This bear sweatshirt is the oldest piece of clothing Dominic Hoey owns. Photo: Frances Carter

"When we got into shoplifting we started dressing a lot better": My life in clothes with poet Dominic Hoey

Dominic Hoey, aka Tourettes — poet, author, musician and youth worker - tells Aimee Cronin about his life in clothes.

When we were young we were pretty poor, so you just kinda wore whatever. We used to all swap clothes, me and my friends, because someone would have the nice jeans, or this or that. But then we all got into shoplifting and so we started dressing a lot better. I grew up in Grey Lynn, before and during the transition, and then got forced out like everyone else. My parents sold their house before the boom.

I got this jacket (below) from the army surplus store in Wellington two years ago. I was going to Port Chalmers to write my new novel, so I stayed with friends in Wellington to break up the drive and they said, ‘You know it can be really cold down there, eh?’ So I went and bought a bunch of thermals and this jacket, which has turned out to be my favourite.

An army surplus store jacket. Photo: Frances Carter

It was my second novel. I went down and did the first draft over two months. I saved up and hired a house. I think it’s best to isolate yourself when you’re writing a big body of work and just get it done. You don’t wanna go somewhere where there is too much happening. I went to New York to write once and didn’t get anything done because it’s New York, y’know? Port Chalmers is like the opposite of New York.

This is a Drab Doo-Riffs t-shirt (below) and it is actually my friend Saan’s, but I stole it off him because he steals all my clothes. They were an Auckland band and my mates and I did lots of shows with them when I was rapping, even though they are into surfy, punk music. It’s quite rare to get a shirt this old that still holds its form. Every time I wear it, Saan looks at it longingly, but he’s taken so many of my clothes he can’t say shit.

Saan if you're reading this: you can't say shit about wanting this back. Photo: Frances Carter

I was really wanting to start wearing nice shirts and so I went out and bought some, but then I just felt so uncomfortable in them. When you wear a shirt, there’s a fine line between looking stylish and looking like someone who works in IT. One of my mates wears shirts all the time and he just looks good, and he’s my age. I’m 42 — old enough to wear shirts. Sometimes you see people in their 50s and 60s, like my dad — he still wears t-shirts and looks great — but think they are trying to look young, and I always get paranoid that you don’t wanna be that person. I wear this one (below) all the time, for weddings, awards, when I wanna look nice. I got it at St Lukes mall. Last time I wore it, it was to a play at the Q Theatre, which is normal, but when I wear it in front of my mates, they are used to me dressing a certain way, y’know? I often wear it with the chain, which makes me look a bit mad.

The ring on a chain is a gift from an ex-girlfriend. Photo: Frances Carter

So I got given this ring (on chain, main photo) by my ex-girlfriend, who is my best friend now and we work together with rangatahi. I have really small fingers and it didn’t fit, so I got this gold chain. She got me the ring maybe three years ago and I wear it most days.

Most of these tattoos are crap I got when I was young. I really like the recent one I got of my dog Prince Chilli. He’s a Pomeranian rescue dog. I’ve got a papoose that I put him in. He loves it. I was on tour with this Scottish poet and he said, “You need to get a papoose for your dog!” and so I went online and was like, “Oh!”. Someone said to me recently, “You’re really nice, but you look so intimidating.” I was, like, “You’re intimidated by me? I’m, like, 5 foot fucken 6! And usually I have a small dog with me.” You really notice different types of people will just come and talk to you about your dog on the street.

A gift from Hoey's musician friend Tom Scott. Photo: Frances Carter

I was 16 when I got my first tattoo. It was an alien smiling face, but it’s covered up. Just bad tattoos over bad tattoos. I don’t really like most of these, but I spose I probably still would get tattoos if I could go back; I would just get better ones. Nowadays, my friends are quite good tattooists, but back then, they were practising on me. When you’re young you get them to be like, “I’m not like you”, and then everyone gets them. One on my leg is like a fucken 90s monstrosity, but every so often it comes back around.

My best friends Lubin and Louisa got a bear sweatshirt for my 35th birthday (main image). It’s probably the oldest bit of clothing I have. I’m so stoked I haven’t lost it yet. And Tom from Avantdale Bowling Club and Homebrew gave me this t-shirt (above); it’s sort of taking the piss, but I always get Tintin fans come up and talk to me about Tintin and I just wait for them to read it and say, “Oh, is it joking?”. I actually did really like Tintin when I was a kid.

This piece originally appeared in the January-February 2020 issue of Metro magazine, with the headline 'Pen and ink'.

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