Stories form the past

 Justice Michael Kirby and his partner Johan van Vloten

Image: Illawarra Mercury

Justice Michael Kirby

Speaking with the Australian newspaper in 2011, Justice Michael Kirby said ‘Entering into the unfamiliar world of the Rex was a somewhat intimidating affair. The Rex in those days had two bars which, for a decade or so, were virtually exclusive to the gay community’.

‘WHY, precisely, I went out to The Rex on Tuesday, February 11, 1969, I cannot now tell. I knew that sitting at home watching the television, listening to Bach’s cantatas and feeling sorry for myself would get me nowhere. As I entered the bar I recognised some of the usual suspects. A number of truly ancient characters – probably in their 40s – were drinking a seemingly endless series of schooners of beer. I could never keep up with them’.

Justice Kirby sent his congratulations for the Rex’s 21st birthday event (2018) and added ‘I met my partner Johan in the front bar at 9pm on that day in 1969. There is something magic in The Rex because we have been together ever since that night. Isn’t that amazing? 49 years and 5 months!

Maggie Kirkpatrick in Prisoner

Image: ABC

Maggie ‘the Freak’ Kirkpatrick

Maggie Kirkpatrick, aka ‘the Freak’ (Prison officer Ferguson), describes meeting Carlotta in a 2008 Star Observer article:

I met Carlotta probably about 1960 when I was 20 and Carlotta was 18, Kirkpatrick said, who used to socialise at the old Rex Hotel in Kings Cross. There was a little bar at the back, a tiny one. And it was a gay bar, very discreet, very discreet. Women weren’t allowed to drink inside the pub, either in the back bar or out front. I used to drink on the footpath. You saw the most extraordinary group of people you’ve ever seen, from wharfies, actors, painters, writers, a few very discreet gay men, because all that was terribly underhand, it was illegal. As indeed was dressing in drag.

Christmas was always the most colourful time the year for

Animal and his brothers in the Kings Cross Bikers club

Image: Daily Mail

Randall ‘Animal’ Nelson

The bearded and bespectacled Randall Nelson – aka Animal – was a founding member of the Kings Cross Bikers Social and Welfare Club.

Animal was a Cross regular for almost 60 years, Nelson, dressed in his leather jacket adorned with dozens of patches, did toy runs for charity each Christmas. He recalled how, in the 1970s, he would drive his motorbike through the Rex Hotel bar on Macleay Street: ”We’d be out on the road before the coppers got there.”

Sydney’s big-hearted bikie, Randall “Animal” Nelson died in 2014 week after a long battle with cancer.