Housewives on Fire: Let There Be Light, Mardi Gras 2015

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“I support them,” said Fahren Heit as she emerged from the hallway. “It doesn’t make a huge amount of money, obviously. I promised the boys I’d take care of everything financial across the board.” Fahren also has input on the design and production aspects of Housewives on Fire.

“I like to take a moment to enjoy the design aspect of it. I also get the boys back on track when I think they’ve wandered off. It’s good to give them an idea about some things from a girl’s perspective.

“I also keep them honest – or I try to. I take care of the operational side of things; logistics, itineraries. Accounts, where possible. I’m not a very faithful accountant.”

Fahren works as the state manager for a financial aggregator, managing the affairs of over three hundred brokers.

“Max and I were married at nineteen,” she said, “And I had [my daughter] Zelie at twenty. At that time, I was the number-one saleswoman in Australia for a number of companies. Then, I had [my son] Khan and I stopped work, as a mum does when she’s bringing up kids.”

The family moved to England, Fahren’s home country. They spent a few years traveling and, in 1994, decided to return to Australia. On the way home, they took a detour to visit Max’s step-sister in Amsterdam.

“Max’s sister was Europe’s most famous dominatrix,” says Fahren. “She was awarded ‘Best Dominatrix’ two years running. Amsterdam was awesome after living in country England,” she says. “So much going on. We had packed up all our stuff and it was en route back to Australia, when my sister asked if we wanted to stay.

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“I applied for a job at the UN and got it. I worked my way up and became the assistant to the head of the linguistics department in The Hague. I put together the translators for the court hearings in the International Court of Justice. We called the removals company and had them ship our gear from Sydney, back to Amsterdam.”

Max’s sister introduced the Inanli’s to the kind of social life only Amsterdam could provide.

“We met this couple, Richard and Afiza, who lived in a converted primary school in the middle of Amsterdam. They were always having these huge, wild parties. Once, we went to a party held in the Amsterdam zoo.

“The dress code was leather, latex, uniform, or nothing. There were a few people who turned up wearing nothing but a coat of paint. I swear, it was like the monkeys [were] looking at the monkeys.”

Amsterdam prompted them to reconsider many aspects of their lives to that date.

“The fact is,” said Max, “Our morals are not set by God, they’re set by us [and] no-one else. And most people, ninety-nine per cent of people, limit what they do for fear of what other people will say.

“We’re told what to do, how to think, what to eat, how to fuck, how to shit, how to piss. The Dutch… don’t limit themselves [to] what society expects. They’re beyond worrying what other people will think.”

Both Max and Fahren found steady, well-paying jobs. They bought a house and settled down for some years, until watching the broadcast of the 2000 Sydney Olympics kindled something in them.

“Australia was always home,” said Max. “It came to the point where we decided to go back. It was important for the kids’ education. Their English was suffering. If we didn’t go home around that time, they would never have wanted to go home.”

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In June 2001, the Inanli family returned to Sydney.

“I went back into banking,” says Fahren, “My passion was there. Max floundered around for a bit. His mum had been a fabulous designer; his parents had a factory here, but he never wanted to get back into [fashion]. It took him a while to decide what he wanted to do.”

Olie wandered into the lounge room from the garden, a dog at his heels. Shirtless, his spectacles were perched on the end of his nose and a red sarong wrapped around his hips.

“The fake tan is taking a while to dry,” he explained in his thoroughly intact French accent. It occurred to me that fake tan was the part of my preparation I had neglected to organize. Being lily-white would not be ideal, under the circumstances.

“I was attracted to fashion from the age of about seven or eight,” said Olie. “When I’d started school, my grandmother had taught me how to sew. Then, I started making dresses for my sister’s Barbie Dolls.”

Olie sat down on the end of the bench seat and crossed his legs.

“I started working as a fashion designer for Blanc Bleu, which is the equivalent of Ralph Lauren of France. Then, I worked for Paco Rabanne House of Couture. I came up with concepts; I’d create from zero all the collections.”

Prior to hooking up with Max and Fahren, Olie had also worked for Sportscraft Menswear in Australia, as well as being charged with the responsibility of creating and designing the uniform for the Australian Olympic team at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“There was a lot of criticism as the time, because I chose to do the uniforms in blue and white, rather than green and gold. What people didn’t realize, though, was that the uniforms were designed to reflect light. Once the photographs of the ceremony came out, it was a different story.”

Olie’s experience of the Olympics provided the last upon which he has built the designs for each of the Mardi Gras parades the Housewives have done.

“[For the Olympics] it’s challenging, because you have to create a uniform that can fit everybody. So many different bodies. There were seven weeks to distribute the uniform and make sure everyone was correctly fitted; it was critical.”

“I had always wanted to do a Mardi Gras float since I moved to Australia three years ago. I was invited to the first meeting for Trishy’s float through a friend. I thought I could help; I went to the meeting with ideas. She didn’t say she already had Max and Fahren.”

Max smirked and looked up from under his glasses.

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