The Witch of Kings Cross is a cinema length hybrid documentary set in the occult subculture of 1950's Sydney. The film explores the life, work and beliefs of the most persecuted, prosecuted and daring female artist in Australian history – Rosaleen Norton. Presented like a rock doco, it’s a collage of art, artefacts, archive, interview and expressionistic drama. Scenes are played out on the stage of an ‘otherworld’ nightclub where erotic dancers play mythic Gods and Goddesses.
The story begins with extracts from Rosaleen’s recently discovered journal. She was born in a thunderstorm and believed that she was ‘different’. The audience follows her biography, until later in the film when the story twists unexpectedly.
In 1949 as Rosaleen and her young lover, the poet Gavin Greenlees, hitchhike to Melbourne for her first solo exhibition of occult paintings. Police raid the exhibition, confiscate paintings and charge Rosaleen with obscenity. The incident makes national headlines and marks a turning point in Australian art history.
Rosaleen returns to Kings Cross and continues to scandalize Australia with her art, brazen sex life and dangerous mind. She practices trance art, painting the images of Gods she meets on the 'astral plane'. She worships the God Pan, is an avid reader of Carl Jung and Aleister Crowley. She practices sex magic rituals. Her message to conservative Australia is simple: worship nature not the dollar.
Tabloid tales of sex orgies, satanic rituals, bizarre deaths and the constant arrests don't deter Rosaleen from her bohemian lifestyle. Instead, Rosaleen takes control of the media by embracing the role of ‘The Witch’. Unfortunately, her lover, the famous conductor Sir Eugene Goossens’ career is destroyed in the crossfire between a cop intent on jailing her and a journalist desperate for a scoop. Before long she becomes a celebrity witch, titillating the public by writing her own stories… Was her public witch persona performance art?
The Witch of Kings Cross explores the dark side of the collective unconscious. At the vanguard of feminism and the counter culture revolution, Rosaleen Norton was persecuted for her sexuality and refusal to conform to Christian values. Today there is a resurgence of interest in her art, particularly in the U.S.A. Mythic in proportions, this is the extraordinary true story of a woman rebel and an insight into one of Australia’s most provocative thinkers.