', By Alice Pung, Black Inc., 256pp; $29.95

‘Her Father’s Daughter’ by Alice Pung

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Order is everything

The state library of Victoria’s card catalogue

'Sarah Thornhill', By Kate Grenville, Text, 304pp; $39.95

‘Sarah Thornhill’ by Kate Grenville


Read on

Image of Tim Fischer

Farewell, Tim Fischer

The former Nationals leader was a rare political beast

Image from ‘The Loudest Voice'

‘The Loudest Voice’: a nightmarish portrait of a monster

The sheer scale of Roger Ailes’s wrongs defies the medium of television

Image of Peter Drew bike stencil

A meme is born: Real Australians Say Welcome

How one artist’s posters about politics took on a life of their own – an extract

Image of Nigel Farage at CPAC in Sydney

Making sense of CPAC

Why the Conservative Political Action Conference should not be dismissed lightly


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