Writers and Co

Check out the team of writers, photographers and designers who work on the Deck of Secrets guides. We are constantly gathering intelligence on this band who insist it’s a taxing job fending off cocktails, Champagne and craft beers.

  • Michelle Matthews
  • Marinella Padula
  • Damon Torsten Nash
  • Pol O’Conghaile
  • Kathy B
  • Rachel Smith
  • Nick Clayton
  • Antonietta Colasante

Michelle Matthews

Name: Michelle Matthews Title: Publisher

Alias(es): Mich (apparently sounds rather bad in France), Mimi (a far better alternative in France) MM (much easier to type than full name), The Card Lady.

Known associates: An eclectic bunch of charmers from most corners of the globe. The inspirational Kristina Karlsson, memorable Miss Pearls, the talented Heiko Waechter, the musical David Gillespie.

Regular haunts: Brother Baba Budan, Mamasita, Bar Lourinha, MoVida Next Door and Madame Brussels.

Last sighted at: Swinging from the chandelier in the back room of Madame Brussels.

Current mission: Michelle is pursuing a luxe minimalist approach to life. The pursuit of great life experiences over acquisition of stuff. Digitising photos, music, movies, documents and getting rid of stuff.

Other activities: Heading to Kuala Lumpur for a stint of ‘location independent’ living

Quote: If it’s random roll with it.

Informants contact: Michelle@deckofsecrets.com or at SecretsHQ call Skype Michelle.Matthews

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SecretsHQ

Marinella Padula

Name: Marinella Padula Title: Writer and Editor at Large for the Deck of Secrets Series

Alias(es): The One You Call When You Want to Know the Name of That Place, You Know the One on The Corner near The Thing.

Known associates: Lucida Bright, Perpetua Tilting, Franklin Gothic (definitely not Comic Sans)

Regular haunts: Prahran Market, op-shop record sections.

Last sighted at: Loam, Drysdale, eating parsnip ice-cream. Not as strange as it sounds.

Current mission: trying to whittle down Brunch Guide selections to a reasonable number.

Other activities: Food columnist for The Leader Newspaper Group.

Quote: In the future, everyone will have 15 minutes of privacy.

Informants contact: marinella@deckofsecrets.com

Damon Torsten Nash

Name: Damon Torsten Nash Title: Production chap

Alias(es): The man who dresses for a decade that hasn’t even happened yet (aka Doctor When).

Known associates: He appeared on the same stage as an early incarnation of Supergrass, had a pond populated with frogs by Fleetwood Mac/Iron Maiden producer Martin Birch, and once accidentally snubbed Leo Sayer. Was also, strangely, given whisky as a teenager by Mika Häkkinen in a motorhome.

Regular haunts: The past. Damon likes all things historical and uses his time-machine regularly. And having spent almost a third of his life in Box Hill, you might find him digging up the past somewhere locally. Indeed, he produced a thesis entitled Making Box Hill Sound Interesting as part of an archaeology honours degree (and, for the record, it apparently worked).

Or perhaps he’ll be on the other side of the world inside the derelict Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital, England – ideal for spectral fun and things that go woo in the night.

But for serious spirits, Damon can’t go past fine Islay malts, so you’ll possibly find him nestling among the discerning folk in Gertrude Street Enoteca or Baranows with a wee dram of something like Ardbeg Uigeadail or Lagavulin 16.

And if he’s feeling peckish, Damon will be either getting his bhuna fix from Keshav at Nirankar or begging Gills Diner to put lasagne back on the menu (hint, hint) … unless he’s packed his bags and gone AWOL to the greatest restaurant in the known universe*, Don Cameron’s mighty Stillwater in Launceston.

*No, seriously, it is. Aw, poor Ferran Adrià, sob, sob.

Last sighted at: Basement Discs (spending silly amounts of money on a lavish remastered box set of precious teenage memories, no doubt), before heading over to Atticus Finch for a slow pint of Hargreaves Hill ESB.

Current mission: Ensuring that each of the 40-odd-thousand songs in his iTunes has the correct artwork. Think you have the correct artwork on your iTunes? Think again. For example, Depeche Mode’s Get The Balance Right! (Combination Mix) has to have the 12″ picture sleeve featuring the two stylised construction workers on it, and not the more common 7″ sleeve with 27 figures arranged in rows of nine. Though The Great Outdoors! appeared on both formats, the Combination Mix, of course, wasn’t on the 7″, so it would be simply crazy to use that sleeve to encompass all of the single’s B-sides. Having problems with your iTunes organisation or chronology? You know who to call.

Other activities: Freelance designer, guerrilla artist (finalist in the 2007 Bald Archy Prize), and official Monkey Island™ consultant Melbourne’s most secret tiki bar, Milky Joe’s. Is also currently working on The Bad Album Covers Project.

Quote: Dougal: God, Ted. D’you remember that fella who was so good at fashion they had to shoot him?

Informants contact: damon@deckofsecrets.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pwurg

Pol O’Conghaile

Name: Pól Ó Conghaile

Title: Journalist and Author

Alias(es): Pele O’Catagalie (he swears a letter came through his door with that name on it once. And he sometimes wishes he had been named John Smith).

Known associates: He would like to say Rebecca Miller, Douglas Coupland and John Banville, but there is a very important distinction between the terms “interviewed” and “associated with”. It is similar to the distinction between “journalist” and “stalker”.

Regular haunts: Central Hotel, The Globe, The Horse & Hound in Dublin.

Last sighted at: The South William, Tripod, Dublin again.

Current mission: Travel writing, radio contributor, magazine writer

Other activities: ‘That’s My Baby’, a delightful take on fatherhood. ‘Bar Secrets Dublin’, a delightful take on the bar secrets of Dublin. ‘Low Hanging Fruit’, a delightful sketch series (more of which anon, hopefully). Plus El Diablo, a delightful Alt Country music band.

Quote: ‘Film is a collaborative medium. Now bend over.’ (David Mamet)

Informants contact: oconghaile1@eircom.net & www.poloconghaile.com

Kathy B

Name: Kathy Buchanan Title: Yes please

Known associates: She’s not one to brag but Kathy B once worked out in a gym with a buff and bearded Hugh Jackman at Gwinganna Health Lifestyle Retreat. She also caught a glimpse of High-School Musical’s Zac Efrons elbow at the Nickelodean Awards (on her way to check out a very cool bar of course). Her celebrity goal for 2008 is to do the tango with that annoying guy from Malcolm in the Middle.

Regular haunts: The Hotel Hollywood in Surry Hills in Sydney for drinks (she says to ask for Doris and if you’re lucky you’ll hear stories about Bob Hope).

The Randwick Ritz in Sydney for movies (Kathy B says it is a cool spot and still shows the cheapest movies in town).

…and her very comfy chocolate brown sofa for nanna naps (sorry, Kathy B doesn’t mean to be rude but says you’re not invited – unless of course you know how to program her VCR).

Last sighted at: Macro trying to work out what she can eat that is gluten and dairy free that doesn’t taste like eating dry dog poo.

Current mission: Kathy B would like to not just have to pretend to understand why friends insist on sending her complicated games and applications on Facebook when they know she still can’t even program her VCR.

Other activities: When Kathy B isn’t scouring the city for cool bars or doesn’t have her head stuck captivated in a novel for her job as Marie Claire’s book reviewer, she may be on a bad date, stressing herself out trying to find time to relax or very possibly procrastinating instead of working on writing her own hilarious novel. At other times, after over a decade as a journalist and editor working in Sydney and London for magazines such as Esquire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, Oyster and The Sunday Telegraph, she may be finally trying to learn how to correctly use punctuation.

Kathy B would like to point out that she actually has finished a few things in her life apart from a family sized block of fruit and nut and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. These are a few of them.

Charm School, Penguin, ISBN: 0143001493

Happy Endings, Penguin ISBN: 0143001590

Quit for Chicks, Penguin ISBN: 0143001507

If anyone thinks Ketija Bukenena hasn’t been as productive over the past couple of years as she could have been she’s like to ask if that annoying person has ever published a book in Latvia? She would also like to point out that day-long movie marathons can be considered research if you are self-deluded enough (she admits she is).

One of Kathy B’s books was also published in Indonesia but hasn’t gotten around to number 57 on her to do list to ask her publisher to please send her a copy. Her website is: www.kathyb.net

Quote: Kathy B’s 10 Commandments (sorry, she couldn’t be bothered to come up with ten witty yet poignant one-liners all of her own).

1. “The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” George S. Patton

2. “Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear.” Oscar Wilde

3. “Don’t read science fiction. Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” P. J. O’Rourke

4. “The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury.” Charlie Chaplin

5. “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” Mother Theresa

6. “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” Richard Bach

7. “One wonders what would happen in a society in which there were no rules to break. Doubtless everyone would quickly die of boredom.”Susan Howatch

8. “And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk ever more.” Erica Jong

9. “Time is precious. Why waste it without a great martini in you hand?” Marilyn Monroe

10. “If your brain can’t keep up, you’ve got to think with your heart.” Kathy B

Informants contact: kathybu@bigpond.net.au www.kathyb.net

Rachel Smith

Name: Rachel Smith Title: Freelance writer

Alias(es): Rach, Rachie, Rarch, Racquel, Smithy and The Glass and A Half Girl (speedy inebriation is a rare perk for the vertically challenged).

Known associates: Rachel and Kathy B can be often found on the blower gas-bagging about blokes, bad manners and whether a bar could ever resemble a llama/lion/liger. As for celebrity associates, Rachel liked to think she had a connection with Lisa Kudrow after their marathon phone conversation a few months ago, but Lisa never called back. What the…?

Regular haunts: Madame Fling Flong (for its Pink Fling and tasty tapas); the Zanzibar roof (Cosmo in one hand, garlic chicken skewer in the other); La Sala (its Rasputini cocktail is Rachel’s all-time favourite); Favela (for its blast-your-mouth-off Red Hot Chili concoctions); Miro (for Spanish vino and hot, choc-dipped churros); and Newtown Gym (where Rachel tries in vain to work off all the cocktails, vino, tapas, churros and garlic chicken skewers).

Last sighted: Sipping fine champagne and drooling over the panoramic view at 360 Dining with Dr Phil, her other half and dedicated bar-hopping buddy.

Current missions: To find melt-in-the-mouth salt’n’pepper squid instead of the typically chewy variety; to lobby SBS for the next series of Big Love; to make it through a spin class without needing a paramedic; to enjoy a day without encountering any of Sydney’s kamikaze motorists (the ones who drive like they’re in downtown Delhi).

Other activities: When she’s not rating Sydney’s best and worst bars, Rachel can be found reviewing movies and restaurants, writing travel, health and home/reno stories, twisting a celeb’s arm for a decent quote – or indulging her wildly opinionated side at her co-authored relationships/dating blog www.realitychick.com.au.

Quote: “Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.”

Informants contact: rachel@rachelsmith.com.au

Nick Clayton

Name: Nick Clayton Title: Ibiza writer

Alias(es): Nick Clayton +1 (guestlist organisers please note)

Known associates: More like a motley selection of unknown associates including bar owners, chefs, pool cleaners, artists, photographers, writers, party organisers, journalists, models, plumbers and wannabee DJs. Actually, in common with eveybody in Ibiza, they’re all wannabee DJs, except for the DJs. They’re wannabee rock stars.

Regular haunts: Any of the hip and happening clubs, restaurants and bars in Ibiza. His presence is always required thanks to his special talent of making everybody else look beautiful, young and sexy in comparison.

Last sighted: Outside Pacha at 7am wondering how a quick drink at 9pm came to this and thinking there must be somewhere else open.

Current mission: Keeping Deck of Secrets iPhone app users up to date on Ibiza’s openings, closings, new places, old places with new names, new places with old names, who is playing where on which night, what’s new and happening, what’s old and tired, where to go and where not to go. Remember: I’m punishing my liver on your behalf.

Other activities: Writing, writing, writing. Nick will do anything to avoid getting a proper job. That includes knocking out complex technology white papers for businesses and offbeat celebrity profiles for Pacha magazine. Over the years his work has appeared in British newspapers such as: The Guardian, Sunday Times, Independent, Observer and Scotsman along with a string of magazines and websites of varying degrees of obscurity. In 2008 his first book was published: The Guardian Guide to Working Abroad. His great Ibiza sex, drugs and rock and roll novel would have been finished years ago if he didn’t keep getting distracted by the subject matter.

Quote: “Growing old is compulsory. Growing up isn’t.”

Informants contact: email Nick here.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ibizanick

Antonietta Colasante

Name: Antonietta Colasante Title: Editorial Assistant

Alias(es): Netta, Nett, Ant or Ants and a variety of odd mis-pronunciations and strange contortions of her name.

Known associates: Sorry – that’s privileged information! Antonietta likes to keep her cards close to her chest.

Regular haunts: Anywhere with a rooftop or outdoor area to accommodate a cheeky nicotine habit (particular city faves include Madame Brussels, The Red Hummingbird and Palmz at the Carlton); anywhere that serves plain chai tea, NOT chai latte; scouring the shelves at Readings on Lygon Street; or prowling recycled or vintage clothing stores for that glamour buy NOBODY else will have.

Last sighted at: Street Cafe on Lygon Street, perusing her latest purchase from Readings.

Current Mission: Reading Oscar Wilde and wishing (in vain) she could write with half as much flair; trying not to lose another friend to Facebook, and campaigning against iPods being used on public transport – listening to the second hand sounds of a fellow tram traveller’s bad taste in music at 7.45am is NOT a good start to the day.

Quote: “A poet can survive everything but a misprint.”

Informants contact: antonietta@shoppingsecrets.com.