Saturday, January 30, 2016

Funeral

The funeral of Dame M's Boarder went well and as always you find out a little more about the person who died than you already knew. We did not know of his quite dysfunctional Tasmanian childhood, with him mostly being brought up by his grandmother in Scottsdale, although he was born in Campbell Town. He was separated for much of his childhood from his siblings. His grandmother was an excellent sewer and set his path for the future.

Like many young gay men who are too young to know they are gay, he had a hard time in those backward days. Like myself he was forced to play sport, especially football and also like myself, he would stay as far away from the action as possible and if the ball happened to come his way, he would go the other way.

In his late teens he moved to Launceston where he worked at a supermarket and also at Waverley Woolen Mills. In a moment of madness, he married but we were told the marriage was never consummated. He never divorced his wife and of course guess who turns up now with her hand out? He fled after a year to Melbourne where he found an accepting community and began work in fabric factories in Collingwood, learning various clothing trades by day, and attending RMIT classes by night to obtain professional qualifications.

He worked on costumes for a very long list of locally made films,  ballet, opera musicals, plays and other stage productions. He performed in a few productions. He later had an haute couture  shop in Albert Park where he designed and made dresses for the rich and famous. His final employment was imparting his knowledge and experience to uninterested students at Prahran TAFE.

Our Hairdresser Friend spoke about The Boarder/Jasmine on our behalf and she was terrific. Our Dyke Friend also spoke and she was good too. His family, from who he was estranged for a number of years, all made themselves known to us. While they knew The Boarder did drag, they did not know barely half of what he did. One of his brothers did not attend the funeral, I assume from disapproval. Our photos and stories have been a huge revelation to the family, who assumed he was just the mild mannered meek brother and uncle who may have occasionally slipped on a frock.

While the The Boarder was a quiet, serious and well mannered chap, his alter ego Jasmine was not. She was funny, slutty and outrageous. The Boarder drank beer. Jasmine drank pink champagne, through a straw of course.

About three decades ago, The Boarder met the love of his life, Dame M, and they formed a wonderful platonic relationship, though she was some thirty years older than he. They partied together, worked together on fashion, Dame M being one of two people in Australia who could operate a Cornelli French embroidering machine. Como House once put on an exhibition featuring Dame M's hands. They were atypical soul mates.

The Boarder looked after Dame M as you would a Mother who you were close to. I mourned the loss of our friend Dame M more than I did my father. The Boarder was never really the same after Dame M died. Jasmine performed for all of our significant birthdays, including at one of the many parties Dame M hosted, one time for R's niece's 21st birthday when she was visiting from England. After Dame M died, Jasmine performed for our Dyke Friend's 50th, her ex g/f 40th, a social occasion and lastly for Brighton Antique Dealer's 80th birthday, sadly who could no attend the funeral as she was on a cruise to New Zealand with her daughter.

Dame M left The Boarder about 2/3 of her estate. After her family contested the will, he received less than a third, still a decent amount. He moved to a huge older rented flat in Ripponlea and crammed it full of Dame M's furniture, innumerable sewing machines including Dame M's machines and fabrics. A lot of fabrics, many bought from Middle Eastern shops in Sydney Road.

For years he drove a very old beaten up Ford Laser. It was continually stolen but always came back, once very nicely cleaned and another time the police found a family living in his car. Just a couple of years ago he finally bought a new car, a Ford Kluger, which of course was immediately named The Cougar.

Like myself, I don't know that The Boarder ever had a good and close long time friend. I could not say he was my friend, but we mutually respected each other and that he knew he could trust us with Dame M without him being there was a compliment of the highest order. Here are a few snaps of Jasmine. All but about two are my photos and most of them taken at Dame M's.


I remember Mother's mumu being nicer than this one.









Dame M and Jasmine at her 80th birthday party.



What you can't see is that underneath that outfit was a large merkin that we all gradually noticed as the evening progressed.





Miami Barbie, I think.


These last two photos are from Brighton Antique Dealer's 80th birthday in August 2015. We have learnt that it took a supreme effort for Jazzie to perform on the night, given how unwell she was, but he had promised.



27 comments:

  1. Sounds like a life fulfilled.

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    1. Yes Marie, I doubt he has regrets.

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  2. A rich and colourful life - despite the early years. Hard to ask for more.

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    1. EC, in spite of his meekness, there was quite some strength in him to do what he did.

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  3. What a treasure to have those photos. Such wonderful memories, each of them I would imagine.

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    1. CM, except I mostly can't remember which occasion was which.

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  4. At least in the guise of Jasmine, the Boarder fulfilled many dreams.

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    1. He did indeed Victor, and we are better for having known him.

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  5. A well-balanced life, on the whole and she had what too few do: love.

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  6. The Boarder looks like a lot of fun.
    Merle.................

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    1. Merle, certainly in drag he was. Pretty quiet otherwise.

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  7. I see a pair of lovely slim ankles there. Looks like Jasmine was a fun person.
    Bit cheeky of the wife to turn up with her hand out.

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    1. River, I am not good at judging legs, but others said he had good legs. I really wonder if she will get anything.

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  8. You know some very colorful and interesting people. It's a pity the boarder died so young. He dressed up nicely as Jasmine. Really nice! I had to look up "merkin". In some ways, I wish I hadn't. Google images, you know.

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    1. Strayer, I knew someone would have to google merkin. The current fashion is for the opposite. God knows why you want fake hair there.

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  9. The good old days..
    Always find out something you don't know about a person at a funeral..

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    1. Margaret, you do and at times surprising things.

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  10. You may not have been his friend, but you made mutual respect go a long, long way. A fine tribute.

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    1. Kirk, it was very much mutual respect. He was closest to our hairdresser friend, but he even stayed an arms length from her.

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  11. She (or he) must have been a very special person with a big heart ! I admire people like this ! in the past to be homosexual was absolutely terrible to live ! Most of the famous fashion designers are homosexual and a lot of artists too. I have known the first homosexual couple in the 90th and they were very brave to live together, they had a lot of difficulties in daily life. I liked them they were such friendly warmhearted people.I mean it's nobodies fault when you are born outside of what is called "normal"

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    1. Gattina, that is interesting as perhaps, even though we don't have same sex marriage, R and have lived together for 36 years and never any serious problems with anyone. It may well depend on the type of area where you live.

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    2. What I meant is now it has not to be a secret anymore. Before homosexual couples lived together but nobody talked about it. The word "outing" is not very old ! In Belgium homosexual marriage is allowed. Strange statistics, ever since they can marry, they divorce more often than men/women couples !

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  12. Oh I loved this post Andrew. Jasmine/the Boarder was a brave soul to party on to the very end even though she was feeling so bad. How sweet the relationship with Dame M. Oh la! Some of the outfits were divine, made by h(er)imself I presume?

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    1. Grace, he made them all himself. He knew people in the right shops who would alert him if they thought a fabric or accessory was to his taste.

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  13. What a duo they must have been. Sad :(

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    1. Fen, it was the most extraordinary relationship, like no other I have ever known.

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