If you came to our first Bear-a-oke night earlier this year, you’ll be sure recognise this week’s interviewee, the very talented Jon Borthwick, who will compere several of our events during Brighton Bear Weekend 2017. We wanted to find out more about him, and what to expect over the big weekend …

Jon Borthwick

Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

I’m Jon, a single Gay Dad (not a daddy – a parent) who spends his life balancing work and crazy, rather well … I’ve regularly hosted and compered burlesque, cabaret and festivals for over ten years all over the south coast, and have been in the entertainment business on and off for about 20 years (shit, I’m getting old!).

In my spare time I’m also Lewes and Peacehaven’s town crier. Officially the second consistently noisiest person in the country!

Which events will you be hosting at Brighton Bear Weekend, and which are you looking forward to most?

I’ll be around for most of the weekend helping guide our lovable bears from one event to another. Very much looking forward to the Bear-B-Que and Picnic, and of course the Bear-a-oke after the phenomenal success we had last time at Bar Broadway. I’ll be co-hosting that this year with my fellow Sea Serpent Chris Hibbert – it’s sure to be an amazing, fun and light-hearted event. I won’t be around for the Sunday morning events though – I’m hoping my 12-year-old will be treating me to a Father’s Day breakfast somewhere!

Bear-a-aoke, April 2017
Jon (far left) with Chris Hibbert (far right) at the first Bear-a-oke night, April 2017

How long have you lived locally, and what do you love most about it?

I’m one of the few Brighton-borns, although I live and grew up in Lewes – far enough away, but near enough to enjoy it! I love living in Sussex, and having just completed a sponsored walk from Eastbourne pier to Brighton Pier, I truly appreciate the benefits of the Downs, the beach and the amazing Sussex countryside. I also love our little community, and the way the city rallies round at times of chaos and crisis. Seeing how the boys and bears of Brighton have supported the Sussex Beacon recently has been nothing short of inspirational.

Jon Borthwick

What is your involvement with the Sea Serpents rugby club?

I’m one of the original members of the Sea Serpents, playing flanker (yep, that’s with an ‘f’) in the second row – ready to take down the opposition and gain the ground! It has been an amazing inaugural season for the Serpents, competing not just with other inclusive and gay teams around Europe, but also playing locally against other Sussex league teams. We’re planning on going to the local league next season, so we’re getting lots of preparation done. The highlight of the year for us has to be coming second in our pool in our first ever European gay and inclusive rugby cup (the Union Cup) in Madrid earlier this year. We certainly showed Europe that the Serpents are dedicated to playing first!

Jon Borthwick

Any other exciting events coming up for you in the near future?

I’m looking forward as ever to Brighton Pride. I’m going to be doing a bit of a ‘turn’ at the Marine Tavern stage at the Sunday Pride Village Party. Otherwise, I’m focusing on rugby for now, committing to mad acts of fitness and exercise to get ready for the new season.

We’re always on the lookout for new players and supporters, as well as people who just want to come along and train. If you’re interested, come and have a chat with me or one of the other Serpents during the weekend.

As for me, I’m in a fortunate position where I’m just doing a few bits and pieces so that I can enjoy life and focus on the rugby for now – until the next panto season, anyway!

Thanks, Jon – we look forward to seeing you over the big weekend!

Jon will be appearing at the following events during Brighton Bear Weekend 2017:

  • Friday 16 June, 7:00-11:00pm: Welcome Night and Cabaret at Bar RevengeFacebook event page
  • Saturday 17 June, 12:30-5:30pm: Bear-B-Que and Picnic in Dorset GardensFacebook event page
  • Saturday 17 June, 5:30-8:30pm: Bear-a-oke at Bar BroadwayFacebook event page
  • Sunday 18 June, 3:00-5:00pm: Ca-bear-et at LegendsFacebook event page

For more information about any of these events, click the Facebook event page icons to view the Facebook event pages, or see our programme of events for the weekend.

Jon Borthwick