Date: November 2017
From struggles and sequins to love and life.
In this unforgettable Queer Thinking co-presentation with Trans Sydney Pride a diverse range of transgender people will share their personal truth and inner world in an evening of storytelling.
With speakers traversing the four decades of Mardi Gras, hear anecdotes from the hilarious to the heartbreaking that explore the community’s history and its unique perception of the world.
Learn about the glamour, the battles, the pain, the resilience, the love. Relate to their aspirations for success, family and belonging and be moved and inspired by their advocacy and ability to stand proud and claim their place in the world.
Trans Stories Speakers include:
Mama Alto, AJ Brown, Karen Chant, Chrissy Doyle, Lisa Freshwater, Peta Friend, Katherine Maver, Kaya Wilson and Colleen Windsor
Directed by Lisa Freshwater
Conceived and Produced by Peta Friend for Trans Sydney Pride
This one-off performance will run for approx. 2 hours 15 mins with an interval.
Meet the storytellers:
Karen is a true pioneer and living legend in the history of Sydney drag. At the very young age of 15 Karen decided she would pursue a feminine lifestyle, being drawn into the glamorous world of fashion and the catwalk. Karen was hired by June Millinery in Sydney to create her style of ladies headdress, and being the first male milliner in Australia drew enormous publicity - from there her star status began.
In the early 1960s Karen debuted as the compare of the first all-male revue in Australia, The Jewel Box coffee shop in Kings Cross. What followed was an extraordinary career that saw Karen perform at arguably every historical venue of the last century: The Purple Onion 62, Les Girls 63, Ivy’s Birdcage 67 and her own club Karen’s Kastle 68.
Karen was a big star, who throughout the 70s headlined (along with Rose Jackson) the most well-known of gay showrooms Capriccio’s, also known as International Vanities. These excellent production shows are now the source of fond memories for all who visited.
Karen went on to make guest appearances at the Balmain Town Hall hotel and Polly’s Follies at both the Albury Hotel and Stonewall. For the past 40 years Karen has been performing for The Pollys Club, the longest running gay social club in Australia, and now at 86 years old occasionally performs for charity at The Venue in Pattaya, Thailand donating her time for the street kids of Pattaya.
Katherine is an experienced Senior Project Manager, who is a member of the Complex Programme Management practice within IBM. She is highly respected within IBM as a person who is driven and can deliver projects without the compromise of quality.
Katherine leads the A/NZ IBM’s Employee Alliance for LGBTI Empowerment, otherwise known as EAGLE. This is a Business Resource Group for LGBTI employees and their allies at IBM. The objective is to promote a safe and open working environment for our members and all employees, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The aim is to foster a strong sense of community within IBM and to facilitate networking, mentoring and ongoing education.
As a Transgender woman, Katherine uses her standing in the corporate world to influence, to effect change and continue the fight of equality in the workplace.
Kaya is both a scientist and a writer, studying the impact of tsunami on Australian coastlines and writing about all things queer and wonderful. He is part English, part African and wholly Australian. Kaya tells stories because that is how we share our humanity and the humanity of trans people is something we can't forget. He is a visible and out trans man who wants to make things better for our community and entertain you along the way.
It seems little known now, that way back in the late 1970s our little part of the world here in Sydney experienced a phenomenon with the existence of a subculture of transgender women in such large numbers that remains unexplainable.
I was an active participant of this subculture and as a Les Girls showgirl I worked hard doing three shows, six nights a week, entertaining locals and tourists. We were seen as freaks on the one hand and as the most beautiful boys in the world on the other. But in Kings Cross, along with the strippers, the callgirls and other associated misfits we were at the heart of Sydney’s then exciting nightlife.
These days as a writer, I tell the stories of Sydney’s LGBTI history, Gay Sydney and my memories of Kings Cross – I love to share the connection of the past and the present.
Peta is a trans advocate, public speaker and founder of Trans Sydney Pride (TSP), Sydney’s larges social group for transgender and non-binary people, and it’s associated group Trans Sydney Pride Family, Friends and Allies.
She was born in 1961, raised in Sydney and transitioned male to female in 2000.
Peta has spoken at many corporate events including the Macquarie Bank, Goldman Saks and The Attorney Generals Department and most recently at Sydney’s largest rally for Marriage Equality to an audience of thirty thousand.
Trans Sydney Pride has produced two very successful events as part of the Pride Festival; Transitioning and Career Success in 2016 and Trans Stories, A Celebration in 2017.
Peta is a Skin Therapist with a career spanning over 30 years and the owner and operator of Will and Peta Skin Clinic.
Lisa Freshwater and AJ Brown
AJ Brown is a proud transman, trans activist, landscape designer and artist. He was born in Derbyshire in the UK in 1967. He’s a qualified horticulturalist, structural landscaper, landscape designer and director of Evolve Garden Concepts.
After medically transitioning FTM in 2015 AJ turned his focus to trans activism and is an admin for the online groups Trans Sydney Pride (TSP), TSP Family, Friends and Allies, Trans Melbourne Pride and Transgender International. He’s spoken in TSP’s Trans Stories and modelled for the Aurora foundations [STYLE] aGender.
Lisa is a theatre director and producer and co-founder of The Theatre Division. Currently TTD are producing the national tour of Miracle City which opened at Sydney Opera House in October 2017 and Thai-riffic! which opened this year and will tour nationally in 2019. In 2014 TTD produced and Lisa directed the critically acclaimed and award winning production of Ruthless! The Musical at The Seymour Centre.
Lisa and AJ have been together for thirteen years, eleven of those years in a same sex relationship. They have a sixteen-year-old son.
Chrissy Doyle is a 34-year-old trans woman who grew up in Wollongong. Chrissy began her transition at 31 and works as a personal assistant for The Theatre Division in Sydney. She is very family oriented and loves spending time with her friends and lives with her amazing partner Ray. Chrissy has told her story of life and love for Trans Sydney Pride’s Trans Stories on previous occasions - with not a dry eye in the house!
Mama Alto is a gender transcendent diva, cabaret artiste, jazz singer & community activist.
She is a non-binary trans femme person of colour who works with the radical potential of storytelling, strength in softness & power in vulnerability. Fierce, femme & fabulous, she has been lauded as “divine” (Havana Tribune, Cuba), “near flawless” (The Age), and “a knockout” (The Herald Sun). She fascinates audiences with “an idiosyncratic mix of statuesque fragility” (The Music) and is described as “transcendent” (Stage Whispers), “breathtaking” (ArtsHub), “hypnotically beautiful, elegant & mysterious” (Adelaide Advertiser) & “bewitching” (SameSame). Drawing on legacies of vintage torch singers & her own identity as a queer person of colour, Mama Alto’s vocal & visual aesthetic transcend gender, disrupting & discomforting societal constructions of dichotomous boundaries. By embracing perceived difference she reclaims narratives of othering, defies the normative & rejoices in the sublime.