Given what his neighbours in Lidcombe went through, the silvertails of Vaucluse have barely scratched the surface when it comes to living next door to Salim Mehajer. But that appears to be changing, and rapidly so.
Mehajer’s swish rental digs overlook Diamond Bay off Sydney’s swanky Vaucluse clifftops, a view he now shares with his new in-laws, John Ibrahim and his troubled baby brother Fadi, currently under house arrest after paying a $ 2 million bail over charges he funded an international crime syndicate.
Private Sydney: Mardi Gras’ shameful origin
40 years after Sydney’s first pride march was met with police brutality, the activists – soon to be immortalised in ABC’s Riot – still await an apology.
But today is all about Mehajer, who has become the talk of Macdonald Street having caught the attention of several neighbours for his gleaming white bathrobe, which shines almost as bright as his fluorescent chompers.
Salim Mehajer in a bathrobe with Melissa Tysoe on his balcony in Vaucluse. Photo: matrixnews.com.au
Indeed, Mehajer had plenty of reason to smile last week when he hosted his latest squeeze on the terrace, a pretty blonde named Melissa Tysoe who arrived on the scene just days after the property developer had declared his undying love for flight attendant Constance Siaflas.
Mehajer and Tysoe wore matching fluffy white bathrobes as he attentively served brunch, then joined his new girlfriend in a round of selfies in between monitoring their reflections – rather than enjoying the million-dollar views – in the many shiny windows around them.
Salim Mehajer in a suit at Rose Bay Police Station where he went to report as part of his bail conditions. Photo: matrixnews.com.au
Rose Bay police were alerted to the changing number plates.
On November 20, Magistrate Joy Boulos imposed “very stringent” bail conditions on the 31-year-old, which she said would ensure he was kept “virtually under house arrest”.
He had been arrested at 1am that morning over alleged breaches of an AVO protecting his estranged wife Aysha Learmonth and an incident of alleged dangerous driving following a crash near her home in Kingsgrove.
Salim Mehajer and his estranged wife Aysha in a now deleted social media post. Photo: Instagram
One of the bail conditions imposed by Ms Boulos was that Mehajer should not contact his estranged wife on social media site Instagram or elsewhere, including via third parties.
Last month Mehajer was back in court trying to have the conditions altered, including his 10pm nightly curfew, though his overtures were resoundingly dismissed.
A Barnes storming love story
There’s a love story that has survived the tumultuous world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. On Saturday Jimmy Barnes will have the opportunity to thank the woman who stood by him through it all and saw him safely out the other end – his wife Jane.
The Barnes’ are throwing a major celebration to mark Jane’s 60th birthday, with the cream of the Australian music and showbiz industries set to descend on the family’s Southern Highlands property.
We were given a glimpse into the couple’s love story in the rocker’s biography Working Class Man, including an account of how Barnes met her in a Motel 7 in 1979 on a pot-induced tour with The Angels and Flowers (soon to become Icehouse).
Jimmy Barnes with his wife Jane in January 2013. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
“It was four o’clock in the afternoon, 29 November 1979. I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting in the corner of the room, not saying a word, was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen,” Barnes wrote.
“She looked like a princess, not someone you would see in the Motel 7 in the outer suburbs of Canberra. But it wouldn’t have mattered where I’d seen her. The impact would have been the same.
“I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her hair was long and dark and her fringe was almost covering her beautiful eyes.
“I sat waiting for a sound to leave her mouth. A mouth that was slightly pouted, her beautiful, slightly buck teeth biting her top lip as if she didn’t really want to be there. But here she was. She never said a word. She never even looked at me, I don’t think she even knew I was in the room. My heart was racing, I had to leave the room for a minute so I could breathe.”
Jimmy Barnes with his wife Jane at a registry office in Sydney in May 1981. Photo: Phillip Mortlock
“Who was she? How was I going to get to talk to her? Would she want to talk to someone as horrible as me? Not a chance. Girls like her weren’t meant to be with guys like me.”
Well, 35 years of wedded bliss later, it appears Barnes’ early suspicions about Jane were a little off the mark.
Stranger than fiction?
There has been one new novel high on the summer holiday reading list of some of Australia’s most powerful female television executives, a not-so-weighty tome that has been ruffling more than a few feathers in the world of breakfast television.
Miriam Sawan, a former television producer on Channel Nine’s Today Extra starring Sonia Kruger and David Campbell, has become incredibly shy when it comes to talking about her new book, Louboutins, Lattes & Live TV.
Miriam Sawan, author of Louboutins, Lattes and Live TV. Photo: Supplied
Sawan paid for the book to be published out of her own pocket. “With a little help and encouragement from her family, friends and colleagues, Miriam took the time to write a book she hopes will mean something to victims of bullying and in turn, make a difference through the best way she knows how: writing,” says the book’s publicity material.
However, among those less than impressed by the end result is Sawan’s former boss at Nine, Natasha Daran, who is now the supervising producer of A Current Affair.
American media identity Joel McHale with Natasha Daran and Sonia Kruger. Photo: Supplied
In a nutshell, the book covers the story of “Anna-Simone”, described as a “savvy television producer desperate to find her place in lifestyle television” who lands a job at Sky High Television Network where she comes across “Satan in stilettos”, producer Klarissa-Maree Francis.
“Well-heeled, well-spoken and a subscriber to the mean girls group in media, Klarissa will make Anna-Simone question her very existence.”
Having skimmed through the book, Sawan appears to have been inspired by several real-life events, including one episode on page 163 which draws heavily from an item PS published about Daran being criticised by several of her staff who had been asked to cough up for a luxury gift for Sonia Kruger’s 50th birthday back in 2015.
Natasha Daran and Sonia Kruger. Photo: Supplied
One of Daran’s troops – and not Sawan – felt a little differently at the time, telling PS: “Some of us have never spoken to her and yet we were being asked to hand over $ 30 each to put towards a Tiffany bangle … we’re struggling to make a living and she is driving to work in a Porsche!”
Daran later told PS that Kruger was “among the most generous people here when it comes to buying gifts for team members”.
Another chapter deals with Klarissa fat-shaming her daughter. In 2016 Daran penned a story on 9Honey about her own seven-year-old daughter’s “fat tummy” and the anguish of putting her on a “diet”.
Daran did share an email with PS she received when Sawan quit in 2015, in which she tells her former boss: “Everyone you’ve hired is someone who I would happily have in my friendship group and that’s a reflection of your ability to spot goodness and turn it into greatness. I know we’ve had our differences, but as I grow in my career, wherever that is, the growth that you’ve inspired in me is not something I take for granted or will ever forget.”
Lack of apology is tough to cop
The bruises may have healed but Sydney man Peter Murphy vividly remembers being beaten to a pulp inside a Darlinghurst police cell in 1978, after he and 53 others were arrested and charged on a cold winter’s night that would become the forerunner for the biggest gay rights movement in Australian history: Mardi Gras.
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of that fateful night, and behind all the glitter, tinsel and fanfare, Murphy has one hope: that the NSW Police Commissioner will finally acknowledge what he and others went through and say sorry.
“The whole experience was just so brutal. From being thrown into the paddy wagon to being beaten up by a huge policeman,” Murphy said.
“I was a much smaller 25-year-old … he really got stuck in.”
Murphy and others, now known as the 78ers, wrote again to the Commissioner on Friday seeking an apology, having failed previously. They are about to be immortalised on the small screen in the new ABC telemovie called Riot.
Barbarella Karpinski, Peter Murphy, Sandi Banks, Gary Schliemann, Diane Minnis and Steven Warren are the 78ers. Photo: Kirk Gilmour
Among those who will be watching closely is Meredith Bergmann, the woman who marched alongside Murphy but escaped arrest. She bailed Murphy and many others out of jail, ferrying them to doctors and solicitors as a line was drawn in the sand on civil liberties in NSW.
“It’s crucial,” Bergmann told PS, explaining how important a police apology was.
“We were protesting our right to protest … it wasn’t just a gay rights movement.
“We chanted, ‘Stop police attacks on gays, women and blacks!’ … the police were incredibly brutal.”
On that night in 1978 the bars and cafes on Oxford Street were bustling with late night crowds waiting to see what the night would bring.
Members of the original 78ers at the 2016 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Photo: James Brickwood
As 11pm approached, a throng of people – some walking, some dancing, a few even skipping – marched down towards Hyde Park following a flat-bed truck, driven by the late Lance Gowland, the central character in Riot.
The NSW Police, however, were not in such a joyous mood.
Despite the issuing of a permit for the march, the police began to usher the revellers down the street.
When the marchers reached Hyde Park, the police confiscated the truck and sound system.
The crowd began to move towards Kings Cross when the police pounced.
In 2016, Murphy and other 78ers were moved to tears as they received an apology from the NSW Government, which only decriminalised gay sex in NSW in 1984, but there would be no such apology from the then Commissioner and devout Christian Andrew Scipione.
The 78ers with former Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir (back right) in June 2016. Photo: James Brickwood
In 1978 the Herald published the names and addresses of the 78ers who had been charged, a decision that led to further persecution.
The paper has since offered an unreserved apology for doing something that today would be unthinkable.
“It still burns with us … until the police force as a whole has made a conscious statement about what happened it can keep on happening … and it has to come from the top, from the commissioner,” Murphy said.