Dana de Milo on Carmen Rupe

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in zero.com. So this interview is more about your relationship with come. Yeah. And I know that we mentioned that last time. But I was wondering, could you tell me again, the story of how you've encountered meet, I first meet her [00:00:17] at the Dora coffee lounge in K Street, Auckland underneath the Great Northern hotel. And I would say that would have been when I was 1313, or 14, and she would wish she was 10 years older than me exactly. So she was either, so she would have been 2324 or something like that. So around that age, and she was dressed in a beautiful Cheong Sam and her own here long was really low and hanging down. And she was really slim and really gorgeous. And I think I said last time that I followed each other the nightclub where she worked in that for Queen Street which does exists now that straight has been taken away and right and hasty had a little strip club there on the left hand side, and I used to go and I used to stand outside the door watching for the doors open when someone come in or out or something to see if I could see her on stage and the Nene, she told the guy on the door that I could, that he could let me in and I would that I wasn't going to be any problem. You know, I could just sit in the back of the club and watch you know, so and that was my first introduction into nightclubs, really. And then I never saw Carmen again. Until I would say 67 or 68 something like that. 6869 something around that time. Because 1967 I was a mature Laker, and that's when I turned 21 and Darla Cayman and and when I came back from much weaker near Christmas, my friend Christy gave me a job and the sun's in the powder puff. And then the serene tie was still going at that time. And I was working part time for Linda Coleman at the Sorento. And then her brother wanted to sell and she couldn't afford both the a lot. So she asked Christy to go halves with her. And they went in halves and lips. And it was when I was working at the Sunset Strip that Carmen used to come in. And she already had the building and Vivian straight she'd already rented or lease that. And she had Shelly and Belinda lay we're living we're boarding with her in the place and she was cracking it to get the money to dig it all out in size. And so I would say it was probably 68 around 6869 that she opened her club coffee lounge were 68 I think it was and [00:03:07] it would have been 7071 I was working for [00:03:15] up because I've got there's a pseudo got aphasia, and how I know is because the only time I ever dyed my hair was when I was working there and dyed my hair burgundy. And I've got a photo of me there and my hair is dark. And so it's about and my mother was still alive. I still have big and he when she died, beginning and 72 so it's about 7071 I was working for as a waitress at the coffee there and not the coffee Lounge at the labor corner was called the balcony recorder but it was called laid back on but everyone called up the balcony and I was a waitress the for her. And at one part of it. A lot of the girls were going to work in Hong Kong a play girls and so a lot of them are going over there to work and so she asked she was at me and asked me if I would go on stage. So I went on stage for about a month and did Goldfinger and I still got the little I've still got the the advert in the paper from the paper in my album. Danna did mellow. And then that's when I changed my name was because of Carmen because she said if I put down on the phone in the paper she said I live every mountain down you wanting to get in from Atlanta to come and see you. She said say you'll have to change your name and I thought I might change my name to such as well I'll give you tomorrow because it's got to be in so I decided I like Dan or always liked that name. And it was because I use the perfume to boo which was quite expensive perfume in those days. And so I use that name and demean I came from an ex boyfriend. He was he was monitoring Italian and that's what's his surname. And I had to lie L's in it but I took the one out. Because the Mila the Venus de Mello statue, I always loved it. And anyway, my girlfriend said to me, Well, why don't you use the media, you know your boyfriend's name. And I said, I'm really not the media. And she said, well use the media. You love Venus demeanor, his demeanor. So that's how I became my name. And I worked for her, I would say for probably a couple of years, I worked for Carmen and became quite friendly with her, you know, used to go down sometimes during the day and meet her at the coffee layer. And I wasn't a great frequenter of the coffee later because we both sort of work. You know, I didn't actually go there afterwards, I used to go to the old sunset because that's where I had knocked around and worked myself you know, and, and there was more my style a person down there. I mean, it's her coffee lounge, it was all the what could you say the theater type people, people coming from the theater that have been near as cast, you know, customers of the patrons of the theater, and gay guys. And it really wasn't my scene. And now I took my mother they are two or three times and she absolutely loved it. She said it was the most fabulous place she'd ever been on past the strip that the nightclub and it wasn't actually a strip club. It was more of a what would you call it? When it was a nightclub you had you had people that did all different kinds of exit just wasn't stripping, you know, and I mean, it was, it was, she was amazed by it was she just thought that the coffee land, she'd never seen anything so fabulous. And her whole life because it was wonderfully decked out you know, she had stuffed animals, all sorts of things being she had shows and everything and fans and beautiful pictures, and no one admits it was a really welcoming, loving life to go to. And she was quite, she was a good boss to work for Carmen. I mean, people ripped her off blind, a lot of the girls ripped her off blind, it was a well known fact, you know, [00:07:31] I never did because I was brought up by my mother, you don't shit in your own nest. You know, in as I said, I learned from my experience by not going to work once because I got drunk and went on bought a ship. And I never had a job the next day. So you learn very quick, these things. And it didn't interest me because I made a fortune and tips because I, I've always had a way with people. So I've made money. I've made more than my wages every night and tips, right, Justin? And you know, was the other girls would hide round the corners? If it was taking a bit long to get your toasted sandwich or something I wouldn't I'd go up and say Would you like another coffee? You know, and they answer something. So, whereas they'd hide around the corner, they wouldn't really know what to do you know? So they say how do you make so many tips, I think because I've just been not and you know, nine times out of the team, they wouldn't want to have coffee, they just wanted to know what was going on. And I used to just make up a little story like that. One of the sandwich machines is broken down. So it's taking a bit longer or something like that. Little did they know we only had two sandwich machines, you know, and the place would be back you know, and we did have a cook we did have meals there for a while as well in the beginning, but that wasn't didn't seem to be viable and mean. So it was toasted sandwiches and coffee and things like that. And she you know, I mean, I know some of the girls used to say I'll say it was three cokes I will have three cakes, two for Cameron and one for me, you know and but and then it'd be half an hour to create something in mind for comedy now at that time, and they were terrible. She knew what was going on I think and I mean that's how lovely she was. She was a fabulous person as I think I said I never heard his sweet razor voice and sway once in a light really lose it didn't burn swear once. And that was because [00:09:25] Belinda and [00:09:27] Tiffany giants were being evil and these common at the window peeping through the curtain got across the road from the Carmen's coffee lounge was was some factories in it and the guys used to go and sit outside and eat their lunch and it you know, so they out in the sun on the footpath and she was peeking through the curtain, you know, no clothes on and probably no teeth and you know, and they came along up beside I went and whip the curtains out and she's [00:09:53] and you [00:09:55] and that's the only time I've ever heard of is really swearing of going really getting angry. And he never usually use foul language or she had a very good sense of humor, very dry word, like my sleep rooms. She I can remember once. This is later, she was in Sydney and I lived in Melbourne but often used to go to Sydney and when I'm going to sit now with with diversity, you know, she would always want to take you out for something to eat. And it was always a shared it was never you shelter anyway, this one time I went up to some friends of mine, a friend of mine, Natalie, and we made another friend of ours and suddenly Jason and we went and picked her up and took her to Fox Studios. You know, the film studios then in Warner Brothers and net that's up there in Sydney. And we took her out for lunch and we were paying for and was sitting and we were talking about she was talking because Natalie had a nephew these were to be captured Ricky was and she was talking about being in jail, but not saying it's a new age. She said Oh, did you ever have a new those boys stick their booty through the PayPal? And I said oh yes. And I used to wake up with my knife. And she said, I used to say, oh half disgusting. I couldn't now and we would yet because of the pores that we were already either had something in our mouths or a drink and we just spread it all out over the table was just you know, oh, I couldn't had disgusting, you know, and then there was this long pause and think about so that was a kind of which you know, she was very, very drive very dry, very clear. And I used to often see here in Sydney and she can't used to come down and sometimes stay with me in Melbourne when she was going to the gender dysphoria clinic. And she they were very mean to her really because she was so was like me they didn't ask me because I was taught and they didn't want to pass her because she was a little bit over the top being exhausted looking you know, and and I mean, gosh, you know this, this the straight people out there that dress over the top of me. You bet this is the way they thought and it wasn't till Oh, not long before I came home so about 1213 years ago that they they first of all they said they lost their papers. They told her she had to go away and lose weight. So she had a stomach stapled and suddenly and nearly died. She lost so much weight she nearly died they had to reverse it because she nearly nearly killed her could didn't want to eat which is wasn't like Tom and you know she loves to eat love cake. Anyway, she ribbit and then they said the last two papers. This is the ginger is really not I mean, this is how kind you are. She should have sued them. I told her that. And then years later, like we're talking like 20 years later, they were sudden they get in touch with their Insider. Oh, we found your papers Would you like to come down and see us? So she went came down all excited. And and you know, I mean she was over 60 then I turned 50 and she'd been in my 1516 it was after that so she was over 60 anyway she got the day's model dropped shed yet while she was there, she had to say two or three other the doctors on the board and her Will she mapped up seeing Trudy Kennedy and went to see truly Kennedy the day at daylight. And I took her and dropped her off and thought that she'd be there at least an hour and took off for now live turns out the air will not come back this she was standing by the fence looking quite flustered. And I said What's the matter? And she said, Oh, she said we're not return. She said she told me at the door and said to me and g7 she had a lock and lock to the house this this psychiatrist a psychologist and and she used to have the rooms in a in her home. And she said what she took me in the front door to the foyer where they used to have the days you know, and she said and she said Oh, you're just going out you were meant to be here yesterday. Anyway, where's your card and let your Medicaid card and of course it costs like three or $400 just to see you you know and then government buys it. She swiped it through and she said I were looking at it and your papers. And I'm discussing it with the other doctors she said we would have put the weight on again. And Carmen said well, x 20 years and I nearly died. And she said and there's not much skinnier trunk awaited nothing. She said, we can give you a favor China for $3,000 or something like two or $3,000. And she said what do you mean a favor China? And she said, Well, it's a vagina. But it's there's nothing there's no vaginal passage or just look like? She came and said, Oh no, I'm not paying $3,000 just for that. She said I've gone this long in life. And Martha just stay the way it [00:14:59] says and I was at when I got back, she was standing in the sun poor thing and been staying in the property for three quarters of an hour, half an hour. And she was quite a bit stressed out. And I said you know come and really use you should sue them. I said because that's really bad. That's real bad to do that to you. I said all this time you've waited and then they call you back and give you this hope and Intel you're going to give you a favor China Why? Why can't they do the real thing? You know, if you're willing to, you know, to an end cheated on? No, I don't want to do that it might ruin it for the other girls. And that's what we always used to think we'd never say anything to these doctors that use this as guinea pigs and many of us were used as guinea pigs for boobs and everything. We never said another word with they even if they absolutely, you know botched us up is because we didn't want to step it up for another girl coming along. You always thought about your your sisters that were coming along and what would happen if you didn't know everything's shut down and no one gets any out. You know? So it was really quite said, um, [00:16:01] was that always a dream of Commons to die for Fortune? Yes, it was. [00:16:06] I mean, she made light of it in the end because you do. You, you, you? You. You just get on with it. You know what I mean? But she often says if you listen to any of the things, the only thing she regrets is that she didn't go to Egypt to have this exchange. And you know when she could have gone and should have gone You know, and she didn't that's her only regret regret she never got it. He got it she get it in Australia for nothing. But of course, you know, as it was they wanted two or $3,000 out of attack member was two or three just to make a vape vagina You know? And, but that was you that was her dream. She did wish that she had her. And [00:16:51] I wasn't I wouldn't say that I was a [00:16:55] bosom buddy of his. [00:16:58] And really, I don't know that can be head Bosom Buddies just quietly, kinda was a very private person. Common did not ever have a live in lava. That I know. And all the years I knew, and I asked it once, and she said no. I think she did once when she was still addressed as a male. But she said that now she didn't want to spend the whole night with someone. She wanted to privacy. She liked to be on her own, you know. And so consequently, she never gave her head. She had lots of lots of boyfriends right up until the before she died a guys that still used to come and visit do and then especially the Italian and great guys and Arab guys, they loved it, you know. And she she was very popular. But he and she never ever, never, ever had a live in lover. Yeah, and she did Devo and mine in the early days and black magic. I know that when she had the coffee by the top of the stairs and the corner was a coffin with a skeleton. And sometimes she used to sleep in the coffin. Yes, she did she practice black magic quite a bit. And then as she got older, she reverted back to Christianity and sitting in Sydney, she got involved. She got involved with Cup of Hockey in Sydney, and she got involved with the New Zealand locker church for New Zealand people to go. And there's a part of the cemetery and one of the cemeteries up there, where she's buried is part of that lovely New Zealand cemetery, you know, and that's why she wanted to stay there. She didn't want to come home. She wanted to stay in Sydney, and be buried in Sydney, because they did go there to try and bring her back. But it was her wishes to stay in Sydney. And she's buried in Sydney in Africa. She's just cross the road from Ricky may or someone like this, someone quite famous enough from anyway. [00:18:59] Just quite lovely, really. [00:19:02] And whenever she came home when I came home to whenever she came to Melbourne, I always used to be around, pick her up and then and as I said she was rather private. So she never, ever once stayed with me. She always usually stayed in a hotel because as I said, you know, she liked to do her own thing. And when I came home to live in New Zealand, back to New Zealand, I always used to go and pick her up when she was because they're always flying back to open something or do something they haven't gone through and now I don't know what they're going to do when they went to open things and Wellington because it was always or nightclub in Auckland or something, I'd always get common as a drawcard, you know, and often she would come and stay up, pick her up from the airport or take take her to the airport. And if they supplied Odell You know, one time and she came back for the black and white ball my friend and I was three of our four of us put it on was to put out Chris's name for the Chrissy we took on trust. And she came back and she stayed with Gypsy who's now passed on to who, who used to work for her at the coffee lounge and the balcony. And I mean that they were all still going when I left and went to Australia. You know, she didn't leave until the early 80s to go back to suddenly in and she was wanted to save for tax evasion. Because all the money that had gone through the place and the wish she hadn't paid tax she said and apparently I heard later that it was a bit the guy had helped to set it up because it was sort of a a text dodge for him sort of you know, but yeah, I wasn't here when it closed down. But I've got a photo of her. And with Chrissy and another lady that owns the Sunset Strip, you know, she had farewell at St. James's it will illustrate the I think it's such a judge of the majestic one of them's yet a farewell and Chrissy put it all on for her when she went back to and that was about 1982 I think she went back to Sydney to live but she was a very loving you know, people would always talk about her about her being a prostitute and being this and being there. But you couldn't meet a kinder more loving generous person you know, she always would would help would help you with try to help you you know I used to go and see you in Sydney it was and if I didn't go out with it will into was trying to stuff money down my Bry you know for me to buy a coffee in the same address gone on the way I am you know driving back, which is like eight hours you know, to drive back and from Sydney to Melbourne and was as I said it was only a couple of times I ever could trick her into shouting around because I arrived say pick me up Meet me at such and such a restaurant it's already ordered and paid for you know, she'd already paid for whatever you know, she was very very kind hearted. Very very much loved. And we rested very dearly you know we don't ever have to matter anymore She now she's gone it's the innovate era now she's gone really is the end of that era, you know, of the nightclubs and coffee bars and and and and and people like her and Chrissy were the people that gave all of us girls a job. Because as I said, you know last time I spoke to you, if you had a bagel haircut and you walk the modern clothes your reporter if you're a guy and if you're a girl and dress dress, like you know the man or she was a slot, you know, you just you just weren't accepted just wasn't accepted. And those girls were the ones that gave us all a chance you know gave us a job she was dressed beautifully in the days of the coffee bar and everything she always had lovely clothes lovely jewelry, and she paid us well paid us better than most other people did. And yeah, she was she was a great person to work and I admired her because she wasn't a liar or a thief you know to me, I mean near the end I think she got a little bit wound up in her own Legion cuz she say she was the first year and Wellington but she wasn't Christie was here before her but Christy as I said wasn't a person that sought out what would you say? self promotion with Carmen was a great self promote. I mean I can remember his same to me once Diana don't tell the priests I'm coming home when you come to pick them out please don't tell the priests are out I won't say I will not arrive to pick her up and the price of and they appear to be full of trace and GPO lipstick [00:24:04] and ice to one day when I was header in the van and I was taken into the hotel I said I know you I know what you're up to you bring up and go do you know their trivial repose coming back? She's an all spring [00:24:25] she'd already done that so No wonder she was saying night sign language you'd already done it [00:24:33] be self promotion around include honor it got a lots of trips back home and everything you know. And and I mean, she was very well respected. I mean, by the same as Christie that they were people that can move across all genres of people, you know, they knew politicians they knew SIRs and ladies and lords and nine new prostitutes and ship miles and lesbians and no street people, you know, like that. They still had time for them like her Of course, they always lived in the street, people you're not like that, you know, you'd have the bag lady or something, you know, and I could remember, you know, lately, she later and you go down the back the big around the corner, the DM will fix shop with the same and we say why you leave here? Well, that might be a day when it will be and you hear toasted sandwich and cup of coffee that will get me you know, go along afterwards and spray the seat with lean to end woman. But you know, she and Chrissy was the same as they, they never turned people they never forgot. Will we all came from in the beginning, you know, so. And they've traversed all genres of people. And it was was an absolute pleasure to know actually, because as I said she wasn't a fake, she wasn't a liar. She was a really lovely genuine person, a person that that had a real you have, you know, and would never see anybody struggle or especially sisters, you know, or gay people that went for everybody, but specially heroin, you know, she would make sure they're all right. I mean, you know, was nothing for her to be instantly in the soup kitchen dishing out cardio or soap or whatever, you know, with all the jewels and everything. She she volunteered her time for lots of things like that, you know, she was never too proud to do anything like that. And she came from a really loving family that laughter and you know, she wasn't ostracized by her family or anything. They really cared about it. She had she loved her mother very dearly. And here, her sister that still lives in tamper knew they were very close to anyone else. Anything else you wanted to know? Yeah. I know that she, I can tell you that. I know that she you first went to Sydney in the 50s, late 50s and was working there. And she used to do an act with snakes and things. And carpet snakes. And she used to keep them in basket. You know, and, and what? I'm not sure whether it was on the stage, but I know that I'm not sure if it was in the clubs, but I know that she for private dues. Anyway, she used to dock the wig at the very end. And people were just absolutely flabbergasted, you know? And I mean, and that was when she was quite slim and gorgeous, you know. And that's when she just finished in Sydney when she came back. As I say 1961 62 or something. And then she went back to Sydney and then she was back came back again, you say and that was an Auckland, I think in 1966 I think it was 66 or 67 that that place tried to have for being in disguise sort of thing because she was caught in the end, that they stopped she was in a car with a guy that was taking her home and probably going to crack it with it. But anyway, he was taking her home. And the police tried to have her up for a year for impersonation and all and she took it to court. And the guy stood up in court said look as any driving our home you know from work law law, and the judge said that there is no law and I we already knew this but that there is no law against dressing in the opposite sex is close. And this to do it with a felonious intent example blackened face or something like that, you see so, so that was trying at a court, which made it much easier for the girls and often because they were very heavy, you know, they were they were heavy, but they were even heavier and often really, really we're pretty heavy. And, and then and then she came to Wellington. I mean, there's not a lot I can tell you, I know that she was quite well fated in Australia, she was very well respected, just like she was respected here. She was always in the Mardi Gras on the float, they always had a float around Carmen with a brace thing and now and they inducted in not once, but twice, I think into the Hall of Fame and, and she was like a [00:29:31] I've got some of your cards and it has on all the things that she that they they bestowed upon her, they loved her a lot, because she did a lot of condom, you know, with the AIDS Foundation and all that handing out condoms and giving her and, and then also she was for quite a while she was a receptionist in a brothel, you know, she's the reception for the girls. And until got a bad heart. And some someone said, Oh, you better be careful, you might lose flatten your pension. So she stopped doing that, because, you know, someone sort of gave her their hand, I think that you know, she might get head up for working as well as being on the, you know, I mean, working I mean, you know, just to make ends meet really, you know, probably sat there all day for 80 bucks or something, but it's 80 bucks, you know, to me. And then from there she progress to being the the head I wish she loved the block of flats or the community or, and she was the caretaker of the community hall and look after it and clean it and make cups of tea and all that not just in their element. Enough and also cleaning this the stairs. And then on the end, I think that's how she broke up. She fell down the stairs, cleaning the stairs. [00:30:57] Donna cleanses take you way, way, way back to when you were 13. And when you first saw Carmen on stage, you recall what you thought was this the first time you'd ever seen somebody like come? [00:31:17] What am I saying how fabulous she was? [00:31:21] You know, cuz [00:31:24] I'm trying to think what she did that she I think she stepped down two years it was a G string. And a beta BRAF, I'm in remember rightly. Because in those days, you weren't allowed to go without a G string. Unless you were a movie American. And that came in later, I think which American was a lack of pace, it was shaped up. It was a clip on G string with nice drapes, and we're headed here on it was a fake lack of fake vagina and really, but it was all here, you know what I mean? That was what they called American. And it was made of wine, it sort of clicked on something I don't know, girls often more there. But if I remember rightly, in those days, you couldn't take your G string or your browser off. I don't think that came that came a bit later. And then it was as a Rama. And you could stay in the mood as long as you didn't move, the lights would go off and the girls that go around and different positions and then like gone and you had to stand perfectly still, because you weren't allowed to move if you moved up or is that. And then of course things change. But you're seeing her for the first time. And it was just amazing. You know, I just couldn't believe it. She was standing on stage. And as I said she was in their prime minister was in her 20s you know, and looked absolutely amazing. And it was still slim and stunning. And that would be the first time I had ever seen a queen on stage. Yeah. I have been in the clubs and seeing girls on stage but I've never seen Yeah, one of us on stage at all. Yeah, I'd seen girls sort of do it in the party strip down to nothing in a party or something, you know, just with the Met lies with the sailors and things. But not not not like that. You know, I'm beautiful on a stage with beautiful costumes and backdrops and everything you know, and she mind first and then to do number you know, and I just can't remember what the number was. But I mean, she was absolutely fabulous. [00:33:44] Can you describe for me what the balcony was like what it looked like what was inside of [00:33:49] the balcony was all done out with each piece of it somewhere and I'm sure she had a junction paint, had a junction, Spanx and all those sort of things all painted inside was very quiet quite opulent. And so it was a very tasteful nightclub beautiful big, a really big stage with a long catwalk that came right down and amongst the customers the first of its kind like they're here and museum and really, she really designed it with a fabulous long catwalk that we'd write down and then had tables right up the sides of it you say so and around the front of it so that when the girl came down to the tables right we're right beside the like this These the catwalk these are tables right up against the catwalk you know so the got the people were really it wasn't just guys that came it was couples that was couples that used to come to the nightclub you know it wasn't just me know all mean on their own life a lot of the sleazy nightclubs you know you go to that what you hear about in the old days you know strip clubs in the in the picture theaters that they had later and on and times with girls it strips between movies and thing this was was classy it was done with class you know we in your head to dress nicely when you wait trust your lead to be groomed nicely and everything and and yeah and it was it was it was beautifully done read tablecloth with stainless steel sugar balls with the lids on and had little racks on each type look like an umbrella with upside down you know with the handle up and and they were little spikes coming out without their umbrella part without the material and reach to put all it used to fold your CV it up and put them on and fold them so that they were little little points that and then go in and sit inside the umbrellas you know on every table they were black and sugar balls and every table and [00:35:59] yours It was very nice It was very nicely done out [00:36:02] what kind of atmosphere in terms of like kind of lighting and mood [00:36:06] and typical nightclub so low low lighting, mood lighting the mood music and things like that yeah not not whereas you know dear old manual would have blasting out the stripper or as the runner all the time coming out and it was out on Cuba street every night you could hear that on the corner it was coming blasting out in between shows burn you know whose was more more jazzy moves mood music she used to play in between shows and things like that Yeah, whereas his was really burlesque This was more of a club more of a and specialty acts like the fire act and paying tax and paint was the girl would paint yourself all over with all different colored paints and the lights are dolphin that'd be all they'd all be what do you call it? Like FLIR Oh in the light you know, that would all come up with the with the What do you call the light the blue light they use the strobe light and that brings out different colors you know if you've got paints that have got stuff in them that the oranges and the greens and the all these colors and the girl would paint itself all over the net turn the lights off, you know and and every girl had a really class real class act Do you know like one girl right when she used to have this number which she had on I'm after she took off a beautiful gown and everything should have on this shit on this black bikini. And it had two hands on the bum on the cheeks and two hands on the on the bra. And then I turn the strobe light on and all you'd see with these white hands and she jiggle her brace and it looked like he was revenue Britain and she was like he was playing with her ass you know. And you know another one was Belinda Lisa do and quiet village used to do a number inside a locker cage like a while a locker a girl that's bit with a with a food drive around, you know like a soap box draped on her and let her go looking or Ruffin sort of you know, and she was like, Girl had been brought up with walls or something like that that was intimate, intimate. And another one was [00:38:35] Belinda Lee would strip out of a [00:38:39] gorilla costume which was just amazing. This gorilla costume was came from Hong Kong was just amazing. And she'd come through and they'd play this music, Enter. And she'd make grunting noises walk around locker a lot of gorilla people actually thought it was a gorilla. They were a bit. And then I can remember the very first time I ever saw it done was an Oakland she didn't know Oakland and and I remember the economy after Paul and everything. And I remember when she she got to the stage and she turned back on. You take off the head and you'd hear people gas and then undo the costume. And she stepped out in a bikini or should have on as a bikini one cliffhanger here like that and pull it out and they would just fall down their back. And she'd be in these high place that clear. Plastic, high heel news, you know, and just step out of this. And people would just couldn't believe that this beautiful looking girl and she was she had a fabulous body. But Linda Lee would just step out of this and turn around and needs this beautiful girl big breasts standing the you know, looking absolutely glamorous. I couldn't believe it because it really looked like a real gorilla. It was you know, people were quite frightened of it. It was quite amazing. Yes, she had all kinds a different x. We're all different, all entertaining, you know, and she had lots of what we call production numbers, she opened with a production number like for six months they might have I'm not sure if it's three months or six months they'd have a show and it would have maybe having a heat wave would be the opening you know we have and he and all the girls are being encouraged in lovely costumes, you know, all matching and no dancing and then you'd have another production in the middle and then you'd have another production at the end and then between would be the spot not girls would do the spot numbers. best at what we called spots which was individually x you know, and but she Yeah, she always had really good shows on very good show. And you performed as well. Only for a month. I didn't like it wasn't wasn't my kind of thing. I don't know what it is about me. You know it's a prostitute and everything but I have a may because it was an only child I had great difficulty in undressing in front of somebody [00:41:07] that I didn't really know [00:41:11] I didn't mind the mining I didn't mind any of it. I just hated having to six and he stayed there and get people to take my clothes off me and me now be shaken. Luckily, I didn't mind walking out in a bikini or or a G string in an Sandrine I didn't mind any of that it was just having to do the 60 sort of thing and get someone to undress I could couldn't wait to get my gear off the stand the hope putting the hand out really for the music to stop you know you'd stand at the back pies will remain on your head and put down that and that was that was the sort of that gave Rosa who just died last year gave gave her a signal that you were finished your act you know finished your act so she would turn that turn the music damn best. Yeah, I didn't really like I didn't like it. Like the camaraderie behind stage was well, let's face it, to be on stage you have to be rather want to be the center of attention. You have to be pretty [00:42:17] app yourself and lots of ways and I really wasn't there. [00:42:22] And I really didn't want to be the center of attention. It just happens that I'm tall and I have to be the center of attention whether I liked it or not. But I actually didn't and I didn't like the way the girls were sort of bitchy to one another behind you know if they could if they what we what we used to call sabotage if you could sabotage somebody else's that they would was about survival of the fittest I suppose in those days was about who was the base and then and how good you were with the you got to go with you got good wages, whether you stay whether your job was safe, I suppose it was all to do with it. I didn't like it. I couldn't wait to get dressed and get back out and be a waitress never stayed behind stage. I was a waitress in between x. Yeah, I didn't like it. And I only did that for as I say for a month. And I've only ever performed once since and that was for the top we they had it here in Wellington and we were headed at the hit something to pepper on. So at least I can say what I did at once on the stage it on to pop out in the Murayama to pepper you know. I mean, what's the names asked wanted me to go this time that cover? Who Joe and you're going to perform? I said No I'm not. I'm not going I said I'm not perfect. I'll go but I won't perform. I said that's not what I am. It's not who I am. You got it once and that's only because you want to me as a diva and asked me to do one number and add a respect for you. This is Amanda the whole name. I said no respect for you. I've done it the ones only and I enjoy but I wouldn't do it again. Not interested. It's not me. Even though deep down I would love to have been a showgirl not a stripper a showgirl in Vegas you know with the with with the backpack of feathers and the great big headdress and you know the diamante hang up and just strut around Yeah, they're not gonna do no prob would have would have that I'd love to be Yeah. Actually, my dream was to be a bluebell because they were all girls over six foot and that's the kind of thing I would have liked to have done and not be a stripper or a mine or or any event I'd like to have been a showgirl. So and we didn't really have that sort of thing. So, you know, if you were a show, girl, you had to do a number as well. So, you know, so I only ever did spots I was never in. I was never in I needed the one spot on each show and it was golf finger and ice to do it out of a gold mesh. Do the mind you know like a weird but and then. Yeah. I needed it because she begged me to quit she was sure to start because at the time g8 Belinda Lee, Nicole Duvall, Carol de Winter. And maybe even Tiffany they were all in. They're all in Hong Kong, the main girls were all in Hong Kong waiting for Playgirls. Because, you know, we used to have sailors from around the world come in, and they've said that New Zealand had the base strikes I'd ever seen in their lives. Because a lot of molecules you see and they're very unsustainable those Marty girls, and they just couldn't believe all the girls and how glamorous we were. You know, they said Sydney? Yeah, you guys are like girls and you see it and that sort of thing. But you know, for so many girls in one place, Wellington was the best because everybody came to Wellington. We used to call up the Queen City, not Auckland, where we were the Queen City. And you know, later we say we say you know, Lady can win the word train he came it was they'd say are you come down Wellington with your trade balloon with your training wheels, you know, the train he hasn't learned to be a training then disperse around New Zealand. And they did most you see that most girls came to to Wellington, even the girls from Auckland, or came to Wellington and live for for usually for quite a while, you know, because it was easier down here than it was [00:46:39] at that time. Was there a distinction between a drag former and transgender person whereas white nowadays, you know, there was quite a distinction between somebody doing dragons I'll [00:46:52] tell you now Carmen's I didn't know when you who was who if Commons was never advertised as a drag show ever was a cabaret. People it got out that they were queens that were there. But no one ever knew who it was. And it was so funny being a waitress because I used a year and they go and there was one girl we had working the animals you know. She used to do she used to wear strobe pasties and things and she used the dune attendant strobe lights on and cuz she had saggy Bruce, she had about five kids. And she used to do tests rolling with their boobs, one guy, one main one, the other go together, up and down all of it. And, and of course, they used to say these one, that's one and shoot in I used to pick all the real girls as being the dregs they never knew it was never openly was only that that one in Martin started truth, the truth. And he bought common and done. I mean, Mr. Because that connected with the the businessman that didn't have a clue that she was a mean, he bought her on that. And that's when, when she when she started to get publicity and she turned that on them, she made it to suit she made it for her site. Instead of him making a fool out of her. She became quite clever at manipulating and beat coming across as she was a lovely person. You know, and and that's when she got into trouble because she's they were talking about, you know, having queens working in the coffee bar and all the rest of it that that he CDs were half of Parliament's, you know, she's brought up about them being gay and bisexual and of course, of course, the big big hullabaloo and she had to go to you know, first of all, she was going to have to publicly publicly retracted statement and apologize and and ended up being in a room full of garbage people and just talking and what it was, she wasn't allowed for so many years to divulge what she knew was parliament. She was given a parliamentary edict or whatever they call it, that she wasn't allowed to speak about any of those mentors for X amount of years. Because she, she seen it I can prove it you know, she wasn't gonna back down. And the set famous photo of his standing on Parliament steps all in black with white bloody shoes on waving to everyone. And the guys are, we're building the new beehive, you know, and they were all whistling in Yahoo into it because my son been to a coffee land or a club or something. And, you know, he was initially asked to get the loo and they actually showed it to the woman's toilet and she said, Well, there you go, you see but you know, they made a big thing out of it and she never even never even apologized she said I never even when it came down to it it was never an apology offered was just that they demanded that she not right because she was going to write a book is a and and of course they demanded that she didn't put anything about that in the book. And I mean, you know, paul cameron got ripped off their whole life through because Cameron was not a real good businesswoman come money wise. She had wonderful ideas. She was a wonderful front person, she was a fabulous hostess all of that but you know, it's a bit like a lot of you're either a real good business person and you don't have a good you know, and don't have a good Front of House manner where she hit the front of house man but she didn't have the business critique at the back. So you know, it's like that horrible you know, Bob Jane So Bob Jones i mean he's got an absolute g he wrote something very nasty about a long before she died, but he right you know, he quarter a lumbering Mary Blake from King country. Well, she was never like that Cameron wasn't the couldn't walk on high years. He tried to say and she was as thick as two planes. Well, I must admit Cameron was a bit thick when it came to. And I don't mean that to be rude. Common wasn't well educated. She left school quite young. She was not she wasn't really literate if you know what I mean. She wasn't she could read and write but barely if you know what I mean. She wasn't common always you also she had findings that but it can always used to be takes the big leaders when she wrote you know, was the text with the tix the pain and that [00:51:44] she wasn't Yes, she wasn't, she wasn't well read. But that doesn't make you a bad person. And I mean, and he wrote on her coattails. I mean, he was the one that was behind it, when they when she was going for me. And they liked what she stood for. And she said that they should make the whole of Vivian great old strip clubs and brothels. And then it's easy to protect to police. It's easy to love after you know, and and she was right. You know, everything that she stood for, and those days, it's become lower legal prostitution, you know, places for gay men to go and crows clubs as they are now all of it, she bought thought of all of it in the 70s she wanted all of it. And and most people before it. But you know, and then and then he goes and writes in the bloody Dominion that a horrible write up about it, which I thought was very unkind and uncalled for. But because all of a sudden, he doesn't want his name associated. You know what I mean? I'm a certain now I don't want to be known to be associate and yet it was him that pushed it to be mayor and promoter. I'm used to ride in the car with her and everything. I mean, it means to turn around. And I just thought it showed what he's about. Because I didn't think he needed to do there. I think he could have been quite pleasant and nice and say, Well, you know, I got on very well with karma. But he carried on a bit, you know, she didn't know what to say at the time. And Carmen didn't because Carmen hated talking. She hated coming home and doing these talk things she loved that wasn't his thing, you know, but she did it. And you know, and he she's decided, Well, you know, what do I have to say what? Tell me what Tell me again what I need to say so because you know, she didn't want to forget it. So and he ended up and he used all of that sort of thing to write a nasty story better and I just thought it was very remiss of him to do such an as I think he needed to you know, shed more for nice and a little finger than you got in your whole body. You know? She was a lady when she always acted like a lady you know. [00:53:56] Realize that we're coming to the end of time. Can I just ask you can you tell me what the six week in the balcony How did that work? [00:54:10] The balcony had nothing to do with six work Really? [00:54:15] I mean, if you meet someone and had a sick nation with him that was your business was the coffee lounge that they used to she used to do the teacup business and I don't know much about that. She had broth she Yes, she had a cheddar and that that actually came along more after I live it probably was going on before I we went because I didn't go to the coffee lounge a lot you know what I mean? So but that ticket business I knew nothing about that until it came out. But I do know that she also had a brothel and high tide diet one part of it there. And yeah, but that's all when I went to Australia so those are the years I don't know much about I mean she had a boarding she's ago in Oakland when she was living in Oakland and Grafton she had a boarding it. She offered she usually whenever she lived. If she had more than one bedroom or so she'd always have borders is taking the girls or gay guy back in Oakland. She had a boarding house. She had gay guys that business guys that were used to live there come home from meals and all that sort of thing. But like Marlene did here, Marlene Swan but yeah, a lot of it you see I miss because I went to Australia in 77. And then I never store until the late 80s or something when she started coming to Melbourne, because I hadn't been to Sydney Oh, I lie. I went to Sydney in 76. And I saw her in 76. Now I didn't because she wasn't there. [00:55:47] It wasn't there. I never saw until the 80s [00:55:51] I'm wondering if you because you were also involved in six work back in the 60s and 70s just to paint a picture of what that kind of work was like at that time [00:56:03] when you weren't just a girl and now they did guys didn't know what you were I've worked on the street because I could pick them up or right and their coffee lounges and net but when I stood up they find it wasn't so bad if I walked across the room and they picked me it was when they came to see me at the table and of course then in six foot three via unravels from behind the coffee table they sort of go you know, so I found and also being short sighted I'm short sighted noise had been that I wouldn't see the client until it was too late and somebody else would paint Councilman. So I found that it was better for me to work on the street so I used to work keep a straight and I worked at before it was a mall from from Dixon straight up to Ghazni I used to do and then up to Vivian, then they put the mall and then I used to work from Ghazni up and I used to pick the guard, pick them mappin cars and take them up to Mount Victoria. And, and then given you the score, and you get them so excited about time you got them up there that you knew they'd never have sex with you. By time you got to get this up, it was just about over now. And if it wasn't a real time for your man founded at Worlds, and you know, you knew what to do you get the guy all excited, you know, and he as soon as it's a don't don't don't don't dabble in that right, gotcha. So I'll be licking the ear and play with the vine and you gotta keep that the main domains that link and I and the same guys get the same time. I didn't want 60 not even I don't want f6 in the back of a bloody car it was too difficult to do trick six in the back of a bloody car. Mind your damage but it was very difficult. But yeah, and and it was you picked up you picked up from the bar Bistro bar, you picked up from nightclubs you picked up on the street, you know, wherever you Were you always on the lookout for business, you know, looking for business style. [00:58:07] Stop the car, then looking for business use jump in where you go, you know. [00:58:13] But I mean, and, and I only did that when I wasn't before I started working in the nightclubs, you know. And when I worked in the nightclubs, well, then you'd pick up, you might pick up one at the end of the night or something that was hanging around waiting for you. It saves you I'd love to go home with you know, and so you'd say oh, well that same night, you and let's say Yeah. And if they waited, they waited, they didn't they didn't you know, there was always somebody around, really. But once I had a mind you that the pay wasn't that good. So you still need to crack it to make ends meet. I mean, before I went to Australia in 1976, I had three straight jobs. And I will be lucky if I had $3 left at the end of the way I to crack it on my day off, which was Sunday to go out and get past. That was what it was like, I worked at the Grand Hotel, I worked as a in the kitchen. And at lunchtime I worked as a waitress. And then I worked in the kitchen after lunch and did the dishes. And after that I used to work in the bar in the afternoon, serve dinner, and then wash the dishes after that do the dishes. And then we're back in the band when the when the hotel close. I used to go and work and a Christmas or something like that at the sunset or something like that. For something five in the morning, we go home and sleep for two or three hours and go back do it again. And I had no money and that was nearly 30. I was 29 when I went to Australia. And I had my 30th birthday there. And no, I didn't have my 31st birthday there were no No, no, no 30 I have a 30th or Lyft and 76 is the maximum. So I turned 30 in August 29. [00:59:58] Same Day is Monday, Jackson. [01:00:03] And when I lived I it was like there was no way in the world I was going to be ever get any money to do anything to him my change or have anything you know, because there just wasn't any money left. You know, it's not really much different to what it is today. wages were always poor rate was always high. Food was always you know, people say it wasn't but it was I remember, I was doing six when I was a kid. And my mother used to moan and say, why does it cost so much? Why is the meat so expensive when we produce it all? You know? So yeah, so that's why we do it. Because, you know, and and that's when I became a proper prostitute really afford, it became my career. Because I knew that's what I needed to do. Well, I actually got a straight job working in a nursing home. And I had two jobs, I've got two jobs within the and then in a job in the pilot, and I realized that I was making more and four or five hours in the pilot and I was making a neither job gave that one job and stayed in the one because they were so well I couldn't believe they're well paid. I wasn't in working in the nursing home to what I was compared to here. So I gave up the other job. And in the mean, I gave up that job. Because I didn't like the conditions actually a Greek lady and I reported them because they just treated the people like just shopping app stop them and everything. And I realized that working in the pilot was making me more money. You know, so within a couple of months I was I had my own little flat, which was a power and made and and was running it for myself. First of all, my girlfriend and I started the she moved on to another one I stayed in that one and four years straight. And I gave this after 1986. And in an 87 I became a reception of but you know, that's about where you can because there was there was brothels and nice day, but there were very Hush Hush. I mean, in Wellington, I really didn't, apparently there was one. But it wasn't till I was leaving that they were starting message pilots were just starting, I used to they used to be a place in Herbert street used to be called the day to date, the net became the siren era. And I had I was running that for a little while and and then through circumstances that it folded, and they turned it into wedding tense first message power. And that was straight message in your head to head the head swinging doors, you know, lack of bad doors, the bad could see the top at the bottom, you know, like live can let you know like a shatter half a door in your head to have to see the girls head and the girls feet and the police used to walk through. If they couldn't see your feet to your head, well, then they'd push the doors open. So what used to happen apparently, and it was called what is I call it was the first one and the friend of mine was the the manager is you know, the receptionist. [01:03:33] And [01:03:36] the girls would if the guy wanted them, they need to probably have to wait until after they finish this shift because market see around them. And they would have a house somewhere where the girls would work from and like someone ring up for sale sign says coming up, you know to meet you know from all we sending an egot there's a guy come on his way up his name so and so I've just messaged him more. Or they might meet them after the shift, you know, and I just don't, I can't remember because as I said it was just starting before I left I remember going in everything I look at it. And [01:04:20] think of the name of it. [01:04:23] Can't think of the name at the moment or come to me when I go and let's buy it. But that they were just starting in 1976. That was the first one I knew but straight. [01:04:35] I'm just very aware of the time and I'm just lastly, I'm just wondering, what is your overriding memory of common [01:04:47] and exotic beauty with a hat as big as I like. [01:04:54] To me an exhaust. She was very beautiful in a day really beautiful. right up until she died. I mean, I've got a photo on the wall of her of his 75th birthday where she is like 45 kilos or 49 kilos skinny as anything. But then she had someone didn't make up for her and they face and she apparently she was dead on her feet. But as soon as she saw a man or the camera, the lips beautiful big smile time and I've got a photo over there smiling, and she looks absolutely beautiful. And if you didn't know better, you think we'll have gorgeous and glamorous she wasn't to think that she was didn't Two months later or something. You know, my overall thing I would say about Carmen out of all the people like I said I've made I would say [01:05:52] she was the most [01:05:55] genius genuine. [01:05:57] I mean, there's plenty that are but I'm just she was a really caring, genuine, big hearted person. And I mean that goes without saying I mean all the people have said ripped her off for life and she was no revenge. There was no hate for them. There was never any I never heard common run people down. Never her biggest if she was angry with somebody or somebody annoyed her like Phyllis she'd go the beautiful fellows were supposed to tell us wasn't beautiful. So you need your being a gig. But that's a bad as bad as Carmen Eva Gosh, Carmen was never vicious about people. She never said nasty things about people. She accepted everybody. And she was loved by everybody. She'd be cracking it on William Street and suddenly with a dress up over a backs and leaning on her umbrella. Someone routing her from behind talking to somebody they didn't even know they were the straight people come on Hello, men. I mean, I used to go and see her on Williams street sometimes and she was she was at an attract she was known by everybody and loved by everybody. Because she was a nice genuine person. You know, if you needed to Bob for for coffee, she give it to you. You know, she was a really lovely person. And that's all I can really ever say that she was very glamorous. Very beautiful. Very, very giving. And she gave us all of our skills ago and a chance and she could have got rid of us. You know, I mean, I know that she knew we were a bit of a draw card as well. But I mean, she still could have run her business and had a fabulous business without any of us she could have and that nobody in this world can tell me any different because Carmen I needed common. Common was different. Even that common would come by and say the same thing. Half an hour later now dear what you been up to? It was just to her genuine way of being a hostess and making you feel welcome. Everybody got spoken to in the coffee lounge common go to every table and say Hello, dear. How are you tonight and thank you. And so common really didn't have to have anyone else. You know, of course, the coins were a draw card. And because they were glamorous and beautifully groomed and all the rest. But she could have had just as beautifully groomed girls and other people the energy store would have done well and probably a lot better than Gina Duckworth just quietly, to be honest. Because when you a lot of girls, you got to remember a nice days, it was so hard to get a job. So you lived on your wits. And sometimes those those things that you do to survive become a bit of a habit. And before you know it, I wasn't like that when I got a job. I was lucky and I'm not making myself any better. But, but also always had morals and I always knew that when I did something wrong. If I got caught, you play with fire, you get booed, I never cried, fail and Miss, they arrested me for something I never did benign krY fail by damage, I was quite willing to. If I stole food and I got caught, I'm willing to take the concept I stole clothes, I was expected to take the consequences if I got caught, you play with fire get booed I was taught there, and I have morals. As soon as I had a job, all those sort of things went out the window. You know, I didn't need to do that anymore. But a lot of people it becomes habit. So they can't help themselves. They gotta they gotta take a little bit for them each time a little bit. Next week, we're common was lit down people, too many people took time, thousands upon thousands of [01:09:47] thousands, hundreds dollars a night would go out neighbors. [01:09:54] And it said, and you know, some of them will be friends until the day they don't. Right. You know, [01:10:00] it's not being awful. I'm not trying to be nasty about somebody or anything. It's just that sometimes those habits, it's like alcoholism. The, the habit that you've got into to survive has become well the the thing that you've done to survive has become a habit. And you can't help yourself and especially if they have had a bit couple of drinks, you know that makes it even because you always had drinks You know, there was always drink going around even though it wasn't licensed there was always drink. So you know, and and that's the only thing I can say is that of communism probably had had done at different but she doesn't have any regrets. She had no good. So there's no good saying if but what I mean is I think that she would have been a rich woman, if it had been done differently. She always gave our people the family a chance as I call it family with the if you're gay or lesbian or whatever, your family We're all family and, and we will have to stick together sort of thing. But sometimes your family rips you off. And it's a bit sad. And sometimes it's jealousy as well, you know. But overall, a beautiful person and sadly missed and someone that I always looked up to. I mean, sometimes I didn't like [01:11:17] her ways of dealing with things [01:11:19] like I left Carmen's because she, she tried to [01:11:26] I didn't go to work or not [01:11:27] I suffered with veritable bowel syndrome very bad. And a lot of the girls get pissed and didn't go to work. Well, I've learned my lesson, but I had an awesome day. And that's the only thing that ever kept me away from with my boyfriend gave me a black eye, I knew you had to color it and everything to make it so you couldn't see it. You know, I never stayed away from work. But I couldn't go because I had, you know, these terrible, agonizing pains, like someone ripping your guts out from irritable bowel syndrome, which I had for years and years and years and years being who I am. You see, that's what causes that. [01:12:01] And I didn't go to work. [01:12:04] And, and she tried to she got she got my girlfriend that live with me to to try and, you know, say something to me about not being near La la la. And then the next thing my girlfriend didn't go to work. And she tried to get me to go and tell her something. And I said no, I'm not the boss. If you want to say something, you go Say it. And she sort of said that. And I said, Oh, well, I'll give you two weeks notice. And she was flabbergasted. Absolutely flabbergasted that I would do that. But I just didn't. That's just me. I'm a bit like that. If it's something I don't like, and it's and it's against what are my morals? You know, I think the boss should come out and say what they want to say to you not send your best friend to say it. And if that's the only fault she has willing, it's nothing. [01:12:52] But for me, [01:12:54] that was something I didn't agree with. And I gave it two weeks now she nearly fainted when I told her she said really I said yesterday, you've got two weeks, a week to two weeks out or I'll leave now it's up to you. But I work two weeks until you find someone to apply. She was very upset because I was a very good waitress. Sometimes the others didn't turn up and I'd like to slow clap. It didn't bother me. But I just [01:13:16] was upset because she thought I'd gone on a ship. [01:13:21] And I hadn't at all. [01:13:23] I had not gone on the show. [01:13:25] You know this is G as I've learned that many years before? Not if you don't go to work, you don't have a job. It's plenty of time to do something it you know, and I needed the money you know, so yeah, so I and I was upset because [01:13:39] she didn't have [01:13:40] the decency to come and speak to me about it. And she got Paula to and then tried to get me to do something against Paula and I just know [01:13:49] that was it for me. [01:13:51] And then went back and wait for Chrissy at sunset. But [01:13:56] But I didn't hold it against the or anything. You know, it was just me too the way I am you know, and she never held it against me were you know, and we became really closer and closer as the years went by, you know. [01:14:11] But yeah, [01:14:12] I lovely person and very sadly missed on this very deal. I used to ring or at least once a month [01:14:18] on a Sunday. You know after church. I bring her in the evening [01:14:23] and she'd been at church or something you know, and yeah, I miss I miss her very much. I miss I miss the little calls when she rang me [01:14:31] I [01:14:34] you know and hit and hit and hit cards with a big [01:14:37] rising and [01:14:38] you know, we haven't missed each other's birthdays or Christmas and she'd often just seen the card out of the blue. I've got heaps of them at home that I've kept that she sent me you know, but always self promoting with cards and them with it picture and all sorts of things. [01:14:53] But yeah, I'm gonna say very much

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