I’ve lived here since… I was born. I’ve lived in many suburbs in Sydney including Redfern, Parramatta, Ashfield, Kingswood and Newtown.
I’ve stayed because… I found a home in Newtown. It’s the perfect combination of culture where you can op shop [charity shop], dine out or chill at a pub and no one judges you for how you look or where you’re from.
My favourite queer bar has to be… ARQ Sydney near Oxford Street, because you can wear whatever you want and dance however you want without feeling judged. I tend to make new friends at ARQ, at what the locals call ‘Trash Alley’. I also love The Colombian Hotel on Oxford Street because that’s where I often perform burlesque as Lady DeVine at Red Light Confidential. It’s an industry night for burlesque, produced by Kelly Ann Doll, one of Australia’s top burlesque performers. It’s an event that occurs monthly with a mixed bag of performers so you never know what you’re going to get.
Here in Sydney, we always look forward to… Mardi Gras! The spectacle gets bigger and bigger every year and this year I had the privilege of marching with the Pin Ups for Equality which was created by Cherry Buttons. It was certainly a night to remember!
Sydney’s best building is undoubtedly… The Opera House. It is incredibly unique and extremely iconic. It always takes a beautiful photograph, especially from the water as the sun is setting.
Above: The Sydney Harbour Bridge
The most romantic place in Sydney is… Glebe. You can sit at any of the cafés and have a lovely experience with great food and great service. One particular place I love is Sappho Books Cafe & Wine Bar because they serve ethical meat. You can also visit the Glebe markets which are on every Saturday and you can be sure to have a lovely time browsing through the unique and wonderful trash and treasure.
For culture, you can’t miss… the burlesque shows in Sydney. There are shows on all the time including Red Light Confidential, Uncultured Classics (just an hour outside of Sydney in Wollongong) and the annual event, Miss Burlesque Australia which is held at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville at the end of every year.
I shop at… op shops such as The Red Cross and Noff’s on King Street in Newtown. The Queen Victoria Building in Town Hall is also a great place for all the commercial brands. You can chill at Pitt Street mall and enjoy a variety of buskers between shops.
For date night, I head to… many different places depending on what mood I’m in. I like 3 Olives and Pastizzi Café on King Street as the food is incredible and the prices aren’t too high. For burgers, I like Dean’s Diner and also MOO Gourmet Burgers because they also serve ethical meat. For dessert I go to Izba Russian Treats to enjoy their famous Honey Cake or Blini served with cranberry jam and thickened cream. It’s to die for! All of these places are on King Street in Newtown.
For a day trip… I head to The Blue Mountains. It’s such a beautifully natural place with bush walks and rain forests. You can stay in a cosy hotel and have a lovely cup of coffee the next morning and feel like you’re miles from anywhere. Katoomba holds the annual Winter Magic Festival which is always a treat and features performers, food and knick knacks you can’t find in most places.
Sydney’s best-kept secret is… The Red Rattler Theatre in Marrickville. It is a cooperative theatre that hosts a variety of entertainment including burlesque, stand up, cabaret shows, bands and more.
I’d take a Sydney virgin to… Circular Quay to see all the famous attractions such as The Habour Bridge. For couples I would take them to Sel et Poivre which is my favourite French restaurant in Darlinghurst and Doyles restaurant in Watson’s Bay because the scenery is beautiful and the sun sets over the harbour in the distance with breathtaking colour. For singles, I would take them to Oxford Street to bar hop between The Oxford Hotel, Arq, The Colombian Hotel and many others.
My favourite place to people-watch is… Circular Quay. There are always buskers and people from all walks of life who come to enjoy the harbour’s views.
For a cheap eat I head to… Lental as Anything, which is also on King Street in Newtown. Their food is amazing and you select to pay how much you think the food and service is worth. It’s great if you can afford to pay more because you can cover the cost of someone else’s meal who can’t afford to pay.
LGBTI people in Sydney always look forward to… Mardi Gras! It’s honestly the biggest event in Sydney. People come from all over the world to watch the parade of colorful floats and people who march. It’s a time when everyone’s inner creative can come out and shine through either their costume or an important message they feel needs to be heard.
Lauren Batschowanow is a filmmaker who’s feature film ‘True Face: Sex, Drugs and Cabaret’, recently received official selection at two international film festivals. True Face had its world premiere at Illinois International Film Festival in Westmont IL, USA on 3 May, 2015 and will also screen at the Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto, Canada in June, 2015.
Click here more information about Batschowanow. Click here for True Face trailer.