Hop Yourself Stupid - HYStory


 

hys1997 - Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown

Each Easter Sunday for the last 13 years a small band of volunteers wearing rabbit ears and bearing baskets of Easter eggs and other goodies descends on HIV/AIDS and palliative care wards in inner Sydney hospitals - Hop Yourself Stupid in action.

Hop Yourself Stupid had its first glimmerings in 1989 in an initiative of Kabi, during a time when AIDS was taking a severe toll in the gay community. Over the Easter weekend that year, Kabi's first Ankali client Colin was a patient at St Vincents Ward 17 South. Kabi, wearing home-made rabbit ears and a fluffy tail, visited Colin with some Easter eggs he had bought - which he also distributed to the other patients in the room and some of the nursing staff as well.

Sadly, it was to be Colin's last Easter, but the following year Kabi decided to visit the hospital again, this time delivering eggs not only to the entire Ward 17 South also to the patients in St Vincents Hospice in Darlinghurst Road.

In 1991 Kabi was inspired by a telethon for the Melbourne Royal Children's Hospital Easter Appeal, and decided that his visits could raise community awareness of the deepening HIV/AIDS crisis. A flyer entitled "Girls, we want your eggs!", Uncle Sam style, was distributed around the pubs in Oxford and King Streets, advertising drop-off points at The Bookshops in both Darlo and Newtown. A working bee was held to make more rabbit ears, whiskers and tails. Volunteers joining HYS that year included Barry Lewis, Rose Lord and Jillian Lindorff.

About half a dozen "bunnies" attended HIV/AIDS wards in four inner city hospitals: St Vincents, Royal Prince Alfred, Royal North Shore and Prince of Wales. In 1997 the list also took in Calgary Hospice in Petersham (although the next Easter the hospice had no AIDS patients and no further visits ensued) and the palliative care unit at Westmead. This schedule was so arduous that subsequent visits to Westmead were conducted by ACON West - in 1998 with eggs and ears supplied by Kabi and in 1999 with HYS-supplied funds.

In 1992 and 1993 the campaign was referred to as a "Bunny Hop" and, at the suggestion of Fanny Farqhuar, was associated with the Friends of 17 South group. In 1995 the name "Hop Yourself Stupid" was coined as a pun on BGF's "Shop Yourself Stupid" fundraiser held during the Mardi Gras Festival in February.

In November 1994, as part of Kabi's birthday party celebrations, the first Wigworld fundraiser was held at his home. The second, Wigworld II in 1996, was held at Taylors, a bar above 191 Cafe at Taylor Square. Wigworld III took over JBF (behind Gilligan's Island) in 1997 with the theme Die Hard. The final Wigworld IV: Hair Force One, also at JBF, funded HYS 1999 and part of HYS 2000.

By 1995 the volunteers were numerous enough to fill a minibus, and with driver Jillian they piled into "Lady Suzie" borrowed from the D4 community group. The next year D4 asked for a nominal hire fee and in 1997 & 1998 a rental company provided a white minibus at a discounted rate. As well as van hire, parking and petrol, the funds allowed the occasional fancy dress to be hired from places such as Motley's: for example, the full white-rabbit suit worn by Barry Lewis on an HYS visit.

At the 1996 Drag Industry Variety Awards (DIVAs), Hop Yourself Stupid received the inaugural ACON Safe Sex Award for its contribution towards raising community awareness of HIV/AIDS issues.

In 1997 King Street Chemist began sponsoring the advertisements in the Sydney Star Observer and Capital Q, who charged commercial rates for the space. Other contributing businesses during the life of HYS include The Bookshops in Darlinghurst and Newtown, who served as drop-off points for donations, and the Body Shop, who in 1993 and 1994 accepted donations at their store in the Queen Victoria Building. ACON have assisted for several years with colour photocopying for the HYS posters.

In 1998 the Hospice Girls concept was highly visible in Oxford Street, with Celebrity Wigs displaying a huge HYS poster featuring Kabi, Klearagh Space, Miranda Fair, Gina Juicy and Jillian Lindorff (also in drag, representing support of the campaign from outside the gay community).

In 1999 the title of HRH Queen Bunny was handed over to Miranda Fair, who had been a volunteer since 1997. Miranda introduced the concept of a singing HYS troupe. Guitarist Darren Smith, Mitzi Meow and her partner Neil have volunteered since 1999 inclusive. Although with Miranda, they comprised the entire troupe of four for HYS 2000, HYS 2001 expects to double that number of volunteers

 

by Glenn Watson © 2001 from Hop Yourself Stupid: History as published in SSO???

[hrhqbII@yarwood.com.au]