Wednesday, December 30, 2009

troubles in the Imperial Court of Priscilla

     It was the venue where they filmed the Academy Award winning film Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert.

 Forget Crocodile Dundee, the mega hit films that showed real Aussie men carry big knives-Priscilla, shot at the Imperial Hotel in Newtown showed that plenty of real blokes carry big handbags as well.

     The hotel has been something of a gay icon for donkey's years but since it closed it's doors in 2007 for a make-over, it's been embroiled in a court battle over patron numbers.
        Owner Shadd Danesi  reckons he needs at least a reasonable 700 patrons a night to cover the enormous costs of building a proper showcase for the drag stars who strut the boards and entertain a clientele that isn't strictly out for a quick pick-up for the night but seek glam premises and a bit of classy entertainment. And it doesn't come much classier than Sydney's coterie of 6 foot something cocks in frocks who know how to entertain with biting wit.

      But mean locals and the City Council are trying to put the kybosh on that with just 300, and the owner has spent half a million dollars in legal fees alone fighting debilitating court cases .
     It's reminiscent of the battles that happened in chic Paddington-once the home of artists, alternatives, gays and lesbians and just about anyone who felt they didn't fit in elsewhere.
      Plus the amazing Windsor Castle Hotel that was packed every night with every sexual gender and persuasion and some that haven't even been invented yet. The place rocked like no other and the huge immigrant population of Italian and Greek neighbours and the Aussie working class locals didn't give a hoot. They just loved the colour and movement.
     Now you couldn't swing a sequined handbag without knocking out a stockbroker, corporate raider or banker who scowls at anyone in pre-2008 2009 BMW while the sad old Windsor gets a solicitor's warning letter if a patron speaks above a whisper.

   This Nimbyism has been the scourge of Sydney with it's myriad of inner city pockets of wonderful suburbs-many built by convicts for the working classes ,whilst their betters lived in the outer suburbs.
       But now the situations are reversed with the 'artistic' 'types being increasingly moved further and further out whilst corporate types nab the trendiest burbs and then moan about the very aspects that made the area so interesting in the first place.
     A pub like the Imperial, an art deco splendour and one of the few left of the era should be encouraged to ply it's trade to as many folk as possible and if local residents don't like it, they shouldn't have purchased there in the first place. Or they should understand real economics- every dollar the Imperial spends on upgrading and attracting patrons probably adds another 2 to the value of their property.

     However owner Shadd Danesi , ever optimistic has launched a quest to find an artist to re-create a giant red stilletto-something like this-which he wants to place above the entrance. God forbid, that should really have locals fuming and council officers crying foul.

   tSS once worked with Priscilla writer and director Stephan Elliot (left) making wedding and music videos. After the success of Priscilla, Elliot had Hollywood at his feet  (tSS is still working on that one)  but was mortified by the shady characters he met there and fled to London.          
     Whilst his fortunes floundered for a while his recent film 'Easy Virtue' opened to critical aclaim everywhere and he has 2 more flicks in development.
      And there are still plans to one day film the mad saga (with a script by writer Louis Nowra ) of the cancelled wedding of Prince Lorenzo Montesini, the ex-Qantas trolly dolly who travelled to Venice to marry  heiress Primrose 'Pitty Pat' Dunlop with half of Sydney and Melbourne society in tow. In a fit of nerves, Lorenzo  ran off with the best man Robert Straub the night before the wedding.
                                               Pitty Pat & Prince Lorenzo in happier days
TigerGate fashion statement :

     tSS came across marketing executive Sharon Sargeant , the current sqeeze of celebrity gumshoe Frank Monte lunching with a gal pal at Potts Point eatery Lotus in this fetching t-shirt. Sharon says she met the great philandering golfer in an LA hotel bar 3 years ago with mutual friends. They all chatted for about half and hour over a drink and then everyone went their seperate ways.
     But ever since Tiger's tale has gone ballistic she's been plagued by celebrity agents wanting to know if she would like to "sell her story". "But there's nought to tell  " protests Sharon..and sick of the pestering she decided to put it in print.