In this month’s guest blog, Philip Patston introduces us to DPSN’s very own resident celebrity…himself!
Many readers will be familiar with who I am from my other writing and my performing persona, but for those of you to who don’t know me – or who may want to know more about me – let me belatedly introduce myself.
My name is Philip Patston and I am an English-born gay, disabled, white man who has lived here in Aotearoa New Zealand for 44 years. I was a performer, a comedian – a celebrity of sorts – and I could have been as renowned as Australia’s Steady Eddie, had everyone in NZ not thought I was him. It’s hard being the second crip (with cerebral palsy no less) to begin a comedy career in the Asia-Pacific region in the same six months. We looked kind of similar, but he stands up, he’s straight and – as I only tell Kiwis – I’m intelligent. But people often still think I’m him even though I stopped doing comedy over five years ago. Here’s a typical interaction:
“Hey, you’re Steady Eddie!”
“Uh, no, I’m Philip Patston.”
“Nah go on, man, I know you’re him. I’ve seen you on TV. You’re real funny.”
“Well, I am a comedian and I have been on TV. But Steady Eddie is from Australia and I’m from here.”
My confused fan hasn’t quite understood so changes tangent. “So, bro, you’ve been on that comedy programme, that one with that Mike King fella, eh?”
“Yes, I’ve been on ‘Pulp Comedy’…”
“Yeah, ‘Pulp Fiction’…”
“No, ‘Pulp Comedy’ – it’s a New Zealand comedy show for New Zealand comedians.”
“Yeah, that’s a cool show. You’re really funny, man. See ya, Steady!”
I sigh. “Bye.”
Every now and then, though, I hear a hushed voice in a crowd, saying, “Hey, that’s Steady Eddie!” And sometimes, before I have the time to sigh and roll my eyes, someone gets it right: “Nah, man, that’s Philip Patston.”
I do a little, excited, internal dance, all the while professionally retaining my external composure. Recognition is one thing, but being recognised for who one truly is, takes the cake.
Which brings me back to my introduction. Let me tell you a little more about who I really am. Though I have lived in Aotearoa for 44 of my 48 years, I don’t think I’d really call myself a Kiwi, except for the recognition factor (correct or otherwise) in my marketing material. I was a fish-eating vegetarian (I now eat meat) and I have vitiligo, which is an auto-immunity to skin pigment, the same condition that Michael Jackson had (though our similarities stop there – I don’t live in a theme park, nor do I sleep with 12-year-old boys). You can imagine my delight when I realised, at the age of 15, that I was not only disabled and gay, but I had depigmented skin. I knew then that my soul was a masochist. I am probably addicted to valium (I use it to help me sleep) and, to end the V theme, I am rather partial to vino (anything, as long as it’s red and wet).
Some other roles I play in life are son, brother, uncle, friend, boss, lover, mentor, role model (though I prefer to think of myself as a bad influence) and Zen Buddhist – well, kind of. Professionally I am also (or have been) a recovering social worker, counsellor, human rights campaigner, consultant, business owner, columnist, agitator, actor, leader, amateur designer, entrepreneur and, in 1999, I was named Queer of the Year. (Sadly it earned me neither money nor sex, but it was a great honour.) That year I was also the recipient of a Billy T James Comedy Award, for strong contribution to, and future potential in, the NZ comedy industry.
As far as being disabled is concerned, I think of myself as the driver of a faulty APU, or Automated Personnel Unit, those amazing “human-piloted, offensive/defensive mobile platforms” featured in The Matrix Revolutions during the huge battle with the Sentinels in Zion. I see dancers and athletes, models and Hollywood actors with their souped-up APUs getting accolades while I battle on thanklessly with my dilapidated, short-circuiting model among patronizing smiles and substandard mechanical support.
“Where’s the justice in that?” I ask. But that cynical little metaphor is just for my bad days.
Actually I have come to believe that I create my reality with all that I think, say, and do. Everything is perfect and has the meaning I choose to give it. I see perfection as a healthy mix of positivity, negativity and constructivity. Fear and love are the two basic emotions from which all other emotions are derived and the extent to which I feel love or fear reflects my level of creativity. I believe that happiness is a decision that creates the best outcomes.
Finally, although I don’t always agree with the above, acting as if I do can be useful.
And so ends my pragmatic take on the world. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.
This blog was originally posted on www.philippatston.com. It has been reposted on DPSN with permission.