“That’s Adelaide for you!” you hear people say when they realise they’re connected to someone through half a degree of separation.
My mate Cameron and I have known each other for the better part of a decade, and in that time, he always spoke fondly of his God-sister, Pippa.
About five years ago I started using Twitter (late to the party, I know, but bear with me because that’s not the point of my story), and I started following the notorious Grace Bellavue.
A high class escort with a wicked sense of humour, Grace was sharp, witty, sassy, sexy and had amassed an impressive following of more than 10,000 people who were always eager to hear her anecdotes, watch her shame sleazy potential clients, and fight like hell for what she believed in.
One night, my husband noticed she was out at everyone’s favourite karaoke and noodle bar, La Sing with my best mate Matty and the aforementioned buddy, Cameron.
We had no idea Pippa was Grace and Grace was Pippa and that both of them knew my closest friends.
Well, that’s Adelaide for you.
“Now I know we’re family, I can’t sleep with you,” Grace cheekily informed me, and we made plans to go to bingo with the boys at The Colonel Light the following Sunday.
We got chatting, and she asked me to help her deal with her procrastination issue – she had about ten articles, all past deadline, and she needed someone to discipline her in a totally non-sexy way.
I went over to her house with my computer (I also had a few stories due), ready to work, and by two o’clock the next morning, we were rolling drunk and hadn’t typed a word.
It was easy to get lost in time with Pippa; she could tell you stories all night, talk about hip hop until she was hoarse, and your glass was always refilled before you noticed you’d finished your previous drink.
Pippa was my friend. She was many, many people’s friend. And now she’s gone, and I have a hole in my heart that feels as big as the world.
As a music journalist, I would often get tickets to gigs and Pip was my ‘plus one’ to all of the hip hop shows.
We went to see 360 at Thebarton Theatre and she got chatting with a young couple who had saved up all their money, bought the VIP package and driven up from the country to see their favourite rapper.
But the VIP package didn’t include a reserved viewing area so when they came back from getting a drink at the bar, they couldn’t get back to their spot at the front of the stage.
Pippa was furious. “They’ve paid hundreds of dollars to get the same view I’m getting for free,” she ranted, and she started tweeting everyone from the venue, to the promoter, to the publicist, and even 360 himself.
That’s what Pippa would do. She saw injustice and set about to right the wrongs.
Pip was an advocate for the decriminalisation of sex work and she worked hard to try to rid herself and her colleagues of stigma; she fought to make the profession safe for everyone.
One night we were out at a show and she received a call from a fellow sex worker who had been attacked by a client; she dropped everything to rush to her side.
Pip had so many stories and had met so many incredible people, and when you weren’t asking her to speak up (she was a notorious mumbler), you were laughing at the time she told a client (and a very accomplished musician) he should pursue his interest in music – he’d get there someday – because she didn’t recognise him.
Or when she told the performers backstage at the Melbourne Comedy Gala that she and a well-known comedian met while working as chicken boners in a factory in Adelaide (a total and utter fabrication – she just thought it was hilarious).
She loved to make people laugh and she loved to educate them, especially about her work, which she was passionate about; work that brought her a lot of pleasure, but was often lonely, and sometimes very hard on her.
I learned so much from Pippa in our friendship, which was far too brief.
Sometimes when she wanted to escape the noise in her life, she would come and stay with us and we’d listen to music, break out the slip n slide (she found plastic bowling pins and put them at the end so we could be human bowling balls – did I mention she was a genius?) or just do craft.
“I want a beer and I want to do craft,” she demanded one afternoon. “I want craft beer.”
Anyone who knew her would be able to tell you how much fun she was and how easily she could get you into mischief.
She lost more phones/keys/wallets/underwear than anyone I know, but they were just things to her. People mattered much more.
Pippa had so much love to give and she gave it generously.
Her family are a wonderful group of people who supported and adored her and she adored them right back.
But after a long struggle with herself, our Pippa decided to fall asleep forever.
I’m absolutely devastated, and judging by the flood of tributes on social media, so are many, many others.
I will miss her strength and her fighting spirit, I’ll miss her humour, and I’ll miss taking Cheezels to hip hop gigs and refusing to share them with anyone.
I’ll miss the woman who shouted at injustice and rattled the cages of those who needed shaking.
I miss my friend.
Goodnight Pippa. Rest peacefully.
By Libby Parker
Photos from all over the place
Funeral details: Friday 23rd October at 10:30am, St Peter’s Cathedral, North Adelaide.
In lieu of flowers, the family request that donations be made to the Black Dog Foundation.