He was christened “Bomber” for his bombast in the mid-90s, and it’s proved so accurate that Martyn Bradbury has fallen by the wayside. Since working at age 17 for Farmers, where he was awarded a certificate for selling more than $22,000 of appliances in a day, he has moved in alternative circles. A former talkback host on the now-defunct Channel Z and editor of Auckland student rag Craccum in 1995 and 1997, he now edits Rip It Up and plays frontman for TV3’s hidden-camera show Stakeout. The Listener dropped in on quite possibly New Zealand’s most opinionated man at his home, where Marx, Che and Mao proudly grace the walls …
Why did you decide to host what is effectively Extreme Fair Go? I actually turned it down when they first approached me. I’m not that interested in catching mechanics who’ve been sniffing people’s panties. But they said, “We want to do an investigative series with undercover cameras, catching people doing things that we can all agree are not on.”
The majority of Europeans left Europe because they have a class system and egalitarianism’s really important here. Mix that with Maori and Pacific Island communal values and you get a society that holds decency and fairness as the most important things. It’s almost like Fair Go is the most important court in the land.
You’ve already found how difficult it is to keep a scoop. That one was driver’s licences, our launch show in May, which Campbell Live – because it’s the same network – was effectively tipped off to. They got a chunk of it, but they didn’t get the full story.
Which was? We got evidence that there’s been an ongoing system where Asian immigrants are paying to cheat through their driver’s licence. And we caught all these people doing it. We put cameras in cars, and we caught the driving instructors involved in the scam.
So the show’s an Asian crime exposé? The first one focused on those issues, but there are as many white driving instructors in the loop here as there are dodgy translators. The other stories are just things going on in New Zealand – it’s almost street current affairs.
Who else have you rubbed up the wrong way? We’ve gone up against big business. A PR company for one of the large industries we were looking into contacted the network executive of TV3 and said, “Why is Bomber even doing this series? He’s not a proper journalist. It could lead to all sorts of issues.”
That a PR company would be able to go straight to the top dog and make those sorts of comments … You go, “You must really be hitting close to home. You must be doing your job when you’re getting that sort of reaction.”
I imagine your sting targets weren’t all that happy, either. Did any threaten to thump you? No. Because, well, look at me. I’m not the smallest character in the world. I’m pretty terrifying, even at the best of times. My mother says I’m the poster boy for the National Front.
How on earth did you, as political provocateur, become editor of Rip It Up? Part of it was being at Channel Z for such a long time and having been editor of Craccum, and I sold them an image. I don’t mean sold an image, I mean sold them an idea, a vision. Part of rock’n’roll music has always been rebellion, in whatever shape or form. We’re going back to what Murray Cammick started – a dirty little street magazine with a pretty foul mouth. And I think it’s now just a slightly bigger street magazine with an even filthier mouth.
You hit your thirties a couple of years back. How long do you think you can keep up this “voice of yoof” gig? I stopped being the voice of f—ing youth a long time ago.
I think you’d be surprised at the average age of your talkback callers and Rip It Up readers … You talk to young folk and listen to some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths; they’re so intelligent! Now flip that around. I can talk to a 65-year-old or a 40-year-old, and feel like I’m doing media criticism 101, they’ve got such a polluted view of the world.
What happens when you get that old? You’ve been lied to by governments for so long, been beaten down, betrayed, that you just become a very hard person with very little compassion. F—, I never want to be that grown-up. I’m just happy having these views and being able to have the opportunity to put it out there.
Is there anything you don’t have an opinion on? Sport – only because I really don’t give a f—. One of the problems with New Zealand is this ridiculous macho male bullshit we try to live up to. Buck Shelford is held up as a great hero because, “He ripped his sacks open during that French footy match, and he got back up and played – what a hero!”
That macho-ness is a problem. That “We’re really staunch and the only way we really express anything is through violence.” Part of what I’m trying to do is show that you can be as much a warrior – but with your mind.
What about all your macho bling? You seem the archetype of an angry young man. But I can’t remember the last time I raised my hand to anyone. It doesn’t need to be this violent, knuckle-dragging, jaw-slack-ignorance of the past. There is another way of being a man in New Zealand.
Stakeout, TV3, Thursday, 8.00pm.