Success in the music industry doesn't come without its own set of struggles and no one knows that better than Melbourne-based musician, Gary Pinto.
Despite holding an ARIA award along with his brother and former band mates from CDB and being able to enjoy success that initially came quite easily to Gary Pinto and the band, he has not been immune to the struggles that a career in such a competitive industry can bring.
Sitting comfortably on a large, mahogany lounge in his suburban Melbourne home and looking a little tired from a supremely busy day before, Gary shakes his head with a joyful smile at his phone buzzing with messages. "I've been so busy, just flat out," he says as if in explanation.
Currently Gary works on a myriad of projects including Channel 7's X-factor as a vocal mentor, a backing vocalist for many of Australia's highest charting artists such as Stan Walker and Jimmy Barnes and is about to embark on a national tour with Guy Sebastian. He has just finished producing his wife Natasha's album as well involving himself in writing songs with other artists. More personally, he is involved in catechesis work with the Catholic Church while trying to find the right balance to make way for friends, family and marriage.
It is easy to see just how busy his life is.
Gary exudes a welcoming and charismatic vibe as he chats happily about himself as a rogue teenager who was part of a dance group with his brother Brad Pinto and two friends, Andrew De Silva and Danny Williams.
"We started off as a dance group. A dance group of graffiti artists," he admits with a bashful chuckle. "I graffitied on everything. My tag was 'Impackt'," he adds showing his own amusement with his past.
"We named the group CDB," he says, turning serious. "It didn't mean anything it was just three letters that looked good together. Then we thought up 'Critically Def Boys' it went through many changes, next it was 'Criminally Dope Brothers' and then it eventually evolved in to 'Create, Dream, Believe'," he explains.
The band performed at underage gigs, at Indian dances and on demand for family and friends.
The first big break for the band came when Gary was 16 years old in 1992. He was approached by a bass guitarist who asked if they would be interested in performing with Peter Andre on the Steve Vizard Show.
"We went back to the studio with Peter Andre and recorded backing vocals for his album and then Molly Meldrum picked up on us and took us to over to Mushroom [records], signed us and then the fun began," he explains.
CDB rode the wave of success alongside Peter Andre (now a high profiled personality in the United Kingdom) and enjoyed tours with Celine Dion, Madonna and in Seoul, Korea performing with John Denver in front of a viewing audience of 77 million people.
"I remember we had to sing in Korean so we learned the words while we were on the plane on the way over," Gary reminisces brightly, continuing to try to politely ignore the flood of text messages that continually chime on his phone.
The band managed to pick up an ARIA for highest selling single of 1996 with "Let's Groove" a cover of the Earth, Wind & Fire classic. Despite the success and the nation-wide popularity of CDB, they were not nominated for any other awards.
"We thought it was a rock-based culture and that was just how it was in those days," he says.
CDB, touted as the pioneers of R&B music in Australia, were indeed swimming against the tide for recognition in a rock and grunge-centric industry with bands like Silverchair and Regurgitator dominating the charts and awards.
A roadblock in the band came at the height of their success when band member, Andrew De Silva was diagnosed with cancer.
"We were about to launch Sony India when Andrew came down with cancer and so we went on hiatus for nine months and we really didn't know what to do. We had support for Celine Dion that we were lined up to do so we went on as three members," Gary says.
After some change-ups and a few more roadblocks the band decided to call it quits.
After CDB, Gary was then signed to a major record label as a solo artist and began to feel the frustrations of the industry that most professional musicians experience.
"I spent two years recording and put an album together in America and spent half a million bucks on it, and it ended up on the shelf," Gary explains. "They released one single, 'What The Day Brings'."
His first solo single was released and received no promotion from his record label and no release date for his first album.
"Andrew had also been signed on the same label and I think they decided, 'we've got two boys from the same group on the same label here, we better ditch one.' and so they ditched me," he says, not seeming particularly phased these days by the treatment he received.
Despite the frustration, Gary moved on and toured with Jimmy Barnes as a backing vocalist.
"I then toured with Renee Geyer, Guy Sebastian, Marcia Hines, Diesel and still do so now, right now its Stan Walker and Jessica Mauboy."
While stepping back behind the scenes Gary has worked as a songwriter, having a hand in penning "Taller, Stronger, Better" an ARIA number 1 single from Guy Sebastian as well as many other successful hits.
While being a backing singer has perks of its own, Gary believes that it also has its downside too.
"I enjoyed not being the one to blame if something goes wrong. It is not as much pressure, but at the same time, you do not live to your fullest potential. And this is what I've realised now," he says.
The music industry proves to be an unfair one at times, with artists signed to major labels who earn significantly less than a backing vocalist, and it is this comfort that kept Gary behind the scenes for so long.
"As a backing singer I earn more than a signed artist," he explains lost for a moment in his own disbelief over the reality of it. "Considerably more, actually. Which is ridiculous. So I guess I got used to being comfortable," he adds.
There is not an air of pretention about him with regard to his fans of which he also considers his friends. "All the people that we met in the CDB days, they're our friends now, they are great," he says graciously. "Their age range is diverse, I'm very blessed."
Gary's faith in God is an integral part of his life that becomes apparent when talking to him. He speaks about his faith freely and openly and he is also currently working on two gospel albums.
"God is everything. I always say God is the electricity and if I'm not connected to Christ, I've got nothing," he says.
Long-time fan and friend of Gary Pinto is Lisa Bonnici who counts herself as blessed to have someone like Gary in her life.
"Gary's faith surrounds him and it guides him in his daily life and it flows seamlessly in to his music, in to his sound and in to the stories that he shares through his lyrics," she says.
Lisa believes that Gary has a very special musical gift. "His voice and the music he releases is soulful, captivating, spiritual and raw. He has such a power to mesmerise and uplift his audience."
Gary doesn't believe that his faith has any negative effects on how those within his industry perceive him. "If you live your life authentically, there's no problem. And all the artists I've worked with – all the artists, I feel like the spirit of God is within them."
After working behind the scenes for over a decade, Gary feels it is now time to take hold of the opportunities that seem to continually present themselves.
"I've got all these God-given opportunities lined up right now, so I'm just going to take them and not sit on my butt," he says confidently.
He is just about to release an album through Sony Music.
"My friend Premo D'anger is coming out in August and I want to record with him. Guy Sebastian has written a song for me, I've written a song with Daniel Merriweather and right after this I'm going to record with Li'l Jon," he says, seeming passionate about his plans.
"In the past, I think a little bit of my ego popped up when I was dropped by my label. I didn't want to deal with any of them anymore. I got very disappointed and disillusioned with it all," he says with mature hindsight. "I didn't see the opportunities in a door closing and others opening."
There is one thing that this busy musician knows for sure, and that is that to make it in the music industry these days, an artist has to be multi-faceted. "Its very hard to survive as an artist otherwise."
"You just have to aim at the right thing with your arrow and persevere in this industry," he says with an air of resolve.
Gary is confident about his new album and hopes to have a single on the radio within two months.
"Its all bubbling," he adds with yet another joyful smile resurfacing upon his face again.
Did you know that more than 80% of males consume porn? Did you know that a study at University of Sydney suggested that 20% of men preferred to watch pornography over being sexually intimate with a partner?.
If that last fact alone doesn't make you realise that pornography is a problem, then you might just be part of the statistic.
Pornography, as it stands, is one of the most lucrative industries in the world. It is the ultimate fulfilment of (predominantly) man's boldest and most outrageous fantasy. Erotic art was evident even as far back as Egyptian times, but the rise of pornified or pornography images did not begin until the film camera was invented.
With the rise of the distribution of pornography or 'erotic' images came an increase in sexual appetite.
Currently, there are seemingly endless arrays of porn that begins with cheap-made voyeuristic videos (that are made with or without permission of the women of which they star) to the most shocking videos for the more desensitised pornography consumer.
According to Robbi Sonderegger, Google search query of "Teen Sex" holds the number one position for total web pages of 81,700,000. "Pre-teen Sex" yields a whopping 1,560,000 results. And according to Gizmodo there are 116,000 searches for "Child pornography" every single day. Other search queries that too, yield shockingly high web page results are, "Animal Sex" - This is second on the list with 50,300,000 results. This query holds 6,120,000 searches per month.
"Crush Sex" (pornography that involves the disturbing act of killing small animals) yields 7,740,000 total web pages and is only 8th on the list. And most disturbingly, total web pages for "Snuff sex" (the 'actual death of participants, consenting or otherwise') holds a total web page count of 1,280,000 with 6600 search results per month.
What is it about pornography that keeps the consumers pushing the envelope for more and more outrageous fantasies to be played out for their gratification?
Pornography has been normalised in society and is widely accepted by men and women alike. Never has pornography been more prevalent in society than in birth and growth of the internet. Users don't need to leave their homes to obtain it, they don't even need to pay. More than 35% of internet downloads are pornography and 12% of the internet is made up of it (Gizmodo, 2010). With it being so easily accessible, it is possible that users become considerably desensitised as their consumption grows.
Researchers at University of Sydney found that pornography consumption can lead to addiction and that those addicted to pornography can suffer severe social and relationship issues.
Watching porn is not a normal and natural behaviour. Dr. Raj Sitharthan believes that porn is a learned behaviour that can be unlearned. "What we need is a balanced view of the potential dangers of porn addiction, supported by good evidence," he says.
Pornography creates an unrealistic representation of sex and how sex should be which has the potential to leave men and women feeling disappointed or unsatisfied with their respective sex lives. Women are exploited and objectified and a lot of the time treated violently during porn videos and are made to act as though they are throughly enjoying it. This of course, is not the reality.
Ex Pornstar Genevieve explains, "I had bodily fluids all over my face that had to stay on my face for ten minutes. The abuse and degradation was rough. I sweated and was in deep pain. On top of the horrifying experience, my whole body ached, and I was irritable the whole day. The director didn't really care how I felt; he only wanted to finish the video."
Genevieve's story is just one of hundreds from porn stars that have claimed to have been manipulated in to doing things that they were not comfortable with, or even brazenly mislead by agents and directors. Corina Taylor recounts one of her experiences on set, "When I arrived to the set I expected to do a vaginal girl boy scene. But during the scene with a male porn star, he forced himself anally into me and would not stop. I yelled at him to stop and screamed 'No' over and over but he would not stop. The pain became too much and I was in shock and my body went limp."
Many women in this industry contract sexually transmitted infections and diseases despite being assured that it is a safe and clean environment. According to the website of Shelley Lubbin, many women are beaten and raped and are manipulated in to doing scenes of which they are abused sexually and ignored if they are hurt or uncomfortable.
Pornography is running rampant on the internet and becoming readily available for consumption not only by adults, but also by teens and children. Gizmodo (2012) shows that the average age of which a child first sees pornography is at 11 years old, thus developing an early desensitisation to adult images of a sexual nature and perverting their understanding of sexual relationships.
While pornography is bleeding in to the mainstream, it is obvious that as a result we are traveling a slippery slope in to a pornified culture. This culture has a very real and lasting, negative impact on young men and women that is sabotaging any potential for normal and healthy relationships.
Pornography deepens a misrepresented version of sex and is, as simply put, sexual propaganda.
Claudia Davies, an enthusiastic café owner takes the first sip of her early morning coffee and waits patiently for her taste buds to warm to the flavour. She takes a second sip, and experiences the pleasure of that familiar, clean and creamy taste born of an immaculate and fine grind. The kind of elements that she and her employees aim for throughout all the day. These elements, she believes, will constitute a perfect coffee.
It is no secret that an obvious coffee culture has developed within Australia in the past decade. Distributors of coffee and coffee machinery have seen a significant rise of sales in the past five years especially with the coffee industry thriving not just in metropolitan areas, but extending further out to regional areas as well.
Owner of Claudia’s Café located in Gippsland, Victoria, Claudia Davies tells of how she has enjoyed watching her café grow in the past five years.
“Gross profits have quadrupled in five years.” She explains, “I think coffee has become a large part of our culture through marketing, advertising and a coolness factor.”
Claudia’s business has been largely successful in the Gippsland region and has won the LCBTA People’s Choice Awards for three years running for café and dining as well as being a finalist in the Bendigo Bank Gippsland Business of the Year awards for three years. These successes, she proudly attributes to a superb team of people and of course, coffee.
“The coffee is a massive part of our success and consistency at the café and we don’t underestimate its importance.” She says.
“Coffee is sincerely important financially to the café too and it would be a bit of a dud without it! If you make it well, it can become the backbone of your business.”
Claudia Davies is not the only one who has experienced a growth in business. John Cassidy, owner of a coffee and coffee machinery business, Azzura Coffee, has also noticed an increase in coffee machine sales and rentals within the past five years.
“When you have an increase in coffee sales, needless to say, you have increase in machine rentals and sales as well.” He says.
“There’s a great coffee culture here in Gippsland that has developed over recent years.”
John believes that the coffee culture in the Gippsland region is just as thriving as it is in metropolitan areas. “Our business is predominantly in South Gippsland. You don’t need to go to the city, it is just as strong here as it is in the metropolitan areas, Philip Island absolutely booms in the summer.”
Coffee has indeed become more profitable. With the boom of coffee culture bleeding in to regional areas, the demand for higher quality blends and well-made specialty coffee is unavoidable.
“Cafés will pay approximately $28 per kilogram of coffee and with that kilogram of coffee you can generate around 120 cups and the owner can generate around $480 profit from their sales on a stand-alone basis,” John says.
Lee Mawdsley, graphic designer and self-confessed coffee addict believes that coffee is a good conversation starter and can sometimes be simply just a good reason to get out of the house and catch up with friends.
“If I were to go out with friends, I almost always prefer a place with good coffee and I enjoy socialising over coffee,” he says.
During times of economic crisis, coffee proves to be an affordable luxury that can be indulged on an almost-daily basis.
Coffee seems to be everywhere we look. Specialty instant coffees are now advertised in TV and magazine commercials, cafés can be found alongside one another in the main streets of any city or town and coffee products are carefully advertised in television shows and movies.
It is this and an influence from overseas, specifically Europe and the United States that John Cassidy believes has switched our taste buds on and has made us conscious of good coffee.
“The Australian community has become very discerning about coffee nowadays, whereas years ago, anything would do,” he says.
While viewing popular TV sitcoms such as Glee or 90210 which are targeted predominately at teenagers and young adults, the characters can be found frequenting coffee chains, sipping lattes and other specialty coffees in school halls, or nipping in to a café on the way to school for their necessary caffeine buzz.
John agrees that this probably has something to do with the rise of teenagers drinking coffee.
“Coffee is very trendy especially to the younger demographics.” He says, “It is very much a cosmopolitan thing. You’ll find the young ones do enjoy sitting with their friends and having coffee.”
Claudia Davies observes that the popularity of coffee culture has a lot to do with the simplicity of café environments.
“There is usually no specific dress code or demographic so everyone can feel equally welcome. A café tries to formalise the meeting over a coffee that we’ve always experienced in our own homes,” she says.
Then there is always the small matter of a caffeine addiction to consider.
Lee Mawdsley stresses that he must get his daily dose of coffee in order to satisfy his craving and if he does not, he is plagued by headaches.
“I have two café purchased coffees per day and one to two coffees that I make myself from a coffee machine at home,” he says.
“Coffee is a pure pleasure and a pleasant and relatively innocuous addiction,” Claudia points out.
But is coffee a harmless addiction?
“Despite all the horror stories about how bad coffee is for you, there are actually some antioxidant properties in a good coffee that don’t exist in bad,” John says.
“I mean, you can’t get picked up for drink driving with coffee, can you?” he adds with a laugh.
Tayla comes across happy, charming and full of charisma that any young woman her age should. She has a beautiful smile and infectious laughter and tells about her work as freely as if it were a nine-to-five at a cafe.
"I had a conversation with my Dad when I was a little girl, he said that there was nothing wrong with prostitutes and that I should have respect for them." She explains with a roll of her big blue eyes and her arms crossed against the table she is sitting at, "but he only told me this because I knew that he had cheated on my Mother with them and was only defending his actions."
Tayla has worked in the sex industry now since she was eighteen years old on-and-off, now she is 25. Her close friend was already working as a stripper at a Sydney strip-club and she became curious about the entire sex industry. She attributes her sexual curiosity and her lack of self-confidence to her delving in to the business with the help of her friend
"I don't think any prostitute goes in to this industry thinking that they are going to stay forever, it's usually just to make a bit of money and then leave and go back to 'the real world'," she shrugs. "I just felt like working in a strip club would be the perfect place for me to go to help me become more confident in my own skin, and it truly did."
She started off dancing at the same club as her friend and the industry became almost instantly seductive with high income coming in that not a lot of other eighteen year-olds would be used to seeing. She tells of how the love for the money in the job led her down a path of partying with easy access to drugs any time she wanted. There was a natural progression from dancing, to peep-shows, pleasure massages before working as a prostitute in a brothel.
Tayla gives an honest account of her first experience having intercourse with a client. She explains about how she was consumed by an exhilarating mix of fear, excitement and nervousness. "I got referred this client who openly enjoyed breaking new girls in. He was pleasant and excited to be the first male that I slept with in this industry. It went really well, he wasn't really gentle with me, but he wasn't rough or anything..."
Tayla makes it no secret that she enjoys her own company very much. She has a cat that she adores and talks about a lot and can't wait to get home to. She describes herself as a home-body but who likes to surround herself with those in her life of whom she loves.
Do those people know about her job?
"Yeah, the people who I love and care about know what I do and they don't make any judgments on me just the same way I wouldn't for their own lifestyle choices. I'm sure it's not the career path they'd have chosen for me, but they love me and support me no matter what."
Brother of former Melbourne sex worker, Peter Burrows shares that despite the fact that he dearly loves his sister; his main concern while she was working was that she would never learn the meaning of actual love. "She turned to the sex industry to make money to fund a drug habit, and from what I understood it made her go deeper in to a hole mentally."
Despite calling herself a homebody, Tayla has a very adaptable character, she comes across bright and social and very sweet and is apparently known by her clients for those qualities. She points out that one of her best qualities is the fact that she doesn't pass judgment on anyone. Perhaps this is a good thing, considering some of the odd requests and situations that have occurred in her job.
"We have this one guy who is known around Melbourne as 'slug man'," she explains, hiding a little smile, anxious to share the details, "And he likes to watch us step on them; once with a heel on, then another with our stockings on and then lastly, barefooted. He isn't even interested in having sex."
Tayla also tells of a well-known sports star who is known for defecating on a bed while the sex worker is showering as the appointment is finishing. She tells these stories with good nature and light-laughter, careful not to give any names or compromise anyone's privacy. Even though she admits she finds it easy to detach herself from sex as a job and sex in a relationship, she says often she feels the strain on that detachment, but on those days, she chooses not to work. She advises that any sex worker who can't make that detachment should not be in the industry.
But why would one choose this industry?
"Because it's easy," she says nonchalantly. She thinks for a moment, "most days at least, especially if you have my type of personality where you can distinguish the difference between personal life and work life." Tayla gives off the impression that she has given all this a lot of thought in the past. "You know, I think 'Daddy-issues' are probably a very big reason why me and a lot of other girls end up in this industry, I see in other girls that they almost disrespect themselves because they aren't respected by the man that should love them the most in their lives; their Dads… and while those reasons may be why I started, they are definitely not the reasons as to why I'm still here," she admits very openly. She makes no apology for showing a little vulnerability. Is there anywhere else she would rather be?
"Yes, of course. I don't want to be in this job any more than a garbage man wants to be at his job, but we do it and get on with it. It's just that in my industry it's easier to make a significant amount of money very, very quickly." She shares with honesty. "And money is exactly why I am still here, I hope that when I have a more stable life I will be able to do something else with my life and work a regular job like everyone else. I honestly don't think a lot of girls who work in this industry do it for the love of the job."
Sex worker and Scarlet Alliance member, Melanie of Sydney disagrees. "I feel that my job is the best in the world!" she says enthusiastically, "I get to make people happy and I enjoy making people happy."
Melanie is happily married to an English immigrant and is interested in educating people about the sex industry to destroy the stigmas and taboos that exist. She is open and honest with every person that she comes in to contact with about her job and admits that the only two people who have ever acted negatively were family members of whom she no longer has contact. She says that clients are from all backgrounds.
"Often clients are in to anal stimulation and ask, 'Am I weird for that?' but they're not, it's actually pretty common, it's just that it's classified as taboo."
Tayla agrees, citing anal sex play a great shame for a lot of clients. She says that the client base is ever-changing. "We get young, old, disabled, good-looking, bad-looking, in-between, the kind of people you would expect and a lot of people that you definitely would not."
Receptionist Toni from Melbourne brothel, At The Top Of The Town says that their client base is also always changing and that the hostess staff are more casual and fleeting than the receptionist or other staff. She explains that there are a few safety issues that arise within Melbourne brothels as the Victorian legislation prevents the advertisement of jobs which makes it difficult to legally hire security guards.
Tayla attested to this, recalling a few rowdy clients, but her main safety concern while working in a brothel was the clients that would try to remove condoms without her realising. "The second I would turn my back, they would try to pull it off and hope that I wouldn't notice. I've just learned to double check.
Tayla earns around $400 per night on an average night, and on a good night she says that she earns anything up to $1500 and for now, that is enough to keep her in the industry.
"In 5 years from now I hope that I will have a family; or at least married to my partner with a baby on the way. I just want my life to be more steady, stable and happy with a nice, normal job." She pauses and adds, "without financial strains."
Considering that further for a few more moments, she gives a smile and shrugs, "Isn't that just what every 'normal' person wants?"
Did you know that there are 1.4 billion people suffering at the moment? It is easy to dismiss because you don't know these people personally – they are not your mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, cousin or colleagues. But well, imagine if they were.
Their stomachs are growling, they have no money, they have no Medicare to cover the bill if they need to pop in to the local doctor – even having a local doctor is a stretch considering education is so sparse that going to school to study medicine is a luxury that they cannot afford.
These people are living below an extreme poverty line.
Extreme poverty means living on or less than $1.25 U.S per day (This is the equivalent to $2 AUD).
This $2 per day has to cover education, housing, health, transport and food.
I don't really spend a lot in my day-to-day living. I am a university student, I have to be frugal but I can tell you now, that I would eat $2 per day in chocolate alone.
To be frank, the thought of a world without chocolate is frightening, but I am thankfully fortunate enough that I could even entertain such an indulgence.
Last year I took part in a challenge called Live Below The Line. It is a global campaign to combat extreme poverty. You will spend no more than $2 per day on food for five days straight. You cannot accept food from your generous friends, you can use the food that you already have as long as it fairly equates no more than $2 in that daily budget. This is to help those gain an understanding of what other people are going through not just for five days, but every day.
You gain sponsorships from friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers if you can, somewhat like a fun run. The money that you gain in donations goes toward the root of the problem in places that need our help.
This year the money is going toward education in Papa New Guinea.
According to Live Below The Line's site,
PNG [Papa New Guinea] is the poorest country in the Asia-Pacific region. Years of political instability and tribal conflict have broken down the country's basic infrastructure, especially in rural areas. This means that young people in PNG face a severe lack of access to education and can't gain the skills necessary to find a job.
This begs the question; is eating $2 worth of food per day even possible? I wondered that last year and contemplated the challenge for a week before I accepted the challenge. I bought oats, a loaf of bread, some vegetables, jelly, instant noodles, tinned fruit, a bag of rice, 6 eggs, lentils and a tiny sachet of spices all for $9.89.
It isn't easy, but it is do-able. By partaking in this challenge you will be able to gain just a tiny glimpse of what extreme poverty might feel like.
So, If you know of anyone who is taking part in this challenge, try to sponsor them, not to just support them but rather to support those who are in need – but if you cannot do this financially, then I implore you and challenge you to take part in it yourself this year along with me and hundreds of others!
Because of global awareness, extreme poverty has dropped from 52% to 25% since 1985 – lets keep that moving!
Live Below The Line begins on May 7th and ends May 11th. To join this campaign click here.
Based in Victoria, I am currently undertaking a journalism degree. Studying at Deakin University, I have focused my studies on both the print and broadcast medium.
With experience in satirical, content and feature writing, I possess an understanding of and familiarity with the composition of hard news articles, essays and editorials. A passion for women's issues has steered me on to a career path that aspires to highlight social issues and promote topical discussion
I am available for freelance work, radio work and contract-based journalism. I am keen to gain any experience in both the field of broadcast radio and also in print journalism. I am happy to participate in voluntary work. If you are interested in offering me work in any of these areas than please send an email through the below contact.