Lewis Oswald is next on my imaginary friend list. The world that he shows me on Facebook makes me think I have manifested him out of a memory of the seventies, Madonna and the sort of friend you dream of having. Some friends come into our lives for a reason, some come into your life for a season and some come into your life to provide happiness on tap, turned on to the max and never turned off. This is Lewis, partner of James 20/365.
I call on the little used landline. Lewis cues the disco music then answers the phone. I begin by asking him who was over for dinner last night when I rang to suggest a blog post. It was a friend from England feeling down because his friend had just gone home. (To put you in the picture, Lewis’s mum says that Lewis never goes to the shops and comes back as normal, something always happens on the way to the shops, in the shop or on the way back and that story takes on a life of it’s own and runs away.) Such an innocuous question I had asked. ‘Who was for over for dinner last night?’
The leaving party for the friend going back to the UK had taken place in a cottage recently, over a weekend in the Blue Mountains. Lewis had said it would be a low key affair, just a gathering of like minded people, country walks and fresh air. Perhaps it would be nice to distract everyone away from the sadness by playing the game ‘Bin bags and Balloons’ where everyone makes outfits in a team, and then presents them as a ‘Bin Bag and Balloon’ collection. Lewis wasn’t going to organize anything, just the bin bags and the balloons and everyone could choose their own music to present it in an understated show. Base outfits, underwear and corsetry were fine to hang these from, hair and heels applied.
It was probably the last part of the sentence that got everyone going.
Suddenly Lewis found himself organising bags full of clothes, make up, false teeth, nails, padding, shoes, everything. He threw them into the car. On the way to the small rented cottage they picked up a lighting rig, disco lights, a wind machine, smoke machine and PA system.
They travelled to the party in James’s car when really they needed a small lorry and a logistics team. Lewis’s seat went as far forward as it would go with his knees right up, the contents of his spare room behind him and the GPS telling him to go left at the next intersection as they learnt the words to the RuPaul song they would be performing to.
On arrival, everyone was really excited to see what he had brought secretly knowing that Lewis would never do low key and he was pleased not to let them down. In the boot he had stored all the best bits and the wigs. He went to open it up. The boot was completely jammed shut and to this day it hasn’t opened. But when all the guests went for a mystery walk, Lewis told James that not getting into the boot wasn’t an option so James pulled every single item out of the boot with a coat hanger through the thinnest gap in the back seat that only ever wedges a set of skis in. When everyone got back, the party began despite James’s bleeding arm and Lewis’s shock. From ‘Bin Bags and Balloons’ it became extreme drag, couture level, vintage, not costume. Lewis tells me he’ll send me a picture of everything that came out of the boot. Here it is.
And that’s the story of the man who came to dinner and his friend who didn’t, but who had a very memorable leaving party.
Lewis says that he has yet to find his niche. But is there a niche for talented designer, photographer, dressmaker, toymaker, drag artist, professional stylist, make up artist, comedian, magician, gypsy, Madonna specialist? I remember in 2000 when Sydney hosted the Olympics, a commentator said that the closing ceremony must have been organised by Australia’s most flamboyant man. No way, because Australia’s most flamboyant man is on my friend list.
Oh, and this is how he made me look (below) when I did stand up comedy with my Shane Warne Poetry Book. With him in your life, everything is wonderful.