(Interviewer: H. Renwick, Photos: V. Kravchenko)
Potts Point is a cosmopolitan suburb of inner-Sydney in close proximity to the harbour. Whilst relatively unknown to the general Sydneysider or the world at large, Potts Point boasts some of the finest examples of Australian art-deco architecture and numerous entertainment and eating destinations.
James O’Connell, a PR consultant, has moved here from Pymble on Sydney’s North Shore after completing his studies. He agreed to highlight some of his favourite aspects of Potts Point for sydneysiderblog.com.
I met him on a Saturday morning after he had finished his swim at the Andrew Boy Charlton swimming pool. James leads a well-balanced life, each of his days commencing with some form of physical activity.
I asked James: Why Potts Point?
‘I like to think of Potts Point as the place to be on so many levels, less of a suburb, more of a “quartier”. It’s a twenty-four hour, on-the-go kind of place. But generally speaking, there’s a sophisticated, progressive culture here. Like it’s not provincial. I guess the closest thing Australia has to living in New York. There are even plenty of cabs, but then again, I lie, not so good after nine on a Friday, Saturday night, cause of Kings Cross. But generally pretty good.’
I asked James how the proximity of Kings Cross reflects on his life.
‘Well, look, it’s close enough to be able to hit up the gym [Fitness First] with my ‘dream team’, aka my boyfriend Tom and a few friends to work out. But then again, it can never be far enough away, like, there are just so many gronks that rock up on a weekend from somewhere out west, and it’s gaudy and busy. I don’t really need that, I’m crazy busy as it is.’
I wanted to know what James thought of the nightlife in Kings Cross and he elaborated.
‘Fuck no, clubbing’s not my style, been there done that. I don’t go clubbing anymore. First of all, I like getting up early, greet the morning, get my stretches done with my personal trainer, Nicholas. He’s a great guy, we get along very well. In any case, the clubs in the Cross are just seedy, full of young sluts who cannot walk properly in heels. And, on the other hand, I’m not one of those guys who is impressed by souped up cars. No. If I go out, I like to have a nice dinner, like grab some beef pancakes at Ms G’s and have some wine time with my friends. Not into getting trashed drunk or high paying to get stuck in some hole of a club. Even down the road at the naval base [Garden Island] there’s been this whole scandal about guys selling drugs. So you don’t even have to go to the Cross for that because you have drugs each end.’
After leaving the swimming pool, we drove to James’ house where he picked up his boyfriend’s dog, Chester. We took Chester for a walk to Elizabeth Bay.
‘I swear, you can’t find an area in Sydney where so many great places to eat and drink are tucked away. Tom and I often go for a drink somewhere to chat after work. And there are so many places to meet up, like sometimes we go to Gazebo and have amazing lychee cocktails or Velluto’s great if you’re in the mood for a good champers. Tom and I love going for dinner and so often we find ourselves in Potts Point without even meaning to. Like the other night I celebrated my promotion so we went to Mezzaluna, which is always exquis. And if you’re in the mood for something a bit more unusual, Fei Jai is a great little-hole-in-the-wall with interesting Cantonese food. But there are also plenty of places for your everyday needs, many little Italian places that can do a simple cacciatore. I also love going to Fratelli Paradiso relatively frequently to stock up for the week just for some basics.’
I asked James to comment on the type of people who inhabit Potts Point.
‘What I do like to see in Potts Point is a lot more people with good taste. It’s like designer, but laid back. Not only are the people concerned with what they eat but also with how they look and that’s something I approve of. I think it’s probably because a lot of people who live here work in the creative industries, fashion, advertising, etc. They are all quite aware of the latest trends in what constitutes good-living, no longer willing to accept the country-wide pub-steak and wife beaters … and Potts Point has done well to meet these demands. And to me, that’s fair enough. When you work as hard as I do you don’t want to go shopping in fucking Jay Jays or Cotton On. We all shop at places like Arida or else we go online to mrporter or sometimes even Asos.’
Finally, I inquired as to whether James sees himself staying in Potts Point.
‘Well, look, Potts Point is definitely one of the better places in Sydney. When my friends from Europe visit they never want to get out of here but at the same time it’s limited by where it is. I mean it is surrounded with dull suburbia, and the CBD’s quite bland. I would still give Potts Point a seven out of ten but I feel like for myself and a lot of people like me Sydney is becoming a bit of a small pond. If you really want to achieve and experience something in this life you have to go to places like New York, London or Berlin while you’re still young. That’s where all the big boys are.’