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Australian Media on Paganism

Horne-ing in on the action

The Sun Herald, October 8th 2000 by JACQUI LANG

JACQUI LANG goes partying with Fiona Horne and takes a warts-and-all look at sex and the single Sydney girl.

BEING a witch can help when you're trying to land your dream job on national TV. It seems to have worked for Fiona Horne, author, singer, self-proclaimed witch and now host of Nine's latest "reality" effort, Parties.

Horne, 34, freely admits that just prior to getting the job she cast a few spells, summoned her witch energy, lit a candle and faced the sunrise to focus on a future in prime-time. No aggro eye-of-newts here. "I just sent a message to the universe to let the best thing happen," she said earnestly.

"I didn't seek to alter events - I knew I was going to get the job anyway!" she added with a grin.

Ambitious Horne hopes this series, on folk kicking up their heels, is just the first step to an illustrious TV career. "I'd love to be the next Jana Wendt," she said, "I've always really admired her."

Through the series Horne's beaming blonde, party-girl presence ushers you into people's bar mitzvahs, birthdays - even orgies. (Yep, fly-on-the-wall TV is starting to lose the fly.)

"Some of what we saw I found profoundly moving," she said, "like a woman's 60th birthday. Her family loved her so much. I was moved to tears."

"What's so great is we're capturing real events, not setting it up. We try to be as unobtrusive as possible."

Not always easy for the fetching former lead singer of rock band Def FX.

The call from Nine to Horne, asking if she'd care to audition for Parties, came at just the right time. She'd been shattered after the planned revival of the rock musical Godspell, in which she was to star, was cancelled.

"Someone said recently I'm the only witch to make it to national TV!"

But five other women, all mere mortals, are also about to shoot to stardom, thanks to Nine's latest reality TV splurge.

Nadia Purser's quest to find a boyfriend is about to make her a household name on the same network.

Just like trailblazing Noeline from Sylvania Waters before them, the warts-and-all home life of Nadia, a 36-year-old legal worker from North Sydney, and her flatmates will be under the spotlight for weeks.

The show, Single Girls, revolves around five women, all sharing a Coogee mansion for 10 weeks while they search for love.

The cameras have followed them going to a pubs, meeting men and gossiping all along the way. And the language, according to Nadia, is "very real".

"When a girlfriend phoned to tell me they were looking for women to go on the show, I jumped at the chance," she grinned. "I think they picked me because I'm a good talker like the others. But we're all very different."

So keen was she to star on Single Girls, she even cancelled pending surgery for her time of fame.

"What's a few more weeks of painkillers when I can become famous?

"Besides, who knows who'll I'll meet through this? I was married for 10 years and I've been single for four. I'm so tired of the dating game."

The women, ranging from 24 to 38, are given tips on how to look and act when they meet prospective mates. A matchmaker then hooks them up with several men, all of whom we'll come to know and scrutinise during the series.

Producer Fiona Baker described filming the series as the most tiring job she's ever taken on. "I'm an only child; to be suddenly surrounded by five women like this is quite amazing. And I'm terribly fond of them all."

She said she and the crew were always respectful of what their charges were going through.

She added that the series was unlike other TV shows about people looking for love because, aside from the artificial set-up, matchmakers and other advisers, "it's real life, and the unpredictable is exciting".

"It's like living in a girls' dorm," said Nadia, who described herself as the ringleader.

"Candy and I have the strongest personalities of the lot - and we all talk about everything," she said.

They even have names for their dates: "Recently I went out with Mr Big Tits (after one of the things he actually stated on a form that he liked in a woman) and next week we meet Mr Lamborghini."

Baker agreed the concept of filming a group of women looking for love was partly inspired by Nine's risque Sex And The City, about four friends searching for their soulmates.

"And like that show, these women all have quite different personalities, which keeps it colourful," she added.

Nadia agreed. "I actually see myself as Carrie, the journalist on Sex And The City. Jennifer, the 38-year-old, is like Samantha, the promiscuous one, and Fiona is like the more prudish one."

Asked what happened if a woman decided to get romantic with a bloke, she responded: "We have a system, with ribbons, but, er, I'm giving away too much - you'll have to watch the series".

No doubt half of Australia will and no witches needed. Who needs magic spells for a show to rate when reality has become this sexy?

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