Jimmy Barnes was asked to play at this year’s Food And Wine Fair while he was at the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville. Naturally, he was watching Celebrity Drag Survivor and of course he was asked by AIDS Trust fundraising manager and old friend Glenn Horder, who was in drag at the time.
Barnesy joins a fiercely camp line-up of afternoon entertainment, playing alongside Courtney Act, Katie Underwood, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir and Shauna Jensen.
Yes, it’s surreal. Despite Jimmy Barnes’ complete success bansheeing Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel Mighty Real at the Mardi Gras party four years ago, I still find it freaky that Barnes plays for the gay community. Cynics attribute it entirely to cross marketing, but this makes little sense given the aesthetic gulf between Cole Porter and Cold Chisel (or between Que Sera Sera and Khe Sanh? -¦ I’ll stop now).
Maybe he just has lots of gay friends and believes it’s the right thing to do?
It’s a good thing to do, Barnes said. I’ve been to a few of them before, it’s always a great day out -¦ it’s for a great cause, and everybody has a great time.
One of the great things about the whole gay scene as such is the community spirit, the community mindedness of everybody, everybody’s really pulling for each other -¦ which is one of the things which attracted me to the whole thing in the first place, Barnes said, with disarming optimism.
So did the 16-year-old rocker from the Adelaide suburbs covering Deep Purple ever think he might become a gay icon (of sorts)?
Absolutely not, and I’m not sure that I am! he said. I think they look at me and go, -˜There’s a guy we could learn something from -“ let’s not look like that!’
Barnes will be performing with daughters Mahalia and EJ. It’s a family affair, but don’t expect the Von Trapp singers -“ the kids have mostly grown up.
My eldest daughter Mahalia, people still recognise her and go, -˜Oh, you’re one of the Tin Lids.’ She’s like a 40D cup bra now, Barnes laughed. His talented offspring have sidestepped into music that’s more R&B, gospel and soul-based than Dad, who sometimes finds the comparisons less than flattering.
She makes me look like a really, really, really white guy, you know? he laughed. She’s so R&B -¦ one night I sang with them, me and David [Campbell], and they said it’s easy to see who the white guys in the family are.
He won’t tell me what they’ll be performing at the fair, but a possible repertoire could include anything from Deep Purple to ABBA. Yes, ABBA, given that Barnes sang Dancing Queen on Andrew Denton’s radio breakfast show.
The funny thing was Dancing Queen was so easy to do because it’s a great song -¦ he said. I ended up doing Dancing Queen in my set for a long time afterwards. It was like a Bruce Springsteen song, a really powerful, emotive sort of song. When it blossomed into that chorus, everybody felt up and lifted -¦
There’s a lot of those tunes around. I sang You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman once on Triple J. That was another challenge. That was a great tune too and I’d been dying to sing it for years -¦ There’s a career for me in drag yet! he laughed.
So is this the next incarnation for Jimmy Barnes, after working class man sweaty singlet, soul deep caramel suit and Mardi Gras leathers?
There’s gotta be some hybrid that comes out, Barnes said. I think a dripping singlet used as a minidress.