#86 – Melanin

16 02 2010

The bogan will not be able to offer you a definition of what melanin is, despite being extremely interested in the topic. What it is, is a class of compounds found in plants and animals, and the bogan also finds at the beach. Bogans of both genders have been known to remain at the beach for hours at a time seeking melanin, sometimes walking around purposely, sometimes lying motionless in patient wait. By the end of the day, the sunburnt bogan has usually managed to acquire some melanin, along with a few wrinkles.

Forever on the lookout for a quicker, more x-pensive, more x-treme way to accomplish a task, many bogans turned to tanning lounges in the 1990s to get their hit of melanin. They would pay $20 to lie in a plastic tube and get blasted by lamps. The pungent smell of coconut oil and burning human flesh constituted a dizzying reward for the newly bronzed bogan, and they returned again and again. This continued until about five years ago, when young St Kilda local Clare Oliver spent too much time in tanning lounges, developed a melanoma, and engaged in a publicity process to warn the bogans that their melanin cravings were potentially fatal. She died in 2007 aged 26, and her message got through to many bronzed bogans.

In the three years that followed, the number of solariums in Australia declined by a third, but the bogan’s desire to be bronzed did not decline at all. The shift in bronzing tastes coincided with a proliferation in spray tans, creams, and lotions. These eagerly purchased fake tanning products come with the promise of transforming pale bogans into the colour of “ethnic” people that they do not like. This oddly contradictory aspirational racism is rarely effective, with the bogan ending up a blotchy shade of orange. Often, the bogan will attempt to combine a day at the beach with the excessive application of fake tan, creating vast tracts of visible orange flesh (often punctuated by tramp stamps and tribal tattoos). Some of the more striking demarcations of the bronze-hungry bogan are the much dreaded “vegemite knees”, where the poor application of a poor fake tan product results in series of dark brown creases at the joints, presumably rich in vitamin B… for bogan.