I didn’t want to go out last night. It was cold. I was tired. I didn’t have anything to wear.
Em Rusciano was performing at the Cabaret Festival. Based on her past shows, I would quite willingly trudge through metres of snow, naked, even if I hadn’t slept in days.
So I put my clothes on, put my face on, and showed up.
From the start of the show when she sang “I’m a motherfucking woman” (apparently that is originally a song by Ke$ha? Who knew? It could just as easily be Em’s anthem), right through to “I’m Every Woman”, Em had all of us laughing, singing and dancing along. For over two hours she allowed us to forget about the chores waiting at home, not to mention the fighting kids or any number of pressures of family life. Sure – that is what any good performer does, right? But no other performer manages to do it while constantly reminding you of it, do they?
Em knows firsthand just how hard it is logistically for women just to get out of the house to enjoy a night out. She acknowledges that in every show she does. And she is incredibly grateful to her audience for making that effort for her.
Em’s shows are always about her audience. But this show was just as much about Em.
While we laughed until we cried at her “Try Hard” tour, and then cried buckets of tears at her “Evil Queen” show, written as a catharsis after her miscarriage of little baby Ray, last night we celebrated with her.
Given her lifelong obsession with all things John Peter Farnham, performing with Farnesy’s band members and his musical director Chong Lim, was symbolic of Em having “made it” in the entertainment world.
It was also a very satisfying Fuck You to the haters: those who bagged her after her 9th place exit on Australian Idol several years ago, right up to the 4recent shitstorm in the media, because Em “may or may not” have referred to the Sydney media as c**ts.
The “Difficult Woman” show was a response to all of the negative labels assertive women are given: opinionated, mouthy, even toxic. Who hasn’t been called those names? Em’s response? She is simply a woman who leaves nobody in any doubt about what she wants.
Her call to action was simple: for those of us who are sick of the notion that men build things and women decorate them to say fuck that! To link arms with our fellow women and pledge to support each other. To ask for help and to give that help when it is asked for.
At interval we were lucky enough to chat to Vincie, Em’s dad. Usually on stage with Em, accompanying her on guitar, this time Vincie was happy to be in the audience, nearly bursting with pride. He told us he always brings his hankie to wipe away the tears of laughter and joy, as he never knows what she is going to say next. But of this show, he said “She’s loving it…….oh, she’s loving it”.
And so Vincie, were we.
Em was all of us on stage, living out the dream she had nurtured since she was a little girl: a strong woman taking on everything the world had to throw at her and emerging triumphant (sequinned, and with a 7 piece horn section).
Battle weary but not beaten.
Scarred but not scared.
For whatever comes next…