Driving through Caloundra chatting on her mobile phone, Denise Drysdale explains that her staying power in Australian show business is because she’s up for anything. I’ll dress up in a bunny suit for Easter if they want, she says.
Her enthusiasm for the intrinsically daggy shines through again in her latest gig, hosting a series of five-minute interviews for TV1.
They’re little segments that are shown in between the shows, because they don’t use many ads, Drysdale says. They’re like sort of fillers, just asking people about summer and what they remember about their first summer and their first summer kiss, everything like that. It’s a really nice subject.
A preview tape of Cool Summer Of Love has Drysdale chatting with Kamahl on a tiny pastel set while giving him a massage.
They banter about the beach, before Drysdale expresses an interest in curries as a perfect summer food, because of heightened sweating. If you keep massaging me like that, Kamahl says, you can come over to my house and have curry anytime. You can carry on and my wife can curry on.
Chewing the fat with Mikey Robbins also gets sweaty, as they barbecue sausages. Robbins says he likes summer because he’s a big man -“ a jumping castle with nipples -“ so when he hits the sack with his wife, he’s like a big Wet ‘n’ Wild. She just slides off me into the wall, he says.
Through all of this, Drysdale gives her trademark giggle, as comforting as Vegemite in a foreign city.
Drysdale shouldn’t be appealing. She’s a throwback to a different TV era, when women were employed to be good-natured semi-bombshells, dizzy enough to embrace monikers like Ding Dong with grace.
What makes her register higher on the camp-o-meter than colleagues Victoria Nicholls, Jackie MacDonald or Delvene Delaney, is that she’s endured.
Her longevity might have been forged in Drysdale’s own childhood summers, the genesis of an ongoing showbiz work ethic. We used to do the six weeks of holidays doing pantomimes like Babes In The Woods or Cinderella. So I never had a holiday really, she says.
Panto in Port Melbourne in 1948. Now it all makes sense.