I had an out-of-control obsession with circus when I joined in 2002. I have the most amazing memories of 5am hardcore training sessions with Jane. We would roll up, smoke a durrie, eat some toast and proceed to do stacks of push ups and chin ups before I went off to my day job. Why? Trapeze is an addiction. It was so good, I enrolled in every class going and I gave up the fags for good that year! It didn’t take long before I gave up my day job too.
The friends I’ve met at WOW have become lifelong friends. When you’ve shared a lot of sweat and had fannies constantly shoved in your face (acrobatic moves) you get quite close. WOW is where I met my first professional performance partner and soul sister, Tanya B and threw together the Bella Hops act that we performed internationally. What an adventure to travel and meet other circus performers around the globe. Now I get to work regularly with the incredible comedy powerhouse Emma Khourey, aka Tina Green who is a WOW girl too. These relationships are a gift from WOW.
It wasn’t all about tricks. I learnt real life skills too at Circus WOW when I learnt to put on fake eyelashes for my character, Sugarcandy—Australia’s only two headed hula hooper (as far as we know). Check out the lashes on that chick! A fellow student Helen Richards patiently taught me to glue on fake eyelashes and showed me how to create a great make-up design! Back then I was a real tomboy so I had no idea about these things. Who would have thought I’d have glued on thousands of lashes since then! I did have to deal with 4 eyes after all!
I met my life guru at WOW. She started the same year as me. Ms Maree Alwert. She was always keeping everyone laughing in class. In fact some might say she was the class. We thought we were learning circus tricks, but we were learning to be a team, support each other through kindness, cups of tea, and a listening ear. We helped each other transition through rough spots and (mostly) emerged laughing. In acro class you couldn’t really claim someone as a friend until they had kicked you in the head a few times (accidentally that is). Maree enrolled in just about every class. Sometimes she enrolled just to keep the number up and the vibe of the classes up. When I began teaching and she was my enrolled hoops student—but as I look back I know, I realise that she was the real teacher in that class! I’ve learnt so much from so many WOW women.
WOW was always a place where interesting and wild women gathered. There are 1000s of them in the Illawarra. Fun, feisty, talented, strong and creative. I got to perform alongside one of my early performance idols, Cheryle Moore from Frumpus. Viva la Gong was always an excuse to dress up and have a great laugh making up crazy acts.
WOW gave me the confidence and the skills to transition from a super shy 9-5 worker to performing in front of thousands of people at on cruise liners, in pubs, cabaret stages, strip joints, city streets, private yachts, in a blow up peep shows, European street festivals, on minuscule podiums, in theatres, schools, in big tops, tiny tops, even in a saltwater pool and most recently at the Sydney Opera House as part of Mada’s Marvels. Thanks WOW for starting me on such a great journey and giving all us women a place to create something of ourselves.