Around the World in 80 Ways
Pam Ann, alter-ego of Australian comedian Caroline Reid, is returning to our shores with a new show full of up-to-the-minute airborne satire. As she tells Garrett Bithell, Qantas better watch out.
“I’m dating a hot piece of chocolate at the moment actually – a US Marine. Big, black ten-incher, doll! Once you go black you can’t go back because your hole’s stretched! They say, once you go Rican, you don’t go seekin’; once you go Jew, nothing else will do!”
It’s not often an interview veers into filthy-limerick territory, but Caroline Reid is a special case. With her acerbic air-hostess-from-hell alter ego Pam Ann, she has terrorised airlines all over the world in her renowned stage shows, growing from cult hit to international celebrity in the process.
Equal parts camp, sharp-tongued humour and high-flung snobbery, and buttressed by an ego the size of Tiger Airways’ recent safety breaches, Pam Ann explores the vagaries of air travel by mercilessly attacking the individual quirks of some of the biggest international airlines. Elton John, Cher and Victoria Beckham are fans, as well as Madonna, who labelled her ‘cruelly funny’.
After a sell-out tour around the country in 2010, Reid is bringing Pam Ann back to her native Australia with a new show, Around The World. “People sometimes don’t believe what I say in my shows, but this time I will back everything up with some really great news clips,” she says. “Qantas are going to get pretty much slaughtered in this show.”
As for the grounding of the Tiger Airways fleet and their recent comeback, Reid is blunt. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s a reason low-cost carriers don’t usually fly over water. But Tiger does, and there is no way I would fly from Perth to fucking Asia on that bucket of a plane. Seriously, I don’t go over the Atlantic unless it’s got four engines.”
It’s fair to say that once Pam Ann walks on stage, any notion of etiquette is flung out the window. She is particularly famous for her shocking, no-holds-barred style of audience participation – indeed she has an uncanny knack for finding the “hot mess” in the crowd.
“I had a blind guy recently,” Reid says. “He had sunglasses on, and I thought he was one of those queens that wears their sunglasses inside – so I said to him, ‘Why are you so fucking up your arsehole? Take your glasses off, you queen!’ And he said, ‘I’m blind.’
“But I didn’t stop there, and said ‘Prove it!’ So he held up his cane, and I said ‘No that’s not enough, where’s the dog?’ And he said, ‘Outside’. And it was! Oh my god – he’d be perfect to crew up in economy with hot coffee! I don’t know if he was offended or not, but if you’re blind, why are you in the second row? It’s a waste of a good seat – you can go upstairs for god’s sake.”
Hatched “out of a drag queen’s arsehole” in a Melbourne club in 1996, Pam Ann seems to get more outrageous every year. Moreover, the gap between Reid and her alter-ego is rapidly closing – these days, they are almost one and the same. “It’s because I hang out with more and more filthy gays,” Reid declares. “I don’t know about being a gay icon – I’m just a dirty whore who fucks around a lot and just knows lots of gays who speak my language. We speak in tongues.”
Against all the odds, Reid has only ever been confronted once by an angry patron. “I was high on an E [ecstasy] and copious cocktails – wrong time to come and approach me!” she laughs. “Anyway, he thought Lily, the Chinese flight attendant character sketch, was racist. And I said, ‘What the fuck are you talking about? You’re white, you’re Jewish, fuck off.’
“Honestly, the Asians love it – they come to my show and I fucking eat them alive! Every Asian gay has Hello Kitty everywhere, and they love to be picked on! They love Lily and they’re the ones that egg me on!”
In a classic case of ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’, Reid has been embraced by many of the airlines she massacres – indeed some have even used Pam Ann in safety demonstrations and advertising campaigns, including British Airways and Qantas. Needless to say, Reid gets the royal treatment when flying herself. “I’ve had this happen to me twice, once on Lufthansa and once on KLM, but the CSD – cunt standing at the door – came up to me and said, ‘Who are you because I got a call at home from the corporate section of Lufthansa and they told me that I’ve got to really look after you’! I told her I worked for MI5. It’s hysterical – I get my arse licked so I don’t say anything bad!”
Reid’s got a soft spot for Virgin, too. “The cabin crew are sick as fuck, but they’re hot,” she says. “If you look closely you can see cum stains on the red uniforms.”
She gets distracted for a moment. “Oh I’m just watching a flight take off now and it looks like there’s a problem with the landing gear...”
Pam Ann, Around the World, Festival Theatre, Playhouse, Adelaide, August 1. Bookings: www.bass.net.au
Pam Ann, Around the World, State Theatre, Market Street, August 3-4, Sydney. Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au
Pam Ann, Around The World, Powerhouse Theatre, New Farm, August 9-11, 2012. Bookings: www.brisbanepowerhouse.org
Pam Ann, Around the World, Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, August 17-19. Bookings: www.premier.ticketek.com.au