On the Couch with Johnny Allen

Johnny-Allen-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Johnny Allen?
I have been described as “The Father of Events in Australia”, and have spent a lifetime in the events industry, from producing the Nimbin Aquarius Festival in 1973 to being the Foundation Event Manager for Darling Harbour, Tourism NSW, the Australian Centre for Event Management at UTS, and the Foundation Chief Judge for the Australian Event Awards. I have also been described in The Bulletin magazine, somewhat generously, as “an architect of human resources”, and I do enjoy collaboration and the synergy of working with creative and artistic people.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Nothing, really. I have always done what I believed to be the most interesting and rewarding thing on offer, regardless of monetary success, reputation and career. This has led me to an interesting and enjoyable life, and I would not want to change it. Inevitably, with the hindsight of maturity there are a few minor gaffes that I might have avoided, but overall, I would make much the same choices.

Who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by people who are brave enough to be themselves, and to be pathfinders and innovators when needed. In the queer community, I would include people such as Doris Fish, David McDiarmid and Peter Tully, who challenged the status quo and whose pioneering work helped to create the freer and more accepting society that we live in today.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Hopefully bring people together in celebration and harmony, and make some connections between yesterday’s heroes and today’s innovators and creators.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Brazil – I think that Sydney and Rio de Janeiro are the two physically most beautiful cities in the world, and I find many aspects of the Brazilian people intoxicating and attractive. And we both have great weather and beaches – what more could one ask for?

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I’d take them to the harbourside parks, a ferry trip to Manly and the White Rabbit Gallery – all quintessential Sydney experiences worth sharing.

What are you currently reading?
Lovers, Fighters, Dreamers by Lo Carmen – a beautifully written book about many of the great women pioneers of Australian music and culture.

What are you currently listening to?
The songs of Wendy Saddington, one of the women featured in Lo Carmen’s book, and arguably the greatest blues singer that Australia has produced.

Happiness is?
Great people, great food and those rare art experiences that really touch you.

What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully, good health and a continuation of remembering and celebrating our queer cultural heroes and icons – and a good night’s sleep!

Johnny is the co-curator of Powerhouse Late x Vivid Ideas: Queer Sydney – which will be presented at the Powerhouse Museum on Thursday 16 June 2022. For more information, visit: www.maas.museum for details.

Image: Johnny Allen (supplied)