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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Great Australian Racist (Title stolen from Twitter)

If you've not been watching SBS's powerful doco/reality event "Go back to where you came from" then stop right now and give yourself a slap. It's OK, I'll wait. If you have been watching - well done you.

Right, let's move on from your embarrassment. So you can play along I have kindly cut and pasted the SBS website's show synopsis below.

"Six ordinary Australians agree to challenge their preconceived notions about refugees and asylum seekers by embarking on a confronting 25-day journey. Tracing in reverse the journeys that refugees have taken to reach Australia, they travel to some of the most dangerous and desperate corners of the world, with no idea what is in store for them along the way. 

"Go back to where you came from" has been utterly mind blowing to say the least, however I wish to focus on one of the 6 participants who has become quite the "star." 
Twenty one year old year old Raquel.

Raquel lives with her bikie boyfriend Levi (who has an immaculately platted ratstail) and their 12 staffordshire terriers in Sydney's Blacktown. 

Her acrylic nails have southern cross tips and she pronounces Australia: "Straya." 
Two minutes into the introductory package Raquel admits she's racist and that:
"Blacktown really has become black town." 

After hearing that little gem I turned to my husband and said: "Hello, what do we have here? This one's going to challenge a few people." Too right she did, she almost broke twitter.

Raquel is a television producer's wet dream- she's a walking sound bite. I was quoting her after a couple of minutes. My friends and I are already planning our Raquel halloween costumes. 
I dare say there will be a Raquel drag show coming to a gay bar near you. She's THAT GOOD and by good I mean fearless. It's as though Chris Lilley dreamed her up or if Kath and Kim had a politically incorrect cousin. 

So far she has threatened to knock one of the other participants (63 yr old Raye) "fucking head off her fucking shoulders" and proved that you can construct an entire sentence using just the word "fuck." 

Upon arriving at the Refugee process centre in Kenya she told the registration officer who asked her what she did in her country of origin: "Nothin, I do nothin'. I just stay home and do nothin'."

Oh yes, she's quite the peach.

Raquel is an easy target for those of us who, well, aren't racist. She challenged me very early on and I went to write several scathing tweets but managed to catch myself and relax. 
Her frank admissions to growing up in a racist family and hating Africans were confronting and not something we would normally see or hear in an open forum. 

I wondered why she put me on edge? Did I have a little bit of "Raquel" in me? Her intolerance is on the surface but perhaps mine was deeper down and she was evoking it and causing some discomfort. A bit of psychological projection perhaps? After the Cronulla riots it was suggested that there was an underlying racist culture in Australia. I believe that to be true.

Well after some reflection I decided Raquel wasn't unearthing some deep dark feelings because I'm not racist. In fact, my Dad came here with my Grandparents on a boat in 1954 searching for a better life as things had become so bad in Italy. I feel nothing but compassion for asylum seekers, but I digress. 

I admire her for taking part in this experiment which I think would be challenging for the average person let alone a self confessed racist who has no tolerance for refugees or asylum seekers. I have found her entertaining, offensive and honest. I think this experiment would have been less compelling without her.

There has been some significant personal growth in the other six participants but Raquel has stood strong in her intolerance. I very much doubt we're going to see a fairytale ending here. 

We'd probably all like to see her skip off into the sunset holding hands with an African child but I think her beliefs are so deeply intrenched and the environment in which she lives in will hamper any potential attitude shift. 

The final installment is on tonight and I encourage you all to tell a friend. Preferable a racist friend... Ok that sounds wrong but you get the idea. 

8:30pm SBS.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Hello my name is Em Rusciano and I am a try hard. I've been a try hard since the age of 2, I tried to give up being a try hard during the 90's when it was cool to look homeless, I relapsed at the age of 17 upon meeting the head of my gay mafia Lyndon..

As you can clearly see everything about us screams effort.
At high school I was constantly called a try hard. At the time it was devastating. I enjoyed French, sport, dancing, art and English. So; of course, I felt the need to captain the debating team, hold arts and craft fairs, read French poems at assembly, perform dance routines at assembly and get trophies at assembly.

Because I crossed social group boundaries (Language nerd, jock, drama queen, art loser)The other kids didn't really know where to place me so I just got called a try hard, a lot.

I was pretty much left alone. Alone, by myself.  TO ACHIEVE. (Sorry that just burst out, obviously I'm still repressing a few things.)

It should be noted that only in Australia is "trying hard" considered a derogatory thing. In America they have parades for people who try hard. They give out medals and have public holidays. Here it makes you a loser; a tall poppy, someone that must be cut back down to mediocrity. 

Remember the inspiration story of Kurt Fearnly? The Australian para olympian who CRAWLED the treacherous 96km Kakoda trail. I bet; sitting in a a pub somewhere in Australia, a group of blokes caught that story on the news and one of them probably shouted "bloody try hard." Yes he did fictional group of blokes.YES HE DID! What a champion.

Why does the act of putting in effort make people nervous? Just because I like to hand sew sequins onto my bonds singlet and buy matching sets doesn't mean I think I'm better than you. 

Of course there are two types of try hards. One puts in contrived effort in an attempt to be something they're not and the other just tries hard. I'm only dealing with the latter.

In my adult life the trying hard has not lessened. If anything it has increased, so I have decided to reclaim that term and make it a positive thing.

Here are some more examples of me being a try hard (smiles- positive reinforcement people)

This is what my lounge room looks like. ALL THE TIME.
I hand made everything you see here for my cabaret show. HAND MADE IT bitches.

Christmas is a colour coded affair.

My husband says I am not a try hard he says I am anally retentive and should seek professional help. He's one of those effortlessly cool people. WE hate people like him. Hater. 

If you; like me, put loads of effort into everything you do. Stand proud my friend, stand proud. Just like Justin Bieber says: "Never stop trying." (I may have tweaked what JB actually says so that I could "tag" his name and get 1 million new hits. Having said that, look at HIS fringe - what a try hard.)

Em x

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Calling all ethicists!

Hello darlings.

I read an article today I want your genuine opinions on. I expect the comments section to be overflowing with intelligent and respectful arguments.

The article was entitled: "Bligh's backflip sees rapist go from zero to hero to zero."

We'll address the "reporters" choice of headline later.

Basically, a man who was convicted of rape and armed robbery 12 years ago was to be honored for his outstanding contribution to the volunteer clean up efforts in the flood effected areas of Queensland. This man went above and beyond driving thousands of kms over the past few months cleaning up houses and helping when needed. When the government sent out his invitation to an awards ceremony where he was to be honored, they were not aware of his criminal past.

Upon learning of his crimes the Premier's department director wrote to him and said: "It has now come to my attention that you have a serious criminal history. After discussing the matter with the Premier, I have decided that it would be inappropriate for you to accept this award and to attend the ceremony. I trust you can appreciate the reasons for this decision."

Well it seems he could not. This man went to the local press such was his distress at being snubbed by Anna Bligh.

After reading this article I was genuinely in two minds over what the "right" thing to do here was?
On one hand this man is a convicted rapist and I'm pretty sure his victim/s wouldn't feel he deserved to be honored in any kind of fashion. On the other hand he served 12 years in jail and claims to have turned his life around. He feels he deserves a second change and has paid for his mistakes. By all accounts his contribution during the floods and after was huge and selfless.

Then I go back to his victim/s and think they will never get a second chance. Being raped is something that I imagine would leave a permanent mark on your life forever.

I will now turn the discussion over to you lot. I'll moderate so try to keep it nice.

Does this man deserve a second chance? Should he be honored for the volunteer work he did? Did Anna Bligh do the right thing in rescinding the award and ceremony invitation?

Go forth and debate.


Friday, June 3, 2011

In Neeeeeeeew Yoooooork.

Man. I owe you all BIG. What a slack whore I've been.. Yes, WHORE. I deserve it.

Right now I'm sitting in my hotel room in Soho; looking out over a busy NY street, tapping away on my macbook.. "Big" should be pulling up any moment (although I always preferred Aiden) and I'm still a bit drunk from my boozy lunch with Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte. (Everyone thinks they're Carrie don't they.) This should be an epic moment for me, I really want it to be. It almost is except I'm on my 4th hour of an SNL marathon as I can't leave the hotel room due to all the ugly crying I've been doing..

Oh I'm hopeless. I'm George Bush at a meeting involving numbers. I'm a huge failure as a traveler my friends.

I thought I could be like Madonna in "Suddenly seeking Susan" and Sarah Jessica Parker and the Gossip girl cast all combined into one all powerful New York conquering goddess.. I'm trying to be. I've worn all my best tutus and sat in cafes but the truth is: I miss my kids and the dog and my husband. (Yes, maybe in that order. Of course not in that order. Maybe a little bit in that order.)

The last time we spoke I was wetting my pants over my upcoming show wasn't I? Jesus H, I gotta get my emotional shit together huh? Been working on that one for a good 10 years now.

My one woman show at the Butterfly Club could not have gone better. Turns out all that worry, sleepless nights, anxiety acne and excessive drinking was not required! The last two nights were a sell out and I've been invited to perform at the Melbourne cabaret festival. I'm taking the show to Perth in October and I will also be doing a return run in Melbourne later this year. Against all the odds people liked it.

A few days after the show finished I received a phone call from one of my producers at the 7pm Project. The conversation went a little like this:

"Ring ring" (That's my mobile phone ringing. I felt that was important to assist you all with the "theater of the mind" stuff)
Em: "Hello"
Producer Kelly: "Hi Em. We were hoping you would be interested in shooting another behind the scenes story on Master Chef next week."
Em: "Yes! I mean let me check if I'm free..(Fake checking of diary) Oh yes! Yes I am."
Producer Kelly: "Great. There's just one other thing.. We would need to send you to New York on Thursday."
Em: "Whaaaa? Shut up! SHUT. UP. (Panting, screaming etc)

So here I am.

In New York.

The one place I've always wished to come to and all I want to do is go home.

Booooooooooooooooo(breath)ooooooooooooooooooooooooooo to me. What a pathetic, un-grateful person I am.

I have been here a week. In that time I have achieved the following: (I'm not going to bore you all with the stories behind that list. I'll just use one word to describe each.)

1. Spent 24 hours vomiting. (Acidy)
2. Wallet Stolen. (Gutting)
3. Spent 2.5 hours with the NYPD (Frustrating)
4. Shot with the Masterchef kids. (Rad)
5. Visited the Met and the Alexander McQueen Exhibition. (Overwhelming)
6. Ground Zero. (Confronting)
7. Central Park. (Green)
8. Brooklyn. (Skatiehipster)
9. Greenwich Village. (Gated community)
10. Tribeca. (Rebuilding)
11. Walked the High Line. (Touristy)
12. Saw "Sleep no more"a cutting edge, multi-leveled total emersion play. (Witch-orgy)

Yes, if completing travel tasks were an Olympic sport I would be Flo Jo; you know, minus the excessive steroid abuse and heart attack stuff.

Don't get me wrong, New York has been great. I think I'd just built it up so very high in my mind and what with all the vommitting and the Grand Larceny-ing it all got a bit much.

Here are some happy snaps!


B.Dylan street art.

A friend of mine.

Preparing for McQueen.

Self explanatory.

Hipstermatic School bus.

McQueen paperweight.

I purchased everything related to the exhibition.

I was forced to buy some "sensible" shoes as the heels were shredding my feet.

The front cover of the McQueen exhibition book.

The masks we had to wear while watching "Speak no more".

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.

Hipstermatic Brooklyn.

Times Sqaure.
Walking the High Line.

I have 3 days left and in that time I fully intend to get my shit together and have an amazing time. Right now it's 9.22pm and I have ordered room service. Ferris Bueller's day off has just started and I am excited. Baby steps.

E x