Sydney Drag Shows: THEM in A Fantasy Fable

“In the flower there was a fairy…and the fairy said…three wishes! Mother got a pool. Daddy got a horse. And I got a dress.”

THEM…in A Fantasy Fable, December 4, 1986 at the Newtown Hotel. (THEM – Terror, Horror, Excitement, Mystery – were (in this incarnation) Jay Jay Bailey, Robyn Lee and Tallulah Bright). This video is the first part of the show.

I think A Fantasy Fable might have been a bit too “out there” for most Thursday late-night-shopping punters at the Newtown. I remember quite a mixed crowd reaction to it at the time. A really bizarre mix of song choices and storyline from Jay Jay. Her creativity and wild thinking is quite apparent in this show. And trying to fit all this mayhem on the tiny, tiny Newtown stage was quite a challenge!

By this time I was working behind the scenes as a dresser for THEM. The day of the opening I was helping the girls out with last minute costume preparations by applying feathers to various costumes. Looking back through my old photos I’ve realised the reason I don’t have any of “A Fantasy Fable” is because I was working on the show at the time! Pity.

Jay Jay used two songs from Klaus Sperber, better known as Klaus Nomi, a German countertenor noted for his wide vocal range and an unusual, otherworldly stage persona.

Nomi was known for his bizarrely visionary theatrical live performances, heavy make-up, unusual costumes, and a highly stylized signature hairdo which flaunted a receding hairline. His songs were equally unusual, ranging from synthesizer-laden interpretations of classical music opera to covers of 1960s pop standards like Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” and Lou Christie’s “Lightnin’ Strikes”.

Jay Jay had previously used Klaus’ version of “Falling In Love Again” in an earlier THEM show, “Twisted”.

Two songs from Sid & Marty Kroft’s classic “PufnStuf – The Movie” (1970) were also used – “Different” and “Zap The World”.

A Fantasy Fable featured “Craving For That Kind of Love” which went on to become somewhat of a signature tune/triumph for Tallulah. Interestingly, she didn’t like the song when she first heard it and Jay Jay had to insist that she do it in the show. Her faux-strip tease to the song instantly became a crowd favourite.

A Fantasy Fable is also notable as it was the last show that Tallulah was part of as THEM. Tallulah resigned to move on to other shows and was replaced by Ginger Benson.


My Lost Gay Sydney

For the last couple of months I’ve been posting a lot of photos to the Facebook group called ‘LOST GAY SYDNEY’. Some 5,000+ people are in the group which is all about posting photos, articles and memories from the days when Sydney had a vibrant, living Gay scene and when Oxford Street, Darlinghurst really was ‘the golden mile.’

My era in Gay Sydney dates back to the 80s when I moved up from Adelaide to live and work in Sydney. Discovering the youth group ‘Young Gays’ and Sydney’s vibrant pubs and clubs resulted in a complete lifestyle change for me. I was out on the scene up to five nights a week – mostly seeing my favourite drag shows at venues like Patchs, the Honest Irishman Hotel, the Town Hall Hotel at Balmain as well as the Albury and many others which have now sadly faded into history.

I thought it would be fun to put some of the pictures I’ve scanned and posted into a video/slide show presentation with an appropriate song as the soundtrack. The song I’ve used is ‘Wonderland’ by Alcazar which is wonderfully evocative of someone reflecting back on their years as a young party-party-party boy. In fact, without getting morbid, I actually have told everyone I want ‘Wonderland’ to be the song played at my funeral.

Someof the identities/people in the video are…
Skye Brooks
Maggie Burns
Stefanie Powers
Penny Clifford
Chris Da Bonafin
Tallulah Bright
Dot Dingle/David Wilkins
Fanny Farquhar/Ron Handley
Caroline Clark
Marcia Monterey
Rose Leaf
Cynthia Randall
David ‘Hilda’ Hiscock
Severe Inflation
Doris Fish
Dawn O’Donnell
Judy Glen
Ken ‘Çandy’ Johnson
Don Dailey
Pola Negri
Toni Jay
Trudi Valentine
Rodney Dean
Robyn Lee
Jay Jay Bailey
Ginger Benson
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Tobi Saunders
Christie McNicholl
Miss 3D
Maggie Kirkpatrick

Catching up with the past (or vice-versa)

The 80s!

Oh my god, it’s the last thing you want to happen when you’re out and about, not showered and looking like a car accident!

Of course my reaction was much worse than the actual situation but…what else is new?

What are we talking about? Well, running into one of your ex-boyfs unexpectedly. Now it isn’t that serious since today’s incident relates to a boyf from 25 years ago but anyway…you don’t wanna look like absolute shit when you run into someone from your past. Even if that person treated you like garbage for a year or so and permanently wrecked your mind. Oh look, there I go…over dramatising yet again! 😉 But we did break up 10 times and get back together 9. It was a very eventful, if horrible and embarrassing period of my life.

But still, it does make you think….it kind of hits you in the nuts a bit. I flashed back to then and suddenly started questioning my life and my bucketload (small bucket admittedly) of crap romances over the years. And you kind of think about the good times you shared with the ex and air-brush the bad times. Now given the bad times were about 90% of the time, that’s some amazing airbrushing! Photoshop would struggle! 😉

Yoda (my best friend forever) and I were out of the house on a sunny Sunday doing the usual haunts…Leichhardt…JBHiFi….and the fish & chip shop in Annandale (which I have been going to since 1989 when I lived in Annandale!). Now it takes 2 buses and a lot of determination to get there but still I do it. But anyway, who should I run into (well sorta) as we go through the door to get some lunch…yes that’s right – the “ex”. Probably the most important one (and that’s what shits me – having to admit that).

Anyway, it was all very “pretended I didn’t see him” and vice-versa. I sat in the shop making polite conversation with Yoda whilst thinking “arghhh…get me out of here!” I was surprised Yoda hadn’t noticed but, in fact, he had but thought the “ex” didn’t look enough like he did back then so dismissed it. “Wasn’t he really short?,” said Yoda, “He seems taller now.” I don’t fucking know…maybe he’s wearing heels! Yoda also remembered punching him back then too. Ah, crazy times..

Part of me was thinking “Oi vey! This was quarter of a century ago, so much has happened since and you’re not the same person…” and the other part of my brain was going “oh shit, I look terrible, he looks older and grizzled but still basically in shape.” And all that kind of rubbish. Seriously, this was all NUTSO thinking. I don’t really understand how things from such a long time ago can still cause such a reaction. Perhaps we’re all just a collection of our past insecurities and mistakes.

It was quite funny now that I think about it….I had assumed he would have left the shop before us. But our order was ready super-quick and we had to pass right in front of him as we left. Arghhh! But yeah, think of what you don’t want to happen and it always happens! I’m giggling a bit now as I type this.

As we caught the first bus back to whence we came, Yoda said “you’re not really upset about it are you?” and I replied “No, of course not, it was just unexpected and it just makes you re-live and re-think things, that’s all.” Then it became a bit of a joke “You’re not gonna go home and want to watch ‘Of Human Bondage’ are you?” The ex was very much like the lead character in that movie and so had been nicknamed as such many years ago. But no, I didn’t need to do that…I just needed to do a bit of a flashback for a while and verbalise it. And yeah, just had to think about what I’ve done in the last 25 years and the people I’ve touched and the mega-travelling I’ve done and the friends I’ve made. In a way, it was good because occasionally you need to remember how many fantastic things have happened in your life and how many opportunities you’ve had…it is very easy to forget the breaks you’ve had and only concentrate on the bad times. A bit of a mental and verbal gratitude journal happened.

Eventually the conversation moved on to other things and we continued on our merry way. I thought “I really want to write a blog entry about this but all I seem to write about is Swedish pop thesedays!” But screw it, it deserves a blog entry.

The past, past, well now let me tell you about the past
The past is filled with silent joys and broken toys,
laughing girls and teasing boys,
Was I ever in love? I called it love – I mean, it felt like love,
There were moments when, well, there were moments when….

Up, up and away with TAA the friendly, friendly way

Oh, I’m on a roll with these TV commercials from my childhood. It seems like every few months someone is adding something new to Youtube from my past that just blows me away. And, of course, I could virtually remember the lyrics word for word even though it’s been decades since I’ve seen the ad. Talk about advertising brainwashing you!

This advert features my favourite plane of all time – the Boeing 727. My god it was a sexy beast. Yet to think my Dad tried to take me on one (when it was on the ground – we had a friend who worked at the airport) when I was 7 years old and I screamed and screamed and screamed hysterically until they took me off. I was a very nervous, wimpy child. I was absolutely terrified the 727 would take off. Nowadays,  of course, I’d be BEGGING them to take off!

Still, is this advert a classic or what????????????????????????

Gorgeous TAA 727-200

If this doesn’t win Melodifestivalen, Sweden is fucked.


Eric Saade was robbed in the 2010 Melodifestivalen contest. “Manboy” shat all over the actual winner – “This is My Life” by Anna Bergendahl. And Sweden paid the price – it didn’t even make it through the semi-final at Eurovision. It died a painful death. “Manboy” and Eric’s album went on to become HUGE in Sweden. And what a fantastic album it was. With all due respect to a pretty and sweet lady, who the fuck even remembers Anna Bergendahl a year later?

Amazingly, Eric is back in Melodifestivalen in 2011. With a song and a presentation that are simply mindblowing – “Popular.” This song would kick some serious arse at Eurovision.

Sweden MUST send this song to Eurovision. If they pick yet another boring fucking ballad, they might as well withdraw from the contest. Apparently only 10% of Melodifestivalen’s viewers actually pick up their phones and sms or phone a vote in. I hope those 10% don’t screw it up yet again this year.

Eric MUST win to restore Sweden’s place in Eurovision and to keep Melodifestivalen even relevant.

At the Fritzoneum, Lobethal

David & Ben outside the Fritzoneum

David & Ben outside the Fritzoneum

The day after Christmas, we were invited to go to Lobethal to visit friends David & Ben. They spoilt us rotten with food, drinks, presents, home-baked goodies and more. They also had three lovely little dogs that I just adored.

David & Ben live in this big ‘ole house on a huge block of land in Lobethal which is a country town outside Adelaide. Ben came into town and picked us up and drove us back to Lobethal which was very nice. We also got a life home as well. V.v.civilised!

The big excitement of the day for me was when I found out David & Ben’s home is the very house where Fritz was invented! I zoned out there for a while, I just about pooped my pants with excitement. The House of Fritz. The Fritzoneum. The Museum of Contemporary Fritz? I immediately had visions of escorted tours of the house and busloads of “in the know” tourists descending upon Lobethal to pay homage.

Only very few in South Australia would not have experienced a "Fritz & Sauce" sandwich.

What does Wikipedia say?

Devon is a type of manufactured meat product sold in Australia and New Zealand. It is usually served in a sandwich, often with tomato sauce and can also be fried in slices. Typical commercial preparations list the major ingredient as “Meat including Pork”. It is usually composed of several types of pork, basic spices, and a binder. One popular brand, Primo, uses the same ingredient list for both Luncheon and Veal German, with the exception being the addition of red wine powder to the latter, a more expensive, product.

It is referred to as “Polony” in Western Australia, “Luncheon” in Queensland and northern areas of New Zealand, “Fritz” in South Australia and far western areas of New South Wales, “Belgium” or “Rokeby Roast” in Tasmania and southern New Zealand and “Devon” in Victoria and East New South Wales.

Devon would be classed as “Luncheon Meat” in the UK. It is similar in appearance and taste to boloney. Originally known in some parts of Australia as “German sausage”, this name fell out of favour during World War I when Australia was at war with Germany. Gelbwurst, a Bavarian sausage, is also very similar to Devon.

And what of Lobethal?

LOBETHAL (Meaning Valley of Praise) is set in the picturesque Adelaide Hills, about 40km SE of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

At the close of an open-air Thanksgiving Service on the 4th of May 1842 Pastor Fritzsche, The Founder of Lobethal, quoted the 26th  verse of the 20th chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles: “Am vierten Tage aber Kamen sie zusammen in Lobethal: denn darselbst lobten sie den Herrn. Daher heisset die Stätte Lobethal, bis auf diesen Tag.”

Which in Luther’s translation of the Bible reads:

And on the fourth day assembled themselves in Lobethal: for here they blessed the Lord. Therefore the name of the same place was called Lobethal unto this day”

To this day Lobethal has remained rich in the history of its German pioneers.

The popular smallgoods FRITZ (peculiar to South Australia), was named after Fritz Eisenberg, an early butcher and sausage maker, who first made it in his Lobethal Main Street shop. The shop which was built in the mid 19th century and added to in the late 19th century, still remains and is now a private home.

The famous Onkaparinga Woollen blankets were originally made in Lobethal, and the site is now used as weekend markets, as well as being a Business Incubator.

The Lutheran Manse, built for pastor Dr. Loessel in 1867, was the first two storey built in Lobethal, and is now used as a Christian Book Shop, and teachers residence. Behind the Manse is the original Lutheran Church, built in 1843-1845,for Pastor Fritzsche, and known as “Zum Weinberge Christi”. It is the oldest Lutheran Church, still being used, in Australia. Between the old Church and the Manse is a Museum, which is built over the original Lutheran College, which was built in 1845 by Pastor Fritzsche, and was the first seminary built in Australia. The Museum contains much memorabilia and early artefacts.

The “Lovers Trees”

Behind the church is Pastor Frizsche’s grave and nearby Lovers Trees. It is said that in the early days of Lobethal’s settlement two young lovers were to be married, however a week before the wedding the bride-to-be died, and was buried near the church. The bridegroom was devastated, and pined away, dieing of a broken heart a month later. He was buried next to his wife-to-be and they shared the same tombstone. A short time later, two pine trees began to grow above their graves, with there branches intertwined. Today these two trees still stand as a tribute to their love and are over 65feet tall.

There are many other old buildings and reminders of Lobethal’s history that form a total of 24 locations that can be viewed by following:
a. The Lobethal Heritage Walk (around the town)
b. The Lobethal Heritage Drive (around the surrounding district)


So David & Ben are living right in the middle of all this history…their basement was where the experiments and development of Fritz began. I didn’t go down there but I imagine you could just feel the history. Well, if you were a South Aussie like me! 😉

It turned out to be a really enjoyable day for us – with a bit of history thrown in!


The House of Fritz, Lobethal

Dogs of the Fritzoneum

You filthy, dirty little queer. Get out!

First of January, 2011 and I can’t help revisiting an old classic. Number 96. And, more specifically, Bev & Don’s classic scene where she finds out he’s Gay. Or a “hummus-sexual” as Don seems to say 😉

Seeing this surreptitiously as an 12 year old, you might think it could have screwed up my self-image and self-worth because of my sexuality. Actually, they were already totally screwed, Number 96 actually help sort them out. Don Finlayson was a strong character who everyone in the building relied on. He was a lawyer and a kind and gentle man. He did more to stop me being screwed up about being a fag than anything else. He was a role model in 1972!

This scene always makes me think about Bev being a huge drama queen. It doesn’t make me think anything negative about Don or being Gay – it just makes me think “oh god, that bloody Bev Houghton was such a flake sometimes!”

Anyway, welcome to 2011. Or 1972. Enjoy…you filthy, dirty little queers!