I have always believed in having a voice, and be it right, wrong or indifferent I think people should speak up, and one of the best ways to do that is through either letter writing, or being included in written conversations on specific issues. There is a lot of stupidity, injustice, prejudice and misinformation going on around us, and it is always important to speak out against these issues.
I have been involving myself in letters and articles since the mid-70s, and have pretty well kept the full record of my involvement. As a way of posting something a bit different, and covering, where possible, the scenario’s that provoked the letters and articles, here is a rundown of my social involvements over time. Funny how circumstances provide the fodder for letters! In my early days, it was always about gay issues – but then you settle down with someone, move to the ‘burbs, and all of a sudden it’s about your local council, or the idiots who inflict their opinions on us through the local rags! Keeps life interesting!
Published in the Catholic Weekly around 1976. I was the store manager for Pellegrini & Co Pty Ltd, in York St, Sydney. A woman had eritren to the Catholic Weekly that Australia had no patron saints, which was inaccurate, as Our Lady Help Of Christians actually was. This is under my old name of Robert Phillips.
Also from around 1976, this article is an interview with the Catholic Weekly regarding the actual Pellegrini store itself. It was sround this time that we had moved the store from its original site in George St, Sydney (in Roma House) to York St.
Around 1978 I left Pellegrini to work for my local menswear store, P&S Michael, who were branching out from the store in Granville, to MacArthur Square in Campbelltown. However, they employed pressure salesmanship – my pet retail hate – so it was a short-lived relationship. I returned to Pellegrini a couple of months later. This is me, modeling clothes for an advert in the local paper.
“Campaign” November, 1981. I was working for Pellegrini in Melbourne, and had just come out. I lived in West Brunswick. The gay clone phenomena had just started, and because of its “macho” imagery, a lot of old queens were whinging about how it was selling out the gay community by adopting “straight” stereotypes. I got fed up with it. My only letter from my Melbourne days.
Two-in-one! Both the smsll photo of myself (right) and Barty Carter taken at the Midnight Shift, and the letter regarding ACON Safe Sex campaigns not hitting the mark would be from circa 1984. Both published probably in Sydney Star Observer.
Beresford Hotel 1985. Christmas function. Photographed with Tony Kelly (right), my partner at the time. More than likely in the Sydney Star Observer.
Article in “Outrage”, October 1985 by Adam Carr under his pseudonym Miles Walker. Adam had visited myself and my partner at the time, Damian, in our flat in Kellett Way, King’s Cross. He was on hus way to a street party. He decided to write a tongue-in-cheek piece about the visit. In the article, substitute Damian for Shane, and Tim for Tony. Notoriety comes in strange ways!
Star Observer circa 1985/86. A politician had made a rather stupid statement that gay men didn’t work in retail! Considering the retail sector relied heavily on gay staff, it just showed his general ignorance.
Star Observer Issue No.30, 20 June 1986. Cleo, my gutter drag persona, makes the front cover, along with Ruby Pollock (front right), and Andrew Carter. We had been to a Queens Birthday party at Geoff Smith & Steve Thompson’s home in Glebe. This photo was raken in The Oxford.
Cleo making it real in an advertising campaign for “Numbers” Bookshop in 1987. This was Cleo’s 1986 Sleaze Ball costume.
Green With Envy party, 31 August, 1986 at 38 Mona Rd, Darling Point. An annual party, put on by Sydney DJ Gareth Paull, who played regularly at The Oxford. A friend, Andrew Todd, asked me to go with him in drag, as he had never done drag before. Andrew had AIDS, and had spent most of the yesr in and out of hospital. He had a great night, and died on Boxing Day that year. I went wigless, and on the far right of this Star Observer photo.
Star Observer August 1987. Montage from The Oxford’s 5th birthday party on 23 August 1987. That is Cleo’s white wig on the top left corner.
Outrage Magazine 1988. Mardi Gras photo, taken at the Art Gallery of NSW. Darby Wilcox (left) and myself about to scatter the ashes (mixed with glitter) of Don Tickle, who had died from stomach cancer earlier that year. His ashes were scattered along the parade route.
Star Observer June 1988. Montage from ANZAC Day at The Oxford, 1987. Don & I, in army drag, at bottom of photo, right hand side.
“The Bulletin” August 1987. An interview in The Oxford regarding how we felt about living with HIV. Being still early days in the history of the pandemic, this all sounds a bit naive now.
Though labelled “Locker Room”, this was actually taken in the Midnight Shift circa 1997. Tony Kelly to the right.
Circa 1986. The premier, Neville Wran, commented on cinema’s banning condom advertising due to them being perceived as not “family friendly”. Nothing like sticking your head in the sand, as far as I was concerned. Evidently I was allowed to see it on television, but not in the cinema?
A series of photographs taken by the Sydney Star Observer circa 1987. We had a Nuns, Priests & Prostitutes party to celebrate my flatmates birthday. The patty was an afternoon affair held at our apartment in Bourke St, Darlinghurst. A group of us went out to the Oxford Hotel after the patty, where these were taken.
My backside, in leather chaps & thong, makes an appearance in – of all things – a lesbian magazine – LOTL (Lesbians On The Loose), at a Sleaze Ball. Also circa 1987.
Outrage No.63, August 1988. Someone from Adelaide was laying shit on Mardi Gras…obviously decided not to have a great time…and succeeded! The tone of the letter will give you some indication of his gripes.
Poster for “Dancing Through the Decade”, New Years Eve 1989, at the Wentworth Function Centre, University of Sydney. Put on by the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF), DJs were Rob Davis & myself.
2 articles from local papers (names unknown) who reported on the opening party for “Expectations”. Expectations was a fetish store I managed for a short while, situated on the second floor of 159 Oxford St, Darlinghurst. Owned by Paul Jones, as was Numbers Bookshop, and the Den Club. In the first article I am in the top right photo, and in the second article the left side photo.
All I can remember about this photo was that it was taken in the Midnight Shift, and probably sometime between 1990-1993. I think I was in it due to my DJ work. It was published in the Star Observer.
Star Observer May 1990? (Date very difficult to read). Oxford DJ roster for what would seem to be Mardi Gras week, seeing as a Recovery Party is listed.
The Star Observer, 5 October 1990. The Oxford Hotel DJ Roster. I was a resident DJ at The Oxford from 1990-1996. This is probably the first roster I was on.
Star Observer, January 1991. Australia Day week DJ roster at The Oxford.
“Wentworth Courier” 22 September 1994. As usual, Oxford St as a shopping strip is going to hell on a hot rail, and everyone just seems to argue about what needs doing. The need for a retail plan for Oxford St should have been a council priority.
Star Observer, 31 January 1995. Myself & Marcus Craig (right) at the opening of his mixed-media gallery exhibition “Odyssey”. The air brush painting in the oicture was donated to the Luncheon Club.
Capital Q – 6 April 1995. People having a bash at HIV people because they are not relying more on alternative therapies.
The Daily Telegraph, 6 February 1997. Having attended the opening of a gorilla exhibit at Taronga Park zoo, all I could really see everywhere was McDonald’s – the exhibits sponsor – advertising. Way over the top!
Sun Herald, 16 March 1997. Someone whinging about forms of address to customers in retail stores.
Positive Living, June 1997. My response to an article they ran on CMV Retinitis, something I was well & truly knowledgeable about.
Capital Q 1997. My one attempt to jeet a potential friend or partner through the gay classifieds. I opted for the fully out there, warts and all approach. All those that I met were either serial classifieds users, or just plain nut cases. I met Michael, from Rose Bay, who I had a brief “thing” with just proor to meeting David. I still have the letters from guys who responded…more than I expected.
Star Observer January 1998. Dawn O’Donnell’s 70th Birthday Party at Paddington Town Hall. My self & Phillip Metcalf attended as representatives of PLWHA. Photo is not clear as enlarged from a very tiny shot. I am in the rear, far tight.
Capital Q 23 January 1998. A letter in support of my friend Marcus Craig, regarding the closure o a gym in the Pride Centre.
Capital Q 30 January 1997. The response of the gym owner to my and amarcus’s letter regarding its closure.
Wentworth Courier 1997. My gripes about life in Bondi! A true nightmare of a place to live in, esprcially in regards to transport & infrastructure.
Star Observer 30 October 1997. A letter expressing my thanks HIV services.
Star Observer 1998 – Myself (left) and David st the 1998 Mardi Gras Party. We had been in the parade, and are photographed here in the PLWHA Time-Out Room…a dpace set aside for guts with HIV to have a break during the party.
Star Observer 1998. Mardi Gras Fair Day 1998, probably the last I attended. I am to the far left of the photo in 3/4 shorts.
“Talkabout” July 1998. Alex Crystal had sent a letter to the editor critisizing an article I had written. Not only had this person not ever been as seriously ill as I had been in 1996, he had no empathy for the long recovery process, the psychological implications of surviving AIDS, nor coping with ongoing life with disabilities.
Probably Star Observer 1998. Mardi Grad parade entry for PLWHA – Dick Van Dykes on Bikes.
Sydney Morning Herald, 22 October 1998. A letter responding to the mass closures of banks – a trend that was soon to reverse.
“Talkabout” No.91, Octoger 1998. A esponse to a letter critisizing my friend Marcus Craig for representing gay men with pisitive body images in his art work. Some people need to get a life!.
Sydney Morning Herald 10 November 1998. A letter regarding the fifficulties of obtaining work after serious illness, and when you are older.
“Net” Magazine, April 1999.,The mire everyday aspects of life, and dealing with technology.
Sydney Star Observer 8 July 1999. A letter of thanks to The Oxford for awarding me a special prize for having entries in the BGF Bake-Off since its instigation.
Sydney Star Observer 3 August 2000. The Oxford had undergone yet ANOTHER renovation, but this time a whole lot of poker machines had been added. Holding a charity auction in a place where money was being fed into machines was a bit ironic.
Good Weekend Magazine, 29 October 2000. A letter regarding an article they did on Stephen King, after his quite serious accident.
Wentworth Courier, February 2001. Letter regarding back-packers dumping inloved furniture etc on the footpath when they move on.
“Internet” Magazine, Issue 69, July 2002. Yet more mundane technology problems.
“Delicious” Magazine, February 2002. A great food magazine, if you enjoyed a LOT of tunning around to grt all the ingredients together for a recipe.
“DNA” Magazine, No.26, March 2002. A response to an article regarding gays, and religiiys dogma.
Sydney Star Observer 27 June 2002. Photographed at Arq with my winning entry in the Condiments & Preserves category, at the annual BGF Bake-Off. in 2002.
“DNA” Magazine, March 2003. A letter regarding an article in their Februarybissue regarding workplace bullying. The very start of the letter is missing.
“Sunday Life” Magazine, December 2003. My response to a fery touching article on coming out as gay to ones parents.
“DNA” Magazine, February 2004. A tongue-in-cheek lettet regarding their very sexy photo shoots.
Sydney Star Observer, 28 April 2005. My having yet ANOTHER dig at the Student Services Union at UTS. I had bern at loggerheads with them for years over compulsory inion fees. Unfortunately, my original oetter regarding this is missing.
Daily Telegraph, 28 April 2005. The impossibility of getting work, even part-time, as you get older.
Daily Telegraph, 1 June 2005. Response to a ketter regarding the absence of small birds in our gardens.
Sydney Star Observer, 5 October 2006. David had, in a drunken moment at that years BGF Bake-Off, won an auction bid on a cake (bloody awful) and 2 Sleaze Ball tickets. We attended the party, and had an absolute ball, not at least helped along by some Ecstacy.
“The Glebe” 12 July, 2007. I take issue with people who are just unpleasant individuals. No wonder the dogs nipped him!
“The Glebe” April 17, 2007. After some demolition work in New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill, some old painted shop signage appeared on the side of a remaining huilding, which had originally been hidden. I contacted the local paper, and they did a piece about it. The signage can be vaguely seen in the background.
“The Glebe” 1 May, 2007. My involvement in a local protest about removing a small park at the topnof Marrickville Rd that had historical significance as a tram turning-circle. I’m in the background, dark glasses & cap to right of picture. I’m holding Benji, my dog.
“Good Weekend” Magazine, 18 August 2007. A letter regarding the joys of childhood, which won me “Letter of the Week”, and the prize attached ton it – a weekend for 2 at Pepper’s Convent, in the Hunter Valley.
“Inner West Courier” 16 March, 2010. Local Treens rep is trying to thwart a much-needed recamp and extension to Marrickville Metro, and has obviously never shopped in our area.
“DNA” Magazine No.121, 2010. In praise of a redhead make-over! Yum!
“DNA” Magazine No.124, 2010. A dig at a VERY boring Mardi Gras parade.
Inner West Courier, 2 November 2010. A whinge about cuts to mowing services that sre leaving yhe areas looking like jungles.
Sydney Star Observer, 23 March, 2011. A dig at a columnist who accused fit, healthy older guys of being posers.
A note to the Sydney Mirning Heralds “Column 8” about something locally amusing.