The Interview With Brynne That Never Got A Run

This interview with Brynne Edelsten took place when I was writing a weekly Q & A feature for the Herald Sun, called ‘The Other Half’. So yes, it was more than a year ago, but the reason I’m running it on my Blog site today is because I was accused on Twitter of being ‘sour’ and critical of Brynne.

Five days ago I tweeted a comment questioning why the Herald Sun would run a photo of Brynne on the front page, promoting a story about what she might wear to the Brownlow Medal Awards the following week. My comment was not critical of Brynne – rather about the editorial judgement that this warranted being front page news. I still stand by that opinion and believe the criticism directed at me was an over-reaction. As entertainment commentator and showbiz expert Peter Ford said, ‘Let’s not lose sight (that) Twitter is a forum for discussion/pose questions. That doesn’t equate to being a troll’. If we can’t express views on Twitter in a rational manner, then what’s the point of the social media tool in the first place? I’ve never been a fan of reality TV shows and have never watched a second of The Shire, Hollywood Wives or The Lara Bingle Show. I wouldn’t waste my time. Hence I find it hard to comprehend Brynne being on the front page of a major metropolitan newspaper with little reason.

I do, however, understand why there is public interest in the Edelsten’s – hence why I conducted the interview with Brynne in the first place. But this was never going to be a front page story. The only reason it was not run in the paper at the time was because the TV Guide of the same newspaper ran a feature the previous week, which the Weekend magazine had been unaware of.

So in my defence, I am now posting – unedited – the version of the interview I did with Brynne so you can see that it’s highly unlikely I’d be taking a swipe. I enjoyed her company and found her to be warm-hearted and sweet. (There’s no mention here of her upcoming reality TV Show as that was not yet established. )

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The Edelsten Wedding, November 2009

The Edelsten Wedding, November 2009

Brynne Edelsten arrived on Melbourne’s social scene with a bang, not a whimper. In a whirl of sequins and plunging necklines, the young Texan blonde made her mark at the much-hyped wedding extravaganza to the much older, flamboyant entrepreneur Geoffrey Edelsten. Since then, her colourful red carpet and racing carnival appearances have left Melbourne with a permanent collectively raised eyebrow.

So meeting Brynne in the flesh is somewhat surprising. Rather than bold and brassy, she is softly spoken and sweet.  Yes, she admits she likes flashy clothes, but is happy with her image and has the self-confidence to refuse to bow to public pressure and change.

Above all, she adores her husband.  And despite a recent heated exchange during a television interview, declares he’s her best friend.

J: Tell me about your childhood, where you grew up?

B: I was born in Oklahoma but I grew up in Arizona. I was there till I was twenty-two. I was from a lower to middle-class family. We didn’t have a lot, but we didn’t go without things that we needed. My Mum stayed home and my Dad worked as a truck driver. I have an older and younger brother and two half-sisters. They feel like my nieces, because they’re only nine and eleven.

J: A happy childhood?

B: Yeah, I had a big family with lots of cousins. Very family-orientated. I played softball. I was actually very smart at school. I was taken out of my school as a child because I was very gifted – to go to another school that specialized in things that would challenge me more.  I graduated early and went to college. I studied for a while but I didn’t enjoy it enough to finish.

J: What did you study?

B: I was studying Psychology, but I only finished the basic level. I was at the Mesa Community College. Our family could never have afforded for me to go to University and this was much cheaper. I did two years there, and then I decided I’d have more fun going out and being irresponsible.

J: Were you a party girl before that?

B: I was very shy up until I was about eighteen or nineteen. It was almost impossible to get two words out of me. I was so quiet and scared to go out in public.

J: What changed?

B: I think I lacked confidence when I was younger. I was very skinny when I was growing up. So when I finally put on a little weight naturally, I just became more confident and wanted to go out all the time. I was lucky because I never got caught up in drugs like a lot of people. But I would go out and have a drink here and there with friends. Then when I was twenty-two, I had a bad break-up with a boyfriend. I was with him for four years, and found out he was with my best friend. I met him when I was eighteen and he was forty-two. So I moved to Los Angeles because after the breakup. I was devastated. It was a good time to go and live somewhere else.

J: Were you working at the time?

B: In Arizona, I was working at a hair laser clinic as a receptionist. It was like a medical grade clinic. Then I moved to LA and got a job at and also did some personal training.

J: How long were you in LA before you met Geoffrey?

B: Almost four years. I love LA. I think that’s the favourite place that I’ve lived. I love my life here more now, but I remember it being a really fun place to live, especially if you’re single. Although it’s hard to make friends there, but when you do, they’re just really cool people and you get to go out with a lot of celebrities. One of the first celebrities I met was Jack Nicholson.

J: Tell me about Jack.

B: He liked to smoke, that’s for sure. I met him at a friends’ house. He’s a very funny man! And I also met Tara Reid. Paris Hilton used to date one of my best friends, so I met her and she came out with us a lot. So it was very cool.

J: What’s Paris like?

B: Nice! I wasn’t close to her, but she’s not a bitch at all. She’s a nice girl. A lot of people give her harsh words that she doesn’t deserve.

J: Where did you meet Geoffrey?

B: I met him a hotel party in LA. We met briefly and he was friends with my boss and we ended up at the same functions and exchanged email addresses. We’d email back and forth and send funny jokes and that’s how we kept in touch. Then one day, out of the blue, he just called up from London and asked if I wanted to go on a date in Las Vegas. I thought, why not? I’m not working for the next three days, so why not? And we did, and it was the best date of my life. We went to the Beatles Love Show. And I remember this lady next to me had this huge drink and all of a sudden she spilt it all over me and I was soaking wet and miserable throughout the whole show but it was such a great date, because being with him was so much fun.

J: And it was a three-day date?

B: Well on the third day I had to leave. But we also went on a huge shopping spree and he spoiled me rotten. I had to buy more luggage just to take some of my shopping home because he bought me so many things. It was very surprising but it was very good.

J: When you first met Geoffrey, did you feel that spark or was it the date when it kicked in?

B: No, it was the date. When we first met, it wasn’t enough time to really get to talk to each other, to have a deep conversation, so it didn’t mean much. But the first date really was the best date I’d ever been on. No one had ever paid that much attention to me. When someone is actually genuinely listening to everything you’re saying and to have conversation come so easily was really nice.

J: What sort of things did you like about him?

B: He’s a very funny man. He has a dry sense of humour, but I like that. He makes me laugh a lot. And he’s very kind. A total gentleman. He would open every door for me, and anyone else who was walking by – not just me, for everyone. Even now, he’s always the last person out of the lift. Little things like that are important. It shows how someone is going to treat you if they treat everyone that way.

J: Where did things go from there?

B: I had to go back to work in Arizona. We were filming a concert. . Geoffrey was really disappointed but I said, hey, we’ll catch up in LA. But the show took longer than I thought and he kept calling and calling, and he couldn’t reach me because I couldn’t have my phone on when we were filming. He was disappointed, but couldn’t wait in LA any more so he went back to Australia. Then a few weeks later I went and visited him in there.

J: Your first time to Australia?

B: Yeah, it was. My first time really out of the country. I’d been to Mexico, but that doesn’t really count. That was the furthest I’d been from home. And I was supposed to be here for ten days but I was a little, well… not very thoughtful. He was out flying in his helicopter and came home to take me to lunch, and I’d gone. I got on a plane and went back to the States without telling him. And it wasn’t to be mean. But we were staying at the Docklands and I didn’t drive and he would work every day and I was in the apartment all day by myself and couldn’t do anything. I just got really homesick and restless. So after a couple of days I just left and went home. And he was really upset about that, which obviously you would be.

J: Didn’t you write a note – anything?

B: No. I texted him saying, I’m okay, I’ve left the apartment, I’ll call you later. But I didn’t realize till I was on the plane, that that would have to be the next day. So it wasn’t the nicest thing to do. It wasn’t the most thoughtful thing I’ve done – definitely, but I did it. So then he was really upset and really devastated. But he convinced me to come back a second time. So I did and that was for six weeks. Then he had me quit my job and I just ended up moving here.

J: What convinced you to come back if you weren’t happy here the first time?

B: It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy. It was just that it kind of scared me a bit because it was all moving very, very fast. I mean this was only a couple of months after our first date and I was half way across the world. It was very overwhelming. Not having friends or family, not having a job, not being able to drive… I think that’s why the first time I just left – I kind of panicked. He proposed on the second trip when I was here. It had only been a couple of months since our first date. It was a year since we met, but still it was very quick. And I only had one main relationship before that. And I wasn’t looking to settle down. But it was such a surprise. He’d hinted about it and we’d talk about it but it was definitely a surprise when he showed me the ring. It was the biggest diamond I’d ever seen. Then after six weeks we went back to the States together and he met my family for the first time. And then we flew to LA so I could finish packing up my stuff.

J: What did your parents think of the age difference?

B: It wasn’t that shocking to them, because my boyfriend I’d been with before that was twice my age. I had always enjoyed the company of older people.

J: What do you admire about Geoffrey?

B: Geoff’s accomplished so much. He’s such a smart, smart, brilliant man. I mean – his mind! He’s a doctor, he’s writing his own book, he learned to fly planes. Everything he’s done, all the experiences, all the stories he has to tell… I love hearing his stories and that’s why we never run out of conversation because he’s done so much. And I’m so proud of him for everything he’s done.

Brynne and Geoffrey Edelsten

Brynne and Geoffrey Edelsten


J: He’s also had a lot of ups and downs… a bit of a roller-coaster ride.

B: He’s had a lot of ups and downs. But he always bounces back because he won’t give up. He’s so strong-willed and I think that’s impressive.

J: What do you think has been his biggest achievement?

B: I think his comeback after having to file for bankruptcy and all that. Having to start all over from nothing and create this empire of medical clinics. I think that’s incredible.

J: Do you have any interest in his business? Do you want to work in any capacity?

B: Not in his medical clinics. But we are looking at things. That’s why we’re opening the Nurielle stores here, which I will run. I definitely want to work. I want to feel accomplished myself in business. I have more of a creative side and I’m very smart, but I love fashion and I’d love to do something in the media. Even though I want to have children one day. I want a family. But I think I can work and have children.

J: Is Geoffrey keen to have children?

B: He is. Not right now though. Hopefully within the next year we’ll try.

J: So career aspirations for you include media, business and fashion?

B: Yes, well I’m already working on my Flash Gordon label. But it will take a bit of time to get that ready because I don’t want to go ahead with that until I feel I’m fully ready for it. I’m designing everything and I want it to be more affordable. Nurielle is very high-end, so it’s not as affordable for most people. And I think by working with them, it will give me the experience to learn what I need to know. And I’ll be the face of it (Nurielle) in the States and Dubai. Which is exciting.

J: How would you describe your dress sense?

B: Mine is definitely different to a lot of people’s. You saw me earlier today. I wasn’t flashy. But when I go to events, I love being sparkly with diamonds and crystal and bright colours, because you can’t wear that stuff very often, so if you have a chance, then why not? On an every day basis, I’m much more casual.

Brynne Edelsten, Fashion Aid Ball, September 2012

Brynne Edelsten, Fashion Aid Ball, September 2012

J: Have you been upset at all by some of the negative comments made by the media?

B: No. Although in the very beginning, it made me feel bad. It didn’t hurt my feelings, but I’d go, why are they saying these things because it didn’t make sense to me. Why does anyone care that much, to be mean? It doesn’t help anyone.

J: Do you think people are being kinder now?

B: I think so. Everyone has become so much warmer to me and I feel like things have become a lot more positive. I’m not going to lie. I do read the papers. I read what’s written about me. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t. One thing I don’t do anymore is to read the comments about me on-line, in blogs and stuff. They’re really mean. When it comes down to it, I’m happy with what I’m wearing. I’m happy with who I am.

J: Tell me about the wedding. That was a huge event.

B: It was. It was very exciting. On the day I started feeling pretty overwhelmed because it was larger than life.

J: Did you want a large wedding?

B: I didn’t mind if it was large or small, but he wanted to give me a big wedding. The people that mattered to me were at the wedding and that was the most important thing. He has a lot more people that matter to him than me, so there were a lot of people I didn’t know, but I was happy for them to be there to celebrate with us.

J: What’s your favourite memory of the day?

B: At the reception, the first person I saw when I walked into the room was my best friend, Sharni. And it I felt this sigh of relief, to see someone familiar among this sea of faces of people I didn’t know. So I ran up and gave her a hug. That was the best moment for me. Other than the actual wedding of course and exchanging vows.

J: How did that feel, the moment you exchanged vows?

B: It was really good. I couldn’t stop smiling, but I couldn’t stop crying either. I was a mess. I had tears running down my face.

J: How would you describe your relationship?

B: He’s my best friend. We value each other’s opinions. We talk about everything. We enjoy our time together. We do have other friends we do things with but he’s my best friend. If there was one person I could be with all the time, it would be him. And I’m lucky enough to have him.

J: He must work long hours to be as successful as he is. Is that difficult for you?

B: Well no, because he wakes up and goes to work at 3.30 every morning, so his day starts very early every day. He’s there at 3.30 every morning. He wakes up at 2.30.

J: What time does he go to bed?

B: Between eight and eleven.

J: He obviously doesn’t need as much sleep as the rest of us…

B; No, not as much as me! (laughs) So he gets home anytime between two o’clock and five o’clock so we still have the whole afternoon and evening together, even though he works a lot. Sometimes he has meetings on the weekend but mostly we have all the weekend together.

J: Does he have any annoying habits?

B: More than one! Geoff has to be not just one time, but early for everything. He’ll tell me a time to be ready and then fifteen minutes to thirty minutes before then, he’s standing over me saying, how much longer are you going to be? So we’re always the first people anywhere. Before the red carpet starts, we’re there. We can never be fashionably late, let alone late. We have to be there before the camera people get there for him to feel on time. He’s very extreme with punctuality.

J: Anything else?

B: Well, I have lots! I leave the lights on in every room and he has to turn them off. He could probably point out a lot more annoying habits about me than I can about him.




A la Mode at Bahamonde

By now, you might be familiar with my lovely friend Rochelle, who has kindly modelled for the Fashion section of this Blog on several occasions. But I have to confess, while she looks the part, Rochelle isn’t actually a model. She’s a highly regarded television production whiz who is currently in-between jobs. Knowing she’s likely to start another one soon, I thought I should grab her while I could when I was heading down to Elwood today to check out Bahamonde. Set in the heart of funky Ormond Road, Bahamonde stands out from the rest with a more upmarket selection of smaller Australian designers, as well as a few fab imports.

Bahamonde in Ormond Road, Elwood

Bahamonde in Ormond Road, Elwood

Owner Kelly Savage used to work in the boutique before taking over from the previous occupants about ten months ago. Since then, she’s introduced a few new labels to the store, including one from Copenhagen called Rabens Saloner – plus a greater range of footwear. She says she likes to choose stock that she would wear herself. As well, she takes in to account the fact that a lot of mothers shop with their daughters, so she showcases labels that appeal to both age groups.


Maya McQueen Watermelon loafers $169

Maya McQueen Watermelon loafers $169

I was quite drawn to these soft suede orange loafers. (Although Kelly described them as ‘watermelon’…) It’s quite tricky to find comfortable shoes to wear with jeans and I’m just NOT a ‘ballet flats’ kinda gal. Sadly, she didn’t have my size, but they are getting more in. (from Brazil)


Viktoria and Woods Hawke Patch Crew top $209

Viktoria and Woods Hawke Patch Crew top $209



Rochelle (like myself) is a huge ‘rose gold’ fan, so putting on this top by the talented Viktoira and Woods was a dead cert to put a smile on her face.



Indigo dress $179

Indigo dress $179 and Lilya Mariana wedges $249


The sun wasn’t shining, but the pink and orange floral pattern of this Indigo dress is bound to make you feel like Spring is actually here… the perfect number for lunches, a romantic  picnic or a country race meeting. The tan wedges are also a versatile option, sitting well with just about any outfit.




'Violet and I' Downtown lover dress $369

Rabens Saloner lilac dress $270




This lilac dress just about jumped off the racks when I walked into the shop. It’s one of the imports from Copenhagen that Kelly was telling me about. I can just picture Princess Mary in this, can’t you? It’s a beautiful flowy number that almost harks back to yesteryear but with a modern twist – a romantic maxi dress that can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.



Alexia Wood three-panel dress $89

Alexia Wood three-panel dress $89 with Jam Squared Style sandals $175



For a more casual look, I chose this three-panel colour tunic dress from Alexia Wood. It’s a relatively new Australian label that’s well-priced. Plus the sandals – another attractive flat option – were, by fluke, a perfect match!





Viktoria and Woods August keyhole shirt $277 with Red singlet Milk at Thistle $139

Viktoria and Woods August keyhole shirt $277 with Red singlet Milk at Thistle $139


Last but not least, another piece from the Viktoria and Woods collection – a striking silk shirt – light as a feather and a gorgeous fuschia colour to make your skin glow. Kelly said Bahamonde used to showcase mostly dresses but now incorporates a greater range of separates.



When our work was done, Rochy and I popped across the road to Zartowa for a much needed coffee. Gotta pay these models somehow…


Bahamonde is located at 119 Ormond Road, Elwood.

Ph: (03) 9531 2936





Sadly, this story is NOT a joke.

It’s about my girlfriend’s in-laws and what they gave her husband for his 40th birthday this week. If you’ve ever whinged about yours, you’ll be grateful for what you’ve got after reading this. (I’m going to use substitute names for privacy reasons)

Happy Families - Christmas Lunch

Happy Families – Christmas Lunch

It all started last Christmas when Laura and Steve hosted a lunch for their friends and family. Laura wasn’t thrilled Steve’s parents were invited, as they’d never gotten along, but thought she could get through one afternoon. And it was Christmas, after all…



In the past, Steve’s mother had always rubbed Laura up the wrong way with personal criticisms and complaints about her cooking. His father was also prone to racist remarks, which riled Laura no end. Not to mention neither of them were particularly lively company, offering only stilted conversation. At first, Laura had wondered if it was because of a language issue. (Both parents came to Australia from Germany in their twenties) But their command of English was excellent. No, it was their lack of manners, decided Laura. The fact that they would constantly drop in unannounced, despite repeated requests for a warning phone call; their demanding manner and social ineptitude once they arrived, topped off by a lack of any form of thank you.


French champagne

French champagne

Needless to say, you can understand why Laura wasn’t keen to include them at Christmas. But they came. Empty-handed. And proceeded to guzzle all of Laura’s French champagne. Then the snide comments started about the food. And rude remarks directed at Laura’s friends – in particular, a lovely Anglo-Indian couple.

But it was after lunch, when Steve’s dad started ranting on about why the nation needed an ‘all-white Australia policy’ that Laura put her foot down. Quietly but firmly she took him by the arm, led him to the kitchen and explained why it was time for them to leave. At the end of the day, Laura and Steve agreed it was time to distance themselves from his parents for a bit – just to let tensions ease.

Around mid-year, Steve’s mum waved an olive branch. ‘We’re taking the whole family out to dinner,’ she said. ‘Please come. It’s our shout.’ So off they went to a fancy restaurant. Laura grinned and bore it but the evening was another round of excruciating conversation and bad manners. At the end of the meal, when it came time to pay the bill, Steve offered to chip in and grabbed Laura’s credit card. Laura waited for his mother to protest. After all, she’d made a huge fuss about how ‘they’ were taking everyone out to dinner. But she just sat there and smiled at her son while the waiter snatched Laura’s credit card and SHE ended up paying for the ENTIRE dinner.

But the clincher came this week. It was Steve’s 50th birthday on the weekend, so a month ago the pressure began with phone calls and hints – ‘When are we coming over to celebrate?’

Happy Birthday Steve!

Happy Birthday Steve!


Bitten-too-many-times, Laura decided to keep friends and family separate to avoid any clashes and to stop them ruining Steve’s main party. When they arrived yesterday for a small family gathering, Laura thanked all the gods in the heavens she’d made that decision. Because of their present.

They were obviously peeved they hadn’t been included in the main festivities, so his mother, who always baked a birthday cake for her son (despite his maturing years…) did NOT bring a cake. Nor did they bring him a bought-from-a-shop and beautifully gift-wrapped present.


His mother pulled out a package in a brown paper bag and proudly declared that to mark Steve’s milestone year, she was giving him, the eldest son, a family heirloom that he would treasure for the rest of his life.

Nazi war medals - generic photo

Nazi war medals – generic photo


His Grandfather’s war medals.

His Grandfather’s NAZI war medals… OF WHICH SHE WAS PROUD.





It was all Laura could do not to throw them in the bin on the spot. In the kitchen, she whispered to Steve that there was NO WAY she would have them in the house. Seriously bad karma, she said. Laura is not Jewish. Just pretty much a normal person who finds the whole Nazi Holocaust history a sickening abomination and finds it unbelievable that anyone living in our society could actually cherish a medal associated with glorifying such atrocities.

Steve agreed. He did not want the medals. But he could not bring himself to thrown them in the bin.

Clever Laura had a better idea. Steve’s younger brother was returning to his parents home that evening. She snuck his car keys, crept out the front door and planted the medals on the backseat of his car.

So far, they haven’t heard what the family reaction was to that. I’m guessing it won’t be good. But like Laura, I don’t really care. I don’t think she’ll be seeing much more of them in the future.

Now, aren’t your in-laws looking good???

Manning Cartell steals the limelight with new store at Chaddy


Chadstone must be Melbourne’s most popular high-end shopping centre. I don’t have the statistics to prove it – only the personal experience of facing car-parks full to overflowing every time I venture there,  plus queues snaking out of Prada and Chanel every time I walk past. It beats city shopping because at least those crowded car-parks are FREE and during Melbourne’s long, cold winter, it’s much more cosy shopping indoors. And yes, the range of stores, catering to all wallets – from rob-a-Swiss-bank-to-buy-anything to shoe-string budgets – is vast and varied.

New store on the block

New store on the block

But if your budget doesn’t stretch to European haute couture (and mine certainly doesn’t) then Chaddy also stocks a great selection of local designers, with stock carrying far more reasonable price-tags. One of my favourite Aussie labels comes from three Sydney-based sisters who started up Manning Cartell. Over the years, their stock has mostly been sold through independent boutiques, but gradually, with growing success, they’re opening their own stores. I always loved buying their stock (sorry, loved even more Channel TEN buying it!)  as a newsreader, because their jackets were so consistently well-cut and stylish. And it was tricky finding chic jackets that fit the ‘newsreader mode’ without being ‘mother-of-the-bride’…

Manning Cartell

Manning Cartell

So I was thrilled to find they’ve only JUST (two weeks ago) opened a new store at Chadstone. My girlfriend Rochelle and I were shopping there on Saturday which meant I happened to have a willing model on hand, (after a little arm-twisting) to showcase some of their best stock. And oh boy, do they have some good stuff!

I like the fact they do suits with skirts OR shorts, so you can dress this look up or down – for work or play. Their fabrics are divine – suits in textured metallic weaves or soft-spun gold thread, with light-as-a-feather silk tops to float underneath. It’s the contrasts between tailored, sharply structured pieces (suit jackets, leather singlets)  with floaty, ethereal elements that gives the label its unique edge.

Little Mermaid gold jacket $549; shorts $299 with Lemon Sugar and Mango top $349

Little Mermaid gold jacket $549; shorts $299 with Lemon Sugar and Mango top $349

Wicker Man jacket $649, skirt $399 with Sportsman on stilts black leather singlet $399

Wicker Man jacket $649, skirt $399 with Sportsman on stilts black leather singlet $399


Sailors Valentine dress $599 and Sugar and Mango top $349 with Ebony Mask Shorts $449

Sailors Valentine dress $599 and Sugar and Mango top $349 with Ebony Mask Shorts $449


Manning Cartell also showcase a range of accessories, such as metallic belts in pewter, rose gold or gun metal for $299 each that would update any outfit. Another coveted piece was the most beautiful structured lace skirt I’ve spied this season and is SOOOO on my birthday wish-list. Not to mention a classic sequinned tunic that has a funky 60s feel and would be a great trans-seasonal after-five number.

Metalllic belts $299

Metalllic belts $299


Intertwined Black Lace Skirt $499

Intertwined Black Lace Skirt $499

Jewel box tunic, pewter, $699

Jewel box tunic, pewter, $699











But my favourite on the day would have to be this sexy peach dress which gets away with having almost ‘too-much-in-your-face-cleavage’ because of the fabric being demure lace…

Seashell Lace Dress, peach; $599

Seashell Lace Dress, peach; $599


If I had the figure for it, I’d grab it, but given the post-giving-up-smoking additional kilos aren’t budging, I’ll have to leave that one for Rochelle who looks amazing in this. In fact, with the right hat, I think it would be perfect for Oaks Day, don’t you?

Time to Disconnect to Reconnect

Do you ever get the feeling that social media is taking over our lives? That you can’t function unless you’ve checked your Facebook account, sent out your latest Twitter update and Blogged something event-worthy in your life and ALL that’s BEFORE getting out of bed?? Or maybe you’re a complete social networking addict, like a friend of mine who carries two I-Phones to juggle her separate business and personal accounts?

Juggling social networking

Juggling social networking

As reporter Kate Jones wrote in an excellent opinion piece in the Herald Sun today, it makes you wonder how our kids are going to turn out when so much of their interaction is electronically based… Will they understand the ‘ancient arts of handwriting and conversation?’

Which is why I was drawn to this media release which landed in my email system, titled:


Social September is an initiative sparked by Bianca Venuti, daughter of famed entertainer Maria Venuti. While she admits she’s a huge fan of social networking, Bianca says the time has come to ‘switch off’ and do it for a good cause.

‘We love using social media, but also believe connections and conversations in the real world remain invaluable,’ she said. ‘Social September takes us back in time to experience the benefits of good ol’ face to face interactions with the people in your lives.’

Maria and Bianca Venuti

Maria and Bianca Venuti

The latest statistics show Australians spend one in every five minutes on social media. So  Bianca wants us, alongside a host of well-known Aussie celebs, to come up with fund-raising ideas that will encourage people to ‘switch off’ and get together IN PERSON (remember how to do that?)  to raise money for The Reach Foundation.

Reach is a really good fit for this cause. Because by ‘switching off’ and actually communicating with each other in a face-to-face setting, we feel a whole lot better about ourselves and life. And Reach is all about helping young people improve their self-esteem, thereby inspiring them to achieve. Both Social September and Reach recognise building relationships face-to-face  is crucial in promoting positive mental health and emotional wellbeing. So turn off that digital technology and start talking!

Bianca says she’s got a couple of specific plans in mind for herself. ‘I’m pledging to Disconnect by leaving my phone in my handbag (particularly in social settings), and Reconnecting – by hosting an Italian cooking lesson to catch up with friends I haven’t seen for ages.’

But she says people are free to choose to disconnect in whichever way suits them. ‘We’d love everyone to get on board in a way that makes sense to them. I can’t wait to see the reconnect event ideas people come up with!’

I think I’d like to play a REAL game of Scrabble with someone, instead of Words With Friends. Any takers? Maybe a fund-raising scrabble tournament? Hmm… this could be good.

The Trust

The Trust

Social September is being launched tonight in Melbourne at The Trust Bar. I think I’m going to have to pop in just to see if anyone dares pull out a mobile phone.

If you’d like to get involved, register at and spread the word. That’s where you can also learn more about specific events taking place. For each $75 raised, one additional young Australian can be invited to a face- to-face Reach program.


Some of the inaugural Social September Socialites include Adriano Zumbo, Laura Dundovic, Maria Venuti AM, Danny Clayton, Sam Burgess, Sami Lukas, Joshua Horner, PJ Lane, Trevor Ashley, Zoe Sheridan, and Joe Avati.

My Dad Lied to Me.

Hmm, that’s a provocative headline. My Dad Lied to Me. Well, in a way he did. And in a way, he didn’t. Let me explain.

Dad has been trying to get me to go with him to his weekly art classes in Mt Waverly on a Tuesday afternoon for several years. He thinks, because I haven’t painted much since high school, that my Rembrandt-esque talents are going to waste. My artistic dreams and enormous potential are not being fulfilled. (huge sigh…)

Like most parents, he has an over-inflated perception of his child’s ability. I am not Rembrandt, not ever will be. My artistic talents compared with the great master would add up to the amount he had in one atom of his smallest toenail. But Dad is right in one sense. In Year 12, I studied art as a subject and had visions of being accepted into the Victorian College of Arts. Yes, I thought I had a future as a painter.

But look at what I painted back then…

Painting by teenager aspiring to be impressionistic pre-Angry Penguin Australian painter

Murky waters by teenage Jennifer.

Ewww. A muddy, impressionistic interpretation of Aussie landscape and as far from the sort of work accepted by the College of the Arts as you could imagine. So you can picture what they thought, this hip school of laid-back cool, when I stupidly turned up for an interview dressed in my Sunday-best. Naively, I thought it was appropriate and respectful to arrive on time and dressed conservatively, in a pleated skirt, neatly ironed shirt and new shoes. FAIL. I remember their comments as they looked me up and down in disbelief:

‘So you liked 19th century Australian art and the likes of Frederick McCubbin, huh?’ ‘Hmmm, did your art teacher do that for you?’ ‘How do you think you will survive as a painter?’ ‘You do realise that most artists have to waitress or stuff sausages to get by? Can you see yourself stuffing sausages??’

Stuffing sausages was something I hadn’t considered.

Then they suggested I go downstairs to visit the studios where the students worked. I knew straight away I wouldn’t get in. Abstract images in huge slabs of colour were plastered over massive canvases – aka artist Mark Rothko – alongside soaring geometric sculptures. Students dressed in goth garb, ripped t-shirts and paint-spattered black jeans eyed me disparagingly.

When I returned to the interview room, my paintings had been packed up and placed outside the door. Goodbye.

I didn’t paint much after that.

In recent years, I decided to experiment with modern art. Here is what I made for the main dining area of our sunroom. It’s my abstract interpretation of a mouth, because, after all, the dining room and the mouth go hand in hand. Eating, laughing, conversation, tasting etc…

Weird abstract mouth painting

Weird abstract mouth painting

I know. It really looks like an obscene internal intestinal organ.

But back to the bit about Dad lying. So he’s been harping on about art class and for years I’ve been ‘too busy’. In a couple of weeks, he’s going into hospital to have a pace-maker fitted. Apparently in the great scheme of medical practices, this isn’t a big deal. But by my reckoning, anything that messes with your heart is pretty major. A guilty conscience started eating away at me. YOU STILL HAVEN”T BEEN TO ART CLASSS WITH YOUR DAD!!! It was a loud voice.


Alright already, I’ll go to bloody art class then. And that’s what I did yesterday. Dad was working on a piece from a photo he took on a trip to Europe. Today, his mission was to paint ducks on the lake.

Dad won't 'duck' the work at hand...

Dad at work…

Artist John Hansen

Artist John Hansen









He did a great job. But he lied. He made out everyone in the class just brought along something they were playing with – that everyone was basically a beginner and I wouldn’t feel out of place. And I knew it was a low-key art school in a back-shed somewhere in Mt Waverly, so I agreed, thinking, ‘This will be a breeze.’


Sue at work

Sue at work



Not exactly. Meet Diana. Practically a professional artist who’s just sold several pieces at her local art show and paints fruit so life-like, it just about jumps out of the bowl.









Then there’s Elaine. Elaine can whip up a Matisse-like still life in a matter of seconds. She’d half-finished this number before I’d finished unpacking.







Jennifer's painting of girls washing hair

Jennifer’s painting of girls washing hair



And what about Jennifer (not me) who has a painting of Black Caviar with trainer Peter Moody on show right now at  THE HIDDEN FACES OF THE ARCHIBALD PORTRAITS EXHIBITION until 28 September? She captures light streaming through a window like Renoir.





Art teacher Peter Smales

Art teacher Peter Smales


Yep, Dad had definitely lied. This was NOT a group of beginners. These were seriously talented artists and professionals. Still, you never stop learning and it was amazing to watch art teacher Peter Smales step in and help tweak a painting, improving it with the lightest touch.

So I guess the time has come for me to overcome my pride and and show you what I came up with…. I went in a completely different direction to everyone else. I’ve got a thing about the fluro fashion that’s everywhere right now, so thought I’d buy some neon paints and experiment.


Keep in mind the masterpices you just saw.


Wait for it…



My finished masterpiece

My finished masterpiece

Work in progress...

Work in progress…










As Peter said, I didn’t paint the best piece of the day but I did get first prize for ‘Boldest Picture’. I think that’s a compliment? Bidders welcome.




Why I’ll listen to Germaine Greer

Much has been said about feminist academic Germaine Greer in the past week and not much of it has been nice. Much of the hysterical criticism stems from Greer’s performance on the ABC’s QandA panel show last week. Comments she made about our PM’s backside and female genital mutilation have been met with SHOCK and HORROR and bandied about in newspaper headlines with great disgust — often taken out of context.

Keeping an open mind, I headed to a Melbourne Writers Festival session last Friday where Greer was to be interviewed by Benjamin Law about her life and passions. I was curious to see for myself. Was this iconic dynamo going to prove her critics right by ranting like a lunatic, or would she shine like the beacon of forward thinking that thousands claim her to be? Is all the brouhaha merely evidence that those in the privileged position of having a public voice can’t help but subscribe to our cultural sport of slashing down tall poppies to a dirt-eating level?

Benjamin Law and Germaine Greer

Benjamin Law and Germaine Greer


The interview started with an entertaining account from Greer about how she posed naked, ankles behind ears, for a university-produced magazine Suck. This evoked much laughter from the audience – the woman has a witty and self-deprecating sense of humour.

Then onto more serious matters, where in an erudite and passionate manner, she provided an impressive discourse on a wide range of topics.

Female genital mutilation wasn’t one of them, so I can’t pass judgment about that particular controversy, but if you’ve read that Greer almost condones the practice, you might be best off taking a look at a piece written by academic Dr Camille Nurka, a Lecturer in Gender Studies at the School of Social and Political Science at Melbourne University.

Instead of discrediting Greer with losing the plot, Nurka says Greer talked about the issue with much tact and sensitivity.

But back to the Festival Session. I’m not going to quote Greer at great length — rather, give you in point form six reasons why she won me over on the day.

(1)   Greer hasn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey.

‘I’m not interested in 50 Shades of Grey. I’m not interested in fucking, buggery or spanking. Life’s too interesting to go into someone else’s suburban bedroom and start snuffling about. The ground is already so well trodden on all of this. And sado-masochism is something I dread in a way, because I’ve seen what happens in sadistic relationships and it’s horrifying. The fact is they become hooked on basic humiliation and crave it, which to me is horrifying, ghastly.’

(2)   She made some excellent points about why our rape laws are archaic and need to be re-written, which would lead to a higher rate of prosecution.

‘There are very few convictions because rape is so hard to prove. … We should abandoncriminal rape and have a single law of sexual assault and then include everything that could possibly happen under that.’

(3)   Her views on marriage.

Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer

‘Marriage is a mess as a social institution. You don’t know what you’re getting into because it’s a contract with no clauses and you don’t know what they are till you’re in the divorce courts. We need co-habitation agreements, which list clauses about children, money, sex etc…   I was married for three weeks and then thought, hell, I’m not going to hang around for any more of that shit.’

(4)   Her explanation regarding the comments she made about PM Julia Gillard’s dress sense.

‘I spoke for twenty minutes about what a great job she was doing as Prime Minister, then I make one flippant remark and that’s all anyone talks about. I’ve got the same figure as Julia – narrow shoulders and a fat arse. … Labor is putting too much pressure on her to be decorative and UN-serious. She should just wear what she’s comfortable in – plain suits – and get on with the job.’

(5)   She promotes eco-feminism and getting back to nature.

‘Ideally, we should all try to have a small apartment in the city and a patch of earth in the bush which we try to get back to what it used to be in its natural state.’ (Spending time with nature)…it brings rewards in terms of solace. It doesn’t fix things, but it makes them easier to bear.’


(6)   Do Less Housework. Greer says women put too much pressure on each other to maintain an overly hygienic and picture-perfect home.

‘It’s okay to be dirty! STOP cleaning the house! It’s important every now and then, to be dirty.’

Hear, hear!!  I’m throwing out the vacuum cleaner and washing detergent as I type.

While I didn’t agree with everything Greer said, I did admire her style, charisma and vigour. At least she’s original and dynamic, and in a world populated by sycophants who just want to please the crowd, it’s refreshing to hear someone who says what they like. And she gets us talking.

There’s a quote I remember reading from Greer many years ago, where she said, ‘I grew up thinking there was one unpardonable sin – to be boring.’ That, she never will be. Perhaps that’s why she never apologises for the controversies she causes either– and I like that too.

Germaine Greer, 1970

Germaine Greer, 1970

At the end of the session, several young groupies, armed with newly bought copies of The Female Eunuch, descended upon the stage for autographs. I could hear whispers from those who loved the session and some who were disappointed. Personally, I don’t see Greer as an ‘icon’ perched on a pedestal as high as the Rialto, but nor do I wish to kick her in her ‘fat arse’ for expressing a point of view. The woman did, after all, write a book that paved the way for the feminist movement and you’ve got to give her credit for helping to shape history.

I enjoyed her company for that hour, but afterwards, I didn’t want an autograph. Instead, I would love to have gone to the pub with her for a chinwag over a wine of two. With a person – not a hero, nor a villain. Now that could have been a very interesting night.


I can’t believe the Melbourne newspapers didn’t make more of a fuss. Australia’s leading lady of Hollywood has, for the FIRST TIME EVER, signed on to represent an Aussie brand and it only made page 21 of the Herald Sun?? Yet  it’s front page news in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. It seems a change in management ranks means we’ll be getting a much more serious and less tabloid Herald Sun in the future – which is fine, but why ignore a major entertainment story that also ties in with a brilliant and audacious business strategy by Australian company, Swisse?

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman

And it is BIG news for Swisse because going global and competing with the big multi-nationals is no small feat. And if you’re going to take on the world markets, why not do it properly and sign on the nation’s queen of style? Swisse couldn’t have produced a lovelier photo of Nicole too – the perfect picture of grace and good health.

Kidman will be ambassador for the brand when Swisse rolls out its international campaign, starting with the United States in January. Then they’ll march on into the U.K., Europe and Asia. The TV ads and photos for the campaign will all be shot in Australia.

If you want to argue about who IS Australia’s leading lady of Hollywood, just look at the statistics. Nicole has been nominated for 8 Golden Globe awards, winning three, and is Australia’s only Best Female Oscar winner. But it’s not only her artistic achievements that make her a good fit for the brand. Her lifestyle and values give her exponential value as the total package. Being involved in international issues means she has also been honoured as a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2007 and is a global ambassador for UN Women that promotes gender equality and empowerment of women and girls worldwide.

Kidman chose Swisse because she likes the idea of being part of a small Australian family-built company (about to get a whole lot bigger!)  that is commited to good health and well-being. ‘I joined Swisse because I wanted to help bring awareness to the importance of living a healthy lifestyle in a busy, often stressful world,’ she said.

Only last week, Swisse was announced as BRW’s winner of the most successful Australian private business of the year. (with a turnover of $100 million plus)

Part of their marketing success relies on rolling ad campaigns using famous faces. They sponsor top TV shows and are also a major presence at Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival.

On Thursday night, they kicked off their racing season with a launch party at South Yarra’s newest and coolest restaurant, Mama Baba. Swisse CEO Radek Sali spoke about how they’re expanding the brand to release a skin care and body range, and will soon be unveiling protein bars and sports supplements.

Swisse CEO Radek Sali

Swisse CEO Radek Sali

And Sali is thrilled about their new partnership with Kidman. ‘Nicole Kidman is a much loved Australian overseas and we know that Swisse will be Australia’s most loved health and wellness brand overseas in coming months and years,’ he said.

Swisse have also become famous for their amazing parties and the Mama Baba event was a stand-out. Finger food from Masterchef George Colombaris’ kitchen was superb and French champagne, Laurent-Perrier, flowed freely. The guest list read like the who’s who of Melbourne, and you can understand why. If you get invited to a Swisse party, you’re guaranteed quality food AND company. Here’s some of the people Fletch and I ran into on the night:

Model David Witco and Olympic basketballer Liz Cambage

Model David Witco and Olympic basketballer Liz Cambage

Michelle Ronan, Glen Moriarty and Paige McKenzie

Michelle Ronan, Glen Moriarty and Paige McKenzie






Alan Fletcher and Jessica McNamee

Alan Fletcher and Jessica McNamee





Kate Arnott, Brad Green, Catherine Chisolm and Simon Bones

Kate Arnott, Brad Green, Catherine Chisolm and Simon Bones









Elliot Garnaut and Lauren Phillips

Elliot Garnaut and Lauren Phillips

Tom Davidson and Mitch Catlin

Tom Davidson and Mitch Catlin











Tim O'shea and Melissa Bergland

Tim O’shea and Melissa Bergland


Nick and Rachel Holland

Nick and Rachel Holland

Anna Byrne and Catherine Chisolm

Anna Byrne and Catherine Chisolm











To give the guests a taste of what’s to come from Swisse, Goodie Bags were handed out when we left the party. (yay!) I’m yet to try the creams, but I can assure you, those sleep tablets work a treat.

Swisse Goodie Bag

Swisse Goodie Bag