Whether you’ve got a tall one, a short one, a hairy one, a bald one, a funny one, a serious one, a sporty one or even a nerdy one, you’ll only ever have one dad. On the eve of father’s day, haven celebrates some of the raddest dads we know…
John Newman – the man behind Gold Coast icon Dracula’s – knows a thing or two about life and parenting. He and his late wife Tikki raised three adult children and John has proudly watched six grandsons enter the world. And the pair did it all while living a life on the stage and helping to bring those crazy Dracula’s characters to life week after week. While John’s kids are grown adults now (Paul is 55, Marc is 54 and Haydie is 49), John continues to wear the dad hat with pride with all three of his kids, their partners and even some of their offspring still today working directly and indirectly for Dracula’s.
Take us back to the moment you met your first child. What do you remember of that precise moment?
It was in an East Melbourne hospital. Baby Paul had a beautiful big round bald head and I said to my wife Tikki, he’ll have to be a comic. I remember being so proud. I wanted to tell everyone. I even handed out cigars.
What’s been your proudest moment, so far, as a dad?
My proudest moments have been when each one of them produced a comedy character of their own – worked out the character, dressed it and wrote the scripts. Marc’s was a Frankenstein-type character called Boris Farkingslash. Haydie’s was a little drug sponge called Sarah Pax. Paul’s was Rocket Snotter – he was a mohawked and heavily studded rock and roll character. All three of them gave me belly laughs and that is a difficult thing to do to an old comic who knows all the gags.
What has been the most challenging part of your role as a dad?
The most difficult part of our parenting was the fact that my wife and I were working most nights of the week and we had to pack into the times we were with them as much fun as we could. It’s most interesting that my late wife was a musical comedy star and I remember her saying, “Most of my friends are childless as they were unable to contemplate a career in theatre and also rear children”. My wife always said that when the time was right she would have a family and she did make it work. When she was in the musical Hello Dolly she toured for a month in New Zealand and took the two boys with her.
How would your kids describe you in three words?
A bit eccentric
How did you and your wife share the parenting role when the kids were growing up?
We had to have a housekeeper who would feed and bed our kids down at night while we worked. Our sister-in-law would sometimes fill in for Tikki and I at school sports and other general kids’ activities.
If your family had a reality TV show, what would it be called?
The incredible fulfilling life of the Newman family.
Did your father give you any parenting tips?
My father owned nine hotels in my lifetime and he never did give me any parental tips because he did not have the time to really teach me anything other than be nice to people. I did not live in a house until I bought one.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from being a dad? And a grandfather?
Always be there for your children. You may not think they need you, but they do.
Dream big: What’s the best Father’s Day gift you could receive this year?
A visit from my three kids with their great partners and my six grandsons. I think it’s a bit too late for a granddaughter, but I note that a 65-year-old lady became a mother recently – there’s still hope!