BIANCA DYE – COMING HOME
WORDS: Corrine Barraclough PHOTOGRAPHY Brian Usher - www.usherusher.com plus Tito and Supplied images from Bianca Dye's library
Radio favourite Bianca Dye sat down with ORM to talk about loving Gold Coast life, her famous father, performing, drinking, dating and accepting she may never have her own kids.
THERE are many well-known folk on the Gold Coast who you hope will live up to your expectations when you meet face-to-face. Having spent a first-class afternoon chatting and bonding with radio starlet Bianca Dye, ORM is happy to confirm she’s even more excellent in the flesh than on the airwaves or the small screen.
The co-host on 90.9 Sea FM’s breakfast show is loving life back on the GC, working hard on herself and, at 48, coming to terms with the fact she might not have her own biological children.
“How good is the Goldie?” she laughs as she arrives in her Sea FM t-shirt, full of life despite being up since evil o’clock this morning (her show starts at 6 am, so she’s up at 5 am). “I live just two streets away from the radio station (in The Oracle), although they could have designed the building a bit better to give me a water view,” she jokes.
As soon as Bianca starts talking, it’s clear radio has her heart. It’s her passion and it thoroughly lights her up. “As long as radio will have me, I will never give it up,” she says. “I do some TV, like Sunrise on Channel 7, but I’d never trade.”
It’s an interesting admission, considering her father Issi Dye, was a pioneer for late-night TV as a talk show host.
“My dad was very ambitious, he would take a gig and farm me out to a nanny or whoever could look after me. I didn’t realise until I was much older that my upbringing wasn’t like most people’s,” Bianca says. “I was very young, maybe three, when he took me backstage to meet ABBA. I remember telling people years later and they were like, ‘yeah, no, that didn’t happen’. As if I’d make up a story and choose ABBA! Olivia Newton John was a family friend. I once took her signed photo into school and that was the worst show and tell ever because it was too good. Everyone was like, ‘no, that’s not real, you just wrote that yourself’. They thought I’d faked it.
“Seriously, I couldn’t catch a break! That’s what happens when everyone else in the classroom is like, ‘my nanna helped me turn this napkin into a penguin’ and you rock up with a signed photo of Olivia Newton John. I used to go to Don Lane’s house and Bert Newton’s for BBQs. That was all normal to me because I didn’t know any different.”
Bianca’s parents split when she was just three years old. “It wasn’t a great split. It was quite toxic,” she says. “My parents argued a lot. Thank god they split to be honest because it wasn’t the done thing back then. But, unfortunately, that was my first experience of a relationship. I think it’s pretty textbook psychology that I’ve spent my whole life seeking out relationships where I can take someone on and fix them.”
And with that, the cat’s out of the bag and we’re talking about relationships, dating and why on earth so many women get stuck in crappy relationships. “I look back on so many of my relationships and realise I didn’t know what I was doing. In my early 20s, I dated someone abusive. There was a shame and stigma around that and I remember someone in my family saying, ‘you must have done something to make him do that’. It’s straight-up victim-blaming. It’s enabling. That cycle of abuse is never-ending until one person says, ‘no, I’m not going to do that anymore’.”
Bianca tries to laugh about her dating escapades, but there’s a darkness she can’t quite hide. She talks about an ex from her early 20s breaking one of her ribs. She opens up about having a narcissistic ex in her past. She speaks about being too scared to go to the police. She shares the pressure of having a profile and not wanting to end up in the paper. And she talks about being contacted by other women who had also experienced abuse at the hands of one of her exes. It’s very clear that Bianca’s lived pain and some memories haunt her, despite her efforts to gloss over it by playing the role of Little Miss Sunshine.
And then, as she nibbles on a chicken Caesar salad, Bianca recounts the story about why she ran away from home at 15. “I didn’t get on with my step mum in those days. She was pregnant. I’d disrespected her. I got lippy and my dad wasn’t happy. We had a big fight and I found myself on a Greyhound bus. My dad and I were best friends until I got a personality. We were besties and we were inseparable. Then I hit 12 or 13 or 15 when I ran away from home because he couldn’t control me anymore. I was pretty feisty, as you can imagine.”
Unusually for the 1970s, Bianca’s father, not her mother, had custody of her after the divorce. “I think my mum still carries guilt around, to be honest. She says my dad said he would give me a good life and told her she could have me on the holidays. He had a big profile at that point. He had money, but I think my mum feels guilty that happened. I rotated around four people; staying with my dad, my dad’s mum, my mum and my mum’s mum. I never felt living like that was a negative but I do think, looking back, it explains why I’ve lived like a gypsy, moving around so much with radio work. I didn’t know what it was like to have a home base.
“So, at 15, I had this clash with my step mum. I ran away on a Greyhound bus and suddenly, my mum had a turd of a 15-year-old living with her. Fun. I’d been an overachiever at school. I was choir captain, I was drama captain and I think that’s because both of my parents were overachievers. They’re both OCD. I learned at a very young age that if I got an A-grade my dad wanted to talk to me. If I got an F-grade, he didn’t. I always worked my arse off trying to win my dad’s approval. And then I ran away and left to join the circus.”
She speaks very respectfully of her father but it doesn’t take a psychology genius to work out things are strained. “I wouldn’t say we’re estranged,” she says, carefully. “I’m happy not to have bad blood with him. I wish him all the best. When they come to the Gold Coast we’ll have coffee together but after an hour, I’m done, I’m out. He’s old school. He’s 75 now and he’s never going to change. I have so much respect for him though, even though we don’t talk much. He came out here to Australia with my grandparents who had survived Auschwitz. There’s DNA in my dad that’s a survivor. He got a scholarship to a Jewish school and he worked his butt off. I love him very much. But, and there is a but, I don’t want to hear his advice. He gets funny with my career and I’m like, ‘Dad, you’ve never done radio, you did TV’. He means well we just clash sometimes and it can be exhausting. As I’ve got older I feel more confident to stick to boundaries, ‘this is not a good chat’. I’ve just decided at this age, it’s okay for me to want clear boundaries. For so long I tried to win him over. I’m just not going to do that anymore.”
Bringing things back to the now, Bianca has at least 5,000 hilarious dating stories that she’s thinking about turning into a one-woman stand-up show, hoping to inspire women through her honesty. She’d like to perform it at HOTA before she’s 50.
Considering all the negativity around her last break up, at the end of last year, it’s heart-warming to hear her talk about finding her confidence.
“I let that ex live with me for two months after we’d broken up, basically because he had a young daughter and I didn’t want her to end up staying on someone’s sofa. It was a very painful breakup and that was a lot to do with losing my role as stepmother to his daughter. I went from having family picnics in the park and spending afternoons colouring to being alone and the silence was deafening. He love-bombed me. I’ve made no secret about that. And now, I’m definitely more wary of getting involved with someone again, especially bonding with their children, because it’s indescribably hard and painful to have that taken away. We were buddies, you know? I miss her.”
How did she cope with that breakup? “Seriously, thank god for my work,” she laughs. “I’m a good performing monkey. I could go in with jazz hands and switch it on. I can do that. I’ve been a performer since I was a little kid. But I tell you, the day I could tell my co-hosts on the radio show was such a frigging relief. As soon as I’d told them, our show clicked back in sync. It was fantastic. I thought I was doing a good job at hiding the breakup but clearly not.”
The public reaction to her split, after three years with her ex, was not so positive.
“You’d have thought that someone had died. People were making all these comments and I was torn because I wanted to say, ‘I chose to leave this relationship, I’m the one who ended it, don’t feel sorry for me, I kicked him out’. Just because I’m now single doesn’t make me less lovable. It doesn’t make me less worthy or of less value. But at the same time, I had to remind myself: I don’t owe these strangers on social media any explanation. They don’t know me, they don’t know my life.”
“I had delayed grief. I don’t miss him at all, but I do miss being part of a family unit. I fully had a breakdown, months after he finally moved out. I had been in survival mode. You know, there will come a time when the performing monkey will crumble. I found my drinking spiralling. I would buy a small bottle of wine, those half bottles, telling myself you can’t get into trouble with that. But then I’d find myself on the phone to Jimmy Brings. It’s dangerous, you know? Within 15 minutes it was on my doorstep – and I didn’t even have to get dressed. The grief hit me hard. I’ve spent all these years being the clown on the radio. My girlfriends are telling me how lovable I am and I know that a lot of it comes from my family. They didn’t tell me I was loveable. They said no man would want to date me because I was the clown from the radio. And I became that person.”
That said, she’s under no illusion that many radio and TV personalities secretly hide addictions to drink and substances. “I know it, you know it, we all know it,” she says. “There are heaps of people who perform with a hangover. There are plenty of people with pretty bad drug addictions, people you and I see every day. They’re functioning performers with addictions.”
But, she’s determined not to let her drinking cast a shadow over the career that she’s fought so hard for. “There was one day when I rang in sick. I said I had a migraine, which was true, but it was because I drank 18,000 Margaritas the night before. My boss said to me, ‘Come on B, you’re better than that’. And I am better than that. I will not go down that path.”
Anyone who’s listened to her breakfast show will know that her co-hosts give her a hard time when she talks about dating. “They give me so much sh*t when I talk about it but it’s true. When I’m on Bumble, it’s hard because people are either like, ‘are you that chick from the radio’ or they pretend they don’t recognise me. I’m not sure which is worse. I don’t want to waste my time on someone who just wants bragging rights about dating the girl on the side of the bus. My friend Erin Molan (TV and radio personality) and I talk about it. She says you either date someone else with a profile or someone who’s not in the business. My girlfriends think I should find a tradie – someone who doesn’t care about my profile in the slightest.
“So here we are. I’m back on the dating scene and I’m not great at going on a date without a cheeky Chardy. I’m a bit looser. Sober me might be very quick to say, ‘you’re a bit of a dickhead mate’, but Chardy me will stick it out for a few more hours.”
Bianca’s coming through a tough breakup with a renewed focus on who she is, what she wants and returning to her plans for the future. “I’ve kept myself busy. I meditate most days and I’ve just started doing some work with Dani Smith, a Wim Hof instructor at Glow For Life. She’s incredible. I did an ice bath and some breathing sessions and it’s life-changing. Anyone with anxiety should try it. I want to be part of that healthy community now. My friends who want to go out and get sh*tfaced, I’ve told them, it might happen once in a blue moon but it’s not happening all the time. And that will impact who I want to date. I want to date someone who says, ‘Babe, let’s get up at 5 am and go do a hike’. I am a big pizza – there are many slices to my pizza. One slice is doing 9 am yoga, another slice is doing shots with my girlfriends at 9 pm. But my party days are over. I’m on a real mission right now. I want to be the person that I want to attract.”
So, are there positives emerging after the difficult breakup? “Yes, absolutely. Do you know, for so many years I had imposter syndrome. When I was hosting Kylie Minogue’s gig or standing on a stage with Ron Moss (The Bold And The Beautiful), or hosting Cleo magazine’s Bachelor of the Year events, I always had imposter syndrome. I was always scared that someone would find out I wasn’t up to it. My whole life I’ve felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Now I just throw my hands in the air and I’m going to make no apologies for being a square peg.
“My dad would say, ‘you’re too loud, you’re too brash, no one’s going to want to marry you’. I thought that was true. But so many men have said to me, ‘No, B, you’re beautiful and you’re not too much’. My response before has been to say, ‘Well, you’re boring’. No more! My therapist talks about nurturing my inner child. I have to remind myself that 15-year-old Bianca who ran away, she’s the little girl who made a lot of my decisions for me. I became the tragic clown. Eventually, the clown goes home alone. And now, I am determined to be the person I want to attract. I’m not interested in pretending anymore. I am becoming the real me, the confident 48-year-old me, and I want to meet someone who complements my brokenness.”
- ‘Get That Feeling!’
Get up with Bianca, Dan and Ben for brekky, 6 am-9 am, Sea 90.9 Gold Coast.
MISCARRIAGES AND THE MTHFR GENE
“I have this gene, MTHFR, which research shows may result in miscarriages. It’s important to me to talk about it and I know that talking about it helps other women who are also going through this. I’ve had three miscarriages. With one, I’d been pregnant for nine weeks and I was excited. I wanted it – and then I lost it. Of course, I’ve talked about having this miscarriage gene, and it’s one of the reasons my family don’t want to talk to me anymore. They say, ‘why are you telling the world?’ and I reply, ‘because it’s important’.” It’s part of the reason that Bianca decided to get involved with the charity Adopt Change. “I’m passionate about changing the law because it angers me that at 48, I’m considered far too old to adopt. I’m financially stable. I know I’d be a good mum, but at 48, they’d rather send a child into foster care. That’s ridiculous.”
“I don’t want to stop drinking forever but I’d like to change my relationship with alcohol. When I was on a detox after my last breakup, I walked into a BWS through habit. The guy was like, ‘can I help you?’. I smiled and said, ‘no, I’m good thanks’ and walked out. Walking into the bottle shop is a habit for me. I was on autopilot and I knew I had to look at that.”
LETTING GO OF BEING A MUM
“I’m talking to this therapist, making peace with the fact that I probably won’t have my own children at this point. I said to the therapist, ‘I’ve talked about my anxiety, I’ve talked about having IVF, I’ve talked about my relationships, I’ve flown to Tokyo to interview Madonna, I’ve flown on Richard Branson’s private jet, I’ve helped to inspire and pave the way for young announcers, female radio presenters especially…’ And my therapist replied, ‘Stop. Do you think most people could say they’ve done all that?’ Do you know what? She’s right. Her words made something click and I thought, maybe sharing all that’s happened in my life, that’s my mission, maybe that’s how I can help people, that’s me being a mum, and that’s been very freeing.”
“I think my 10-year plan is to do a national radio solo show that I host on my own. I’d like to have a team that helps me find people’s real-life stories, inspirational stories. All I’ve ever wanted to be was Oprah. That’s not asking for too much, is it? I also love Drew Barrymore. She’s so authentic, so real. I’ve done so many auditions but I feel I’ve got so much more to offer now. I look at Julia Morris, who’s paving the way, and I know I’ve got a great career still ahead of me.”
“After doing live radio for three hours every day, I’m at a point where I just want to go home and turn off the world. I want to watch Nicole Kidman in Nine Perfect Strangers and get lost in someone else’s imaginary life.”