Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Catwalk Aksi Kucing & Thom Gunn's Apartment Cats: Fashionasta

Songs I Love:

In the 50s I used to listen to the Indonesian stations on the radio with my father. He listens to the news many times daily, picking up happenings during the Soekarno regime, especially reports from Sumatra. 

In between the serious news items, the songs come on the air. One of the cheekiest songs that I've learned as a child was this one called, Aksi Kucing. In English, it literally translates as the Pride of a Cat. Snooty? Or literally the arrogant or snobbish attitude of a cat. Or feline?

You know how a cat moves, always arching its back and moving around like a prima-donna as if it's on a fashion parade assignment. The models are always told to behave arrogantly. No wonder the platforms are called catwalks.


Jangan suka hey, malu malu kucing

Don't be shy like a cat. Or don't pretend to be shy like a cat.

And the way these animals move... They possess and control the household.

Sudah menerkam sa-belumnya berunding

Would pounce before discussion...


lama, lama, dari kawan jadi lawan.

After a while, from a friend, they become foe.
Singer and Composer:

Sung by one of the pop legends from Indonesia, pretty singer Ms. Titiek Sandhora has been in the music scene since the 70s. With a crisp and typically well-sounding Indonesian style, she oozes sensuality in her interpretation.

The composer himself was keroncong music exponent Oei Yok Siang, an Indonesian Chinese, who had scripted a number of famous songs like *Impian Semalam, Gambang Semarang, Menanti Melati, Gulung Lengan Bajumu, Bunga Leili, Setangkai Bunga Mawar, and other songs, mostly written in the mid-thirties and forties.

* Impian Semalam:

Titiek Sandhora: 'Malu Malu Kucing'. Typical keroncong style with the keromong, gambang and other Indonesian gamelan musical instruments. YouTube Video from Alamanda Jokja.

A Poem About Cats:

During my later years in the 80s, when I was in Aberdeen, Scotland, I was introduced to UK poet, Thom Gunn, one of seven modern poets that included Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. Gunn wrote one about his apartment cats (below the picture.)

Thom Gunn Modern British poet with his snooty apartment cat which refuses to look at the camera. Typical Aksi Kucing attitude.Taken from Penguin Books (details below). 

'Apartment Cats' extracts (full-text image below)

The Girls wake, stretch and pad up to the door,

They rub my leg and purr:

The other rolls back on the floor - 

Now, more awake they re-enact Ben Hur
Along the corridor.

Their eyes get wild their bodies tense.

Tail-thumped and smothered mew.

She abruptly rises, knowing well

How to stalk off in wise indifference.

Thom Gunn knows his cats as well as the Indonesian composer. Cheers.

A Singing Contest and Trophy:

Turning back to the early 60s, I took part in a National Language Month Singing Competition - there were many of these contests those years. It was organised by our radio station, then Radio Malaysia Singapura and got a consolation prize for my effort. Sure. I sang Aksi Kuching. It was a contest for non-Malays to sing in Bahasa Melayu.

My little trophy which I recently found hiding in a cupboard was all dark and dirty. I soaked it in Coke and polished it and got it sparkling again (image). I forgot the trophy but still remember the song.

By the way, I love cats.
The Thom Gunn poem: 'Apartment Cats' from Worlds Seven Modern Poets: Edited by Geoffrey Summerfield, 1979. Penguin Books.

Images from Google, Penguin Books, and A Personal Collection.


FACEBOOK said...

Hi guys, Indon song AKSI KUCING and British poet's APARTMENT CATS explained. I won a trophy for singing on Radio Malaysia Singapura. Check them out... :-) Dedicating this post to 3 friends: JIMMY APPUDURAI, FREDA HANUM, and SWEE LENG. They love cats.

Koh Daisy
Interesting .... but unfortunately I don’t like cats ... result of a childhood fear that developed after my dad took us to watch a Japanese horror movie called Devil Cats ... every cat turned into a gruesome monster...😩

Andy Young
Koh Daisy Oh that's a memory you have to cope with... I hope you will get more pleasant encounters in the future. But they are nice creatures but not as great as dogs.

Jimmy Appudurai-chua
I sure do

Andy Young
Hey Jimmy. Thanks.

Stephen Han
There were lots of fashion shows in the 60s.I remembered some cinema halls were holding catwalks before the main movie. Models from the Joan Booty model agency would strut along the stage in bikinis to promote swimsuits. Pretty models were even deployed in Chung Khiaw Bank like the two prominent sisters Daisy and Pauline Seyto

Andy Young
Yes, Stephen, Joan Booty models were popular then.
Thank you GAU RUI, IRENE & CHARLIE too for liking the post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

That's great you won a prize for singing Aksi Kucing. There was a 1966 Singapura film with the title Aksi Kuching. Ahmad Daud was in it and later released a record with the same title. I am not sure if it was the same song you did. Lot's of other great performers in the film: Kartina Dahari, Rafeah Buang, Aziz Sattar,Jeffridin, Dendang Perindu, Siglap Five. You can see different songs or even watch the whole film on YouTube.



FACEBOOK said...

All guys on her ...heeeeee !!!!

Andy Young
Thanks to all the 11 LIKES from friends of this post and Victor again for sharing.

Freda Hanum
Beautiful lady, beautiful voice

Andy Young
Thanks Freda. Totally agree. She is a legend in Indonesia.
Titiek has been around since the 60s and recorded many songs too.
If you listen carefully to her diction, it's the correctly articulated Indonesian way of pronouncing words and phrases.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Steve for your interesting comment and movie information.
Yes, the prize was a surprise. It's nostalgia for the ego. Haha.

I doubt it's the same AKSI KUCHING song. They can't be copying originals.
But I'm not sure.

The movie was a hit those years; it has the same format as the Western ones,
using popular actors to attract the crowd.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Joan Booty.
A name to be reckoned with, met her a few time...
Real madame...

Andy Young
Ah Jimmy.
Yes, Joan Booty.
There was another lovely lady too, Ida, from IMPs Modelling Agency.
Wonderful people, always helpful, never showing off.
Thanks :-)

SWEE LENG said...

(She doesn't use FB):

It's written by one of Britain's most eminent poets.
Nothing short of purr-fection.
He describes his cats to a T.
Thank you for dedicating the poem and post loving friends.