‘I work in children’s television and see a huge inequality on screen between genders. I’ve worked on almost 20 kids’ animated TV series now and none of them have had a female lead character. That’s insane to me. Television thinks that it’s quite a progressive industry and we talk a lot about evening out genders and being inclusive but it just doesn’t really translate to the screen.
‘Whenever I’ve brought up these issues in TV studios, you can tell people are like, here we go again, or you just get a lot of push back. You get all these old-fashioned reasons like, young boys don’t like watching girls as much as girls like watching boys on screen.
‘When I was growing up I really liked comics. I loved them for the combination of their illustrations and stories but I couldn’t find anything that I connected to. There just weren’t any female characters and, if there were, they were highly sexualised.
‘It’s natural for kids to want to see themselves reflected back in stories. Young girls want to be able to see themselves as potential heroes – just like young boys do. All kids do. I think it’s important for boys to see girls as equals too.
‘I’d always wanted to write a book with a lead female character especially one that was an adventure story because there’s a lack of them. I’ve just published my first graphic novel called Opposite Land. It’s about a young girl called Steve who has the worst day ever in her entire life and she just really wants everything to be opposite and she accidentally gets that wish.
‘I hope both boys and girls who read this see a female character that they can relate to. I don’t think I make a point of the fact that she’s female – it doesn’t really make any difference to her character but I just think the fact that that exists in another book is great.’
‘The biggest gig we did was the very first Big Day Out at the Hordern (Pavillion) in 1992. Standing beside the stage while Nirvana was on was pretty full on – it was such a mad gig. I actually have a photo of Kurt Cobain’s blood in the sink from backstage. It was really sad because he was riddled with ulcers. They had the ambulance guys waiting for Kurt – the amount of blood he threw up in the sink… it was horrendous; he was so sick. It wasn’t too long after that that he passed away.
‘One of the funniest things at the Big Day Out was my dad backstage. I turn around and my dad’s having a big chat with Henry Rollins and Tex (Perkins). I was just beside myself – it was really funny. That was actually the day we felt the most like rockstars
‘I played violin, keyboard and percussion many years ago with my partner Goose in a band called Box the Jesuit for a long time and Madroom before that. I couldn’t play violin classically or anything but we were an art, angst-ridden band so I guess I taught myself and whatever…it was always my own thing and I loved it! In interviews I was written up as sounding like two cats copulating – I took it as a huge compliment!’
‘Back when I was a student in Tasmania, I went out for a while with a Croatian boy. He took me to a dance one night and there were some Yugoslavian boys there too. I think all the girls were Aussies. I started flirting with the Yugoslav boy because he was making eyes at me and then the Croatian boy pulled out a knife and said to both of us, “You do that again, and I’ll stab him.”
‘That really scared me. I was a very naïve, 18 year old but that stayed in my memory all those years. I decided I wanted to find out why were there Croatians coming to Australia and why did they hate Yugoslavs so I had to do the research on that and find out.
‘I moved to Newtown 20 years ago when I left Tasmania. I was married to an ex-Newtown boy. He’d told me so much about the place; I knew I wanted to live here. When I got here, I fell in love with it and felt really welcomed.
‘I spent my life as a journalist and for the past eight years have been working on a book of verses called Newtown Voices about four characters that live in Newtown in 1978. Two of the characters are locals – a deputy editor of the weekly paper and a lesbian living in a squat – and two of them are newcomers including a Croatian migrant with a tragic past who I based my experience as a teen on.
‘From the book, I’d like people to take just a little bit of history about how Newtown was in the 70s but also get a sense of how much it’s the same – apart from the horrible crimes and violence back then. Essentially, the people are the same. A lot of the buildings and streets are the same. It’s almost like it’s a timeless place. There’s something about Newtown that doesn’t change when the buildings refurbish and the place gets gentrified – the people who stay in Newtown make it. There’s this ongoing spirit that doesn’t vanish.’
‘I always worked with fabric even as a kid. I started working in the rag trade as an apprentice cutter in Flinders Lane in 1962 and then was heading in to bridal and thought; if I’m going to do bridal then I need to know something about hats. The very first piece of felt I picked up and blocked, I went, “Ahhh, that’s what you’re meant to do.” You’re working in three dimensions rather than working in flat pattern work.
‘I still do a huge amount of sewing but now I teach hard and soft sculptured costume. It’s kind of a combination of millinery and costume. I’ve been lucky. I’ve had lots of big jobs and lots of fabulous work to create. The last job I did was Aladdin – it was lovely… but Star Wars, Phantom and Moulin Rouge were also great.
‘I’ve been a milliner for 55 years and I just turned 71. That was why I had the blue beard done because it was my birthday – my birthday beard.’
‘Sometimes us Sistergirls don’t like to identify as transgender. We come underneath the umbrella of transgender however we like to be called Sistergirls because it is a cultural identity. A lot of Sistergirls face discrimination and rejection from their own family and often feel isolated and are left homeless. We face stigma and discrimination in the community as well as cultural barriers to transition openly.
‘A lot of us travel to larger cities to seek refuge and solace and sometimes that isn’t even there in the larger cities. There was a lot of trauma growing up and now I’m still living with depression and anxiety. It’s funny, but I feel safer here than being back at home.’
‘It was a bad time for me but things have come together since I moved here and it’s been going very well. It means a lot to me to have this place because I’ve stayed in a lot of places and it hasn’t gone too well. It’s really good now. I’ve had a lot of help from Newtown Neighbourhood Centre and I feel like I’ve got a good chance of doing something. It’s stable here and I just want to keep on doing what I’m doing. I hope to just keep on trying to make things better.’