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Editors --- "'Sit down Girlie': Show Girlie: Girlie does an arts blast" [2001] AltLawJl 57; (2001) 26(3) Alternative Law Journal 149


Show Girlie: Girlie Does an Arts Blast

The Top Ten

So, we now know what Australia's Top Ten songs are. Surprise, surprise, all of them were written and sung by blokes. The winner, Friday on My Mind, by the Easybeats, is about a bunch of good Aussie boys hanging out for the week­ end. The Easybeats were strutting their stuff when Girlie was a baby. Whatever happened to the nineties? The youngest song in the Top Ten, Midnight Oil's Beds Are Burning, was recorded in 1987. The APRA (Australian Per­ forming Rights Association) awards include the Ted Albert Award acknowledging parents who, not' being content with one first name gave their boy two

-how Aussie blokey is that! The Ted­Albert Award was announced at that most feminist of venues, the Randwick Racecourse. Not one bloomin' sheila in the Top Ten, neither as songwriters nor as performers. Not one indigenous per­ former or writer.

Media reaction to the APRA awards was mixed. APRA was castigated in the Sydney Morning Herald (29/5/01) by Craig Mathieson for being too Anglo­ Saxon and omitting the Australian classic Shaddup You Face which apparently couldn't compete with musical gems like Down Under in which 'women glow and men chunder'. It's enough to make Girlie chunder. It's not until we get to the Top Twenty that a sheila even gets a look in with Divinyl's Science Fiction, a talented group but not their best song by any means. Indigenous performers were totally ignored.

Black velvet

By contrast with the all-Aussie boy Top Ten show the amazing talent of four of Australia's indigenous women performers was apparent at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda on 24 May during the Federation Festival. The Show called Black Velvet featured, among others, Auntie Ella Pitt, Carole Fraser, Maryanne Sam and Liz Cavanagh­ Barris. All these women have superb voices and are talented performers but, typically, they have received precious little publicity or support from the mainstream. The concert was reviewed in the Age by Jessica Nicholas on 28 May with a photograph purportedly of Auntie Ella Pitt. Unfortunately the photograph was actually of Maryanne Sam. The reviewer castigated the performers for failing to be political and for including United States material in their repertoire. These women have musical skills of great subtlety and, in Girlie's humble opinion, an artist may explore any avenue, emotion or genre that she wishes. What the heck did the reviewer want them to do? A corroboree? If you get an opportunity to hear any of these performers don't let it slip by.

Pregnant virgin? Why ever not?

Who says a virgin can't be pregnant? After all there is a precedent from the highest source - the Blessed Virgin herself. This, however, was insufficient for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in London that had the audacity to exclude Bethany Halliday, 38 from a role in The Pirates of Penzance be­ cause she was pregnant. The Age cites the company's general manager Ian Martin as saying the idea of a pregnant woman playing the role is absurd: 'We were casting for the ladies' chorus, who all play the teenage virginal daughters of Major-General Stanley and scream every time they see a man. It would not make sense to have a pregnant virginal daughter.' Martin admits the decision not to hire Bethany Halliday was because she was pregnant. Bethany Halliday has taken an action in sex discrimination.

This all reminds Girlie of a notorious and very funny sketch by the amazing Roy Rene (or Mo) who, at the Melbourne Tivoli Theatre in the 1930s, was playing Paul Revere. His co-star, Black Bess, was a draught horse borrowed from a nearby Brewery. Unfortunately Black Bess arrived on stage with an enormous erection that reached the floor. The audience roared as Mo care­ fully surveyed the horse from all possible compass points, eventually moving up stage to muse, 'l wonder what's wrong with Black Bess tonight?'. Now why can't modem managers like Ian Martin display the same kind of spontaneous wit and initiative? The Tiv was booked out on the following evening.

Food artistry

Farewell to Norma Willis. Her obituary in the Age (30/5/2001) reminds us that in 1966 she was proclaimed the best chef in the world when she won the inaugural Catering Award for Excellence at the lnternational Association of Culinary Professionals in America. Norma Willis is the only Australian to win what is widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious award in the culinary industry world­ wide. She catered for the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, Bill Clinton and the Prince and Princess of Wales (as they then were).

She was educated at North Sydney Girls College and was destined to be a physical education teacher until her knee was injured during a friendly teacher-student hockey match. Honoured by, among others, the Business Women's Hall of Fame in 2000, she would 'stock an aircraft with prawns from Sydney, barramundi from North Queensland, Murray Grey beef from Victoria and vintage wines from various local wine makers. She would transform venues from Chicago to Paris and Tokyo and with her genius for combining flavours, she would present food the like of which had never been seen or tasted. Norma Willis died aged 58, after com­ plications following knee surgery late last year.

Parliamentary star

Goodbye to Josephine McGovern, Australia's first female Parliamentary Librarian, who died on 2 April 2001. Josephine McGovern began work at the Victorian Parliament in 1958 when there were few female staffers and certainly no female parliamentarians. Things hadn’t changed all that much by 1970 when she was appointed Parliamentary Librarian although there was one female member by then. Always formally referred to as Miss McGovern, staff and other librarians secretly and affectionately called her Josie. Her many achievements included the first appointments of parliamentary research staff, cooperation and rationalisation of library collections, and she was an enthusiastic member of the Library Association of Australia and the Association of Parliamentary Librarians. Apart from providing much needed educational assistance to parliamentarians, when she wasn't working or travelling she spent her time at her property in Camperdown and, in spring, cooked for the shearers. Her love for the arts was evidenced by the fact that she attended three consecutive performances of the Oberammergau Passion Plays which are only performed every three years.

Madonna Girlie

Madonna Girlie is a Feminist Lawyer.

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