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Carmen

Carmen Rupe

Director Geoff Steven

With Georgina Beyer. Music: Maui Dalvanius Prime.

This year we celebrate Wellington’s Heritage with a series profiling Wellington Personalities.

Carmen (born Trevor Rupe) moved to Wellington in the late 1960s and became one of our most well-known, notorious personalities.

At a time when homosexuality was still outlawed in Aotearoa, Carmen established a number of “sexually tolerant” venues and was a spokesperson challenging sexual discrimination and prejudice. Carmen’s International Coffee Lounge on Vivian Street was a well-known hang-out and put a sparkle in Wellington’s night life! In 1977 Carmen stood for the Wellington Mayoralty and more recently she has been memorialized with personalized traffic lights on Cuba St.

“Carmen”, the documentary by Geoff Steven covers various stages and achievements in Carmen’s life. “Before filming started, I gave her a notebook to write observations, reminisces and thoughts as a research tool and to help me construct the “camp drama” sequences I wanted to include in it. The form of the documentary was to be influenced by its content.” In an entry about her Wellington days Carmen wrote “During my Wellington Days I was everything: top hostess, madame, sex therapist, nurse, show girl, actress, prostitute, mother substitute, analyst, caring counsellor, teaser, bouncer, lover, bullshit artist, vagabond, mama, and voodoo lady…”