SEX PISTOLS lead singer Johnny Rotten sparked controversy in Australia yesterday after a televised rant in which he told Gold Logie nominee Carrie Bickmore not to talk when a man was speaking.
Rotten — real name John Lydon — was appearing on Channel Ten current affairs programme The Project via satellite to promote his Australian tour with post-punk band Public Image Ltd. The interview with The Project’s panel, which also included comedian Dave Hughes and television doctor Andrew Rochford, took a turn for the worst when Bickmore attempted to ask Rotten about the recent death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
The singer, a pioneer of punk music in the 1970s with songs like Anarchy in the UK, was speaking about his working class roots when Bickmore attempted to interject with a question about Thatcher. Rotten registered his objection to Bickmore’s interruption before launching into an extended criticism of the panel’s interviewing techniques.
Rotten said: “Hey, hey, hey… Hey missus, shut up. Whoever you are, shut up. Now listen, when a man is talking do not interrupt.”
Bickmore attempted to continue the interview, claiming that she had thought Rotten had finished speaking when there was a break in his response. Rotten went on to say that Bickmore that she sounded “like one of them dreadful loud birds I don’t like.”
The on-air feud between Bickmore and Rotten continued after the television presenter claimed to be offended by Rotten’s sexist characterisation. The rock star told Bickmore that “you have got to learn what manners and respect is… and I’m Johnny f***ing Rotten and I’m telling you the truth.”
Rotten later claimed that the entire panel were speaking “too loud” for him and that they needed to lower their voice before the interview could continue. When panellist Rochford attempted to address Rotten’s treatment of Bickmore, asking if he was allowed to ask a question or if Rotten only had a problem with women, the Sex Pistols front man expanded his rant to include the rest of his interviewers.
Rotten said: “No, no, no, listen. I’m telling all of you now, you are beginning to shout like excitable children. I understand, because you’re talking to a proper master of the universe here, alright? But lay off the shouting that makes it unbearable for me. You will be nice now.”
After Rotten once again refused to take a question from Bickmore, the interview was ended by long-time The Project panellist Dave Hughes, who wished the rock star good luck on his gig and complimented the fact that his “hearing is still good.” Rotten left the panellists with advice to “stop shouting, I do it better than you, you’re done.”
Bickmore said that she had originally cooperated with Rotten’s abrasive interview style because it was well-known to be a part of his public image to be difficult, however “his ‘thing’ aint funny, and it is damn rude.” Rochford apologised to Bickmore for not stepping in earlier, saying “we actually feel bad, you don’t need anyone to stand up for you, but he was a flat-out sexist misogynist pig and we should have been there.”
Public Image Ltd’s three-date Australian tour started last night with a show at Brisbane’s Eatons Hill Hotel. The band will play at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre tonight before ending the tour at the Palace Theatre in Melbourne on Thursday.
For the full interview see: