On the Couch with Russell Vickery

Russell Vickery AAR On the CouchWho is Russell Vickery?
I am a colourful and flamboyant Queer identified man, father of 3 children and a grandfather of 3 (soon to be 4), a singer and cabaret performer. As a survivor of an abusive relationship, I have become an advocate for the prevention of domestic violence (DV) in LGBTIQ relationships through my work with the Victorian Victim/Survivor Advisory Council (VSAC), and by providing insight into what abuse looks and feels like from the inside by telling (& singing) my story through a cabaret called My Other Closet – The Cabaret.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I am pretty happy with my life these days and I don’t think I would make too many changes. Obviously I have not always felt this way. As a gay man born in the 1950s I have had many varied life experiences some good and some not so good. Each of these experiences have been tools to help me learn and strive to become a better person because of, or in spite of them. The only change I’d make is that I’d love to retire from my day job soon and focus all my efforts on my advocacy and performance work.

Who inspires you and why?
I am really inspired by the incredible talent and determination of local Australian performers like Betty Grumble, Kindred Surprise, and Yana Alana. I also relate to and am inspired by anyone who experiences a difficult situation and comes out the other side with a passion to overcome that adversity and help or inspire others.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I try to make a difference with the work I do with VSAC and performing My Other Closet – The Cabaret. We always said that if the show helped one person it would be worth it. I’m proud and humbled to be contributing to Victorian Family Violence Sector reforms through VSAC, and happy to say that many people have told us the show made a profound impact on their life, and in a few cases, helped people to leave abusive relationships. I think if we all do the things we can as an individual, the total sum of all the individuals out there together can make a difference!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I love color, clothes, food, and seeing the world from perspectives very different to my own. I love going to Hoi An in Vietnam where I can satisfy all of these. My partner and I have done this so much that our wardrobes are bursting and our tailor over there, Ahn, has become a good friend. We are heading over again soon to have clothes made for our rainbows and unicorns themed wedding!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Living in Melbourne there are too many things to name really.  We are spoiled for choice with cultural events, the arts, theatre, food, shopping, amazing beaches close by

What are you currently reading?
I have just finished reading A Mothers Story by Rosie Batty. What an inspiration Rosie is! Someone who has gone through such a horrific experience and, like a phoenix from the ashes, has risen above this and spends her time trying to prevent others from having the same experience.

What are you currently listening to?
As a gay man in his 60s, I’m sure it’s no surprise my playlists include a lot of Barbra Streisand, Tina Turner, Madonna, Cher, The Weather Girls and of course Lady Gaga. Although I do enjoy a variety of music, lately I have been listening to a lot of Asaf Avidan – what a voice he has! And his style is so unique, like Edith Piaf, Amy Winehouse, Willie Nelson and Massive Attack all rolled together.

Happiness is?
Now. It has taken me a lot of work to get here but I have a great life and I am very happy with my bit. I have great kids and grandchildren, I am about to marry my partner of 8 years (thank you Australian people for voting YES) and I regularly get to perform a show that I love doing that makes a positive impact in people’s lives. Add in the occasional delicious dinner party with friends and a nice glass of sauvignon blanc and I know I’m living the dream! LOL.

What does the future hold for you?
I am about to embark on a regional Victorian tour of My Other Closet – The Cabaret throughout 2019 and 2020. We are all locked in for ChillOut in Daylesford on 9 March, and a show as part of a training day for professionals in Ballarat. Later in the year I’m performing in Geelong and Wodonga, with plans coming together for Mildura, Bendigo and Gippsland in the early part of 2020. Somehow I also have to fit in the wedding! After all of this I think we will take a vacation!

Russell stars in My Other Closet – The Cabaret, which will be presented in the World Famous Beagle Tent on Saturday 9 March – 2.00pm as part of the 2019 ChillOut Festival. For more information, visit: www.chilloutfestival.com.au for details.

For more information about My Other Closet – The Cabaret, visit: www.myotherclosetthecabaret.com for details.

Image: Russell Vickery (supplied)