BERNARD KING:

Before i launch off into a discourse on ‘this’ years Mardi Gras Fair day in Sydney,
I thought i’d cast my mind back a few years to the 2001 Fair day held at
Victoria Park in the city.

Its no big secret that I spend WAY too much time following and adoring celebrities.
Obtusely the objects of my affection are mostly, and come to think of it, have always been,
not your average celebrity that most people would keep scrapbooks on.

No, I’ve always followed the less loved, the misunderstood, the vulgar, the crude and the twisted.
Fairday 2001 offered me the chance to meet someone who was NONE of those things ..

He was simply * Bernard *

Or for the tragic few readers who know not of whom I speak, ‘Bernard King’.

Without realising it, Bernard was probably my first gay hero. He was a celebrity chef on mid afternoon television in Aussie, with his shows actually being filmed right here in Wollongong at WIN 4. Bernard really became a star when he was hired to be a judge on the afternoon talent show ‘Pot of gold’ that ran through the mid 1970′s. I see all these kids now ranting about how cutting and funny Dick(head)o and Mark (somebody slam him please) Holden are on Australian idol, but don’t they realise that they are merely flaccid, pathetic imitations of the true master ‘Bernard’?. You see on Pot of gold Bernard would not hold his tongue, would not avert a death stare in the middle of someone’s act. He was harsh and cruel, without any pretence of political correctness. My brother and I would sit glued to the television, just waiting for his total character, and emotional assassination of the hapless contestants. He was merciless, and we rocked back and forth in glee as he took aim at atonal, discordant, singing sisters in matching blue taffeta dresses and eye shadow. He would draw breath and say, ‘Dress sense zero, singing zero, dancing zero, future zero .. your not very good are you?, no body’s told you that have they’.

Bernard would always say that it was for their own good when he made them cry, and cry they did. Once there was this guy dancing on the show, he looked like a reject from the rejected dancers from ‘You cant stop the music’. He was whirling around in his ball separating satin hot pants, he went for a high kick, and you could practically hear the twang of his ham string as it snapped. He hopped and crawled around the stage, earning nothing more than a dismissive sideways glance from Bernard, as he threw to a commercial break.

It was so funny, without knowing it I was collecting gay hero’s even at that very young age. Not for me the league legends of the day, give me Bernard, Bert or Joylene Thornbird Hairmouth anyday (remind me to blog about Joylene sometime)

All those years later walking around Fair day we spotted Bernard parading, dressed up like a dandy, looking not unlike a crisp Quintin. I must say my legs went to jelly at the sight of him, this really threw me. I’ve met all the big names, from Don Lane to Diana, but Bernard had me shaking.

Finally my friends Mariana and Barbs pushed me towards him, I extended my hand with a simple greeting, would he savage me?, would he dismiss me with a wave?, no, he cocked his head and offered a very polite hello. We stood and had a charming chat for a good ten minutes, he was incredulous when I told him I had all four of his ‘Kings kitchen four seasons’ cookbooks. He assured me that there were some very tasty recipes in between the pages.

It was lovely to meet someone who holds such a command over your memory bank. I’ll never forget, just as we said our farewells, Bernard took my hand and said, ‘Greg, always make your own condiments’.

I think there is something in that for all of us, don’t you?.

Bernard pioneered television advertorials in Australia, doing whatever it took to promote sponsor-supplied products, even if it meant cooking a whole fish in saccharine sweetened grapefruit flavoured soft drink.

I’m so glad I got a photo taken that day with my first gay hero.

Tammy: Duchess of Oven.

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2 Responses to “BERNARD KING:”

  1. Craig says:

    Hello there!
    Just stumbled on your blog and your words about Bernard.
    My name is Craig and I was his Personal Assistant/Manager for many years right up until his untimely death in 2002.
    I was also one of his “Bernardettes” and appeared with him many times on various TV shows and at personal appearances like this particular Fair Day in 2001. I think we ran a Chocolate Wheel at the 2001 Fair Day.
    He was a great man (his close friends actually called him Mother) and I shared two wonderful homes (or should I say mansions) in Kensington in Sydney before he moved up to the Gold Coast where he died.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say hi and thanks for the lovely words, photos and memories of BK.
    Take care!
    Kindest regards,
    Craig “B1”

  2. greg says:

    Wow!!, lovely to hear from you!!, a real, live, Bernardette!! :-)

    My privileged to pay Bernard homage, he really was an early hero of mine. x

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