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Philip Patston on

Mon 26 Jun 2006 In: True Stories View at NDHA

Many readers will be familiar with who I am from my other writing and my performing persona, but for those of you to who don't know me – or who may want to know more about me – let me belatedly introduce myself. My name is Philip Patston and I am an English-born gay, disabled, white man who has lived here in Aotearoa New Zealand for 33 years. I am a performer, a comedian – a celebrity of sorts – and I could have been as renowned as Australia's Steady Eddie, had everyone in NZ not thought I was him. It's hard being the second crip (with cerebral palsy no less) to begin a comedy career in the Asia-Pacific region in the same six months. We look kind of similar, but he stands up, he's straight and – as I only tell Kiwis - I'm intelligent. But people still think I'm him all the time. “Hey, you're Steady Eddie!” “Uh, no, I'm Philip Patston.” “Nah go on, man, I know you're him. I've seen you on TV. You're real funny.” “Well, I am a comedian and I have been on TV. But Steady Eddie is from Australia and I'm from here.” My confused fan hasn't quite understood so changes tangent. “So, bro, you've been on that comedy programme, that one with that Mike King fella, eh?” “Yes, I've been on ‘Pulp Comedy'…” “Yeah, ‘Pulp Fiction'…” “No, ‘Pulp Comedy' – it's a New Zealand comedy show for New Zealand comedians.” “Yeah, that's a cool show. You're really funny, man. See ya, Steady!” I sigh. “Bye.” Every now and then, though, I hear a hushed voice in a crowd, saying, “Hey, that's Steady Eddie!” And sometimes, before I have the time to sigh and roll my eyes, someone gets it right: “Nah, man, that's Philip Patston.” I do a little, excited, internal dance, all the while professionally retaining my external composure. Recognition is one thing, but being recognized for who one truly is takes the cake. Which brings me back to my introduction. Let me tell you a little more about who I really am. Though I have lived in Aotearoa for 34 of my near 38 years, I don't think I'd really call myself a Kiwi, except for the recognition factor (correct or otherwise) in my marketing material. I'm a fish-eating vegetarian with vitiligo, which is an auto-immunity to skin pigment, the same condition that Michael Jackson has (though our similarities stop there – I don't live in a theme park, nor do I sleep with 12-year-old boys). You can imagine my delight when I realized, at the age of 15, that I was not only disabled and gay, but I had depigmented skin. I knew then that my soul was a masochist. I have also been addicted to valium (but I'm over that) and, to end the V theme, I am rather partial to the occasional vino (anything, as long as it's red and wet). Some other roles I play in life are son, brother, uncle, friend, boss, lover, mentor, role model (though I prefer to think of myself as a bad influence) and Zen Buddhist – well, kind of. Professionally I am also (or have been) a recovering social worker, counsellor, human rights campaigner, consultant, business owner, columnist, agitator, actor, leader, amateur designer entrepreneur and, in 1999, I was named Queer of the Year. (Sadly it earned me neither money nor sex, but it was a great honor.) That year I was also the recipient of a Billy T James Comedy Award, for strong contribution to, and future potential in, the NZ comedy industry. As far as being disabled is concerned, I think of myself as the driver of a faulty APU, or Automated Personnel Unit, those amazing “human-piloted, offensive/defensive mobile platforms” featured in The Matrix Revolutions during the huge battle with the Sentinels in Zion. I see dancers and athletes, models and Hollywood actors with their souped-up APUs getting accolades while I battle on thanklessly with my dilapidated, short-circuiting model amongst patronising smiles and substandard mechanical support. “Where's the justice in that?” I ask. But that cynical little metaphor is just for my bad days. Actually I have come to believe that I create my reality with all that I think, say, and do. Everything is perfect and has the meaning I choose to give it. I see perfection as a healthy mix of positivity, negativity and constructivity. Fear and love are the two basic emotions from which all other emotions are derived and the extent to which I feel love or fear reflects my level of creativity. I believe that happiness is a decision that creates the best outcomes. Finally, although I don't always agree with the above, acting as if I do can be useful. And so ends my pragmatic take on the world. I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. Gay, disabled, vegetarian Philip Patston has performed professionally for fifteen years and is well-known for his live and broadcast comedy, including the stand-up comedy show “Pulp Comedy” between 1997 and 2003. The year of his ‘straight' role of Josh Sinclair on “Shortland Street” in 1999 he was named Queer of the Year by TV show “Queer Nation” and received a Billy T James award for comedy. He's a recovering social worker and human rights activist who spends his time running Diversityworks ( and choosing his gigs. Philip offers his unique spin on the important things in life – including love, money, sex, peanut butter and anything else you suggest – every fortnight at He welcomes your comments, and may even comment on them, to:     Philip Patston - 26th June 2006

Credit: Philip Patston

First published: Monday, 26th June 2006 - 12:00pm

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