Jaimie Leonarder AKA Jay Katz has been making a unique difference to Sydney’s nightlife for decades. At the moment he’s got two things going at the iconic Darlo Bar: a Wednesday quiz night and a Sunday DJ spot.
Jaimie: Yeah Rod you mentioned the current climate of conservatism in Sydney, it’s affected everything but particularly the grass roots arts.
The whole notion of shutting down the city to its entertainment life is the destruction of the culture to me so my wife Aspasia and I are very proactive in creating events like the shows at the old Hefron Hall/Community Arts Centre in Darlo, opening as many venues as we can to fringe performers and artists.
UV: You’ve got a background in nursing and you found a way to involve that in your creative life.
Jaimie: The city is for winners but also losers and that could be us in the flash of an eye. I’ve always erred on the side of who are the marginalised and why are these people cast aside. I started to come across musicians that had mental illness or had breakdowns, it was the 80s and a time of experimentalism. I felt these people needed empowering.
UV: That brings us to the extraordinary band the MuMesons.
Jaimie: I never conceived it as that, it was a community of like-minded people – we threw away the rule book. It was about giving the members confidence to create. If you hit a discordant note it didn’t matter, we can start wherever we want and go wherever.
UV: I know at the time you were making experimental films and let’s talk about the MuMeson Archives and public showings.
Jaimie: I’ve always wanted to share. I’ve opened my home up to screenings but now can’t due to council compliance. For ten years we showed films on 16mm at the Annandale Hotel. Film can seem insurmountable and intimidating but you can look at different genres and grades and go ‘oh my god this was done for 20-grand against all odds – it’s more entertaining than half the blockbusters I could ever see.’ I’ve always been about shedding light on different and obscure corners of culture.
UV: Somewhere here you also dip into a more successful venture, the Sounds of Seduction.
Jaimie: Yeah, a time when mainstream culture had just cottoned on to the idea of easy listening music though ironically a lot of it wasn’t easy listening, it was quite innovative but it was the only category they could put it into, stepping back into the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and a lot of the film soundtracks were never played on the dance floor before. So, we saw a window of culture and came to create a nightclub. We wife even designed the clothes for the go-go dancers.
UV: At the moment you’re doing a kind of extension of that with Sundays 3-8pm at the iconic Darlo Bar.
Jaimie: Sunday nights is really our love of vinyl. We call it Viva la Vinyl. It’s a lot of 60s and 70s. I love the Darlo Bar. It’s where the old Bohemia of Sydney still exists. All of the artists that inspired the art of the 70s and 80s if they still exist, they all culminate at the Darlo.
UV: Now Wednesday nights you host a quiz show there.
Jaimie: I do it with Chris Ruhle who was Dr Vern Pullen the satirist of On the Street and Drum Media fame. We banter back and forth and ask some very funny counter cultural questions. It can be current on the news, quirky science. We avoid sport and other obvious clichés that some dive into. We’re more obsessed with the peripheries of culture and people are very entertained by it. I’m sure it’s one of the more unique quiz shows around.