HUGH’VE GOTTA BE JOKING!
It was a pleasure and privilege meeting Hugh Sheridan for this month’s issue.
This month I’m thrilled with our cover story and feature on Australian leading man, Hugh Sheridan.
Hugh has been part of our entertainment landscape since he was 22. He’s won Logie Awards, been in hit TV shows and stage productions, and inspired considerable column inches in newspaper gossip pages. This is partly because of the “open secret” around his sexuality – sometimes his partners were male, sometimes female – but he always kept his private life to himself. He had every right to do that, but it only fuelled speculation in the media.
Late last year, he came out in an interview with Stella magazine in which he said he’d been in relationships with both men and women but preferred not to label his sexuality. Shortly after that, it was announced he would star in a production of Hedwig And The Angry Inch – and then things went to hell!
A social media campaign against him ramped up, objecting that the role was not given to a trans actor. We all agree there should be more opportunities for trans performers, no question. But the Hedwig character is not trans, and that’s kind of the point of the play. The writer and original performer of the show, John Cameron Mitchell, is also not trans and has said that the character is not trans. Further, the one actor in the show plays all the characters – and none of them are trans either.
To me, the whole thing looked like a classic case of the infamous Australian “tall poppy syndrome”, and Hugh was to be cut down. I don’t remember any contention around Socrates Otto (cisgender heterosexual male) playing trans character Maxine Conway in women’s prison drama, Wentworth, just a couple of years ago.
I reached out to Hugh through social media and congratulated him on his Stella coming out and offered commiserations re Hedwig, which had been unceremoniously cancelled. I didn’t actually expect a reply. He’s a big star, there was a lot going on in his life, and we’d never met. But he responded, we started a conversation, we went very deep very quickly, and decided that it was the right time for Hugh to receive the DNA treatment: photoshoot, cover and in-depth interview.
Wheels were set in motion. Schedules were checked. He had two new series coming out in 2021 – season 2 of Five Bedrooms, and Back To The Rafters, a reboot of the much-loved Packed To The Rafters.
On top of that he was doing a self-devised show at the Adelaide Festival called Hughman and… he had become engaged to Kurt Roberts, a former DNA cover model.
On the day of the shoot at Christian Scott’s studio in Sydney, Hugh was relaxed and friendly. For someone with such a high profile, he’s completely unguarded and kind of goofy. He’s funny in a showbiz way without being gossipy or snarky. He occasionally burst into song or dance routines and didn’t care how silly he looked playing around with wardrobe options including a ludicrous beaded headdress – I’m sorry we didn’t get that picture for you.
He was generous with his praise and made lots of references to past DNA stories and photo shoots, so it’s good to know he’s a reader!
As we pumped smoke into the set for the opening shot, I joked that this dressing room used to belong to Bette Davis and he immediately started doing an impersonation of the old diva in a nicotine-ravished rasp that cracked us all up. And the laughs continued all day.
Then Kurt arrived and we incorporated him into a couple of shots and let the loved-up couple improvise for the camera – and there we have the beautiful image you see on the cover of this issue. Yes, it’s a dramatic departure from our usual style, but I trust you’ll agree that it’s a stunning shot and I hope you love it.
I’d like to thank Hugh and Kurt for their generosity and creativity on the shoot, Christian Scott for the incredible images, Ian Horner for the very thorough interview, and the whole DNA team.
Also in this issue, you’ll find a history of the social/sexual importance of the all-male sauna, interviews with Drag Race queen Jojo Zaho and cabaret star Reuben Kaye, a hot and summery photo portfolio from Benjamin Veronis in Palm Springs, our Summer Style Guide, and all your regular favourites.
As always, stay safe, be kind and love yourselves!
Andrew Creagh Founding Editor