Twenty years ago, I sort of had a night on the town with Pauline Hanson, writes Destiny Rogers.
The One Nation leader was in Cairns campaigning for the 1998 federal election. She was famous for her attacks on Indigenous Australians, Asian immigrants and the LGBTIQ community.
She said of the Sydney’s Mardi Gras, “I don’t like it, because it’s promoting something that’s not natural.”
The wonderful drag performer Pauline Pantsdown turned that quote into the pop hit, “I Don’t Like It.”
Hanson’s people approached the town’s biggest straight nightclub where I performed and offered her services to judge a swimsuit competition.
They declined, seeing her presence as offensive to their Indigenous and Asian patrons.
I did not know they had also approached a local gay and lesbian venue Throbb, where I also performed.
I arrived at Throbb and was astonished to find an excited buzz at the bar caused by Hanson being feted by the management.
She was with a woman I vaguely knew and liked. She apparently was the local One Nation candidate. We all make mistakes.
The management lined customers up for photos with Hanson. Much to their chagrin, I refused.
“She’s lovely,” they insisted. I was busy congratulating myself I’d finally discovered something so disgusting even I wouldn’t do it for a free drink.
The dressing room had a one-way mirror looking out into the restaurant. I retreated to watch from there.
Hanson danced up a storm with a bit of young, straight rough trade – muscles, chipped teeth and prison tatts. Not surprising. He was fresh out. Renowned already for his newly established business, he provided goods to order.
Customers told him what they wanted – he ‘found’ it for them – video players, televisions, cameras etc.
Come showtime Hanson and the local candidate sat at a table towards the back of the room.
I mimed a song and then attempted to humour a seriously distracted crowd. I launched into the Hanson jokes I’d been using recently to great effect.
“I had a drink with Pauline Hanson earlier. I had rum. She had vinegar.” Nothing. The audience just looked at me. Hanson moved her chair and turned her back to the stage.
“Poor woman. She had a successful fish and chip shop. Then Aboriginals opened a Chinese take-away down the road.” Again nothing.
“Strange,” I said, “You’ve found these jokes funny before. Why not tonight? Thank you and good night.”
Back in the dressing room, I noticed a commotion at the bar through the one-way mirror. One of the management was yet again showing off his Prince Albert.
Among the observers was Pauline’s dance partner. He didn’t dance with her again. He departed to spend the night with Prince Albert.
He left quietly early the next morning, with another chipped tooth… and the owner of the Prince Albert had to replace his missing video player.
I left for the straight club. No one there could believe Hanson had been honoured guest at a gay bar. “They call us bogans!”
At about 1am I headed for the cab rank in the city mall. Town was packed. As I walked across the mall to join the massive queue at the rank someone called out to me. “Destiny!” It was Hanson’s local candidate, standing in the shadows of the mall with her.
“Destiny, where can we get a taxi?” Half pissed, I couldn’t resist. “See that line of black and Asian people? Just line up behind them.”
Mobiles were still a novelty but I had one and offered to call a cab. When the operator asked for a name, again I couldn’t resist. “Lowitja O’Donohue,” the name of the distinguished Australian who had chaired the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, much admired by all, except Hanson, “Not her, anyone but her.”
“Well,” I said, “They’re not going to believe it if I say Pauline Hanson.”
“Come on Pauline. It doesn’t matter,” said her candidate giving me an exasperated glance. Obviously, she’d had enough of her fearless leader.
I walked them down to wait for the cab. We passed a backpacker bar. The backpackers recognised me, and seeing Hanson with me, came to the wrong conclusion.
“Pauline Pantsdown, Pauline Pantsdown,” they chanted. She was #@%&ing furious.
When the taxi arrived, I opened the back door for the two women and Hanson went to get in. Without turning to look the driver said, “Name? Did you ring a cab? Name?” Hanson said nothing.
“I can’t take you,” said the driver, “Someone ordered this cab.”
“Tell him the name,” I said. “No!” said Hanson. “Just tell him Pauline,” said her candidate. “No!”
“Get out,” said the driver. I leaned into the cab, “Lowija O’Donohue.”
“No! No! No!” said Hanson. “Just get in Pauline,” said her candidate, pushing her into the cab. The driver finally looked over his shoulder and when he saw Hanson, roared with laughter.
She tried to climb over her candidate to get out of the cab, preferring to face the mob on the street rather than ride safely away under Ms O’Donohue’s name. The driver recognised me, “Trust you Destiny. You’re a funny @#%^. Shut the door, hey.”
As I shut the door, the local candidate, ever a decent woman said, “Thank you so much Destiny.” Hanson glared at me and spat, “Yeah, thanks, mate” with the emphasis only given the word by those determined to remind you you’re a sick pervert in a dress.