Mr Community Television

Mr Community Television

It’s not good being gay in the Greek community. You’re expected to be straight, get married and have kids. But I’ve learnt that it’s okay to be Greek and have sex with whomever you want as long as no one knows about it and you have a family.

I was a very camp kid and always full of personality. My family came out to Australia after World War II and bought a milk bar attached to a cinema in the eastern suburbs. My parents didn’t cope with my personality that well and still don’t how to deal with me.

As I was over the top I caught much flak at school. I was attacked and harassed a lot. The beachside suburbs back then had an undercurrent of homophobia, probably to keep the bronze Aussie surfer culture going and reaffirming their machismo.

I was also very creative and topped the sewing class out of 60 girls. My parents allowed me to be creative because it calmed me down. My father was also a chef and mum was a dressmaker. I’m kind of the reincarnation of them both.

I left school in Year 10 to study fashion technology at Randwick TAFE. It was a fantastic course, which helped me to get a job straight away. I worked for numerous fashion labels as a pattern maker.

When I was 22, I started my own fashion label and I also decided to come out to my family. I wanted to design my own men’s wear.

My parents knew that I was gay but weren’t very happy about it. I had an STI scare and my mother said, Which whore gave it to you? and I said, It wasn’t a woman, and she freaked out. My father said, It was obvious anyway. It’s never been a healing process because there is no such thing as being Greek and gay, it doesn’t go hand in hand.

This response was no surprise to me because I knew they still had traditional expectations. People complain about the Catholics but Greek Orthodox are still in the Middle Ages. They have very conservative values, especially in Australia. You go to Greece and they have moved on but at home they’re in a time warp. I can hear the church bells from my place now; it freaks me out because it’s just a reminder of our mortality.

I had the fashion label for eight years and was popular on Oxford Street. With the recession, the gay look dying and cheap imports coming in, I had to shut down. I did well at Sleaze Ball and my Mardi Gras sales were huge. There is no defined gay look any more but this is a good thing because straight and gay guys are freer and can decide rather than let culture impose on them.

I continued to freelance in fashion and got into the psychic and spiritual area. After all my social and personal turmoil, I wanted more depth in my life. I got a job as a tarot card reader at several places. After a while it started to become very heavy and draining.

Many get readings because they won’t take responsibility for their actions and should really be in therapy. People think you’re fraudulent and question your ability. I wanted to get into more of the entertainment side of readings, so I made a genie costume and became a tarot card reader at Luna Park. My stage name was I Dream of Yianni. It was very camp.

I also got involved with the Darlinghurst Theatre group and was an extra. A few years ago I got a scholarship for film making.

After my course I got into community television, which was based underneath the Redfern housing commission block. I got my first television spot on community television with the show Joy’s World in 2002. I interviewed some fantastic people and when no one showed up to be interviewed I did a recipe instead.

The community channel moved to the University of Western Sydney and became TVS. I left Joy’s World and was given my own Greek cooking and lifestyle show. We film 13 episodes and students are all involved in the filming and editing of the show.

I also hosted a fashion week special show, interviewing designers and international buyers. My show has made it all over the country and now has a primetime spot.

At the moment I’m filming a new series. Being a presenter can be quite tough at times, especially when you don’t have any sponsors, but it’s a fantastic job.

Just remember that when you watch community television you’re a citizen and when you watch commercial television you’re a consumer.

Interview by Sunny Burns

Yianni’s City Life is on Tuesdays 8pm, Fridays noon and Saturdays 8:30am on Channel TVS. For more details see

You May Also Like

Comments are closed.