Scarlett fever

The seven stages of Windie recovery

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  • Published 20240206
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-92-4
  • Extent: 203pp
  • Paperback, ePub, PDF, Kindle compatible

NOVEMBER 1994. A Saturday. The weather was as you’d expect for Brisbane that time of year: that is, far too warm for 300-plus cosplaying Southern belles and their chaperones to comfortably assemble at Channel 9’s Mt Coot-tha studios. But gather we did, in polyester crinolines and oversized hats scavenged from costume-hire places all over town. Young women – blondes, redheads but mostly brunettes – flocked from north and south of the river, from Bayside and the western suburbs for their chance to be anointed ‘Queensland’s Scarlett’. Auditions started at 10 am, and by nine the coiled inner verge of Sir Samuel Griffith Drive was chockers with the cars of the hopeful.

The search for ‘Queensland’s Scarlett’ was a publicity lark cooked up by Channel 9’s Extra – a local infotainment program hosted by Rick Burnett that aired 5 pm on weekdays – The Courier-Mail and ‘classic hits’ radio station 4KQ. They were in cahoots to promote the miniseries Scarlett,the oncoming trainwreck of a sequel to Gone with the Wind (GWTW). The judges would choose five finalists. The winning Scarlett, as voted by the public, would take home $5,000. Plenty to pay the taxes on Tara and more besides. At twenty-one, it seemed my moment had finally arrived, though I had no idea I was also partaking in something of an Australian tradition. 

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