I caught up with performer / photographer / singer / motormouth Dean Arcuri to find out about his first time, the memories he has of the drag queens who performed there, and his most embarrassing make out story.
Find out more about Dean on Twitter
Dean Arcuri 00:00
It was honestly the most amazing space I missed version one of the Greyhound I loved going to version two. But for me there is nothing that takes me back more to a queer space than the sticky carpet of a venue seeing a drag show whether it’s a you know, a man in a dress just talking like this and then Joe and a number, but it just it there’s something. There’s something to be said for the rough and dirty ness of the spaces of the past. And the spaces of the future should just chill out a little bit more from being so clean.
K Anderson 00:40
I am Kenny Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, a podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories they created there and the people that they used to know. Dean Curie is kind of a bit of a powerhouse. He’s a performer both in and out of drag photographer, radio host singer, journalist and advocate and His focus is always on highlighting and sharing the diversity and joy of Australia’s lgbtqia+ communities. He left Melbourne to live in the UK in the mid naughties, and in the time that he was away. The Greyhound in St. Kilda, Melbourne went from being the backroom of a straight bar that was taken over by the gays every Saturday night to a fully decked out slick, full time queer venue. We caught up to talk about both incarnations of the pub and what Melbourne has lost since this space was knocked down for brand new apartments.
Dean Arcuri 02:12
So when you were living in Melbourne, what was the grey hand to you? I just want to get a picture so you can understand the difference parts of it, because there are two, two grey hands in my heart. Ah,
K Anderson 02:23
so I don’t think I went there that often. I think I maybe went there a handful of time.
Dean Arcuri 02:28
Well, I’ll be honest, I didn’t either. Like it wasn’t a go to or regular for me and a lot of different ways. But what was the space when you went there? Because there really is two grey hands. Two people who are listening.
K Anderson 02:41
Okay, so I think it was like, I mean, I want to use the word fusty. Like it wasn’t, it wasn’t a very kind of exciting place to go or anything. Did its was it painted white? Or was it the back room of a pub? It was like the back room.
Dean Arcuri 02:56
Okay, so you were there in the heyday? This was the highlight for me that I this is when I loved it.
K Anderson 03:03
Dean Arcuri 03:05
That was my youth. And and a portion of my adulthood that that for me was when the grey hand was its most iconic. It was when it was the back room. Amazing background like backroom seems wrong because, right. It was a nice big bar. But this was a straight pub in St Kilda that every Saturday night would be taken over by the queers. And it really was the Queen as you know, the carpet was sticky as fuck. And and it was absolutely not to anywhere. If you drop something on the ground, you did not pick it up. But it was amazing. And the drag shows were like nothing I’d ever seen before. And I still haven’t seen again and I just loved it.
K Anderson 03:46
Okay, so I didn’t realise this then too. At one point, it got taken over and became like a full time career bash.
Dean Arcuri 03:53
Well, yeah, the owners owners who bought the building then put the work in to really make it that quick club. And they spent a fortune like they did the most amazing job. The most amazing feat at eat was I’m trying to think of a good equivalent, but I don’t have it from a UK term of use. So these this is how I’m going to put it for anyone listening who’s in the UK. Imagine, remember, you know, that first episode of queers folk when they step into Babylon and the characters going, Wow, it’s so amazing. Blah, blah, blah. I know what I’m talking about. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they they did that. And messaging they talked this backroom space and made it they spent so much money to make it so that it was this big, open giant room, they took over the whole pub, and they really knocked it down and made it beautiful. They had an amazing stage state of the art performance space. And I mean like state of the art bands were booking this the this building to come and perform in it. It was amazing lighting. It was gorgeous. And it was a club before when you would come and you could sit around and have a drink and then get excited. For the drag shows, that was very much of its era that was very much built within its time in the 80s and 90s. And, and then in the naughties, they really took that step further, they wanted to be the go to query destination. And we had three places in the market down the road and commercial road and they wanted to match it as a club. And it became this amazing club. And it was wonderful like honestly that this the drag performance the cut their teeth on this stage really were lucky because they got that now they step into stage are so much smaller and so different, but they have the professionalism of working in what was a professional space. And it was amazing, like you would have to book it was all so when you remember the Greyhound is, is when I was experienced the Greyhound when I first stepped into it, you’ve got the long bar, the injury, then you’ve got the open little dance floor, all carpeted, and then this amazing stage, and suddenly, they bought the entire building and didn’t just take over the back bar. Got it the whole thing redesigned. It had a state of the art stage with amazing lighting and amazing sound, a great space for DJs and this was that they designed the club. It was something spectacular and amazing. It was just wonderful.
K Anderson 06:12
So so let’s not talk about this wonderful new club. Let’s talk about their crusty Okay, let’s
Dean Arcuri 06:17
go back to the old cuz cuz I love it. And I hate so many people don’t talk about the old one. Because for me, I honestly, if I had to choose between the two, it would always be the old one would never be the one. That what they made it into, I understand what they were trying to do. But to me, that’s also the beginning of the demise for the Greyhound. what it was for me before, but and that’s that was a long demise. Like I’m not saying that in a negative way. But I loved I kept my like, I grew up on a Saturday night I would be this kid that would get in a cab from Box Hill north and it would cost me $45 to go to the Greyhound. And I’d have no idea because I you know, like the thought of catching three trains, like two trains and a tram to go to a gay bar seemed ridiculous. So I just paid for the cab. And it was worth it. Because there was something friggin amazing about this space.
K Anderson 07:11
Okay, so then tell me about your first time did you show up in a cab?
Dean Arcuri 07:15
I did. I got the cab and I went with I was really lucky to have some amazing female friends who I think were just grateful to be able to go somewhere because they were they were a year or two younger than me and I was nearly 18. But luckily, because I’m Italian, I looked deeds about my prime. So no one was looking at my J. But I don’t think the security guard was worried about that in the first place. And I was lucky to go with a couple of friends and stepping into the space. That was just, it was you know, what I loved about it was the fact that it was older queers and younger queens like they were the twins who were not that I was a twink. But, I mean, it was the 90s we all look terrible. If I think about the fashion that I wore, it’s just wrong. I can’t just though I don’t know, I I look at I look at some of the things I want now and just went on. Look, I really didn’t know what I was doing. But I’m standing here I’m sitting here now in a rainbow t shirt.
K Anderson 08:11
And I think if you give it five or 10 years, you’re gonna look back at that and be like, wow, I was the shit.
Dean Arcuri 08:19
Like I, I was garish. But it was it was there was something amazing about it. Because unlike a lot of other spaces that I went to where you could, there was a specific type to the space. You know, we had the lead that had a specific type of male diva bar had a very nother type. So did exchange. And everyone would always end up at three phases. But Greyhound was one of the places where the and I realised is the first time I went where you had that old gay man sitting on the corner, you have the bar, you had the younger guys, but the thing about it was everyone knew each other. It’s even if everyone didn’t like each other, everyone knew each other. And there was some universal comfortableness about it that I just loved. You know, I didn’t feel out of place, which, which was wonderful. Because you know, as a young kid, you feel at a place everywhere. As a young gay guy stepping in with some of these female straight friends. We’re pretty much just there as moral support and grateful to be able to get into a bar, you know, you’re there just like Whoo. But there was something about the space that it really felt like everyone was just there, and you were just laughing. And even if everyone knew a little too much about each other, it was still great.
K Anderson 09:37
You’ve hit on something kind of interesting. I’d like to explore a bit more and in that there are or at least in the past there definitely was lots of bars where that kind of Well, I guess yeah, the community was very segregated. And there was so many bars. Like for me, I felt there were tonnes that I was just Started place. And you know, everyone was very Twinkie, everyone was very muscley, or everyone was very this. And those bars were there was that mix was such a relief. And, and so comforting.
Dean Arcuri 10:14
I don’t know if it was a relief for me because I don’t know I, I am a mixed bag. So I could step into a space and there was something there for me even when, look, I wait even when people don’t say that I belong somewhere, which I still get here and there, if that’s their problem, not mine. But this is one of the things where the grey hand was special for me in the Incarnation that we’re talking about is because it really was. And and I don’t want to say it in a disrespect to any of the other spaces to say that they weren’t community spaces, because they were like, this, these energy that I’m talking about that exists everywhere. I just didn’t realise it. As a young kid, I just didn’t realise it or see it. Because I, I had my blinkers on when I stepped into these spaces. But for me, the grey hand was that space. Going into that back room, I saw standing there watching these amazing drag shows. And when I say amazing, it was these full on production shows that they did for a period of time, it was so wonderful. And and it was the fact that you had every different age group, every different gender, and everyone was just having a good time. And it was the first time I realised that we didn’t have to feel segregated at a space like that. Because as a young kid, all you do is kind of you think when you go into this space, you have to act a certain way. You have to wear a certain thing. Like God, how many years does it take us all to finally realise we don’t have to be that way. Some people are still trying to figure it out. You know, we there’s not what anyone who says I seven spaces not being like that I will frankly believe is bullshitting. Because no one walks in completely confident no one knows what they’re doing. We were all just confused at the end of the day. But this when they change the space, when they renovated it, I honestly was like a part of what that meant to me and what they meant to so much of the community I think was lost. And even then they made something truly wonderful. That was great. And I’m not saying it wasn’t it. What was amazing and special about this was this was a straight pub with a back room that was turned into a gate for years. And it was it was really this this queer space for everyone to come and be and see exceptional drag shows, like Klan choreograph done multiple group numbers, not just one person to an address, drop and going yas queen or anything like that. Like it was it was the gay version of amateur theatre. And you got to dance to some great music like it was a Saturday night. That would make me happy. And I wish we still have that now.
K Anderson 12:51
Okay, so what I want to find out about these drag shows, but before we get to that, yet, I want to better understand why you think that that sense of community was lost when the place was renovated.
Dean Arcuri 13:07
When they changed what the space was dragging around, the people were still coming. But now that it was suddenly this big, open, flashy thing. It was about having to fill a venue when the same number of people that were in the back room was suddenly there. And we were standing in an open nightclub. And when I eat the difference was you’re looking at a room that looks like the bar in EastEnders, you know what I mean, with a stage two, just to be darker to a full on nightclub. So suddenly, it wasn’t the mix of ages anymore. Like the older people were there, but they didn’t feel comfortable. The younger people were kind of yea yea, gay, a lot of fags or just a lot of hands parties, suddenly it changed. And I’m not saying they weren’t there before. But there was a level of control and respect. You knew you were stepping into a certain type of space. You know, you were stepping in to a space that was for the queer community and it still was but you were stepping into a club and it was a different energy and and for me it lost that bit of its soul that that I think is amazing. You know the began the pub that kind of, there’s something about being in a pub where you can still talk to people, you know, you can still socialise with them, but when you upscale your venue to a club, and you take away that part of it, and I’m not just talking about this, the G h now, anyone that does it when you take away the part that really allows people to connect, other than just staring at each other across the dance floor and drunkenly Maggie and you take away so much of what makes our communities connect and click Yeah, because we are more than that.
K Anderson 14:48
Yeah, not that there’s anything wrong with drunkenly making out on it. No God I wish I had more god. I’m so the friends that you went with that first time. The first few times I guess, I’m really interested in learning more about them. I had a similar kind of experience like so when I was growing up, I only really had female friends. I didn’t really have male friends. And so when I started going to queer clubs, it was like, Do you want to come with me?
Dean Arcuri 15:21
I was really lucky. I am looking at I had both male and female friends, but going out, like who’s gonna who’s gonna care? I was really lucky to the female friends that I was really closest to. I’m one of them. I still I’m really close with, where a year below me in your levels, we were part of two different a male and female school that did musicals together. And we just don’t really know. What’s funny.
K Anderson 15:47
Did musicals together. Sorry. Oh, yeah,
Dean Arcuri 15:50
carry on. That’s that’s how our friendship was formed. But that will music like they weren’t fun musicals like Pippin, though they were carousel or like, it was just what there’s a reason we formed friendships outside of very boring musicals. That’s how the schools would be like, we’re putting on a musical everyone hanging out, the musical was boring. So we actually became really great friends. That’s pretty much how it rolls. But. And I was really lucky, because the three main friends like there was a couple of others, none of my male friends, like, when I came out to one of them, the first thing he said was, so does this mean, you’ll start wearing women’s clothing. And everyone was like, dude, like he said, he’s gay, he’s not transsexual, but it was just like, yeah, you know, boys will be boys. And they were just, these were actually the girls that knew I was gay before I told them. And when I told them, they, their response was, and then we just kept on hanging out and doing whatever. But yeah, it was just three friends of mine who were kind of like, what they would do is, they were trying to help me because they were like, We want you to be able to go and enjoy yourself, they had boyfriends and stuff. And they were just like, we want you to be able to be and rather than just going we’ll drop you out off at the front of the gay bar and just do whatever, they just come in with me, we actually loved going to diva bar, that was where we would end our night because it was I don’t know why but we just would. But it was really wonderful to have this little group of friends that were good enough in the prime of their, their female lives to be able to go we’re gonna check a section of time to take them to gay bars, because otherwise, I would have to be honest, every time I went there, I tried to I hooked up with guys where I did things with guys, they were just interested in sex. guys weren’t interested in going, let’s go to a gay bar and see what it’s like, I put a big effort now into people that even on the apps and stuff who were like, Oh, I don’t know what to do. And I’m like, what, come and meet me for a beer here or come in and drink coffee for me here or whatever, because I never had that. You know, I never have that in the kind of space. I’m really lucky, I had these girlfriends that were willing to do this with me. And when they were over it because they were 18 and wanted to live their own lives. They were over and it was fine. And I had to find my own feet. But I’m really grateful for the fact that I had friends that were you know, and I mean, there was the added bonus of them being under a cane and being able to get into places because the security guard was looking at the men and other women. But the truth is that really they were just coming along and having me irony that when they were trying to help me find other people to socialise with, I was too busy having a good time with them to care. So there’s something wonderful and special about that.
K Anderson 18:24
Well, I was gonna say like all those extra sets of eyes looking out for men for you. That’s quite exciting. And
Dean Arcuri 18:30
you know what, though? It is in theory, but I found every time people try to set me up with someone I’m like, What are they talking about? Why Why do you think I mean, because that there is something wonderful about that. But also there is something I think there’s great, something wonderful about the queer spaces were in there are always people looking out for other people. And I think that’s really wonderful.
K Anderson 18:53
So drag shows, let’s talk about them. You’ve talked about them being full on spectacular production. Can you remember any in particular that you want to talk about?
Dean Arcuri 19:03
He’s, I can’t, I can see the visuals and I can see Sue Ridge performing and Miss candy. But is there just one I know and this is what’s. So for me, these drag shows were like nothing I’d ever seen before, not just because they were drag shows. But but they were put together, they were matching costumes, they were set numbers, they would do a run of a show for a period like you would get six weeks of one show. And now if there were six weeks of one show, the first week we’d see the drag queen strap it up and everyone laugh and it’s cute and fun. The second week, they might get it right by the third week. If you’re still watching they get it perfect. And then you don’t need to watch it for the next three weeks. And you might be standing in the gun in the bar, but you’re not paying attention because you’re seeing them done at once. These were put together shows with multiple numbers, costume changes, group numbers, solos, telling a story And, and and what’s hard is, is the one I remember No, but I remember the space. I remember the costume changes, I can see it also clearly in my mind’s eye, even as I’m talking to you right now. And that was when I was just like, Oh, this is performing like, and it was. And the beauty of it was, you could tell that it wasn’t just the drag queens quickly changing their outfits they were, they were cut sets, there were amazing costumes. They were calm. There were people backstage, changing the lighting, there was a team that made this happen. And and I’m not saying that doesn’t happen now. But But these numbers amaze productions, that were just I don’t know if I can talk on and on about them and say nothing, because they were.
K Anderson 20:46
So then tell me about some of the performers. You’ve mentioned, Sue Ridge are merely I just got that, Oh, I didn’t get
Dean Arcuri 20:57
the hard thing for me. And I feel bad because I wish I had actually written down some, some of those beforehand is because a lot of the performance who I’ve watched in the show, many of them aren’t with us anymore. And I feel bad right now because I I can’t list them off by name. And I’ve also had a bit to drink. That’s possibly why as well, because you know, I’m in Australia right now. So it’s late at night. But um, yeah, it’s a very different space. And I’m carry luggage is another one. Yeah.
K Anderson 21:29
So was there like, head drag queen?
Dean Arcuri 21:33
What’s there was put on it know who they were? depending on who you talk, she could tell you this, oh, it was this or it was that or it was another? Like there was the core team. And then there were the people that were around that. Remember, I was also I was I was very young, like, I can have more knowledge about what exists now. Oh, yeah. Yeah, but But yeah, like for me like it because I’d never really became friends with any of them that happened later in
K Anderson 21:57
my life. So then, do you feel that the bar had its own kind of distinct style of drag?
Dean Arcuri 22:06
It was a show, you know, when you look at the beginning of the film, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and there’s all those type of drag queens in there waving out the front of the bus and that kind of thing. It was that kind of show, whether it’s a distinct type of drag. And I think as time has gone on, people have become more comfortable dividing what drag is for God knows what reason because it it’s a validity that they want. But it was a show, it was a drag show, whether it was one person doing a number or three doing a number. The production levels were just as high. And I think that’s one of the things I loved about it. Like no one stepped onto that stage, not giving it their all and and no one just rang it even if you weren’t up to scratch you weren’t on. And at least that’s from I felt like I was watching a show that you’d seen a theatre and I because the energy and level you could tell that I rehearsed they put all this work in, it was just there. And and it was all inspiring. Like it really was. It was just wonderful to say, I’m not that not that. And now I’m concerned because not that it’s a disrespect to anyone in any space or place that does it now. But we don’t have as many venues that will allow and put that level of space and work into commitment and support. Drag artists and drag performers to help them put that much work and level into what they do. Like I don’t think anywhere. I don’t know if anyone does you tell me he’s telling me I’m wrong. But But things changed in the 90s things changed. And it’s the performance that have to keep dragging it along. Maybe it was the same thing back in that day, but you didn’t notice.
K Anderson 23:45
And yeah, there’s also something about the like drag at that time in Australia because post Priscilla, there was a lot more kind of attention and investment in uniform.
Dean Arcuri 23:58
There’s something it’s that funny thing I always love hearing how both like film a box talks about film a box talks about
K Anderson 24:08
straight away. Just want to put that out there.
Dean Arcuri 24:12
And also is an amazing performer talks about Priscilla is watching that movie made them realise there’s something for me. And that style and art form of drag. Yeah, like like, like what RuPaul drag race is now to so many young people. For me that was saying these shows, you know that was seeing a show at the Greyhound. And it didn’t mean I wanted to get up and do drag but I wanted to perform. I wanted to be like them, like they were holding our attention the whole room and and it was like a mini amateur Theatre on a Saturday night. And then 20 seconds later in a different outfit and in a different number.
K Anderson 24:52
And it’s this whole thing of flipping, flipping all of the things that you have been And bullied or ostracised about and celebrating them, isn’t it? Yeah, and having that permission and and having a room for the people celebrate you for the things that have always been pointed out as your weaknesses or your flaws?
Dean Arcuri 25:16
Yeah, I think it’s also that we we make that space as well for it. Like, there’s always something about these spaces where we feel welcome because we feel we’re so unwelcome in others because of the mindset that whether we or other people put us in, and the boxes we make ourselves fit in. And there’s something really wonderful and amazing about these spaces. Because these are just people creating what they can, but what they give us is something so huge. Yeah,
K Anderson 25:45
yeah. Okay, so Okay, this, let
Dean Arcuri 25:50
me get figure out this timeline, you moved to totally London for five years, then you came back by this point, had it changed from completely, it had completely changed, so I wasn’t there. I wish I’d been there. For the last. I wish I’d been able to go one last time. But when I came back jachin completely changed. gh was a club now, a beautiful club, an amazing club, it’s now apartments, it breaks my heart. But it had completely changed to a massive nightclub. And in doing that, it was a good place for people to go to at the end of the night. But no one wants to start their night in a nightclub and then stay there all night. And that’s the thing that people forget. And so why do you bring that up? Because when you change your venue to highlight one aspect and not another, I think things are up. Well, there’s levels to this now. So I’m gonna dive into it. The thing about the spaces that we have them, they mean different things to different people. And when and we’ve had a couple of different venues in Melbourne that have transformed from a bar, or a pub into a club. And the thing with that is that is a massive change, bar and pub invites conversation club does not. And a lot of people don’t realise just what an impact and difference that makes to our queer spaces. Being able to talk, being able to actually connect, having a room not just a pool table, sitting on a side somewhere and hoping that you can hear the music over the DJ, but taking away that quiet space for us to talk. Because the queer spaces that we have, like the one thing gh shore, it had a they changed it. So there was a front room that was a kitchen where they did trivia on weeknights, and stuff. But the reality was that what they took away was this, this huge social aspect, because it was suddenly a clubbing one. So the only way you could connect with people was longing glances on a dance floor making out on a podium or in in a very small smoking area. It doesn’t mean I didn’t love it. And it wasn’t great. And it wasn’t wonderful. But we we often forget this about our LGBTI QA spaces is that they are so much more than that one note. But when they cheer towards one way and not another, when you take that away, suddenly you take away a whole chunk of what the space means for people. And it’s hard. Can you imagine being a business owner and having to be having this space running the space thing you doing? Okay, changing direction because it’s good for your business, or something exciting for your business and new, but realising and this is the hard thing with a lot of lgbtqia+ spaces. Some people just want to come and be in them to be around other queer people. And while that’s great, it doesn’t keep a business afloat. So they’ve got to keep the business going in one way, but it really carves out a chunk. For me, I love any space, I can talk to people in and just get me wrong. I love clubbing I love it. But why am I in a cloud before 10 o’clock at night. And the problem then becomes when 90% of their business happens earlier, or at least 50% or 30% of your business happens earlier when you cut that out. And it all relies on people being there at 1011 or 12. Suddenly, you’ve changed the landscape of what you’re in. And, and it’s hard as well, because I often wonder the pressure you must have for being a person opening gay bar or a lesbian bar or whatever, identify find, because suddenly you have to be this thing for everyone all the time. And gh went from one of those spaces that was that to something different. And plenty of people still supported it, but whether it was for them or not, because we wanted it to still be what it was, but I went plenty of times where I just didn’t enjoy it. But I was there. You know, it was I was supporting it. But I didn’t enjoy myself anymore and it just changes what it is. But maybe it wasn’t for me anymore. And that’s okay.
K Anderson 29:55
Yeah, I mean, there is this weird thing that like if you’re an owner of a queer space You have this benefit of having kind of a more engaged community? Well, it’s more
Dean Arcuri 30:09
than a negative. Well, yeah, I was gonna say theory. But I think it’s one of the funny things where everyone assumes that they have ownership of your business. Yeah. Because it’s their space, is that that funny catch 22 of, and we find this as we’ve lost, like when we lost the G hedge the outcry we had, when the G H, the owners went were were done with it. It’s being turned into apartments, and there was outcry, there was a petition for its return into a heritage building. It’s not that there was outcry. The thing that’s funny about it all was all the people that have cried about it, if they’d actually showed up and spend some money, well does difference, maybe the owners wouldn’t have changed it. But they didn’t come anymore. So but they’re more than happy to complain. So it’s this catch 22?
K Anderson 30:53
Yeah, absolutely. So the thing that I’ve kind of been exploring with the series, and then the conversations I’m having is that, yeah, it’s really sad when these places close because they mean so much to people and that they’re, you know, it’s it’s history. And it’s, it tells our story. But at the same time, things do change.
Dean Arcuri 31:17
And I mean, I think it’s that funny thing, like we said, it’s history. But But here’s the thing with history, the only way it can be history is for you to let it go.
K Anderson 31:29
Dean Arcuri 31:31
Well, the only way it can be history is for you to leave it behind, you’ve got to let it go and leave it behind. So at some point, we’ve all got to drop it a little bit more. And that’s the hard thing with these spaces that they’ve been this for us. But I think what a lot of people forget is the only reason we have these spaces, is because a couple of people with one or two people said I want to build a venue. And they don’t realise these venues built up the back of one or two people at the most no one, no one is this dedicated to the pizza place they go down the road to or the place where they get their fish and chips from. Like, if it goes, you’ll be disappointed for queer spaces, we have this onus and like this ownership to when it comes to all this attention that we put into it. Except for you know what, then we can put our own money behind it. If we care that much. We could if they want to sell it, let’s buy it off them. I know I’ve tangent a little bit. But it’s that funny thing where it is a huge part of our history. And it is disappointing. But the thing about history is at some point, you’ve got to remember it’s behind you. I don’t know You sound a little sad in that. But you’ve just said
K Anderson 32:38
I just yeah, I guess I feel a bit. I’m just not sure how I feel about how I feel about it. Oh,
Dean Arcuri 32:46
can I tell you I feel bad each and every time I feel lost? I know I sound really pragmatic about it. But even this conversation that we’ve been having about the jury has to tell like it’s upsetting to me. Because it’s a space that Madden is part of who I was. It helped me form a part of who I am as a performer and as a gay man, but also it’s just part of this awful thing called life. And I think for he is what’s hard is where people are we don’t have these same constructs and touchstones that that straight people or unnecessarily stray people. I don’t want to boxing accordingly. But you know what, they hit a point that there’s in theory, marriage, children, a white picket fence, this that or the other, these touchstones that force them to change their lives. When we change our lives as queer people, it’s because we want to be in a relationship doesn’t mean getting married, doesn’t mean we have to fit into a heteronormative lifestyle. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean we have to be with just one partner. Having a successful job. And being a lawyer or a politician, doesn’t mean we can’t go out clubbing every time, we don’t sit within the same construct of a heteronormative space, which I think is why you feel the same energies regards to these venues because they shouldn’t fit within the space either. Except they do. They sit within the same space of someone built them up. Someone put them there and when someone’s over it or wants to move on, they do. And if no one steps in and does what they do, then that’s where we are. And that’s a part I guess I just go unless I’m going to step in and spend the money and build the business. I can’t complain even though it kills me every single time we lose one.
K Anderson 34:34
Yeah, yeah, I guess there’s some thing about physical spaces not being replicated, like so, you know, there’s not necessarily a physical space popping up to replace it. But there are other things and other ways people are connecting.
Dean Arcuri 34:55
I think there’s this really interesting space that we’ve had in the past 12 years or pop up queer spaces or queer spaces that aren’t necessarily defined by the venue. And it’s something that excites me so much. But what would excite me a little bit more is if the people that are putting this energy and time and space into it because they, they are putting the work in on so many different levels for generating the social media, generating the community, getting people to come to a party, and I’m like, you are exactly what these people were who went, I want to build the GH. I want to make this I want to do this night at a venue. And I’m hoping they’ll start to funnel it into more foundations so that we can have more spaces, not less.
K Anderson 35:45
What was that gonna ask? I haven’t asked about any of your making out stories. Oh, my God, there are so many. So wait, what is the most embarrassing one go?
Dean Arcuri 35:58
Whoa, that implies that I’m embarrassed by my people. I don’t have any embarrassing making out story. Can I tell you my most memorable one though, is as long as it’s fun. I don’t have a thing is go What’s my most embarrassing making out story has an embarrassing my house story. You should be ashamed with that. I’m asking seriously. People had embarrassing making.
K Anderson 36:24
I mean, it might not be the making out itself. Like you know, I mean, other than if someone picks up in the middle of it. But the you know, I don’t want someone peeking in my mouth. But I’ve never you know, just the the story around it and not necessarily they’re making out itself.
Dean Arcuri 36:42
I don’t know God, no one’s ever asked me. I’ve never paid that much attention to when I’ve never had an embarrassing making out story. Like, for me a snog is the most liberating thing. It’s the most comfortable thing. And it’s the most beautiful thing. So the thing that bears an embarrassing, like, if someone Oh my god, just even now that you’ve sent it to someone. like yeah, that I’m terrified at the thought of it. But what’s an embarrassing one? I’ve never even had a moment where someone’s made out with me. And two seconds later Pewds but I think they may have done it privately. Oh, no, I don’t know. I’m trying to think. Now I can scratch in my mind after we leave. But yeah,
K Anderson 37:23
scratch embarrassing. Just you take us where you’re gonna take us making out?
Dean Arcuri 37:30
Oh, okay, I’m making out story. I don’t know when I think of one of the founders spaces I’ve made out with someone. And it was really lovely and hot and wonderful. And it was after I was working like crazy. There is nothing better than my hair in a doorway. There’s no but there’s something wonderful about it. Because you have this frame that I know from a distance it at least frames you physically while you’re doing it with someone. And then I made out with a friend of mine once. Maybe he made out with me a little lower than my mouth. But we’ll leave that they’re made out with a friend of once in the doorway of the lead hotel. And it was hot and lovely and wonderful. And I just done karaoke. And I thought it was awesome. It was great. And then we got into UberX. And I was like, Okay, great. Thanks. He’s later done it. I got home. And then the next day, I got a joyful call from the owner of the venue saying Aren’t you have a good night last night? Yeah, it was wonderful. To enjoy yourself. Well, yeah, no, I had a good time. And then they sent me a clip of myself on the security camera not realising the door is obviously a place where the security cameras, I mean hour and a half worth of footage of out making out, which we did for the whole time. So that was good fun.
K Anderson 38:43
Well, and so no one needed to use the door.
Dean Arcuri 38:46
Was it? Well, the venue would close. So I was literally it was there’s something beautiful about a doorframe in both to lean against and also the way it frames you as taxis a driving path. So there’s something wonderful to be thought about that. And I didn’t think about it and we had a really like you know, when it’s just one of those hot passes. We just it’s animalistic, wonderful. It’s the end of the night. And it’s just like a thumbs up and it’s all good. And then once it was all john, and I’m talking about an hour later, we get into a cab and we’re all good. not realising we were the perfect framework, both in lighting and in framing for the security camera, and they make gifts they have such a fun time with it. That the venue thought it was hilarious and I used to put it in video clips on the VA in the venue.
K Anderson 39:34
You’ve made it that’s
Dean Arcuri 39:36
all Yeah, that was my snogging my mic in the doorway if that’s the highlight of while they’re not suddenly downhill from
K Anderson 39:48
there any snogging stories in the ground since that’s what we’re here to talk about.
Dean Arcuri 39:53
I don’t I mean I did but nothing that makes for me because it’s hard for me because the Greyhound for me was before For the grey hand that is in my heart was before I left for the UK, which was so long ago, I made up with a lot of people in the grey hand before, actually less in the grave hand before then the grey hand after like I was still very young, and I was not making out with someone at that stage in my life like 18 1920 that was like, are we in a relationship now? Like, I had no fucking idea what I was doing. So I was like, is that what we’re doing? Like? So I was the more timid person. So I’d make out with someone and be like, whoo, I’ve made it. Then the week after when they saved me. They’d be like, Hi. And I’m like, okay, we’ve been dumped. No idea what I was doing. But
K Anderson 40:38
that’s heartbreaking. Isn’t there when you
Dean Arcuri 40:41
know, because you’re just like, No, no, he’s I don’t know. Like, I Alright, look. So here’s the backstory of me. I’ve said it enough podcast, I can say now, I started figuring out who I knew who I liked man at the age of age. I knew I was attracted to men by the age of 12. Because I was a chameleon. I looked a lot older. So I went to a brothel to make sure I wasn’t bisexual. And at 12, they were like, yeah, okay, but I didn’t look at. And they were like, you are not of age. This is not okay. But I’ve never had a better mo more sex positive conversation with women in my life than the rent. And it was like, a school holidays. And the entire day, I just spoke to women who worked as sex workers, the madam of the place everything. And I’ve never felt more reassured about who I was, or how I was, or smartly, responsibly figuring out what I could do, or how then in that moment, and then, sure, I went to beats, which, if you’re in the UK, is what are they called? cottages. And that was me from the age of 12, where I figured out what I liked and what I didn’t, I had some relationships that I thought were relationships, when in fact, they were just people who were couples trying to avoid each other. So that had sex with me. And the reality was, by the time I hit 18, like I had done a lot of stuff, a lot of stupid stuff. I’ve done a tonne of stupid stuff. So I was just looking for a real connection. So when I made out with someone, so when you go, Oh, that’s really sad, I made out with someone it was because that was the relationship or connection I understood about gay men, or sex or anything was physical. And this is why when I talk about a place like the G H, and the connection seeing older men, and I mean, older man, like 40s 50s 70s, I was a 19 year old kid, these diverse range of people in the space just talking. There was no other place like this for me. You know, there was no other place that showed me that people could be happy and comfortable. You look at that as being sad. I look at that as being me not paying attention making out with someone and then going, Oh, well, they know, okay, interested the week after, because that’s what you do when you’re young, but actually coming back to the same place, seeing the older people having the older people go, Oh, well, that’s what he’s like having a laugh. And then also, we’ll just chilling out having a drink. And I’m watching a drag show. That was my quick community. That’s where I learned what my community was. And that bat, I can never take back. Like, I miss us. It’s funny that we’ve gone from one extreme to another, because I’m was when we were talking about snugs and my hat missing it so much. But the connection that I had to that was purely physical, but the connection of my community, that that’s all about the places.
K Anderson 43:28
Yeah, and so maybe my sad comment was misinterpreted, I think it’s like, I’m not judging you. I’m just, you know, like, just clearing it up. There is that thing that and you’ve just said it yourself? Is that like, when you’re coming to terms with your sexuality, there is that external message from society that like, Oh, so if you’re gay, then the only way you can connect is sexually because that’s all we see you as, like this,
Dean Arcuri 44:01
or not, we think it’s that but if you’re gay, you’re going to die alone.
K Anderson 44:08
Or you’re gonna die because of sex. And yeah, it’s that you’re not going to get anything. Yeah. But and so going to, like, go into your first queer places or go, you know, going out and meeting other queer people. There is this thing about like, oh, finally, I can have this kind of sexual connection. And this, this
Dean Arcuri 44:29
is not funny, where we spend this huge portion of our time, it’s sexual and social and figure out what the company is with that. And that was my entire 20s trying to figure out what that was. And you’re right there is this comfort in that that’s just like, wow, I’m okay. Like it’s okay. And we hold that connection to the spaces where we even when we realise that so it is really sad when we lose them because whether it gets torn down and turned into another building or whether it changes we’ll get sold it Because that’s the space that I realised a part of who I was. And that means so much, so much more to, like, I know plenty of people that don’t understand what I’m saying, but it means everything on so much.
K Anderson 45:13
But it’s almost like school as well. Isn’t that like a majority of your heterosexual counterparts at school? kind of got to figure that out at school? And you didn’t have that
Dean Arcuri 45:25
figured out at school? But he’s an interesting point. All right, I’m gonna get a personal question. We got you. Did you ever do bait slash cutter cottaging at all in your life? Not when I was like a kid. Okay, that’s and that’s fine. No, no, no, not Yeah. Sorry. Do you ever go back and visit those spaces that are not a no longer needs. As in the gun? Well, they’re not any more like, but but their toilets at the end of the day, like I can still go and do my
K Anderson 45:57
thing about these toilets necessarily.
Dean Arcuri 46:01
Happy to come back there, believe me. You’ll need another podcast for me to talk about me being a Bates. But, but I like going back to them. And and I’m not going back to do what I did before. Because that was a period of my life, a period of this, that’ll be about. That’s a whole year, you’re going to need to know the podcast for that. But I like to go back to it. Even if I’m just sitting on a journey and remembering some experience that I have in that space. I know we all laugh, but
K Anderson 46:29
where Danny? So there’s a few words. Like I haven’t heard that word in a long time. So Pash and Danny, I’m like, Oh, yes. Sitting on it, Danny,
Dean Arcuri 46:40
these are the spaces. Yeah. But the it’s one thing. But these whether it’s sitting on a Johnny on a dance floor, on a podium in a big gun in the corner, no one noticing you in the bar with or the pub with the sticky carpet, wherever it may be, it’s the place where you remember that moment, or you remember being seen or you remember anything. And those moments are so important. They’re important to everyone, but to queer people there. They’re the seminal moments that helped make shape and change who we are. And we’re so lucky, even though we don’t think it at the time because we understand who we are. And we get to express ourselves outside of the box that society puts us in, and the spaces that give us that energy, to be okay to open that part of the flower of who we are or to liberate that part of ourselves. We need to celebrate just as much and that’s why a great, I think it’s great that you’re doing it here on this podcast and remembering them. I think it’s wonderful.
K Anderson 47:43
Thank you, um, like what you’ve just said, the flower of who we are.
Dean Arcuri 47:48
I was we were stripping too much into a blooming flower rose, but I don’t know, go a lot of different ways. But it’s true, because these spaces did that though. Like, it’s not just about this moment, I realised that I like Duke or whatever. Like, it’s that excitement, it’s the butterflies, it’s kissing, making out with a person and realising they’re a dickhead. But these are the spaces that did things for us. And, and, and allowed us those spaces to be who we are. And we don’t get like the, you know what’s good that we celebrate, remember, and remember those is because you know what these places are made off of the hard work of other people. But we don’t just get them like straight people, heterosexual people. You just get it because there’s the presumption of it left and right. We get it because of the work of other people. And we’re lucky that we get sec advantage of it. Mike, we really do.
K Anderson 48:43
Did you ever go to the Greyhound? Well, if you did, I would love to hear from you. Tell me your stories and share any photos through social media. You can find me on most platforms with the user name K Anderson music. You can also find out more about Dean on Twitter. Follow him at Dean our curate easy right. Last basis is not only about cost, but a concept record as well. I’ve been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the next year. You can hear the first single well groomed boys, which is also playing underneath my talking right now on all good streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I’d really appreciate if you subscribe, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told people who you think might be interested in hearing it too. That’d be great. I am K Anderson and you’ve been listening to lost spaces.