The 4 months in Sydney that bonded Doris, Tippi, and Miss X.
Doris travelled between San Francisco and her native Australia nearly every year. After the October 28, 1979 debut performance of the Sluts A Go-Go she was inspired to bring her new troupe with her when she returned to Australia that Christmas. She paid for Tippi’s travel herself, but Miss X and Freda Lay were left to pay their own way with the assurance that they would make good money playing the nightclubs in Sydney. Freda didn’t make it and X very nearly stayed behind, doubtful the tour would be a success. As recounted in Craig Seligman’s book, Doris made a forceful case for her to come:
“I can’t fucking believe it!” Doris shouted into the phone. “They’ve been touting it in the papers: Doris Fish’s triumphant return to Sydney! Everybody’s talking about it! You can’t buy this kind of publicity! Get on a plane and get here!”
Who Does That Bitch Think She Is?
Craig Seligman ©2022
Miss X made it, of course, and the trio embarked on a crash course in show biz drag that would serve to bond them together for years to come. Mostly singing live rather than lip synching, they fleshed out their show about a troupe of Bob Hope USO Go-Go girls stranded in Australia. They brought in Sydney queens to join them, including Doris’ dear friend Jackie Hyde who performed under the stage name Sandra Lo Moan. Jackie says, “I used to change my name regularly. I didn’t want to be ‘making a name for myself’..unlike Doris..who, as we well know , was really into it.”
It’s a marvelous adventure, recounted splendidly in Seligman’s book, and we are happy to include additional comments from Miss X and never-before-published photographs and memorabilia from people who were there. Thanks to the Stranded in the 80’s and the Australian Queer Archives Facebook groups for connecting us with folks down under!
“Yeah, to think I almost packed it in! I for one learned so much about performing while in Sydney and the fact that it was so far away gave us a chance to try things, make mistakes and try it differently!
Syd’s was a low dive, indeed. It was a big room. I have some backstage pictures, I wish I had pictures of the actual show because it was brilliant. It was really cobbled together. I remember I sang “I Only Have Eyes For You” and walking through the audience, which was a great fantasy of mine realized, you know, those 40s Hollywood movies where the chanteuse moves through the audience. I was pulling out pinpong balls (from my wig) that Doris had painted to look like eyeballs and handing them to people in the audience. I did a version of “The Amazing Blonde Women” (Marlena Deitrich).
This show was all RECORDS, it was us singing to records. We had found instrumental versions of all these songs and while I am singing the words, Doris and Tippi are all made up in black leather garb and they’re beating the shit out of each other behind me. There was a nasty mattress by the back wall and they were being thrown back on it, with kicking high heels–I mean, there was a lot of action.
I believe we may have done “You Only Live Twice”, I believe there is a picture of us in these ridiculous stretch garments, and I use the term loosely, which had been stapled together, there was no sewing involved to the best of my knowledge, she had painted fish scales and there were fins on the back and they were just tubes that you pulled on with tattered fish tail things at the bottom and sequences that had been stapled on here and there. Those were used subsequently in the Hotel Utah shows.
We did a more full-blown version of “You Only Live Twice” where I sang it in a ridiculous kind of mermaid gown, which was basically several layers of crinoline safety-pinned to a black Mylar tube and some kind of dress and layered flounces. Then the three “chorines”, Doris, Tippi, and Freda, did the Busby Berkely dance routine as I sang. I think that was part of the James Bond Medley. Tippi did “Old Finger”, which was the working girls lament to the tune of Goldfinger.
We were doing several shows a night. A lot of those shows were at Stranded, which was a fabulous, many-tiered, wrought-iron festooned mall, like a modern shopping mall but almost New Orleans looking with black ballistrads and banisters. In the basement was a former Italian restaurant which was known as “Karl’s Italia Romantica” which was all marble floors and Roman columns all over the place. It had a little raised stage with swagged curtains at the back, but no backstage, you had you to actually go through the audience to get to the stage.
I did a few numbers…Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes”. I crawled through the audience across the marble floor and climbing up the leg of the grand piano and posing on top of it. We had a piano player named Martin, who of course I had an affair with! (It’s the only way to keep a good piano player.) Tippi had an “affair” with a man who drove a “Mr Whippie” truck which sold ice cream to children, of course she’d pick him up (or vice versa) after dark…
We were very well received. While we were there, they all treated us like royalty! Goddess only knows how they talked about us behind our backs, but being with Doris who already had quite the rep, was an open entree into that milieu”
Tippi and I did a medley in uniform of Blue Navy Blue and some Army song from the sixties. We did many shows at Stranded, and it was always a late show so we could perform somewhere else, like Syd’s earlier. It was some sort of Bob Hope USO Tour, that was the underlying “plot” of Sluts A Go-Go which evolved into Blonde Sin.
RARE PHOTOS OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC NIGHTCLUB TOUR
Thank you to Mark Daly for contributing these incredible photographs taken by Laurie Kirkwood in Australia.
All Photos © Laurie Kirkwood, All Rights Reserved, NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION
Courtesy Steven Allken, these are autographs he collected at one of the Sydney shows. Doris, Miss X, Sandra Lo Moan (Jackie Hyde), Miss Leading (Tippi)