The Queen Of King Street

“Don’t get injections in your face, don’t put up with arse holes and love yourself” That is the mantra of Janelle Camino, a self proclaimed feminist and  is infamous around her stomping grounds of the inner city of Sydney, particularly the inner west, where her vintage clothing store Faster Pussy Cat brightens up the iconic King St in Newtown, the artsy suburb in Sydney that is filled with hipsters with beards and feminists in overalls with body hair. Jenelle is equally as infamous on her Instagram where she has an active cult following. She is the women you know of, before you’ve ever heard of her, with her fiery bottle dyed hair colourful tattoos, petite five foot frame and brightly coloured clothing she is hard to miss parading up King St, often to be spotted giving someone the finger, once you meet her she’s impossible to forget. When I asked her why orange Jenelle replied with two simple words. “Viv Westwood”. Jenelle insists she’s not micro famous rather just “memorable” She has a hearty laugh, a potty mouth and with her warm nature the ability to make anyone feel like she could be your mother, she is also effortlessly fabulous and anyone who has roamed the streets of King St could clock her a mile away, she is like an unofficial mascot or perhaps the Aunty of King Street.                                     

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Today Jenelle is decked out in a leopard pantsuit with sparkly gold bangles and bright pink lipstick, her signature orange hair is tied up in a messy bun and she looks like a cross between a Disney Villain and a pin up model. She greets me with warm affection, a hug and refers to me as “honey” a pet name she bestows on anyone, men and women. I ask if Janelle has any requests before we start the interview she just laughs and say’s  “Yes, make me sound not like a grizzled old mole”  Jenelle personifies the King St cultural in a lot of ways, she wears brightly coloured clothing, she rebels against mainstream fashion rules mixing prints and styles and she certainly doesn’t dress for men, she informs me she dresses for “gay men and old people” but there’s a self awareness about Jenelle that makes her particular interesting. When I ask Jenelle if her style is a political statement or a feminist one she shakes her head. “That’s an impossible question for me to answer, because its just me” although Jenelle does define herself as a feminist she says the MeToo Movement is teaching her a lot of things about it. “I’ve always just seen women as strong” She explains simply. “I come from the country, women did just as much as the men” When I press further and ask her if she thinks fashion is a political statement she smiles at me cheekily and responds with “Only that one time when Clinton slept with Monica Lewinsky and they found cum stains on her navy blue dress, I mean how are you going to get stain out?” And now we are both laughing, Janelle’s carefree cackle suits her so much, that if you were cynical you’d assume was put on.

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When I first met Jenelle years ago, I was tiny bit scared of her I’d seen her on King St popping in and chatting to all the local businesses and I’d even witnessed her tell a car that honked at her to “Fuck right off” giving three young men the finger, she seemed fearless and brave. When we first spoke, I was a customer in her shop but we had mutual people in common as we were both creatures of the inner west, who followed the same Instagram’s and new the same drinking holes.  I complimented her on her messy and fabulous hairstyles in which she responded “Thanks love, I look like i’ve been gang raped” looking back that was the moment I fell in love with her, because although Janelle Camino looks like Newtown culture threw up on her, she has a razor sharp wit about her. She’s already in on whatever hipster joke you want to make about her, and she’s thought of a funnier one.

Jenelle took the plunge and went out on her own and bought Faster Pussy Cat only two years ago, having to borrow money for her parents to make it happen, she bought it off a friend of hers in an effort to keep great Newtown shops alive or as she explains it “To keep it in the family”  and its one of the few stores left on King St that hasn’t been replaced with a hipster themed chain store, Gorman anyone?.  When I broach the subject of the changing of Newtown culture since the price rises in property value and the yuppies discovering it the perfect place to commute from, it is the 5th most expensive suburb in Sydney now and it isn’t unusual to see a Mercedes parked outside a grimy cafe. Jenelle nods her head and admits the place has become “unaffordable” and than pulls a horrified face and exclaims  “There’s a fucking Dominos opening on Enmore Road, We need vintage stores more than ever, we need customer service, and we need women in exciting clothes, I love dressing women up”  Jenelle’s store seems very much like an extension of Janelle its filled with bold patterns, cowboy boots and glitzy jewels and a fantastic gold lounge that occasionally you’ll get to see Jenelle resting on, a rest she very much needs now as she’s fighting chronic fatigue, or you’ll see her enjoying a cup of tea and a yarn with a friend on the gold masterpiece, or if your lucky a dog will be having a snooze on the lounge, anyone is welcome but animals are especially encouraged. 

Going into the store feels like you are stepping into Jenelle’s lounge room, she greets everyone with the same excitement and affection and she is always desperate to pull out her measuring tape and give you history lessons on fashion, Jenelle explains she wanted the store to feel like you are visiting ‘Your Crazy Aunts Wardrobe” it is old fashion and incredibly charming, much like Jenelle.  Jenelle explains she just wants anyone that walks into her store to “breath a sigh of relief” and its hard not to, it is an escape from the H&Ms of the world or as Jenelle calls big chain stores “Corporate Greed” Faster Pussy Cat feels less like a store and more like an experience and there’s nothing Janelle is better at, than finding the right dress for the right girl. she has persistence but also an eye for what looks good on people, she stuffs me in a vintage cocktail dress and cracks  I look “Good enough to ruin a marriage”. 

It’s hard to look like Jenelle and not get noticed but she has reached Inner west fame, both in real life and on Instagram, its something she takes with a grain of salt.  “I’m a Mrs Mangles, I love seeing what people are up to, it’s a weird concept though everyone posts every single thing they do, back in my day the only people with cameras were the press, backstage at rock concerts” Back in Jenelle’s day she was working for the iconic brand Wheels & Dollbaby, a time when the brand was at its peak and dressing the likes of Bob Dylan and Debby Harry, but when I ask Janelle what she learnt from that time, she doesn’t use the opportunity to big note herself, rather the opposite. “I learned how to fold t shirts like the gap” although she does admit once Debbie Harry tried to give her, hotel slippers and summaries Harry as a “Cool Broad” Jenelle has been a fixture in the Sydney Scene since the 80s and she knows everyone, and anyone from back in the day of rock concerts and too much alcohol.  “I was a little punk, with a potty mouth” Janelle informs me, and its hard to say much has changed.

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Jenelle is often referred to as a “mother figure” she takes the time to give advice and chat to the younger owners of businesses on King St, she is particular close to the young owner of the Make up Store next-door.  I’ve seen her mother instincts first hand when Jenelle offered to yell at the hairdresser that overcharged me for my bleached blonde hair, that didn’t turn out very blonde, think more beach blondie/brown, as if I lived on the Northern Beaches and went to the Ivy on the weekends.  “If3 Courtney Love can get her hair bleached when she was a drug addict, you’d think a hairdresser could” Janelle had declared before offering to go and get me a refund, she’s a spitfire and she’s effortlessly funny, she also commands respect and she was more than happy to stick up for me, its part of Jenelle mantra she explains to me. “Broads looking out for Broads”   It’s easy to see why she has a growing following, it isn’t just about her look that attracts people its about the fact that Janelle represents the original spirit of Newtown, gutsy, artsy and yet warm and welcoming.  It becomes clear to me that we don’t just need vintage stores on King St to keep the  Newtown culture alive, what we really need is Jenelle the Queen of King Street.

When I first met Janelle years ago, I was tiny bit scared of her I’d seen her on King St popping in and chatting to all the local businesses and I’d even witnessed her tell a car that honked at her to “Fuck right off” giving three young men the finger, she seemed fearless and brave. When we first spoke, I was a customer in her shop but we had mutual people in common as we were both creatures of the inner west, who followed the same Instagram’s and new the same drinking holes.  I complimented her on her messy and fabulous hairstyles in which she responded “Thanks love, I look like i’ve been gang raped” looking back that was the moment I fell in love with her, because although Janelle Camino looks like Newtown culture threw up on her, she has a razor sharp wit about her. She’s already in on whatever hipster joke you want to make about her, and she’s thought of a funnier one.

Janelle took the plunge and went out on her own and bought Faster Pussy Cat only two years ago, having to borrow money for her parents to make it happen, she bought it off a friend of hers in an effort to keep great Newtown shops alive or as she explains it “To keep it in the family”  and its one of the few stores left on King St that hasn’t been replaced with a hipster themed chain store, Gorman anyone?.  When I broach the subject of the changing of Newtown culture since the price rises in property value and the yuppies discovering it the perfect place to commute from, it is the 5th most expensive suburb in Sydney now and it isn’t unusual to see a Mercedes parked outside a grimy cafe. Janelle nods her head and admits the place has become “unaffordable” and than pulls a horrified face and exclaims  “There’s a fucking Dominos opening on Enmore Road, We need vintage stores more than ever, we need customer service, and we need women in exciting clothes, I love dressing women up”  Janelle’s store seems very much like an extension of Janelle its filled with bold patterns, cowboy boots and glitzy jewels and a fantastic gold lounge that occasionally you’ll get to see Janelle resting on, a rest she very much needs now as she’s fighting chronic fatigue, or you’ll see her enjoying a cup of tea and a yarn with a friend on the gold masterpiece, or if your lucky a dog will be having a snooze on the lounge, anyone is welcome but animals are especially encouraged.

 Going into the store feels like you are stepping into Janelle’s lounge room, she greets everyone with the same excitement and affection and she is always desperate to pull out her measuring tape and give you history lessons on fashion, Janelle explains she wanted the store to feel like you are visiting ‘Your Crazy Aunts Wardrobe” it is old fashion and incredibly charming, much like Janelle. Janelle explains she just wants anyone that walks into her store to “breath a sigh of relief” and its hard not to, it is an escape from the H&Ms of the world or as Janelle calls big chain stores “Corporate Greed” Faster Pussy Cat feels less like a store and more like an experience and there’s nothing Janelle is better at, than finding the right dress for the right girl. she has persistence but also an eye for what looks good on people, she stuffs me in a vintage cocktail dress and cracks  I look “Good enough to ruin a marriage”. 

It’s hard to look like Janelle and not get noticed but she has reached Inner west fame, both in real life and on Instagram, its something she takes with a grain of salt.  “I’m a Mrs Mangles, I love seeing what people are up to, it’s a weird concept though everyone posts every single thing they do, back in my day the only people with cameras were the press, backstage at rock concerts” Back in Janelle’s day she was working for the iconic brand Wheels & Dollbaby, a time when the brand was at its peak and dressing the likes of Bob Dylan and Debby Harry, but when I ask Janelle what she learnt from that time, she doesn’t use the opportunity to big note herself, rather the opposite. “I learned how to fold t shirts like the gap” although she does admit once Debbie Harry tried to give her, hotel slippers and summaries Harry as a “Cool Broad” Janelle has been a fixture in the Sydney Scene since the 80s and she knows everyone, and anyone from back in the day of rock concerts and too much alcohol.  “I was a little punk, with a potty mouth” Janelle informs me, and its hard to say much has changed.

Janelle is often referred to as a “mother figure” she takes the time to give advice and chat to the younger owners of businesses on King St, she is particular close to the young owner of the Make up Store next-door.  I’ve seen her mother instincts first hand when Janelle offered to yell at the hairdresser that overcharged me for my bleached blonde hair, that didn’t turn out very blonde, think more beach blondie/brown, as if I lived on the Northern Beaches and went to the Ivy on the weekends.  “If3 Courtney Love can get her hair bleached when she was a drug addict, you’d think a hairdresser could” Janelle had declared before offering to go and get me a refund, she’s a spitfire and she’s effortlessly funny, she also commands respect and she was more than happy to stick up for me, its part of Janelle mantra she explains to me. “Broads looking out for Broads”   It’s easy to see why she has a growing following, it isn’t just about her look that attracts people its about the fact that Janelle represents the original spirit of Newtown, gutsy, artsy and yet warm and welcoming.  It becomes clear to me that we don’t just need vintage stores on King St to keep  Newtown culture alive, what we really need is Janelle the Queen of King Street.

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