Posts Tagged ‘Number 96’
I was one of those lucky kids whose parents were fine with me watching Number 96.
To me it was high camp, absurdist, drama, vaudeville, and I loved it. The next day my best girlfriend and I would sit in class and relive the previous nights episode. We would pass back and forth our text books, and where onto historical photographs we had drawn speech bubbles with quotes from Dorrie, so you would have a dinosaur saying, ‘Herbert, it’s all too much, I’m at the point of going Beresk!!’.
Yes it’s true I’m not very good at maths, but as a ten year old, Number 96 shaped me far more into the man I would become, than endless repetitions of times tables. Little did my ten year old self know that when I was proclaiming everything to be ‘Bona’, I was actually speaking my future heritage of Polari.
For more on Number 96 please visit the fantastic Facebook group HERE
Thanks for the Mayan birthday wishes everyone.
I’ve realized celebrating my birthday each year by only acknowledging the Roman/Christian calendar is probably borderline racist, so i now embrace the Mayan (where my birthday is today) Chinese and Greek calendars as well, and spookily my birthday falls on different days.
Am I missing any culturally different calendars?, like I said, this is solely about being inclusive, I don’t like to be greedy, it’s not in my nature, but I feel awful all these years excluding other cultures from my celebratory calendar, but I vow to stop that immediately.
. . ooh!!!!, I just had a thought!, I wonder what my name day is in Greece!?
Last night marked what i hope will be Miss Tammys return to polite (cough) society, after a forced absence of two years due to a few health ‘Issews’.
I was welcomed back in the best possible way, a Fortieth anniversary celebration extravaganza for the Number 96 movie.
What a night it turned out to be!, i was so worked up and excited after it, I couldn’t get to sleep until 1.00am, and i don’t mind saying, there were a few tears before bedtime.
I arrived in a highly excited state (‘Fizzing at the bung’ to use quaint Wollongong parlance). Simply watching the movie would have been enough, but with the prospect of a ‘Number 96 immersion experience’ on the cards, i couldn’t help but be a bit frisky with anticipation.
We were met at the entrance by ‘Claire Houghton’, who checked our tickets and offered a very warm welcome, the frisson of Bri Nylon was in the air.
Princess Stephanie (She of the Pink Palace of Petersham) and i made our way in and found our seats. Casting my eyes across the table i was struck immobile with an instant searing in my nethers, i saw a note had been left there for none other than Maggie Cameron!, warning of an imminent bomb blast, if i’d worn my pearls i would have been clenching them!! (who could ever forget Bettina Welch’s amazing performance as Maggie when she stared into a mirror, attached to a wardrobe surely purchased from Joyce Mayne. So repulsed was she by her image, she threw a glass of vodka upon the mirror as we watched her reflected image weep, and cascade, tears of hooch).
I needed a drink to calm my nerves, there were pockets of ‘Beresk’ inside me that had laid dormant for forty years, my hands were beginning to involuntarily flutter and flap. Stepping up to Normas bar i was greeted by . . well, i guess it was Norma, tho never before have i ever felt sexual urges towards someone calling me ‘Duckie’, but hey, i’m almost fifty, life is teaching me not to question too much.
Once ‘He-Norma’ had adjusted his very Norma-esque wig, and most importantly stopped lifting his dress to fan, cool and aerate his no doubt super heated intimate area (nothing raises a sweat like dense polyester) i was served my sherry with a dash of GI cordial.
All the while playing in the background was music so fantastic, so wonderful, it is not even worthy of Spotify or Pandora, where else could you hear the lilting tunes of Johnny Lockwood, Norman Yemm and .. clutch your imaginary pearls time again . . ‘The Executives’!!, who, not many people know, originated from Helensburgh (along with in breeding, crimpolene and human waste fondue party’s).
If you look up on your bedroom walls to your ABBA posters, the photo we all have of them in their white suits with embroidered tigers and tin foil behind them, that photo was taken when they performed on Australia’s Bandstand (sickeningly hosted by Daryl Sommers). If you look to the left and right of ABBA, you should be able to see members of ‘The Executives’ who acted as ABBA’s backing band for the show.
ABOVE: ABBA with a glimpse of The Executives bass guitarist.
The venue, the back room at the Imperial hotel, was really comfortable and air conditioned nicely, so those of us wearing natural fibers were kept at a nice idling temperature.
Perhaps the one lament i have of the evening was, we had Norma’s bar, we had Duddles disco, but alas there was no re-creation of Les, Herb and Alf’s male only sauna. I guess space and licencing laws may have made this a prohibitive exercise, but i would like to offer my services for next time, I’ve been known to knock up a sauna with nothing more than four kitchen chairs, a blanket (close weave) and an asthmatic’s ventilator.
The evening started when we stood for the old national anthem and the Queen, which given the location, the irony was not lost on me, where I’ve only ever experienced people kneeling before queens.
The series of shorts preceding the feature had us all in stitches and gales of laughter, we all need reminding every now and then how fantastic commercial jingles were in the 1970’s, “You need uncle Sam, you need uncle Sam, lets get together for the stars and stripes man”. A Young Talent Time featurette was absolute gold, even if it did feature a cameo by Johnny Farnham.
I must make mention, in point of actual fact, that all the while this was going on, scurrying around the tables serving us, and bringing us treats, was none other than Arnold Feather, or, a pretty fantastic representation of Arnold. In my dreams, and heart of hearts, i want to believe it really was Arnold, but i have a feeling it was a ‘Faux Feather’, either way, thank you Arnie for supplying us with complimentary popcorn all night, along with lolly bags, and bests of all, a most welcome choc top ice cream.
I was internally freaking out to have two of the superstars from the movie sitting at the next table, Elisabeth Kirkby and Phillippa Baker, along with writer David Sale.
I hope it was sweat, but i think it was wee running down my leg. To be in the same room as these people, watching them watch themselves on screen was very special indeed.
The movie was every bit the camp classic i know, and remember it to be. I did take a moment to acknowledge some of the very brave (even to this day) social commentary scattered throughout the movie.
I watched the TV series Number 96 pretty much from the very beginning, from when i was about seven years old. It provided a perfect escape for me during a ‘very’ (or as Vera Collins would pronounce it ‘Veh’) difficult childhood. Watching the show as a child, I don’t believe for one second it did me any harm whatsoever, in fact, just the opposite, it gave me a broader view of the world.
Recently my friend Miss Marcia and i were chatting about the show, Marcia, like myself, was allowed to watch it as a child, we pondered what it was about the show that so drew us too it.
First up, i guess the high camp of the show struck a chord somewhere deep inside us, this would one day become a lot clearer and more apparent.
Secondly, and maybe just as important, we acknowledged the slapstick humour that littered most every episode, we realized most of the actors probably had their starts on stage, theater, panto, maybe even the Tivoli.
To kids like us, Les blowing up a sausage machine was every bit as important as seeing a tuft of unmanicured pubic hair, (unless it was Vince Martins . . NUH-thing could be more important than that). I feel that’s why the show, to this day, still holds up and bares repeated viewings, it’s still controversial, it’s still camp, and it’s still funny.
Special mention must go to Nikita Van Der Kamp who paid tribute to Abigail, what a fine homage to a legend. To see ‘Je t’aime’ performed in this way was an honor, and mixing in dialog from the show was sheer genius.
“Yooh, filthy!, dirty!, little! . . Queer-ah!!”
One final, personal little memory. My mum and dad would always go to Corrimal Leagues Club on a Saturday night, usually there would be a ‘club act’ performing, Lucky Grills, Jan Adelle etc.
One night Norman Yemm was there. At the end of the show, as Norman was walking through the crowd, dad reared up in front of him, bellowing ‘What did you do to Vera Collins you BASTARD!!!!!!!’, Norman had found his people, he spent the rest of the night drinking with mum and dad. When i awoke the next morning, dad gifted me with a still damp and stinky cardboard coaster, inscribed ‘To Greg, best wishes Norman Yemm’, what more could a little queen ask for.
A deep gusset straining curtsy of respect and gratitude to Andrew, and everyone who put on this great night, i’m looking forward to many more.
For more information on the Backdoor cinema experience click HERE for the Facebook group.
You can view two short clips below from last night:
Ahhh, Dorrie Evans and her malapropisms, a classic every one of them, feel free to add more in the comments.
Why wasnt i told.
Im quite ardarmant about that!.
Dont rub salt into the womb Herbert.
But that’s a horse of entirely different colour!.
I’m being driven completely beresk!.
Well be that as it may!.
Pardon me for protuding!.
Thats all my eye and Mary Martin.
Life is not a bowl of cherubs flo.
I prefer to remain ambiguous.
Don’t be so fascecial Flo!.
I think they are enjoying intimate carnival relations.
I blame you for this Herbert, i’m at the point of having a cerebral haemoroid!.
For all things Number 96 click “Here“.
Once more Woman’s Day delivers gold, if it’s not there exclusive interview with Matt Newtown bleating about how great he’d done in rehab, it’s wheel out some Aussie soap icons. In a cross promotion stiffy inducing moment, the same time this article hit the stands Newton jr was trundled back into rehab .. which seems to be the preferred method of treatment these days for violent assholes.
With bad comes good, and in a recent issue of Womans Day we had a double page spread on a Number 96 reunion for Johnny Lockwoods 90th birthday. I was watching old episodes last night and was rolling on the floor laughing, so many shows don’t live up to your childhood memories, but Number 96 does, my favorite ‘Dorrie-ism’ from last night was ‘I blame you for this Herbert, i’m at the point of having a cerebral haemoroid’ .. Gold’, Gold!!, Gold!.
For all things Number 96 click “Here“.
Recently ‘RAGE’ played some old episodes of Countdown, and i was cock o’ hoop to see that they played ‘Product of your mind’ by ‘Jimmy and the boys’, if for no other reason than it features Joylene Hairmouth’s greatest ever filmed performance.
This is the Citizen Kane of Joylene, a veritable Hairmouth cinema verite.
I love this clip soooo fucking much, Joylene is treating the keyboard with such contemp, but it’s trained contemp, she’s going at it like Shirley in the Partridge family, after Ruben Kinkade accidently drugged her, instead of Danny.
Think Marta Hari from Lancelot Linc’s Evolution Revolution .. that style of playing, where the hands look like they are frantically trying to fan someone back into conciousness after a bad, or really good pill.
We all know what was done to those poor bastard monkey’s to get them ramped up and hopping about, simian electro play was the order of the day, and Joylene looks, and performs in this clip like she’s had a car battery freshly clipped to her nipples.
To this very day, each time i enter the Opera House’s grand hall i have a knot in my stomach, knowing that Dame Joan Sutherland and Olivia Newton John opened that place, when all along the first person on the stage should have been the real La Stupenda Joylene.
Let me tell you, i bet Joylene would have had a better camel toe than Olivia did in her black lycra pants in Grease (another starring roll Joylene was jyped out of).
I do my bit, every morning i lay a fresh lilly before the framed photo i have in my lounge room, that was taken last year of Joylene, myself and my filthy bitch bestie ‘Beryl’.
Both Beryl and i agree that besides the night we came across a leather clad, and Rose free Willie Porteous at Sleaze ball, in the downstairs shitters in the Hordern Pavillion, our evening with Joylene was the pinacle of our very existence.
Below are some screen captures i took from the clip. I’ve posted some before, but they were from a lame ass Youtube clip, these are better quality, and it’s all about preserving art in the best possible quality .. and taste.
It’s funny, when i was little i remember going to visit my Aunty Mary who only lived two suburbs away, when you’re little that’s like the moon. One thing i always noticed is that her family would buy, and read ‘Tv Times’, where as my family were of the Tv Week variety.
Even at that young age i was aware of ‘differences’, i guess this was my first taste of ‘us and them’, i always thought it was exotic that my Aunt would read something different from us. It fascinates me to look back at childhood perceptions, and how something so simple was almost a metaphor of what was to come in later life, the bigger differences, the bigger ‘Us’s and them’s’.
I blogged earlier about finding a photo of me as a very small child in a push car, and how it was an adventure for me to ride to the end of the back path, but how later i found myself in Los Angeles thinking ‘Gee, that wasn’t all that far from the back path in Wollongong’.
I guess i was always wondering what lay beyond the back path, as a child of about four i went missing, and was found in the next suburb in my push car, apparently trying to visit my sister, i still wonder where that path will lead me.
For all things Number 96 click “Here“.
Recently while scouring ebay i came across the above gems from Number 96, little b/w personality cards that the studio used to send out to fans of the show.
Amazingly after years of thinking it was lost i just found the card (See below) i had been given by Mike Dorsey who played Reg (Daddy) MacDonald on the show, the above screen captures tho bad quality show the moment i was given this card.
Years ago in 1974 the cast of Number 96 traveled by train to Melbourne for the Logie Awards, i’m guessing this was around April 1974 as that’s when the Logies are traditionally held. At the time even tho only nine years old i was allowed to watch Number 96, which kind of gave me almost celebrity status at school.
My dad had had a severe heart attack at this time, and before a visit to the hospital my sister took me to Corrimal train station to greet the Number 96 express (Even at that age i was a fame whore) I remember the jostle of the crowd, and i remember it started to rain afterwards. The train pulled in to Corrimal station and the stars appeared at the carriage doors to hand out these photo cards, i think Mike Dorsey threw this one and i dropped it in a puddle, hence the slightly traumatised state of the photograph.
I remember calling into the corner store on the way to visit my dad to get him some lollies, and going into intensive care to excitedly show him my almost first brush with fame (Humphrey B Bear when i was five really can’t count can it?).
Years later when i got the Number 96 Pantyhose Strangler DVD set i was amazed to see in the special features footage filmed at Corrimal station when the train pulled in, I’ve searched, but alas no sign of a little Greg with goggled eyes, staring up in abject awe at these local, early filth mentors for him.
For all things Number 96 click “Here“.
February 12th 2009, a date circled most enthusiastically in my diary, for this was the day when i finally had the honour of paying homage to the most influential lady to ever cross the entertainment, and political stages of Australia. Forget your Chelsea Brown’s and Bronwyn Bishops, none of them hold a melting candle to Joylene Thornbird Hairmouth.
Joylene was starring in a show at the factory theatre ‘Betcha thought i was dead .. ‘ and so it was that the collective Miss’s Tammy, Stephanie, Beryl and Viv went along with butterflies sniffing amyl in our bellies, such was the level of our excitement.
I cant go into a review of the show, it was one of those ‘You just have to see it to believe it’ situations, i went merely excited to be seeing Joylene for the first time but we left having seen an amazingly well written, and sharp piece of theatre.
At the end of the show Joylene left the stage, i thought alas my chance of kneeling before her to pay my respects had flown out the window, but upon leaving the theatre and entering the foyer Miss Stephanie squealed ‘She’s here!’ and so we hung back while Joylene conversed with some friends of hers, i was amazed to realize that for almost the first time in my life i was nervous to be meeting a star!.
I’ve met more famous people than Beryl has had interventions, I’ve done all the biggies, including Diana and Paul McCartney, but Joylene was rooted a little deeper in my belly.
When i thought about it i realised that Joylene was someone who struck a very deep, and early chord with me .. but not an obvious one, Diana yeah for the glam, and Paul for the music, but Joylene went deeper, to a darker more hidden place.
Then it all came together for me while waiting to meet her, when i used to watch Joylene on tv when i was a kid, she was a drag terrorist, she was doing things that no one would dare do in 1970’s Australia, a disemboweling drag queen appearing on the daytime blue rinse Mike Walsh show?, a self immolating drag queen running for the Australian senate?, my little fourteen year old eyes were watching all this, and tho I’ve never had the urge to don an osti frock, i was desperate to be however, and whatever i was meant to be.
I felt crushed, compressed and moulded into what i was supposed to be, or expected to be, but through watching Joylene all those years, it must have sunk in deep, that you can step outside the square, you can do whatever you want to do (sometimes at a high cost, but surely it’s a higher cost to not do that) it is possible to not fit the mold.
I now know that that is what my little eyes were taking in.
When Joylene finished talking to her friends, i went over and introduced myself, and instantly i felt a warmth, a sense of gratitude to her i could not convey. It was a joy for me to see the sense of wonder in Beryl’s eyes as she realised she was in the presence of greatness, she was standing before Australia’s very own Drag terrorist, our very own Filth Queen if you will, and no matter how many rats have lived in Beryl’s drag wigs, she could never hold a torch to Joylenes monolithic, iconic beehive blade (Which should be in the Powerhouse museum along with Joylene’s other fashions, i mean if they can have an exhibition of Diana’s dresses and artifacts surely one dedicated to Joylene cant be far away).
Joylene was so very gracious, and entertained us for several minutes, and accommodated photo’s and autograph’s, we bid our thanks and farewell’s, after fullfilling our desire, to prone ourselves, to prostrate ourselves before her size 12 court heels, in utter gratitude, and thanks.
It was rather telling when we were outside, Stephanie commented ‘Isn’t it lovely when you meet someone you love and admire, and they aren’t an arsehole’.
Click here for my previous Joylene post.
Once again Joylene, thank you from the heart of my bottom.
We’d talked of finding this place for years, so finally we jumped into Beryl’s automobile and headed for the very shee shee suburb of Woolarah, as we rounded the corner the block of unit’s came into view, i couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by heaving sobs of emotion, i was literally fizzing at the bung hole, it was as if my entire television life flashed before my very eyes.
When i was little i was lucky enough to be allowed to watch this show, it was racy and rude and controversial and everything you’ve ever heard, but i never really saw the rudeness, it didn’t really register, but the camp value was set to ’11’ and i loved it, i absorbed it, i chewed it up, masticated the high camp. Years later my friend Miss Marcia and i discussed what it was that drew us to this show, and why in 2014 it still holds up, and we both agreed it was because many of the actors had a stage and vaudeville past, and that shone through in their rolls, to the point many scenes were almost slapstick.
After watching the show the next day at school my friends and i would recite the previous evenings dialogue, i held a special place in my affections for the character ‘Dorrie Evans’ and still, to this day my speech is littered with her malapropisms, i guess this should be filed under the heading ‘I should have known i was gay when .. ‘ how many other ten year old boys do you know who could recite whole passages of dialogue from the likes of ‘Mummy’ ‘Daddy’ ‘Norma’ and ‘Dorrie’?.
I have vivid memories of when ‘Number 96’ mania reached Wollongong, when the Logies were being presented in Melbourne the whole cast of Number 96 travelled down to Melbourne by train, they stopped off at Corrimal station and the place was packed, how someone didn’t fall or get pushed onto the tracks I’ll never know.
When the train stopped, the stars appeared at the doors and threw out photo’s of themselves, i was lucky enough to catch one of Reg Dorsey who played ‘Daddy’ on the show, i remember strait away racing into the hospital to see my dad who had been struck down with two very severe heart attacks, he was in intensive care but i was so excited to show him my photo.
It amazes me that i can’t remember my mobile phone number, but i can recall characters names from Number 96 like ‘Weppo’ and ‘Trixie O Toole’ off the top of my head.
I only wish i had taken some flowers when Beryl and i visited, it only seem’s right to have laid them at the entrance to Aldo’s deli where the bomb went off, searing the synthetic fibers of his mo, and blowing up the totally hot Miles Buchanan in the process. If i had any petals left, i would have sprinkled them over the entrance to ‘Duddles disco’ and rolled around on them naked, smearing the scent across my supple man titties. Dreaming of a time when Trixie and Flo serenaded the punters in Normas wine bar, and even if it was only in my mind, i would have been there, if not in body, then at the very least in spirit, it would have been enough to drive a body Beresk.
For all things Number 96 click “Here“.
Thanks to Claustral for the above photo.
Over the last few days i’ve been moving some stuff out
of my old room at my mums house, under the dust and
spider webs i found a pile of my old music magazines
from the late 70’s/early 80’s, i was totally blown
away when i found my collection of clippings and
magazines on the Aussie band ‘Jimmy and the boys’
I hope you all remember this
outrageous band, they were wild, out of control but in looking back they were a great band. Their shows were equal parts theatre and punk, i
was, and AM, devoted to their cross dressing
keyboard player ‘Joylene Thornbird Hairmouth’
Joylene used to faux disembowel herself on stage using
offal, all the while Iggy the lead singer would be
burning baby dolls around her.
In 1980 Joylene ran for the senate and i remember my
sister who worked for the electrol commision at the
time keeping me up to date with Joylenes progress, i
just found the below info on the net, Joylene v’s
Fred Nile!! (Where are you now Joylene!? we need you in
the senate now more than ever!)
NEW SOUTH WALES 3,184,997 enrolled, 2,999,196
Five senators to be elected: Quota for election
Fred Nile CTA 110,940
04.1 Group A
Joylene Hairmouth 4,334
2nd count: McClelland’s 754,205 surplus votes
Nile 430 (00.1) 111,370
Hairmouth 31 (00.0) 4,365
> 754,205 2,717,858
Classic!! over four thousand votes for a drag queen
way back in 1980!, remember .. this was way
before Priscilla, The sum of us, Queer as folk etc, Joylene
was at the forefront of all that came after.
I remember as a fourteen year old sitting up in the
school library with my friend Vinnie making up ‘How to
vote’ pamphlets for Joylene with a drawing of her on
the front, i absolutely mastered colouring in Joylenes
patented beehive curved wig (‘The Blade’ as we called it)
somewhere during one of my moves i lost the last of
these drawings, i still had one up until a couple of
of years ago, i remember one
of the policies was ‘Put a scone in parliment’
I think i even wrote a song about her, one of the lines
was ‘She’s the queen of the queens’.
To this day whenever mum comes back from the hairdresser
and she’s worried her hair is a little over teased, mum
will ask us ‘It’s not too Joylene is it?’
My friend Ves once told me of a game .. ‘You should have
known you were gay when …. ‘ where you think back
and list the obvious signs, when i think back, how did
i kid myself that people didnt know i was a flaming
queen! a fourteen year old becoming politically active
and aware by supporting a disembowling drag queen!!??
I also found a heap of cassettes at mums that i’d
taped using a little tape machine i’d set up in front
of the tv speaker, they were full of Bette Midler and
Debbie Harry interviews! and i DO remember my
mum saying to me once ‘Dont you think you should like
younger girls?’ .. seriously another ‘You should have
Please enjoy my humble little tribute to someone who
touched a closeted young queen in Wollongong with her
guts and glory at a time when Australia was a lot harsher place ..
Joylene Thornbird Hairmouth ..
Below: This is a screen capture from the ‘I’m not like everybody else’ video, i love Joylenes Christine Mcvie wig here.
Below: Screen captures from the video for ‘Product of your mind’ i think i remember reading at the time that this was filmed at WIN 4 studios in Wollongong, i remember being quite excited when i heard that .. being a Gong boy and all, this promo is most amazing for the mere fact that never at any other time was Joylenes ‘Blade’ wig so majestically displayed, there are a couple of photos below that capture the true splendour of the beserk cranio bush.
BELOW: I just have to comment on the screen capture below, just look at the confidence in Joylene, she looks like nothing in the world could take her on, not even Gamera or Ghidra on speed, the ‘Blade’ wig is fully extended and shown here for the weapon it was .. a weapon of fashion, extended like the arch of a peacocks tail. Please take note in this clip how Joylene attacks the keyboard with stabs of her hands, i cant help but feel Joylenes style of playing was somewhat influenced by the clips of the keyboard player in Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution
Below: A still from the ‘They wont let my girlfriend talk to me’ video, to me Joylene looks just like Maggie Dence who played Aunty Rose Sullivan in the tv series of the same name
Below: Maggie Dence (I need a pic of her as Rose Sullivan so you can see what i mean)
Below: Joylene really was the ultimate rock chick.
Below: Cabaret Joylene.
Below: An example of my Joylene art.
Below: Joylene the minx.
Below: ‘Joylene Unlimited’ Hmmmmm, i think Donnie Sutherland who hosted Sounds Unlimited must have had a soft spot for Joylene as i can recall at least a couple of interviews with Joylene on that show (OH to have had a video recorder in those days) as you can see by the photo producer Allan Carr was on the show once with Joylene, and even (gulp) got to don her famous ‘Blade’ wig.
Below: Joylene more recently with Vanessa Wagner, proving she is still all class and beauty.
Below: My favorite photo of our beloved Joylene Thornbird Hairmouth, Thank you Joylene from the heart of my bottom, for without realising it at the time you helped form, nurture and encourage that part of me that likes to dance around and step outside the square, while others are content to stay inside it and never feel the joy of being unshackled from societies mores.
Not sure of the names of the photographers, i know Bob King took a lot of Joylene, please contact me so i can give credit.
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.