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Co-founder of Out! Magazine and Alfies dies

Tue 5 Jun 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

John Kiddie, one of the men who headed the group of gay businesses which became known as the ‘Out Empire’, has died peacefully in his Auckland home. After a tough battle with cancer, which he was diagnosed with last year, Kiddie passed away on Sunday, aged 65. He leaves behind his partner of 46 years Tony Katavich. The couple worked with business partner, the late Brett Sheppard, in running a string of businesses from their Auckland offices. The businesses included Out! magazine, and a succession of bars, clubs and saunas. These included Alfies nightclubs in Auckland and Wellington, the Westside sauna in Auckland, the Colombo in Christchurch and Wellington's Wakefield sauna. The group also ran an adult store and travel agency. Aside from being attributed with doing much to define New Zealand's gay male culture through the 1970s and '80s, the trio also had a major impact on the campaign for Homosexual Law Reform. While he kept a much lower profile and was more behind the scenes than Katavich and Sheppard, Kiddie was known for always being immaculately groomed and fastidious about his appearance, and adding finesse to the group’s operations. He also handled the accounting and bookkeeping side of the businesses. When the Westside Sauna, one of the group’s final businesses, closed two years ago, former MP and Alfies showgirl Georgina Beyer was among the well-wishers who paid tribute, saying she hoped Katavich and Kiddie would take time out for themselves. "I'm very pleased for them all that they've come to that point in their life that they can actually spend more time on themselves than their business.They have done a huge service in many and varied ways – and controversial ways – for our community and the wider community of New Zealand,” Beyer said. Kiddie’s funeral will be held at Purewa All Saints Chapel in Meadowbank on Thursday 7 June at 3PM. In lieu of flowers, donations to Mercy Hospice, PO Box 47693, Ponsonby would be appreciated. Among those who have paid tribute to Kiddie on an online memorial page is a former employee at Westside sauna, Jon, who says he was “a hardworking, remarkable person for whom I had the honour for working for in the later years. My thoughts go out to Tony and all his Family. Thank you Mr K, it has been a pleasure !!!!!” If you would like to pay tribute to John, or have a story you would like to share, email You can discuss this New Zealand gay community news story in the Forum.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 5th June 2012 - 6:51pm

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