Ethereal Bogan

Even though I’ve lived outside New Zealand for several years now, there are still times when I unwittingly fall into a crack in the common language. How could “chuffed” be gibberish outside of the Antipodes? Why do Americans refuse the services of a great word like “bludge”? And why can’t a green pepper be a “capsicum” always? It’s mystifying, really.

Hence: Necessary informational preface, courtesy of Wikipedia:

The term bogan (pronounced /ˈboʊgən/, rhyming with slogan) is Australian and New Zealand English slang, usually pejorative, for a person who is, or is perceived to be, of a lower-class background. According to the stereotype, the speech and mannerisms of “bogans” indicate, poor education, cheap clothing and uncultured upbringing. ‘Bogans’ usually reside in economically disadvantaged suburbs (often outer metropolitan) or rural areas[1].

The term is a close regional equivalent to the English term Chav or Pikey, Scottish term Ned, Irish term Scanger and the North American term White Trash. However the term ‘bogan’ is occasionally used with some affection in Australia/NZ, whereas those corresponding terms are not. (Emphasis added.)

For example:

“Cricketer Shane Warne receives regular ribbings from the Australian media for his bogan persona. His struggles with weight loss and cigarettes, the unsophisticated dietary habits, are all fodder for commentators who recoil at his uncouth habits. But Warney is the ultimate Aussie bloke: all brawn and few brains when it comes to controlling his appetites, plus a blinding addiction to blondes who are typically clones of his attractive wife.” (Emma-Kate Symons, “Spinning out of control,” The Weekend Australian (2-3 July 2005), p 19

Inspirational runway collage for a show. The clothes were plaid, the music was the kind of Courtney Love I used to scowl angrily along to in fifth form, and there were leather jackets in every second look. In fitting with the moto cross theme, half of the models wore knee pads or head gear. We were hard rock listening, Holden-fiddling, beer-drinking, stubbie-wearing, singleted boganettes and I for one had a pretty rad time at it.

Not a message you really need to give to a room of models, but hey. I tried my best to walk strong-but-not-angry, as if I were on my way to my fave drag racing spot to catch the weekend action. Or something.

(Runway photos from

In my revisionist dream closet, I bought that Eisenhower jacket I said I was going to a year ago already.

In related wardrobe plotting: I’ve decided I want this dress. I love the plaid on the bodice — it reminds me of a bush shirt — and, let’s face it, the one advantage of having a microscopically endowed chest is that you can wear low-cut scoop-necks and not look cheap. Dresses like these are practically my birth right. Or at least the reward of years of teenage curve envy. I’ll use this post as a memory jogger for next April, when the frock should be available.

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10 responses to “Ethereal Bogan

  1. stumbled across your blog. Wonderful. Will have another look shortly.!

  2. Oh man, who doesn’t love going to the drag races?

    I love those crocheted white tights. Courtney would approve.

  3. See.. for you to be a ‘proper’ MotoX boganette I reckon they should have accessorised with a packet of ciggies. Your hair should also be bleached blonde on the top and black at the bottom.. with regrowth. Chipped nailpolish, zits and too much cheap cake makeup that doesn’t quite cover the crusty marks.
    Ah! The bogan. I’ve seen so many of the little creatures now i’m back in Melbourne. It’s depressing really. I feel like I need to spray with DDT.

  4. My cockney boss says that unpleasant things are ‘gash,’ and referred to a bad hotel as a ‘grotty bedsit.’ It sounds like a bogan is the equivalent of ‘redneck’ in America, and some boganettes might be what we call a ‘muffin top.’

  5. Well, Hetty’s comment aside, I think the term is used affectionately more often than not in this country. Which doesn’t seem the case for ‘red neck.’ Also: Too rural.

    As for your boss, he should mind his mouth. Having an innocent audience is no license to throw around offensive terms like ‘gash.’

  6. Gadzooks, is that term offensive? Honestly the rest of us are completely unaware!

    The only person I know who uses the term ‘redneck’ with complete affection is Joe Bageant, well worth the read at

    I do enjoy the way language mutates from place to place, for example, the terms “toodle-oo,” “grotty bedsit,” or even “gadzooks”…

  7. did you ever see the pics from miami? haven’t had a chance to read the blog so don’t know. new phone. no old numbers…

  8. I think that “you also go to drag races in the weekend” is probably one of the greatest phrases to inspire someone on how to act ever.

    Also, next time you see Nam, tell him that I made a total ass of myself by jumping up and down and squealing like a girl when i saw his book on display at Border’s because I was so excited that he got published

  9. Oh, no, Gabriel, that sucks you lost all your numbers. I still have your number in my US phone — I’ll ring you when I’m back in NY. Should be early next month. I did see the pics — Toni was kind enough to mail high-res images to Next — and I’ve even got a couple of the swimwear shots in my book. God bless Norma Kamali. I hope you’ve been keeping well.

    Danny: I’ll tell Nam. Even though we’ve both been in Oz lately, we didn’t manage to meet up — silly, really. But we tend to intersect fairly regularly in NYC. I’m ridiculously excited for him about the book, too. A couple weeks ago I waylaid a magazine editor and lectured her about doing a piece on him because he is JUST SO COOL. She weathered the assault most gracefully.

  10. Hey! So random! I’ve been reading your column on Jez for forever and now found your blog and will be a reader for good! I am a fellow model and am so shocked to see my friend’s photo on your blog from NZ! She’s the one in the plaid dress – it is so strange how small this world is! Much love from Chicago!!

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