16 December 2012

K25 – it’s been a fab ride!

So the end is nigh – but hasn’t it been the best ride of a year, celebrating Kylie’s twenty five years in the music industry. And for us in Sydney we have her to top and tail the year.  
Miss Minogue has the love and admiration of many and not least this old showgirl. For me Kylie is the ultimate showgirl, all class and style. And the way she has chosen to celebrate and mark her great achievement just oozes all of it. 
She has after all sold 68 million records starting in 1987 with Locomotion and recorded 11 studio albums and four greatest hits. She has given us some of the best shows we will ever see, with Showgirl and Aphrodite Les Follies being perfect   pop concerts. She has numerous awards including an OBE, a French Knight of Culture, is in the ARIA Hall of Fame – and is the Pop Princess.

How lucky were we to have her here in Sydney to celebrate Mardi Gras and her association with the GLBT world community, by appearing as our special guest during the Parade and performing a twenty minute unforgettable thank you show at our celebration party.
She has performed her Anti Tour, which featured b-sides, demos and rarities from her music catalogue. She also performed at Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Concert, and BBC Proms in the Park London. Kylie released the single Timebomb in May, the greatest hits compilation album, The Best of Kylie Minogue in June and the singles box-set, K25 Time Capsule in October. 

6 December 2012

Carlotta – ‘Life’s still a drag’


Carlotta is Australia’s most famous drag queen with almost fifty years on the stage. Her career started in 1963 when see joined the original cast of Les Girls in Kings Cross and quickly rose to become its star and compere which she mostly did until 1993.

Since then she had a career in TV and film and toured the country first with her big showy production show’s and now with her one woman show Life’s still a drag. 
This highly entertaining cabaret show has been touring Australia for the last year and only last week did she bring it back to her long time stomping ground Kings Cross as part of the Kings Cross Festival. Preforming in a new cabaret space within the Kings Cross Hotel; I was delighted that she invited me along to see the show and generally catch up.
I guess the most charming surprise is this show is 80% sung live and Carlotta has the chops to carry it off and at times belts them out. The songs are mostly showbiz standards and well-chosen to suit her range and theme of this show. A highlight is The Lady is a Tramp, which Carlotta has had rearranged and recently released through iTunes.
Basically it’s Carlotta telling the back story of how Les Girls came about, what it was like and even a few tell-tales involving the personalities behind the glamour. Oh yes she certainly lays it all on the line, and tells it like it was warts and all.

20 November 2012

‘Everything old is new again’

One of my old Les Girls numbers, music & lyrics by Peter Allen and sung by Julie Anthony circa 1974. Sure I’m being a tad nostalgic, but it seems to be very much the fashion devoir!
It was only in early July I blogged about the birth of the Lost Gay Sydney concept and thousands who shared collective experiences took a quick peak over their shoulder, back to what they thought was a more interesting and fun time.
For a time Lost Gay Sydney grabbed a whole community’s interest, but of course that waned, unfortunately helped along by the odd negative bitter old queen killing the buzz for everyone.
But other stuff has taken traction. For instance next year we celebre our 35th Mardi Gras Festival Generations of Love; expect nostalgia to play its part in that and the Mardi Gras Museum initiative getting its first tangible outing. But before then we have a community event tagged Gay Sydney Reunited, a T-dance produced by Jake Colter and Misha Heaton to be held at the Metro on Sunday 9 December.


12 November 2012

A fresh Aussie take for Noel Coward’s Private Lives

The play Private Lives written by Noel Coward in 1930 and considered one of the best examples of the British comedy is given a fresh Aussie take by Ralph Myers at Belvoir; does it work – well mostly.

Private Lives begins at an oceanside French hotel where, Amanda and Elyot, a divorced couple, have a chance run-in with each other while honeymooning with their new spouses. Their harsh tempers and incessant fighting originally drove them apart, but the couple admits they are still madly in love with each other. The pair decides to run away, ditching their new spouses without warning. When they hide out in Amanda’s Paris apartment, old habits emerge and they remember why they originally split up. Their new spouses catch up with them eventually in an attempt to sort everything out.
Toby Schmitz in Private Lives
For this production Mr Myers, who is the Artistic Director of Belvoir, takes on the roles of director and set designer. He takes the setting to a very modern blank white canvass, runs the three acts into one 90 minute chunk and ditches the middle class English accents. So if this play is, as it is for many theatergoers of a certain age, a favorite, some of this you’ll like and maybe like me some not so.
Surprisingly, ditching the accents worked very well as a means of modernizing the text, although the witty dig at the English’s middle class stuffiness intended by Coward is lost, and the play in one act is terrific for its pace and punch. The set didn’t work so well for me to start. The first scene is set  on the hotels elegant balcony’s but here it’s the corridor outside the hotel rooms with the players left to stand and wonder around. It didn’t make sense to me, so it took me till the second scene in Amanda’s apartment to relax totally into the great fun. And great fun it turned out to be. All of the cast are really excellent, the timing and pace is fabulous and the night I saw it the audience lapped it all up.

12 October 2012

Drag and the solo performer!

Great news from the Diva team this week – the community is rallying for the Awards night coming up on October 29th. The local drag industry has taken its share of blows this year, with less venues and tight financial conditions on those still offering the Sydney entertainment phenomenon.
On the Oxford Street strip and at the Imperial we are still treated to those venue’s flagship shows: Stonewall Hotel sticking with the three cast tradition and the long running Polly’s Folly’s, Arq with its Thursday night show and at the Midnight Shift Club those Friday and Saturday night extravaganzas!  
But the news or the battle, lies elsewhere – in solo drag - novelty shows like Tranny Bingo, Drag Queen Karaoke and Tranny Trivia in the City and suburbs and on the strip the ‘one woman show’.
The guys still making drag a full time living are versatile, innovative and bloody brave. Add to this a whole heap of performers we don’t see on the strip and by my count we’ve had 18 to 20 solo performers taking on an audience this year. I spoke to some of these performers about the ups and downs of working solo.
Tora Hymen put it in a nutshell and which I got in consensus from all the guys, “Being a solo performer is much more challenging, you don't have the strength of the group behind you. You rely much more on the audience reaction and as your alone the night rides on your talent, timing, ability to read the audience, to adjust your approach and be spontaneous, improvise and think on your feet. In a group number, everyone goes on stage knowing exactly what they have to do, but with most solo gigs, you have an idea of how the night will go but once you start, anything can happen and to do it well isn't easy, but is rewarding”.

2 October 2012

DIVA 2012 goes Hollywood glamour!

That headline has well and truly announced the start of the Diva Season and the clamour to creating the most glamorous Hollywood looks.  

I answered my phone about ten weeks ago and was asked the last thing I would ever expect – ‘would you be part of the Diva poster for this year’. Now I’ve had a long association with Diva over the years and - well I understand the honour to be asked to do this. 

In 2004 when I was on the Diva board we undertook a marketing survey from a big sample of showgirls, sponsors, and supporters because like many other community organisation’s we needed to really understand our event in the communities eyes, to remain relevant and really - to give us the best chance of surviving in the very tricky event cycle.  

Anyway, in that survey the Diva Poster turned out to be one of the events most cherished and loved components and that each year different showgirls getting to feature was seen as an important element of the events buzz. 

I was invited to cocktails high above the city at the Sydney Tower where our secret project began. The Diva guys Greg and Tim had asked the other participants and we were all delighted when we discovered our fellow showgirl’s in crime. The guys had a very clear idea of what they wanted – the brief was old Hollywood glamour circa the forties and our reference point was the 1939 film The Women.    

All the young people who have never heard of this movie need to get their hands on the DVD straight away – it’s part of a queen’s education, and features one of the screens most glamorous sequences in Adrian’s fashion parade. All the inspiration you need for your Diva look is right there. 

It was great that the Diva guys wanted us models to span generations, experiences and creative talents. The Queen of the drag emporium: Chelsea Bun; Sydney’s Favourite Drag Queen: Charisma Belle: the social commentator on all things social; Danita Kokupya and I would represent the former Les Girls.


19 August 2012

Viva Forever girls!

All everyone seems to be gossiping about this week is the incredible appearance of the Spice Girls in the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony—talk about spice up the party, their performance was an absolute triumph not only for the show but for the girls themselves.

So we all remember the Spice Girls right—an English pop girl group formed in 1994. The group comprised five members, who adopted nicknames: Melanie Chisholm ‘Sporty Spice’, Emma Bunton ‘Baby Spice’, Melanie Brown ‘Scary Spice’, Victoria Beckham ‘Posh Spice’, and Geri Halliwell ‘Ginger Spice’. They have sold over 75 million records worldwide, making them the best-selling female group of all time.

But in 1994 the girls were all very young, the oldest just twenty and they were marketed to a young girls market with their famous girl power attitude. What we saw at the Olympics last week was something else altogether—five showgirls in their late 30’s early 40’s, mums and wives, successful business woman independently and oh so very glamorous. I can relate to them on a better level now and have become a fan all over again. They look like the kind of girls I’d love to have a few champers with.

It was these reunited Spice Girls that made the biggest splash at Sunday night’s event, which was viewed an estimated 300 million around the world and 80,000 fans at Olympic Stadium. They arrived via multicolored taxis into the centre of the stadium, the floor of which was arranged to resemble the Union Jack and performed a medley of their megahits Wannabe and Spice Up Your Life as they stood atop their taxis and circled the stadium, dazzling the same fans who helped make them one of the most popular worldwide acts back in the late 1990s.

29 July 2012

A Chorus Line at the Capitol Theatre Sydney

This show is a revival of the 70’s musical about Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line. The book was by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante, lyrics were written by Edward Kleban, and music was composed by Marvin Hamlisch.

The original Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett, was an unprecedented box office and critical hit, receiving 12 Tony Award nominations and winning nine of them. It remains the fifth longest-running Broadway show ever. The show has enjoyed many successful productions worldwide and was revived on Broadway in 2006.

One of the greatest nights in the theatre for me was in 1976 at the opening night of the Australian premiere at Her Majesty Theatre down at Chinatown. There was a lot of hype and in those times openings were very glamorous affairs, I’ll never forget we attended as a group of Les Girls showgirls and we had tickets about four or five rows from the back in the circle. Those circle seats at Her Maj were as steep as all hell and just getting in and out was hilarious – sorry but I digress the revival bit set me off.

So true to the original, this production is directed and choreographed by Baayork Lee, Michael Bennett’s assistant who played out her life story as Connie Wong in the original production of A Chorus Line on Broadway. Now, trained by Bennett himself, she travels the world mounting productions of this seminal musical.

With nineteen main characters, it is set on the bare stage of a Broadway theatre during an audition for a musical. The show provides a glimpse into the personalities of the performers and the choreographer as they describe the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers. It’s often referred to as the dancer’s musical.

23 July 2012

“I know Madonna it’s all show biz!”

Madonna fans across Australia gave a massive sigh of disappointment last week as the singer's concert promoter, Live Nation, confirmed the cancellation of the unconfirmed MDNA tour, but did not give any reason.

Madonna was due to confirm summer dates earlier this month but delayed the announcement until after the Olympics. The pop star has bypassed Australia on all of her world tours since the 1993 Girlie Show, citing logistics and financial reasons for the no show.

Reports in Australian media suggested that stadiums had already been booked in Sydney and Melbourne for next year's leg of the MDNA tour. There was speculation that the tour became unviable due to high ticket costs and a crowded concert market. "Madonna's tour will end in South America in December as planned. That's all we can say," a spokesperson said.

Fans went crazy on social media voicing their disappointment and some rage. But we need to look at this in the light that it’s all show biz and the biz part is all about making the sums work – and for Madonna at this stage of her career it’s a big ask. And quite frankly she has never forgotten 1993.

In 1993 Madonna was the biggest female star in the world. She released The Immaculate Collection in 1990 and it enjoyed a whopping 23 million sales worldwide. This includes the two huge singles Rescue Me and Justify my Love. This was followed by the Sex book which caused a huge stir and the release of Erotica in 1992. Erotica only sold 5 million copies worldwide but went 3 times platinum in Australia which in the scheme of things was considered a good portion per-capita. It was on the back of this that The Girlie Show was to come to Australia.

13 July 2012

Death of a Salesman @ Belvoir

Belvoir have a real winner in this new production of the classic play Death of a Salesmen, the season has been extended and currently plays to 19 August. If you can still grab a ticket I can only recommend you don’t think twice – it’s just simply extraordinary.

Death of a Salesman is one of the finest plays of the modern American theatre. Written by Arthur Miller in 1949 it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. It is widely seen as Miller’s indictment of capitalism and the American Dream. Yet at its heart, Death of a Salesman is the story of a man past his prime, struggling with his failings and the dashed hopes that his sons would achieve more than he has.

Colin Friels & Genevieve Lemon

Willy Loman is feeling his age. He and his wife Linda are struggling to make their mortgage repayments. The company he works for is branching out in new directions and it looks like he’s about to be left behind. When his university drop-out son, Biff, moves back home after years of drifting, old tensions rise to the surface.

Sure it’s written about post war America but this story is more than likely playing out across the world right now where communities, families are feeling the pressure and challenges of poor economies. But also at the heart of this play is the relationship between a father and son, of expectations never met and disappointment of choices – very close to the bone for myself and many others in our community.

Director Simon Stone has ditched the American ascents which tend to give this show a closer to home feel. The set designed by Ralph Myers consists of a white Ford Falcon in which and around the action is played out. It’s very effective in assisting the audience to use their imagination in visualising the many scene changes, and a very effective use of costume aids the move from the present to flashback.

4 July 2012

Thanks for 'Lost Gay Sydney'

Over the last month I’ve spent hours reading the postings of what is turning out to be a wonderful Facebook page Lost Gay Sydney. It’s lovely because it’s an open page, any of its members can join up other friends and anyone can request to join.

Created by Jason Dann and Jon Fabian Lost Gay Sydney was born from a recently new Facebook group called Lost Sydney. They realised after posting a photo of The Albury (and a few other memories) it became clear there was enough lost ‘gay’ Sydney to warrant a group dedicated to places, people and culture that were being reminisced.

me as a covergirl on Sydney Cruiser magazine 1979
Somehow it appeared in my news feed very early in its birth and I posted a photo of a magazine cover I just had, why I forget, on my drive. It’s a 1979 cover of Cruising which was one of our first gay mags and features myself, Mr Amber Lee and Craig Petrie in our Les Girls finery. I though it fitted the brief as the bye lines advertising articles inside covered ‘Is Leather Drag’ and the leather scene was just beginning then, all very topical of the day and which I thought might have interest to someone drawn to lost gay Sydney. By the time that weekend finished 54 comments had been made, and I received a thank you post from one of the page creators – how civilised and delightful is that.

I had also very timely spotted a video in my feed of ‘a day in the life of Shop Yourself Stupid 1996’ – I shared that to Lost Gay Sydney and it seemed to immediately act as a trigger to what quickly became a flood of people’s memories.

Since then it has grown to be something more than I would think its creators ever imagined. We are seeing many people share their Mardi Gras moments and drag outings. But we are also seeing so much history. Clippings from old gay papers, ads for bars long forgotten, of legendary dance parties and political notices.

20 June 2012

'all our relations' – in Sydney this winter!

Its time for Sydney to once again spend winter exploring and discovering some of the best contemporary art on display in the world right now.  The 18th Biennale of Sydney will be presented from 27 June – 16 September 2012 and it’s all free.

The Biennale of Sydney continues to play a central role in developing visual arts culture in Australia and connecting artists from around the world. Every two years, the Biennale of Sydney is presented free to the public over a 12-week period. As the most exciting contemporary visual arts event in the Asia-Pacific region, the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012) will celebrate the organisation’s 39th anniversary.

Titled all our relations, this Biennale will present works by more than 100 artists hailing from Australia, New Zealand, Asia Pacific, the Americas, Europe, South Africa and the Middle East. Nearly half the artists will present works created specifically for this exhibition, including many substantial collaborative installations.

Four of Sydney’s leading cultural institutions and heritage sites are major venues for the exhibition: the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the newly redeveloped Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Pier 2/3 and Cockatoo Island. For the first time, Carriageworks will also be a presenting partner.

It will be big – some of it will be beautiful, it will be emotional at times and confronting to some. For all of this you must get there. First thing to know is you can’t do the Biennale in one day – just impossible. So here are my tips, based on my experience of past Biennale’s and on researching what they have in store for us.  

1 June 2012

Vivid Sydney – hitting winter with colour and movement

If you are in Sydney at the moment let me persuade you to take a walk along Circular Quay and experience the very colourful and surprising adventure that is Vivid lights. 

Vivid lights are one of the Vivid Festival components and it’s delivered free and easy to access. The hugely popular Vivid lights are switched on every night of the festival from 6.00pm to midnight until June 11 in a free lighting display around The Rocks and Circular Quay, featuring 50 interactive and immersive light art sculptures, illuminated skyscrapers and large scale 3D mapping projections on the Sydney Opera House, Museum of Contemporary Art and Customs House.

It’s estimated that 400,000 people will take a look, which is incredible given its only in its fourth year. I remember the first year when it lit up the short walk from St Mary’s Cathedral to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the technology delivered single slide like screens over the buildings. Now it’s all 3D projections and interactive experiences. A very Sydney kind of evening out!

I met friends at the outside bar on Customs House forecourt and over a glass of champers we planned our walk and took in the first of the major exhibits. The front of Customs House tells the story of a day in the life of a local Joe Average. These projections have come a long way and are now designed to use the features of the building to enhance the show and not just be its screen. It’s full of humour and very very cute.

25 May 2012

Paul Capsis – a living national treasure

This week I’ve been doing one of the things I love most, that is sitting in a theatre and taken on an emotional and enriching journey, and this time struck gold as I also leant something new about myself as a result of the experience.

I’ve been to see the much talked about and critical acclaimed Angela’s Kitchen Paul Capsis’ evocative and beautifully staged piece of autobiographical theatre at the intimate Stables in Kings Cross.

But first can I take you back to about the late eighties or the turn of the decade and to DCM nightclub in Oxford Street which was really at the centre of drag performance and performance artist’s of the day. This is when I first made the acquaintance of Paul Capsis. He was a young man I suspect in his early 20’s who would occasionally perform what was to later become his stable of female singers. The look was early nineties androgynous, the voice something unique and in all - a package we hadn’t really seen before.

I recall that the first show of Paul’s was for the Mardi Gras festival of 1992 when he unleashed his talent on the greater Sydney GLTB scene in The Lady is a Camp at Belvoir Street Theatre where he performed channeling divas from decades past Marlene Dietrich, Janis Joplin, Judy Garland and Billie Holiday. The rest as they say is history and over the years he has given us some very memorable queer slanted shows such as Burning Sequins, Burlesque Tour and Boulevard Delirium. He is one of my all-time favourite cabaret performers – god can he sing.

But he can also act and tell stories and it’s the whole talented and gifted package that I say makes Paul Capsis a living national treasure. This show Angela’s Kitchen is story telling at its most excellent, entertaining and educational.

9 May 2012

“Long to reign over us”

The Queen official Jubilee photo taken by John Swannell

Oh I wish I was on my way to London to join the Windsor’s for their greatest party ever. And whist it’s the party for the people, Her Majesty will really celebrate when she becomes the longest ever reigning Monarch in four years time – will she make it?

Queen Victoria holds the record of the longest reigning Monarch just short of 64 years and died 82 years old. Queen Elizabeth II is about to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee, a 60 year reign and is 85 years old.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was the mother of Queen Elizabeth and she lived to be 101 and The Queen’s aunt HRH Princess Alice lived to be 103 - the Windsor stock has a track record of long rich and healthy lives.

There’s been much gossip about The Queen standing aside to allow Prince Charles to become King or even skip to Prince William – all rubbish of course.  This was put to rest just recently when The Queen renewed her pledge to serve her people until the day she dies.

3 May 2012

On Parade – Portraits from Sydney Mardi Gras

Sydney’s love affair with portraits just got turned to full-on with the launch of the Head On Photo Festival, the world's second largest photography festival. Now in its third year, it features a wide range of photography across all genres with over 200 events at 100 venues.

At the heart of the festival is Head On Portrait Prize which is the nation’s major innovative showcase for Australian portrait photography, reflecting a diverse cross-section of new and traditional photographic practices. It is the most critically acclaimed photographic portrait competition in Australia.

One of the exhibitions in the festival is On Parade – Portraits from Sydney Mardi Gras by Sydney based freelance photographer Jamie Williams who draws inspiration from people and stories that don’t receive mainstream coverage. It’s showing in a wonderful gallery space called Global Gallery in Comber Street, Paddington just off Oxford Street in the part us locals call Paddinghurst. Showing now and running till 13 May.

25 April 2012

The Archibald Prize 2012 at the Art Gallery of NSW

Sydney’s annual embrace of portraiture is in full steam at the Art Gallery of NSW until June 3. It’s just not as exciting, engaging or entertaining as it has been over the last several years. In fact I did it in thirty minutes which I think is a new record for a major exhibition.

The Archibald Prize is one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious art prizes. It’s awarded to the best portrait painting, preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics. This show has 40 finalist works, including portraits of Australian identities such as David Gulpilil, John Wood, Father Bob Maguire, Kimbra and Missy Higgins. But many people I didn’t know – which kind of takes the fun out of it.

The Archibald Prize is judged by the Trustees of the Art Gallery who it seems like two kinds of work these days the huge, over oiled type or the totally photogenic, so it’s hard to feel any emotion other than indifference. 

The winning portrait titled The histrionic wayfarer (after Bosch) by Tim Storrier is a self-portrait without a face which includes a drawing of himself scribbled on a piece of paper being blown away by the wind. It certainly seemed to cause a bit of a stir the day I was there with the general census tending to disappointment.  It seemed easy to understand people’s reaction given the winners of the last few years had been easily recognisable and popular figures such as Margaret Olley and Tim Minchin.

19 April 2012

Unforgettable - Opera on Sydney Harbour

Last week I was lucky enough to see one of the last performances of HANDA Opera on Sydney Harbour – La Traviata and it was one of those ‘I’ll never ever forget nights’ that you could only have in Sydney.  Opera Australia’s grand experiment to take opera beyond the theatre and weave it into the very fabric of the harbour city has been declared a great success.

As I sat in a 3,000 seat grandstand erected in the Royal Botanic Gardens this wonderful opera unfolded before me in the most thrilling and quite unexpected spectacular for an outdoor show.

Australia’s most accomplished and daring Set Designer Brian Thomson designed a minimal but striking stage which was dominated by a giant chandelier measuring 9-metres x 9-metres, that sparkled with 10,000 Swarovski crystals symbolizing the world of Verdi’s much-loved opera with its glittering Parisian salons. All set off by Sydney Harbour - one of the most beautiful views in the world.

Tess Schofield designed the 1950’s inspired costumes, which included dazzling Mardi-Gras themed outfits for the masked ball in Act II, with the cast arriving to the stage by LED lit motorboats. The set was complemented by a sophisticated lighting design by John Rayment which created the atmosphere of changing scenes through colour, dazzling light displays and fireworks.

9 April 2012

A big round of applause for Jenna Talackova

I’ve been watching as the media attention has grown around the Miss Universe Canada contestant Jenna Talackova with great interest and now of course its world news; so much so as Jenna, her mother and her celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred have appeared on the prime time ABC 20/20 show with journalist Barbara Walters - were talking of bringing this issue to the attention of millions of ordinary Americans.  

The head of Miss Universe Canada kicked Jenna out two weeks ago after discovering that she is transgender. The official said that Jenna had to have been born a female to participate.  

At the time, a brief statement on the front page of the website for Beauties of Canada, the company that oversees the Miss Universe Canada pageant, stated that Jenna had been removed from the competition ‘because she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form. 

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) contacted the Miss Universe Organisation last week after Jenna was disqualified and called on the Miss Universe Organisation to review Jenna's case, as well as open the competition to transgender women.
    Jenna Talackova

Jenna, who carries a Canadian passport, driver's license and birth certificate that all identify her as a woman, appeared on Tuesday with Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred, who is famous for representing clients including a string of Tiger Woods' ex-lovers and Nicole Brown Simpson's family during the O.J. Simpson trial, demanding to be allowed back into the contest.

 "I am a woman. I was devastated and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust," Jenna said in a statement she read to reporters. She and Allred also called for the Miss Universe organisation to abolish its rule requiring contestants to be ‘naturally born’ females. Allred called it "an antiquated rule grounded in prejudice, fear and stereotypes."

27 March 2012

Mary Kiani – Little Things Mean a Lot

We in Sydney’s GLBT community love the beautiful Scottish lass Mary Kiani even more since she has made Sydney her home in recent years. Mary of course comes to us with the most wonderful calling card of enduring Top 40 dance hits including 100%, Real Love and the huge world wide hit I Imagine.

Locally Mary has the fabulous credit of starring in one of the best Mardi Gras show’s of the last ten years when she sang I Imagine in a ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ themed full-on spectacular in the early hours of the 2006 party.

Many people still talk about this with such affection so I asked Mary about this connection she has with our community and she told me “I have always been treated like a queen here by the gay and lesbian community and when I’m up singing I always feel the love. I’m sure they all feel it coming back at them”. 

Mary is now launching ‘stage two’ of her musical career by recording a collection of torch songs, jazz and classic standards on her latest album Little Things Mean A Lot. It includes songs from the 1930's through to the present day. I’ve got to say I love this CD and whilst Mary won’t know she and I sing the best duets to it at my place.

21 March 2012

Enjoy Brunch at Claire’s Kitchen and brighten your Sunday!

Last Sunday a couple of friends and I went to say ‘Bonjour’ to our friend, the oh so very french, Claire de Lune who has recently opened the very fabulous Le Salon at the lower end of Oxford Street in what was the Gotham small bar.

Claire, or as I should say Marc Kuzma, as we all know has for the last six years been behind the successful Slide just a few doors up, giving the strip an excellent cabaret / restaurant / nightspot experience. Well he’s dusted himself down and created this splendid French style brassiere and cocktail bar Claire’s Kitchen at Le Salon.  

He’s there steering dinner and drinks each evening between Tuesday and Saturdays but I want to share that he also serves Brunch on Sundays and from my experience I can predict it will soon be the new must-do spot to be. It’s not to be saved for a special occasion oh no – it’s a little chic treat guaranteed to make your Sunday sparkle.

Marc has designed and chosen the décor and furnishings and it’s a gorgeous Parisian black and white themed room with a really astonishing sense of detail. Primarily being a dinner restaurant the table and chairs are comfy and spacious. The front, which faces Oxford Street is floor to ceiling glass so the vibe is sunny and bright with just that lovely little touch of occasion.


13 March 2012

Love Never Dies – Capitol Theatre 10 March 12

The last two months have been chocker with some of the best festival fare we’ve had for some time, constant and generally all good stuff. With all that behind me I’ve popped back into the theatre just in the nick of time to persuade my keen musical theatre friends – do not miss Love Never Dies which is in its last weeks so please be quick.

This newly imagined Australian version of the latest Andrew Lloyd Webber creation is a heartbreaking love story set in the colour and excitement of Coney Island, New York. It’s a truly spectacular night in the theatre! 

Love Never Dies continues the story of The Phantom of the Opera. The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris Opera House and the Phantom has escaped to a new life in New York where he lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak-shows of Coney Island. OK, you may have read the story is not without problems and yes that’s true in as much as its ten years since we last saw the Phantom and his angel of the music Christine Daae and yet they are both younger. Look just do as I did – give yourself over to the magic of the theatre and you will be rewarded with an evening that will stay in your heart and mind for a very long time after.

Directed by Simon Phillips, with spectacular set and costume designs by Gabriela Tylesova and choreography by Graeme Murphy, Love Never Dies was the winner of 3 prestigious 2010 Helpmann Awards for Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design and Best Lighting Design.


29 February 2012

Celebrating my Mardi Gras thirty year anniversary!

Well preparations are in full swing for the 34th annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and I’m feeling the good vibe sitting over us – just mine is one of very mixed emotions! 

When I set off to celebrate on Saturday I’ll be doing it for my 30th time. It would have just been unimaginable way back in February 1982 to think us, let alone I, would be continuing to tread the golden mile as a community in our annual celebration of pride.
Everyone remembers their first Mardi Gras: I and my girlfriends had recently left Les Girls and had moved our partying from Kings Cross to Oxford Street; we were part of an exciting crowd to whom the Exchange Hotel and Patches nightclub was the centre of our gayness.

We headed to the Exchange for drinks in preparation for what was the first parade on the now well trodden route of today. Up on the awning the cast of Mixed Company began to appear one at a time, in ten minute intervals, dressed all in white to the hit of the day Billy Idol’s White Wedding. Chris De Bonnafin, Teresa Green and Cindy Pastel, three larger than life theatrical showgirls creating the most wonderful pre parade atmosphere. As the parade began to arrive at the hotel Julie Ashton appeared on the roof and in full spotlight abseiled down the front of the building doing Looking for Trade from Richard O'Brien's (1981) Shock Treatment. The parade just stopped dead in its track – the screaming and cheering deafening – we had arrived to claim our street in celebration.

21 February 2012

The Rainbow Flag the ultimate symbol of ‘Queer Together’

Recently in a review I used the term ‘Queer Together’ and seemed to have hit on something according to the many emails and messages I received. So by way of context: I was at a cocktail party given by a friend of mine of over twenty years and who had recently committed to a new younger partner after being alone for many years since his first partner was lost to HIV/AIDS in the early nineties. Given that’s almost a gay lifetime I was extremely happy for his new state of domestic bliss. 

For the party each of the guys had invited ten significant friends and given their age gap of fifteen years a mixed, diverse and board age group gathered to celebrate. Both the guys are active community supporters, albeit at different periods of time, and conversation turned to this notion of the Sydney LGBTQI having a history of being collaborative and connected with a real sense of gay family. One of the elders regaled everyone with stories around the birth of our coalition organisations during the challenging time of the eighties when many tribes came together as one to celebrate and mourn that dark period. 

I suggested this is something special for Sydney, something still tangible and visible, although we now have more specific tribe collectives and spaces we still have pockets of being ‘Queer Together’.   

15 February 2012

The House of Loose Ends is an exhibition of Sydney ‘Queer Together’

DJ Matt Vaughan by Richard Hedger

A terrace house gallery down the bottom end of Bourke Street in Woolloomooloo is currently the first stop to take your out of town guests if you’re trying to describe to them the heart of our Mardi Gars for the last thirty years. The House of Loose Ends is a photographic exhibition by Richard Hedger inspired by the Loose Ends club night but captures a whole lot more of queer Sydney heart!

For the greater part of my long community association many OS friends have told me how lucky we are here in Sydney that all queer tribes come together as one, sometimes we use the family word, and not just in February. Certainly through the 80’s and 90’s that aspect of our community was more evident, and whilst we seem to have more specific tribe choices now, thankfully I still find enough pockets of ‘queer together’ to maintain that notion.

One of these pockets is the Loose Ends dance floor, home to a whole lot of fun in the underground of Sydney's queer scene for the last 5 years. Bringing together a truly mixed crowd and a fiercely eclectic mix of sounds, Sunday nights at Phoenix shaken and stirred by DJ Matt Vaughan – another must do experience for everyone who shares this ‘queer together’ inclination.