On the Couch with Murray Raine

AF23-Murray-Raine-with-FriendWho is Murray Raine?
I’m a gay man who grew up in Newcastle at a time when homophobic slurs were directed against anyone who was blessed with the gay gene. As a kid I quickly learnt that to survive I had to develop the sarcastic wit of Bette Davis and the flamboyance of Liberace. If I couldn’t play football at least I could make people laugh with my puppets. Today when I perform I like to test the norms of decency and pray to the God of Drag that my audience is with me.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I’ve had early success with my show, They Came From Uranus but I was afraid I may have gone too far. My writing partner, who is also my partner in life, and I pissed ourselves during the six months writing process while trying to outdo one another with evermore shocking detail. I had underestimated how far on the ride I could take the audience and now I think they are prepared to go much further than I had anticipated. I think the Australian theatre public are up for more lampooning and outright filth than we had expected. Now, I would take a bigger leap of faith in what the Australian audience can manage.

Who inspires you and why?
My mentor, Norman Hetherington, inspired me as a child puppeteer, inspired and supported me as an adult puppeteer, and even though he has since died, his words of wisdom continue to inspire me. Most people will remember Norman as “Mr Squiggle” – the ABC children’s show of the 1960’s, 70’s and ‘80’s. Norman was a genius whose oeuvre far exceeded Squiggle. I wrote to him when I was only 8 years old asking for details on how to string a particular type of marionette. He responded with a hand-written letter and sketch. He has remained my friend and mentor ever since, his work still inspires me today.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Dolly Parton once said, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap”. A rummage through my make-up case will tell you that I’ve spent hundreds of dollars to create my stage persona, Miss Candy Carcrashian. Cosmetics are essential tools of trade and if our governments can subsidise utes for tradies they can subsidise my flawless and glamorous stage persona thank you very much!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
New Zealand wins hands down. Kia ora to all my darling Kiwi fans. Gorgeous scenery, gorgeous people, and brutally hilarious piss-takers. I can usually pick the Kiwi in the audience – they’re a milli-second ahead of everyone else with the gag.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I live in Melbourne and almost everyone who visits wants to visit the seedy night clubs and bars. I particularly like to support those that also promote the local emerging talent. The Butterfly Club is a favourite. It’s something about taking your visitor up a dark and secluded alley where you think you would more likely get mugged than entertained and open the door at the end and be invited into a cosy and eclectic club where you are sure to find new and often outlandish acts.

What are you currently reading?
I’m re-reading Blood & Tinsel – a memoir of Jim Sharman, the Australian director of some of our greatest productions, such as Rocky Horror and Hair, to remind me that the entertainment industry is mixed with failure and success but when it succeeds, the journey is worth it.

What are you currently listening to?
Dusty in Memphis. When Dusty Springfield died in 1999 I cried. There is something about her struggle as a lesbian performer finding her place in the entertainment industry that I relate to and can hear in her soulful voice. I recall the morning it was announced on radio that she had passed, I was booked to perform at a local Primary School. I announced to the children at the beginning of the show that Miss Dusty Springfield had sadly passed over and we will now have a few moments silence before any puppet show begins – the kiddies sat there flummoxed but silent.

Happiness is?
Happiness is coming home after a successful show, washing away my stage persona in the shower, putting on my Grosbies and flannelettes, sipping a chilled chardy and unwinding before I hear my pillow call.

What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully more bookings for They Came From Uranus. But if that’s not the case, I can still wallow in the joy of living with my husband of 36 years in our home at Carlton. Oh yes, maybe a little cosmetic enhancement.

Murray presents They Came From Uranus at the Empire Cabaret Theatre at Wonderland Festival Hub – Hindmarsh Square, as part of the 2023 Adelaide Fringe: 10 – 19 March. For more information, visit: www.adelaidefringe.com.au for details.

Image: Murray Raine and Friend (sourced)