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25 October 2013

Bianca

Photograph by Dragi Markovic

"It’s been 10 years I’ve been selling The Big Issue in Canberra, and a long time since my last profile [Ed#224, 2005]. Life has been very good these last few years. 

This year, I shaved my hair and I wear wigs now. The long blonde wig in the photo is a Lady Godiva wig, and I’ve got a Lady Gaga wig and a crown, too. I’ve got 10 wigs – sometimes people don’t recognise me, but they recognise my voice. I like to make people laugh and smile. But I scared someone once when I wore the spiky black wig with yellow spikes! Maybe it was the fake nose…

I spent a lot of time at foster homes when I was younger, but would always run off. My mother still lives in Canberra. One brother died of cot death, and I have another brother and my sisters. I get on with them, but I don’t see them much. 

I gave Kitty Cat to my neighbour, and now I’ve got two beautiful dogs – and a beautiful man. We’ve been together for eight years. He works with me; we are a team. Steve’s got a car and I chip in for petrol. He’s in Curtin, a 20-minute drive from my place.

I don’t get much pension, only $90 a week, after the Public Trustee takes out the rent. Each time I get magazines, I pay 50¢ extra, so that I save 50¢ for each one I sell and collect it every two weeks on Friday. Then I can spend it on DVDs or wigs or on Steve, because I love him too much! 

I don’t go into the Big Issue office at Woden much – I’m too busy work, work, working! I’m a workaholic – I work long hours.

Today I was at the Curtin Centre, near Woden. We also do Kingston outside the IGA supermarket, the Kambah shops, and at Mawson next to Woolworths. IGA are great, they love me – give me coffee, let me work inside in the cold weather. They are good at the Curtin shops, too. 

I like my customers, I get to know them, and on my birthday I made lots of money at Curtin and got flowers, chocolates. I’m a good salesperson – I stand there and say, ‘Hello handsome, would you like to buy a Big Issue? Hello sir, it’s a good magazine.’

I’d like to say hello to Alan, the editor. I like to read what he has to say in the Editorial [on the opposite page].

I still go to bingo, on Wednesday mornings at Queanbeyan Bowling Club, where I’m a member. I win gift cards there for K-Mart, Target. I know lots of people there, too. Steve doesn’t like bingo but he still takes me there.

My fridge doesn’t work – I’ll have to find one somewhere. And save up for a computer and a TV, and a holiday. And for a present for Steve’s birthday in October. When I’m 90, I might retire!"

 

Interview by by Peter Ascot/ photograph by Dragi Markovic
Bianca sells The Big Issue at the Curtin shops, Canberra