Bob Downe and friend at The Supper Club on Oxford Street, Sydney

Retrogras

Callum Morton - exhibition at Roslyn Oxley 9

Callum Morton - exhibition at Roslyn Oxley 9

I’ve just arrived home from a terrific night out with my friend Colin.

The night started off at the Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery in Paddington where there’s a new exhibition by Callum Morton. The art collectors group of which I’m a member has a piece by him, and so I was keen to see what he is currently working on. It was a minimalist exhibition, to be sure, with only half a dozen works. But while there aren’t too many works in this exhibition, they more than make up for it with size. The major work is the size of a wall, because, well, it is a wall. Literally. It’s a wall. What else can I say? “You’d have trouble squeezing that in your apartment”, Colin joked at one point. But of course, it’s not something any individual collector would purchase. It’s a “museum piece”. The asking price of $120,000 also makes it considerably more expensive than the small work we purchased back in 2005. Although I love our safe, the works tonight didn’t do all that much for me. Either of us actually. So we had a look around and then headed off for a bite to eat at Snakebean, one of my favourite places for a tasty, inexpensive, light meal.

Bob Downe and friend at The Supper Club on Oxford Street, Sydney

Bob Downe and friend at The Supper Club on Oxford Street, Sydney

For us, the main goal of the night was securing a good seat for the Bob Downe Retrogras Show at The Supper Club. I’ve seen Bob’s show maybe half a dozen times in my life, and through work I’ve come to know his alter-ego, Mark Trevorrow. “Mark Trevorrow’s given up showbiz. He’s working for the ABC now”, Bob joked at some point tonight.

Oddly enough, on at least two occasions I’ve been the subject of “audience participation” in shows by Bob Downe.

Sunset Boulevarde drag show as part of Bob Downe at Supper Club.

Sunset Boulevarde drag show as part of Bob Downe at Supper Club.

“You must have been wearing a light coloured shirt”, Mark has since explained as to why I would have been chosen from the audience. Tonight I wore a dark shirt. But it was still with some trepidation that I found myself seated tonight in the second row. As my friend Colin has a background in theatre, we both knew our seats put us in a direct line of view for those performing on stage. Thankfully, the young men in the front row were the subject of audience participation tonight, though, not us. And what a show it was. It was great fun, but also quite touching.

The first half consisted of a number of “come backs” by well-known drag artists on Oxford Street. As I’m not a huge officianado of drag, I didn’t actually who know who they were. But they were obviously well known, judging by the response of the audience, and it was quite touching to see them back in a reprise of their former careers. My favourites were the one who did an Eartha Kitt cover of “All By Myself” (about becoming beautiful at forty), and the one who did the scene from Sunset Boulevarde (The Musical). Great fun.

The second half consisted mostly of some songs by a contestant from last year’s “Australian Idol” called Natalie something or other. “How did you go?”, Bob asked. “I stopped watching Idol half way through the first series”, he explained and joked. Both Colin and I preferred the first half. “It must be a generation thing”, Colin explained as to why he just didn’t like her singing.

The show was linked beautifully by Bob. And we even got to meet Bob’s nephew, a young bloke who basically does the Bob act. “The sad thing is, that’s his real hair”, Bob joked at one point. Amongst the many quotable quotes of the night was the line… “New Zealand – land of the wrong white crowd”. Also, amusingly, there was some microphone interference from the bingo being held downstairs, which meant our PA system broadcast a little of what was going on downstairs. Bob handled the technical f*^#up with a great deal of class and humour. Overall, it was a great fun night out, and terrific to see some cabaret with a bit of an edge to it. Not just “show tunes”.

Arriving home. I read on Facebook that a bloke I know was really disappointed with The Supper Club. “At least you had a seat”, he commented, when I responded to his post about The Supper Club being “incredibly pretentious”. I’m not sure if I agree with his assessment. I’ve been to see a couple of shows there, including Eran James, and quite enjoyed the environment on both occasions. Maybe it was pretentious, I just don’t know and that wasn’t my experience of the night. I was seated right up the front and for me I just sipped my wine and enjoyed a really terrific night of cabaret. Next week, it’s David Campbell who is the special guest star. I won’t make it, unfortunately,

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