Bob Downe’s latest tour, Viva Bob Vegas, hit the east coast of Australia on the 8th of May, and will finish up in Melbourne on the 30th, just in time for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival where he will be co-hosting Adelaide Tonight in June!
During the phone call with the delightful Bob Downe, otherwise know as the equally delightful Mark Trevorrow, it was interesting to hear that while he grew up in a house full of musical people, he was far more interested in reporting and journalism, than putting on a show.
“No, I was obsessed about journalism! I didn’t know I was going to be an entertainer, it was really strange. I wanted to be a journalist from when I was a really little kid, I used to make my own little newspapers and magazines. I was at The Sun for nearly five years, straight out of school but it was while I was doing my cadetship there that I discovered that there was something that I was much more obsessed about, which was show business!”
THANKYOU BRIZ VEGAS! What a welcome you gave us for the opening weekend of Viva Bob Vegas! #twelfthnighttheatre …now for the Gong! @merrigongtheatreco bobdowne.com
“And so the combination of interviewing actors and directors and doing stories about plays and show business and then doing the pop column for The Sun in Melbourne (now The Herald Sun), I was meeting and interviewing everybody!”
“Tina Turner, Roy Orbison, Sting, Bette Midler, George Benson… I mean it was just outrageous who I was meeting and of course, it was the absolute peak of Countdown, it was the absolute peak of Australian pop music, which was going through the roof!”
Top 20 hits, thanks to Michael Gudinski!
When asked about how the two singles he had in the early days as part of the cabaret duo, The Globos, came about he tells a pretty delightful story that includes the late, great Michael Gudinski.
“Before we knew it, because of my connections as a journalist, I knew all the publicists and I was friends with a publicist at Mushroom and I convinced them that Tintarella di luna was a great song to cover and they convinced Michael Gudinski. He didn’t wanna do it but they hammered him with it, they would just continually play it in the big open office at Mushroom until he finally said ‘alright, just to shut you up, stop playing it, alright they can record it!’”
“And it was a f-ing hit and then we were hosting Countdown!”
Homophobic attitudes to start with
The character of Bob Downe came along at a time when open flamboyance was in short supply for men and when asked, Trevorrow mentions he was on the receiving end of some homophobic attitudes when he started.
“In the early days absolutely! I’ve had some really rough gigs in the early days when I went solo in the late 80’s and early 90’s in Australia and the UK because of course here, I was the only gay in the bloody village! Me and Molly Meldrum! And he wasn’t even out!”
And how about now?
“It’s been a long, evolutionary journey! Bob’s coming out has been a parallel thing to everybody coming out from the late 70’s to now, it’s fascinating and one of the loveliest things is when I’m approached by people who tell me that it made everything seem ok.”
“One of the people who told me that was Matt Lucas. He told me that when he was 14 he saw me on his little TV in his bedroom in suburban London – a live broadcast from Edinburgh – and he knew everything was going to be alright. Which was really beautiful to hear.”
Bob Downe’s latest tour details
Viva Bob Vegas plays Brisbane, Brunswick Heads, Wollongong, Sydney and Melbourne in May, tickets via bobdowne.com and then in June he’s off to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival to perform in The Famous Spiegeltent with Adelaide’s own Anne ‘Willsy’ Wills, tickets here.