The things one finds on Facebook!
That is linked to Melissa Sweet’s 1997 feature.
She was my GP – and M’s — for the best part of the last 20-25 years so I saw what she did up close. (I also coached her son in English for the HSC not all that long ago. This was taken from her place in the course of that.) See also Reflective of the 80s and 90s–others and myself for Lyle Chan’s story on Dr C.
David and I became much closer after I started collaborating with a doctor named Cassy Workman. Cassy and I together with Lois Johnson from ACT UP formed a radical AIDS treatment center masquerading as an ordinary doctor’s office. We ran our own clinical trials, recorded and analyzed our own data, and devised treatment regimes using drug combinations obtained by lying to the hospitals about what drugs our patients were really on – to circumvent a thinking-inside-the-box limit about how many experimental therapies a person could be on simultaneously. Our patients were clearly healthier than most. Some of it was due to the stealth combination therapy. Most of it was because we treated AIDS patients like normal people…
Since Cassy uncompromisingly gave her everything to every patient in front of her in every moment, it meant unpredictably long periods of waiting in the doctor’s office. A big part of my friendship with David came from talking to him while he waited his turn to see Cassy. He’d come with hilarious gifts for me, such as a compilation video tape of cartoons (eg. Son of Stimpy) and 1950s bodybuilding and soft porn footage. He also gave me a compilation cassette tape of campy songs, which I eventually understood was either a prototype or an offshoot of his “Toxic Queen presents …” and “Funeral Hits of the 90s” projects.
Humor – actually, sarcasm and bitchiness – was a key ingredient in David’s art. His works had titles like “Lifetimes are not what they used to be”, “Darling, you make me sick”, “AIDS victim dies alone – family profits” and “It’s my party and I’ll die if I want to, sugar.”…
On Facebook there is many a comment. For example:
GARY: There are more than a few who are still with us because of this Maverick
BRIAN: I’m another lucky one because Cassy hastled the shit out of the establishment, thanks Cas
DAN: Wow Cassy, what a legend, and a pioneer, saved lots of boys lives, when they would have been left by the wayside, myself included!!!
FRANK: Me too Lloyd, I would be long ggooonnneee if it wasn’t for Cassy…What a genius both medically and emotionally, an amazing support!!!
LLOYD: The stories we could tell…… Suffice to day her practice that was housed in the original Club 80 wasn’t called "Ground Zero Medical" for nothing…..
Ground Zero 12 March 2009
Her surgery in 2009 was near Taylor Square and Oxford Street. Fifty years and more earlier as a schoolboy I would pass through this area on tram or bus if ever I happened to depart school from Anzac Parade instead of Cleveland Street. This, thanks again to someone on Lost Gay Sydney, is what that was like.
Taylor Square 1950s. No plain packaging of ciggies then!
Further down Oxford Street
Maverick MD update
That post on Lost Gay Sydney has attracted a lot of attention and many testimonies and stories about the “Woman Warrior” of Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, and a serious suggestion she be nominated for the Order Of Australia. I think she should be.
One sample recent comment from Pierre:
my partner had his old school doc being older than me at the time even my partners doc admitted to me @ the funeral that i was in good hands and i was — thank you Cassy i didn’t mind the 2 hours waiting
let’s face it boys every one was dying back then we all were on the pension it was a blessing to go there have a chat to the receptionist who was one of us talk to friends on the single bed & sharing our pains and sorrows what better dropin center could we have had than her clinic — so what is was not 3 stars it made us lucky to live this wonderful bitch of a life .