Sporties to play Patchs in new television production

Sporties done up as gay Sydney Patchs night club abc docu-drama AIDS crisis

Brisbane community hub and grand old dame of Spring Hill, Sporties, has become an actress. The dear old drama queen will portray iconic Sydney club Patchs in a forthcoming television production.

Updated 1.11.2022


Campaign publisher Rod Stringer and silent partner Bill McKelvie opened Patchs upstairs at 33 Oxford St in 1976. Three years later, Bill sold his share of the club to Walter Furlong from Perth. In 1979  Walter then sold the business to legendary Sydney bar owner Dawn O’Donnell, Roger Teyssedre, and Abe Saffron without Rod’s consent  Dawn ran the club in partnership with French restaurateur Roger Teyssedre and controversial Sydney businessman Abe Saffron. Abe Saffron — ‘Mr. Sin’ — or the ‘Boss of the Cross’ — one of those businessmen often described as ‘a colorful identity’

Rod said today that after Walter Furlong sold this to O’Donnell and Saffron in 1979, they sent him on a flight to Western Australia with the proceeds of the sale. Furlong turned up dead two days after arriving in WA. The cash from the sale, $100,000 apparently evaporated into thin air.

Many credit Dawn O’Donnell with the creation of Oxford Street as a gay mecca and Sydney as an international gay destination. Iconic Sydney drag performer Beatrice said of Dawn O’Donnell, “She invented the idea of Oxford Street.”

At the time when  Patchs opened in 1976, male homosexuality remained a crime in NSW. Indeed, decriminalization only occurred eight years later in 1984. By that time, the gay community was grappling with the beginning of the AIDS crisis.

DJ Stephen Allkins described his first visit to the venue as a teenager in 1976 to the Sydney Pride History Group.

“I was home. That was it. It was the most fabulous place I’d ever been in my life… It’s full of gay people and they’re all dressed to the nines. They’re not hiding under a rock… They’re expressing and happy.”

ABC docudrama

Sources told QNews the production is set in the Sydney gay scene of the 1980s at the time of the AIDS crisis. The crew decorated the front of the Sportsman Hotel last week to represent Patches with an interior set representing a Chinese restaurant.

Apparently originally planned as a full-length movie, the production will now screen as a four-part series. It is believed the show will air on the ABC around the time of WorldPride 2023.

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at

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  1. Marty
    30 October 2022

    It’s a shame the creators didn’t respect the look of Patch’s and do an accurate representation of the club because what’s presented might as well be called club unicorn it looks nothing like the entrance of Patch’s, for over a decade the words Patchs in dark blue writing over white hung over the entrance with no rainbow on the ground in sight, Oxford St Hyde Park end was still underground to a degree you either knew it was there or you didn’t.

    • Peter
      31 October 2022

      Looks like you might have to wait to see how they filmed it.

    • Mark
      31 October 2022

      It also has split doors at the front before you went up the stairs. I worked security on the door back in the 80’s

    • Cathy
      13 December 2022

      I can assure you the sign was never like that I also rang the restaurant there for a small while after Peter had run it many fun nights there that’s for sure be very interesting to see how this movie plays out

  2. Eugene
    31 October 2022

    Marty I have I to say your comment was right on the the mark .Patch’s looked nothing like the venue being used here .It was more dark but still inviting.I remember it well as it was my first visit to a gay club being a silly young country boy and the song that the Dj was playing as I first entered was “The Only Way is Up” by Yazz

  3. Heathcliff Ingelton
    31 October 2022

    I was one of the Dj’s that worked at Patches, what was really unique, they had cerwin Vega earthquake bass bins, first night club in southern hemisphere to use these. As you entered the club, a warning sign at top of the stairs, those with heart conditions to be aware of this. They also had the first light Dancefloor in Sydney followed, by sister club Flo’s Palace located up the road in Oxford Street.
    I recall the massive cluster of mirror balls… great memories.

  4. Zoe
    31 October 2022

    It will be interesting to see how the image of Patchs looks after production as there was no rainbow colours on teh ground or in teh name. As it was up two flights of stairs that might be hard to copy, so I guess some compromises need to be in place. I loved that club (and Stranded) and they were my homes for many years, until I came to Brisbane to work at expo88, and stayed. I hope they get Stephen Alkins to be the DJ.

  5. Julian
    31 October 2022

    More Power to ️‍ LGBTQ citizens Globally. I wonder if George Christenson will secretly wanting to see this film.

  6. 1 November 2022

    The best contribution to our community; thank you Rod Stringer! If a patron lost their clothes on the night, the on-site shop came in handy. Loved the flashing rainbow dance floor.

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