1938 Jack's early life and childhood was spent in Texas Australia, (A Queensland border town), with farming parents, he spent his time in early youth absorbed and consumed in music, creative and artistic pursuits isolated mostly from his peers through the focused attentions of a protective mother. He then attended a Brisbane boarding school where he was a high academic achiever.
At the Church of England Grammar School (Brisbane) his separation from mainstream widened with his being denied admission to Cadet Training and Contact Sports.
Fiercely determined to succeed he withstood considerable maltreatment at the hands of school bullies, seconded by the Headmaster in a policy of absolute control until he (Jack) opted for transfer to the Southport school. A school largely attended (as boarders) by country students (boys), where he discovered that his talents lay principally in performance, in which he was strongly encouraged by Alex Perrin, a gifted teacher. Suddenly he enjoyed others' appreciations of his creative gifts and talents, which were fostered greatly by that small community.
Having "found himself" in those few years he spent an extraordinary amount of energy and diligence imbuing himself with all things "Theatre", studying its history, and performing in a prestigious little Theatre Group: "The Southport Little Theatre" now defunct. (With nothing of its ilk to replace it, even today.) During those years he accrued an encyclopaedic knowledge of World Theatre and spent every waking minute absorbing information regarding the History of Performing Arts until.... in November 1958 he auditioned for the National Institute of Dramatic Art then being formed, and enjoyed the singular pleasure of being THE FIRST STUDENT to be admitted to the Academy. His was a serious trajectory towards ultimate success.
True to form he railed against the inadequacy of the fledgling academy, and its apparent unpreparedness, as he saw it, in presenting the students with sufficient opportunity to develop.
At the Christmas break he disregarded the rule that students were not allowed to take professional performance work and he was invited by Robin Lovejoy, the Director of the Elizabethan Trust, to perform in the Elizabethan Theatre Trust's production of Eleanor Witcombe's "Smugglers Beware" requiring him to play the button accordion, which he quickly learned. One term later, in the second year of the Course, disillusioned with the Academy, he abruptly left to work with the Elizabethan Trust Opera Company.
He was soon afterwards persuaded by the Director of NIDA Robert Quentin, to return to the Academy as they were concerned at news of "the students leaving the school" (it was only him) and he was immediately offered a bursary to sustain him financially until graduation at year's end in 1960.
At the moment of graduation, and once being granted a professional position(as part of his graduation award), he was then abruptly informed by the Academy Director, Robert Quentin, that his diploma and promised position would not be forthcoming unless he signed to repay "the bursary" plus a sizeable percentage of his future earnings. This suggestion he rebutted, and in late 1960, as the Academy was winding up its first intake he commenced work without further ado, with JC Williamson Theatres in a musical which was in rehearsal, "Irma la Douce".
The travails of working in that organisation came to an end when he received the unwanted attention of one of the principals, Noel Ferrier, an established performer with JCW. Jack was by this time contracted into the next consecutive production, "The Sentimental Bloke", a result of an audition midway through the year, an audition which did not escape the Board of the Firm.
After touring with this production across Australia and New Zealand, he formed a highly successful musical duo working the Sydney clubs, until he was invited by a visiting (UK) Theatre Director, Mr Freddie Carpenter, to join the "How to Succeed in Business" Company. At this juncture he had broken a blacklisting initiated by Ferrier, who was blocking his attempts to work, just as he had threatened. Vicious slander was the name of the game, ("that's Showbiz").
During the run of this musical he was asked to join a small company performing "Salad Days" living in a railway carriage as far North as Cairns. He did so during late 1963/early 1964 with an immensely talented group of performers under the direction of Bryan Nason. Back to Melbourne and he was asked to rejoin “How to Succeed” which he did until it was time to travel to the UK, feeling that opportunities in Australia were so limited, and opportunities were being impeded by his experience with Ferrier. He had by this time become a noted and versatile "practitioner", the traditional triple threat, but under the intense scrutiny of the (obsessed) Mr Ferrier.
1965 at the height of the tourist season he commenced working in London, not in the theatre, but with a model railway organization, work with which he had acquired experience immediately before leaving Sydney, (and an interest he had sustained since childhood). The firm was highly respected in its field. It was called Beatties of London, (ex Bassett Lowke). The next seven years are covered in Book Two..."Life in London in the Sixties", shortly to be published.
1966 Later, having censured his employer(one Colonel Beattie) for lack of ethics, he was obliged to work in two more Hobby organizations, "Hobbies of London", and "Ripmax", work which he found very satisfying until Christmas 1967, when he abruptly left his employment, temporarily working close by to a splendid rented mansion apartment in Ridgemount Gardens,(currently one of London’s most desirable addresses). He accepted work in fringe theatre companies simultaneously.
As it was unlikely that he would find employment satisfying his demand for a high standard of work allowing him to exercise other pursuits he resolved to form his own performance company, and acquired enormous creative benefit and experience from this venture. It was soon a small, but respected performance group specialising in derivative but stylish productions, combining artistes who were working in or around the field of theatre, particularly satisfying as the West End was close by.
An offer to manage a health food Store in Swiss Cottage(NW London) led to an opportunity to open his own shop at 296 Upper Street in Islington, (fast becoming a yuppie haven), and it was an opportunity to hobnob with performers and celebrities living in the area. A swatch of theatre awards was soon forthcoming during the following years up until November 1973. Refer to Book Two "Life in London in the Sixties".
An offer by two individuals, who shall remain nameless, to open a restaurant next door seemed a fine adjunct to his shop and he accepted their offer to do so. Soon it had become a shambles, and the only action he could undertake to protect his own interests was to put them out of business, which he did, by secretly building a restaurant at the rear part of his premises, …and opening it spectacularly. Soon his shop/restaurant was serving an average of 800 customers per day, even when it opened at noon, and had been renamed the Afternoon Shop. He married Maureen Jennifer Anne Campion on October 8th 1971 at St Pancras Registry Office, W.C.1 London. A son was born, Felix John, on February 26th 1973 at University College Hospital W.C.1.
During a rehearsal one day in late 1973 a telephone request to come home to Texas, Queensland, because of family illness, could not be ignored. With his new wife and baby he closed the Shop/Restaurant and returned to Australia and was immediately offered professional work to create a Theatre Restaurant production in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Working without a “parachute/support team” it failed.
Immediately afterwards, he performed in "Dimboola" on the Gold Coast, and then returned to Sydney. Being without an agent, and unlikely to gain the support of one,(the rancour of rumour and slander now preceding him from Ferrier) and with Australia in the grip of a credit squeeze, work was not forthcoming, and he worked in three capacities simultaneously for two months until after an audition lasting a few minutes, he was instantly awarded the role of Herod in Harry M Miller’s newly re-forming "Jesus Christ Superstar".
This experience is covered more fully in the autobiography "Wild Card. An Autobiography with Balls".
He continued in this guise for longer than another exponent of the role (even to this date), but enjoyed little from the experience, being severely crippled by a bad relationship with his employer, a friend of Ferrier, who could not legitimately divest himself of a Herod, stringent in his demands for integrity and quality, and who would not capitulate to performing in a gross and unseemly manner. He left the Company in late 1976 with a substantial golden handshake but little satisfaction. After leaving Superstar(late 1976) he came to realise that there were bigger bastards than he could be called, and he built a complete working stage production(page 245 of Wild Card), and travelled the length and breadth of Australia until arriving in Perth, Christmas 1981. He resolved once again not to offer his services to the Australian entertainment industry at large. These adventures are chronicled in "Wild Card An autobiography with balls", and the following potted resume of his exploits is offered to outline subsequent events. An epic journey from 1976 until 1981, read the Book, or this will never end!
After 6 years travelling the outback of Australia……
1981 Performing around the South West of West Australia with Maureen up until
1983 The Café Revue, The Broadway Tavern, Nedlands was a small lightweight collection of material from the 1920’s/30s French and English, awfully twee, but perfect for those who like to pretend to being sophisticated...just testing that he still had "it"...performing Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays, with a remarkable marketing exercise in which one week's customers provided access to next week’s customers (invited on the say so of that previous week...word of mouth to the nth degree...the word comes with its own follow up invitation!)..(a promotional outlay of less than 50 dollars!) playing packed houses until one night the venue provided an inadequate supper(and broke the deal), at which point Jack 'pulled the show' and went to Tawarry on the river's edge, without missing a beat...and met Marie Sermon, John Michael Swinbank, jointly exponents of Noel Coward’s material(for whom he contributed snippets of material and heaps of encouragement, and promotional knowledge)...and Bernard Carney, a fine songwriter performer.
1984 Touring with a Company of performers around the South West of Australia until 1985, then visiting Melbourne, meeting and working with a sadistic German, Carl, who would confirm your suspicion that the Holocaust did actually occur in part, and Carl could have been of great service to the Nazis. He was a bad example of German gemutlichkeit. Jack was falling ill and still travelling North, eventually to Cairns, where he Carl was picked up as an illegal immigrant, (dobbed in by an angry girlfriend to whom he owed money).Jack was given a medical death Sentence (October) and given only 6-9 months to live. Home to Perth.
1986 Still driven to survive, Shakespeare, in Perth while recuperating with alternative therapies, deep tissue massage etc...curing an incurable disease (and "the Bob Faggetter experience", coming to grips with hiring a performer who had no standards), then North by plane with Bernard, to Crocodile Dundee territory and home by road. Building the second module with Bernard. This module, page 303 of the Book, curtained on a frame, became the new centrepiece of the new format, for the next 20 years.
1987 North again in the Hi Ace poptop with Bernard to the Pilbara...meeting Susan O'C******* in Broome.
One night at dinner with some folks who had attended a show, a young lady came through the door selling paintings. She was the best saleswoman Jack had ever encountered... (he bought two...to be delivered into Perth when she returned from North Queensland)... she returned later, and she delivered them... but years later when they met again she showed a far more nefarious side... she was truly a great conwoman...and cost Jack dearly all his main assets (1992).
1988 The new bus and trips to Jurien with Susie and Bernard losing his guitar: Bernard had a talent for losing his precious guitar in the most unimaginable of circumstances...At 6.30 in Shay Gap in the Pilbara, along a rough unsealed road, he had casually asked "Jack did you pack my guitar?" "Why would I pack your guitar?" "Oh No!!!"...While Bernard drove back along the rough road to Port Hedland to meet his guitar Jack started the show, (never knowing if he would turn up)...at exactly the point that he ran out of material three hours later, and he said, "We’ll take a little break...see you in 5 minutes"..(not knowing what the hell he was going to do)...in walks Bernard...with his guitar..."Oh here’s the next act now...yep, see you in 5. Thank you". Bernard did it again on the way from Perth to Jurien Bay. We arrived after the drinks had started(therefore late) and the audience said that watching the stage go up was as good an entertainment as they had ever seen...till the Show started.
1989 Leaving home and family,... with Bernard...paying the crew (for eight weeks) during the Lismore floods..losing a large amount of money, and then North to Nth Queensland, finding Jack Allen and Patti Allen, an old Tivoli experformer now languishing and semi forgotten but known to Jack from the time of his school days in Southport... the drunk musician who was a complete worry and surprised Jack by even turning up for the performances .....Murgon, Biloela time....such an interesting ride.
1990 Seamus, the roadie ...whom Jack found on the side of the road, after his having been in a car that had rolled. He worked for four or five weeks as roadie, then he went to England. Jack was later to fly him out again as a roadie(!) Even Michael Jackson wouldn’t do that! ….and South to Sydney, Melbourne. Lately Jack saw him appear on Millionaire Hot Seat where he thought that the Bingo Call "Dirty Drawers" meant "66"!....not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Just another of the colourful people/drug addicts/ etc.. that coloured Jack’s life.
1991 Up to Cairns and back to Melbourne ...Susan O’C******* again and her partner Paul...Jack playing Melbourne, cashed in his chips, sold the lot… off to London…
1992 London and the swindle...everything lost again She(Susan O’C*******) convinced Jack to go to the UK to work. She arrived there ahead, planned a sting, and when he arrived there was nothing in his Bank Account...he slept on a friend’s floor, destitute....September back to Melbourne
1993 living in Melbourne, Hyde Hotel...then managing a motel between gigs, and the Ritz! (No, not that Ritz.) He took the responsibility of being a night watchman at a backpackers in St Kilda to supplement his income. It was like a nest of cockroaches...and just as easy to control.
1996 to Warrnambool and across the west of Victoria up through Robe to Adelaide....performing with two delightful gentlemen from Timboon, (the Hoffman brothers) as roadies. Alex van Heeswijk. a great guy/guitarist from Mt Gambier, the incompetent Seamus again...all these colourful identities will appear in Book Four, the Insects of Australia, a guide for Entertainers.
1997 Adelaide and across to New Zealand playing Clubs from Christchurch, enjoying some stunning musicians, Peter Gillette et al from the jazz colleges...a wonderful experience....back to Adelaide until
1999 to Perth... and the Swan Yacht Club nightmare...(Book One page 299)living in the motel for over a year, spending over $37,000.00(!) waiting for an indictment on charges of theft of the door takings(Oh yes it's all here, the broad rich tapestry of the life of an entertainer in Oz....enduring the unique corruption of WA Police Force. Documented and appalling).
2000 Sonia, not young, but just like Norma Desmond without the career,....working with the British cop/muso, who played guitar for me and who commiserated with the rough path I needed to tread through a minefield laid by WA Police Force.
(Ed. You must exhausted reading of his exploits.)
2001 Winter to Darwin and Nth Queensland with Daniel, roadie until September 11th...Disaster...down to Ipswich, Helen, a randy vindictive Cousin, offered him a bed, but not empty....Where will it all end?
2002 Adelaide and Tim Lyne. See the website at www.jackpotter.net/timlyne ... And try to get a reference like this, and you’re doing well. Working Adelaide with Alex(again) and Bob Guy, another great muso who stood by Jack even when the going was tough. They had to part company because he had a health problem.(Well, I'll say that....)
2003 across to Castlemaine ...Rick Saulnier from Canada experience(and what an experience!....See Book Four).
2004 Victoria Mallee across to Cowra, and the wilful Darryl (guitarist, 19 years of age and couldn’t keep it in his pants, a hell of a ride, but not for long. A great bike rider, and he found plenty of bikes. Well, he was 19!
2005 Working from Cowra...winning on the pokies.
2006 Gippsland, invited to perform on Gold Coast...drive to Gold Coast, becoming involved with middle European Mafia!! Oh yes, it’s all in Book One.
2007 The Gangsters...death threats......(nice people, they’d kill anyone who crossed them…).Lyn and alcoholic husband...it all started out as a lodging experience….but then it changed colour drastically) Book Four.
2008 Bev, (taking a room with a man hater) Joyce,( living the life of an animated dildo). Paradise Point house with a landlady who was, quite frankly, an absolute nutter. Yep, it’s all here, folks.
2009 to Nerang ...the Church ...the foodbank...the evil Joe... who had a Thai wife, and invited him to go to Thailand with them. Jack later found out that Joe runs a side business, murdering Australian pensioners, burying them on his farm and keeping their pensions, which is possible...nice guy though!!!
2010 to Nerang and living on the hill, downstairs from a gentleman who still has the first cent he ever made. Yarrimbah Drive to a granny flat with a neighbour who was a failed Melbourne Cup Jockey, hugely jealous,who tried to break Jack’s legs. Where do they come from?
2011 Winning more money from the pokies (and Jacks’s not even a gambler!)...to Northam April...the Homeswest house, September. The end of the road.
2012 ...writing the book(s)…..Well it’s not Peer Gynt, but a lot more happened to Jack than happened to the Gynt boy.
2017 Now writing his second book, "London in the Sixties".
PRODUCTIONS since 1955:
Tons of Money… (Southport School)
Tony Draws a Horse… (Southport School)
Winter Journey… Southport Little Theatre
Hand across the Sea (Coward)dir …Southport Little Theatre
Anastasia …Southport Little Theatre
Caine Mutiny Court Martial …NIDA
No Exit…Love’s Labours Lost…NIDA
Irma la Douce…JCW
How to Succeed in Business without really trying..JCW
Salad Days …Qld College Players
Barefoot in the Park…London
The Hollow Crown…London
Aria da Capo…(Award) London
How's the World Treating You…(Award) London
Dimboola ..Gold CoastJesus Christ Superstar..HMM (Aust Tour)
Owl and the Pussycat..(Dir)Aust Tour
Last of the Red Hot Lovers…(Dir)Aust Tour
Star Spangled Girl (Dir)..Mackay
What the Butler Saw..(Dir)Mt Isa Q.
Servant of Two Masters..(Dir) Mackay Q.(Community)
(Henry IV Pt I) …Perth
(Laying the Ghost)…Adelaide
Dames at Sea...(Dir)Country Vic.(Community)
La Cage au Folles (Gold Coast)
Jack Potter celebrating the completion of his first book, Jack the Wild Card.
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