CHRISTIAAN VAN VUUREN AND NICK BOSHIER – AKA BONDI HIPSTERS – HAVE MADE LATE, ALTERNATE CAREERS OUT OF TAKING THE PISS, WRITES Michael A dams.
The almost accidental careers of the Bondi Hipsters
Christiaan Van Vuuren and Nick Boshier are amped. Not only is their show Soul Mates set to return to ABC-TV for its second season, but a co-production deal with new US comedy channel Seeso means their comic alter egos will soon be seen on American screens. “I’m not going to count any chickens yet,” laughs Van Vuuren, aka hipster Dom, when Men’s Style asks if world domination is imminent. “But it’s super exciting to have this opportunity, to be shown on a channel where we’re just surrounded by the best comedy from all around the world.”
Boshier is a little closer to alter-ego hipster Adrian when he describes the eect the news is having on him: “In its simplest form, it gives me a really aggressive stiy. One of those angry ones that you could just never sleep on.”
You can’t blame them for any tumescence. In a few short years, they’ve taken DIY paths to stardom, first as individuals and then as a seemingly unstoppable team. But the route to finding their groove was anything but straightforward.
“I gave up on it all even though it was a thing I really loved,” says Van Vuuren, now 33, of relinquishing his childhood dreams of acting and singing post-school. “I just focused on having a job and didn’t think a career in any sort of performing art would be a reality. It always bummed me out that had happened.”
‘In real life I have no facial hair and my hair’s falling out and I don’t talk anything like that, I just sound like a bogan…’ – Christiaan Van Vuuren ‘Back then it was a fantasy to ever pursue a [creative] life, like growing wings or something.’ – Nick Boshier
That was until fate intervened in late 2009 in the form of a tuberculosis diagnosis that saw him forced to live in quarantine for six months. It was in his hospital room that Van Vuuren started making Youtube videos as The Fully Sick Rapper, helped by his brother Connor. The videos went viral, clocking up millions of views and made him a cult star in a hospital gown. When he was finally released from hospital, Van Vuuren’s outlook had changed. “My life got reset. I’d lost my apartment, my car and all those things. I moved back home with my parents and got the opportunity to start again. I had this feeling life could end at any moment. So I just wanted to focus all my time on something I love doing and this is that thing I love doing.”
Like Van Vuuren, Sydneysider Nick Boshier, now 34, came late to performing, having spent his twenties as a music manager. “Ever since I was a kid I’d never stopped thinking about creating stu and acting,” he says. “But back then it was fantasy to ever pursue it as a life, like growing wings or something.” That changed during soul-searching in his late twenties. “That’s when you really start to analyse your life, like, ‘What am I doing?’”
Instead of a yoga retreat, Boshier starred as bogan boofhead Trent From Punchy in a series of videos that soon amassed a huge following on Youtube. He then followed up with Beached Az, in which he voiced a stranded Kiwi whale. “Those were the first things I’d done creatively and they validated that decision to pursue a creative life.”
The Van Vuuren brothers met Boshier at a Youtube conference, cast him in a TV pilot they were making, had a lot of fun and decided they all needed to work together again. Christiaan remembers: “I said, ‘I’ve got this idea about two lazy Bondi ex-private school dickheads who start their own fashion label’. Nick was like, ‘I’m in’.”
The result was Bondi Hipsters, revolving around Dom and Adrian’s quest, as Van Vuuren puts it, to be “world famous for being underground”. The videos were wildly popular on Youtube, leading to ABC-TV giving Soul Mates a green light. The show, which aired in 2014, expanded on the Hipsters premise, allowing Christiaan and Nick to play Dom and Adrian and their incarnations through time: prehistoric cavemen Rocky and Sticks; 1980s Kiwi assassins Roger and Thinge; and 2093 time travel agents Dave and Rob. It was very ambitious and very, very funny.
Season two sees Soul Mates kick it up further. “We can reinvent it from season to season,” says Van Vuuren. “The Ticky Time Tour story resolved itself in season one so this time we’re introducing a new story set in Ancient Egypt…” Bubbling over with enthusiasm, he explains a plotline involving the bastard son of a pharaoh who’s teamed with his favourite slave-tradie to build a trap-filled tomb for his demigod brother. “It becomes this workplace comedy about the general OHS type issues that they have to deal with making water traps, secret tiles firing poison arrows, skeletons dropping from the roof. Like, when you test out a boulder trap and it goes smashing through a wall, how do you get it back up the ramp?”
But that’s only half of it, with the other half playing out as a parody of Game Of Thrones- style royal family dysfunction. Boshier chimes in: “The new character’s a fuckin weirdo,” he laughs of his eunuch role. “He just straight up has no dick. It’s this family drama of demigods, domesticity and incest.” Laughing, Van Vuuren adds: “The bastard prince has an uncy-dad-pa because his dad is both his uncle, granddad and his dad.” Boshier chuckles: “Bestiality, too, we cover that.”
Meanwhile, the existing Soul Mates kick things up to new levels. Dom and Adrian take coee-wankerism to new heights by opening the Closed Café, the Kiwi assassins Roger and Thinge have to work as father and stepson to stop evil Aussies smuggling child rugby players out of New Zealand, and Sticks and Rocky find themselves grappling with tribe dynamics at the dawn of human civilisation.
Their success, they say, is shared with Connor, who co-writes and directs and who insists on finding the humanity beneath the bizarre exteriors of the comic characters. “He’s always urging us to find the heart of comedic scenes and because of that they seem to get funnier,” says Van Vuuren. “We play around with masculine relationships and the way your best friends can be good and bad for you.”
With season two set to increase their profiles here and introduce them to the US market, is their privacy becoming a thing of the past? Not so, says Van Vuuren, whose Dom is never seen without a beanie, long tresses and Ned Kelly beard as he pontificates pretentiously in “totes, bro” tones. “In real life I have no facial hair and my hair’s falling out and I don’t talk anything like that, I just sound like a bogan,” he says. “I can so easily spy from within a Bondi café.”
Boshier’s more recognisable, not that he minds. “People come up and say they love Hipsters or Soul Mates and that gives me the jollies,” he says cheerfully. “If it wasn’t for them liking what we do, I’d be giving hand jobs for loose change.”
Christiaan and Nick have been named in our 9th annual Men Of Influence list – see page 107.