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Caluzzi celebrates 20 years

Thu 23 Jun 2016 In: Entertainment View at Wayback View at NDHA

Krd’s favourite drag cabaret venue just celebrated its 20th birthday, we chat to Caluzzi owner Campbell Orr about how it all began and what makes Caluzzi girls stand out from the rest.   Caluzzi first opened its doors in 1994 as a cafe and Campbell says the drag shows only started in June of 1996 after the fabulous Miss Courtney Cartier came back from living in Australia and together with Miss Felisha Pourgette convincing the then owner Phillipa Burgess that it would be fun to do drag shows. “Phillipa's reaction was ‘fabulous!! whats a drag show’?” he says. “The first night with Drag shows was a mid winter xmas party for some of the local K Rd businesses and Phillipa described it as clumsy fun that was well received by everyone.” “It was all pretty loose back then, everybody partied hard, staff and customers. As the shows got more popular and more regular the level of professionalism had to increase to where it is now today.” Caluzzi is a Krd institution and Campbell says this has been part of its success. “Being close to all the action in terms of Gay nightlife meant the girls could work at Caluzzi then walk 100 metres down the road to their next gig or night out. “Caluzzi has always been a safe drop in spot for the community. A little less these days due to being fully booked most Friday and Saturday nights but we have always tried to be welcoming to people in our community.” When thinking about the many memories he has of Caluzzi over the years Campbell admits that there are so many stories to tell but not all of them would be suitable for publication. “A fond memory of Phillipa's is when the fire trucks used come past at show time and they would stop, put on their lights. One night Felisha climbed on the fire truck and did her show. I am not sure the new health and safety regulations would allow that today. “One thing that happens a lot even to this day is straight guys that come in and are terribly nervous cause they don't know what is going to happen and they start off acting very butch and tough, then by the end of the night they are the ones at the bar right next to the girls chatting and having a ball. I feel like we are providing an education for some people. The girls doing parts of their show in the middle of the road is always hit with the crowds.” The Caluzzi girls are in a league of their own and Campbell says they stand out because they are true professionals who know and love their craft. “To work at Caluzzi you have to be more than a good show queen,” he says. “You have to be able to communicate and mingle with complete strangers making them feel completely welcome and at home. “The Caluzzi experience is more than just a show.” After 20 years Campbell says the future looks bright for Caluzzi “We will keep doing what we do and keep the fabulosity on K Rd alive for as long as we can.” - 23rd June 2016    


First published: Thursday, 23rd June 2016 - 1:16pm

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