Follow Metro on TwitterFacebookInstagram. The Auckland of today is full of nightclubs, bars and eateries. Aging, acne scars or dull skin? And Auckland is considered one of the safest places in the world for gay and transsexual men and women. He used his skill and wit not only on stage, but in his six hugely successful LP records.
On that night at the Shoreline Cabaret, Muldoon reached out to McKay to shake hands and present the award. His wife Tess, who was also his dresser and stagehand, would move to a piano and accompany his first song.
He was glamour personified. It was dull, dark and frightening; a city so repressed and constrained that the only glimmer of hope was when Rock Around The Clock opened at the Regent Theatre.
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Muldoon would later appear in The Rocky Horror Show as the narrator, wearing a suit and fishnet stockings. Ash Mosen: Fashion deer, sewer and recycler. Within seconds McKay would own the audience. Every young man purchased a suit there for his 21st or his wedding, and McKay soon became the best salesman on the floor. Is this New Zealand's most influential graphic deer?
I remember him well. I hope Noel McKay somehow sees this, and approves.
Cat Ruka, the new director of Basement Theatre. McKay loathed the term female impersonator, regarding himself simply as an entertainer. McKay and his wife Tess would do five shows a night from 9pm through until 1am. A summer inside Auckland's Facebook community groups.
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He emerged like a fabulous thunderbolt from behind velvet curtains at the Sapphire Room above the famed Gourmet Restaurant, where high-class diners sipped champagne, sherry, whisky and Pimms, and at the Montmarte in Lorne St next to the St James theatre, where if you were lucky you might get a puff of what we then knew as a reefer. He wore a steel body harness to create the illusion of cleavage.
He loved theatre and pantomime, and he hated school, though he did well at high school. This was a country where virginity was supposedly sacrosanct; where sex and sexuality was simply not discussed; where if you were not married by 21, there was something seriously wrong with you; where people were hung in Mount Eden Prison at 6am on a Friday and buried within the prison walls; where the lights in the city were turned off at midnight.
McKay had also started to put on weight, his flexibility had gone and the bookings were slim.
They would drive the city streets in a Morris Oxford, the back seat packed with ball dresses and sequinned gowns and wigs, and enter up the back stairs to get ready for a minute power-packed show of dirty ditties and extraordinary clean filth. Licensing laws were horrific and anyone caught selling booze after 6pm, when the pubs closed, was imprisoned or fined heavily.
The hushed audience would listen to a drumroll rising to a crescendo as the spotlight swung to a curtained stage entrance and through it would step Mr Noel McKay, resplendent in a glorious evening gown. up here to receive the Metro Eats! It was a real showstopper. The 'green fairy' prepared to defy the law to give people what they need. It was a magnificent piece of engineering that helped him create a bosom by pulling his flesh into a visible cleavage.
A man dressed as a woman, and a glorious one at that, was a dinner and nightclub sensation, a chance for an audience to think the unthinkable and enjoy the possibilities of pleasure and change. Men caught seeking sex with other men could get a sentence of six months in Mount Eden. Often young women were asked to smuggle a bottle of gin or rum under their ball gowns into the Peter Pan at the top of Queen St for a 21st or wedding party. Without companionship Tess had diedhe became a sad figure, spending hours in his Gold Coast apartment playing the LPs that had sparked his life and career.
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At the awards dinner at the Shoreline Cabaret, the spotlight was turned on McKay when his award was announced. He says McKay worked diligently, understanding the fabrics and styles and lighting up whenever a customer came into view. The movie was banned for months as the censors pored over the implications of freeing up the spirits and bodies of young teens. He drank and wandered the streets until he died in his 90s. This glamorous fishnet-stocking phenomenom and stage personality was a man without a stage name other than Mr Noel McKay. Noelle McCarthy: A topographic memoir of addiction and recovery.
McKay helped bring blue cabaret — adult humour with a sting — to New Zealand.
McKay was born in Oamaru, a dull town he longed to escape from. But by then, sadly, McKay was in his 60s and bitter. He had the most fantastic legs, always in fishnet stockings and high heels that were extraordinary for the time. Upon arrival, he announced himself as Noel McKay.
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Somehow I had got myself invited by the parents of rich girlfriends to a few upmarket events. The rise of the digital-only lover. Photo: Supplied. Dreams for sale: The rise of celebrity real estate agents. I have given a lot to the industry and this country and I would rather have had something relating to my work and my professionalism or nothing at all.
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McKay was obsessed with the idea of coming to Auckland, which he did with his wife Tess, who he married at the age of He succeeded in bringing a playful, fluid approach to gender and sexuality during a very restrictive era. Queen St on a Friday night did show some energy when groups known as widgies and bodgies came in from the outer suburbs and paraded their flash new clothes in the two milk bars, but by 9pm they had roared off to somewhere distant like Mount Roskill or Henderson, the shops closed and the streets were deserted.
As the authors of Funny As wrote, his saucy original songs were a feature of his nightclub act and left little to the imagination — but without attracting the attention of the police. Neither the entertainer nor the audience quite understood what the future could bring, but Noel McKay was brave, bold and challenging, and just clever enough to pull it off. Other entertainers of the day recall him as a knock-out performer, capable of handling any hecklers.