Topp Twins

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Topp Twins
Jools and Lynda Topp at a screening of Untouchable Girls in September 2009
Jools and Lynda Topp at a screening of Untouchable Girls in September 2009
Background information
Born (1958-05-14) 14 May 1958 (age 63)
Huntly, New Zealand
GenresComedy, country, folk, yodeling
Years active1981–present
WebsiteThe Topp Twins Official Website
MembersDame Julie Bethridge Topp
Dame Lynda Bethridge Topp

The Topp Twins (born 14 May 1958)[1] are the folk singing and activist sister comedy duo of New Zealand entertainers Jools and Lynda Topp. They are known for their country music influenced style, live shows and television performances. They often perform as characters, the most notable being the roles Ken & Ken, and Camp Mother & Camp Leader.[2]

Career[edit]

The Topp Twins have performed as a country music-singing comedy duo since the 1970s. They started singing together and performing when they were children. Busking in Auckland on Queen Street in the 1980s was formative to their dynamic as entertainers with a regular Friday night appearance.[3] They were singing political songs of protest, about for example Māori land rights at Bastion Point and Nuclear Free New Zealand.[4] They have been openly lesbian since the 1970s and were advocates for homosexual law reform.[5]

The Topp Twins developed characters for the banter and audience interaction around their music. As Jools said: "We made ourselves look ridiculous ... we asked them to laugh at us, not to laugh at someone else's misfortune."[3][6] In 2019 arts centre Expressions in Upper Hutt hosted an exhibition on the Topp Twins created by Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North. Expressions director Leanne Wickham describes the appeal of the Topp Twins:

"They are able to draw people into their music and talk about the issues that are important to us using humour – whether it is Bastion Pt, the Springbok Tour or climate change."[6]

Television[edit]

In the late 1990s, they created their own TV series Do Not Adjust Your Twinset, which ran for three seasons and showcased their iconic cast of New Zealand characters, including Camp Mother & Camp Leader, the Bowling Ladies and Ken & Ken, roles for which they cross-dressed as 'typical kiwi blokes'.[7] The series won the twins several awards at the New Zealand Film and Television Awards and screened on the ABC and Foxtel networks in Australia. They have appeared on numerous specials and as guests. A cooking show called Topp Country ran over three seasons from 2014 to 2016.[8][9]

Film[edit]

A documentary feature film about the sisters titled The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, directed by Leanne Pooley, was released in April 2009. It broke all previous records for opening day, and opening weekend, for a New Zealand documentary. After just four weeks at the box office, it made over $1 million. As of 2011, it has made over $1.82 million in worldwide box office sales.[10] The movie was produced by Arani Cuthbert. The cinematographer was Leon Narbey.[11] It was well received and has been shown at numerous film festivals worldwide,[12] winning awards at the Toronto International Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Göteborg International Film Festival,[13] Portland International Film Festival and the 2009 New Zealand Film and Television Awards.[14]

Untouchable Girls is the title of a well-known song by the Topp Twins, about standing up for what you believe in.

Personal lives[edit]

Both Jools and Lynda are openly lesbian.[15] In March 2013, Lynda married her long-time partner Donna Luxton, a preschool teacher.[16][17] At the time of their marriage, same-sex marriage was not legal in New Zealand, so the couple entered into a civil union as a substitute for marriage.[17] Same-sex marriage was made legal in New Zealand just a few months after the wedding.[18]

Before the third reading of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, which ultimately passed and legalised same-sex marriage in New Zealand, the Topp Twins publicly endorsed the bill in a post on their website.[19] In a statement, Lynda said, "Everybody should be able to stand up and say 'I'm getting married'. A Civil Union is demeaning, this idea that you will never be good enough, that your love is somehow less than or not as worthy. There's no romance to it. And today, I feel more romantic and more in love than I've ever felt in my life."[18]

Breast cancer[edit]

In 2006 Jools was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatment including mastectomy. From this experience the sisters incorporated Jool's personal story of treatment and recovery into a Topp Twins stage show that toured New Zealand including raising funds for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.[3][20][21] She and her sister Lynda were already breast cancer activists and continue to use their celebrity status to educate the public about the disease.

Recognition and awards[edit]

Jools Topp (left) and Lynda Topp (right) in October 2018, after their investitures as Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to entertainment, by the governor-general, Dame Patsy Reddy

In 1984 the Topp Twins were named NZOA Group of the Year.[citation needed] The sisters were made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2004.[22]

They were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame at the APRA Silver Scroll Awards in Auckland in September 2008.[23] This award was given as a lifetime achievement award for songwriting, and the fact that their songs and music have influenced New Zealand culture during their careers which span more than 25 years.

They were presented with the Rielly Comedy Award from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand in 2009.

In 2010 Wintec awarded the twins honorary masters degrees. In 2011, Waikato University awarded them honorary doctorates.[24]

2010 Qantas Film and Television Awards – Best Entertainment Programme: The Topp Twins and The APO

2017 New Zealand Television Awards – Best Presenter – Entertainment (shared between Lynda and Jools Topp): for Topp Country, season two.

In the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours, both Lynda and Jools Topp were appointed Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to entertainment.[25][26]

In 2019, the twins jointly won a Lifetime Achievement award in the NEXT Woman of the Year awards.[27]

Discography[edit]

The Topp Twins performing in 1981
  • The Topp Twins Go Vinyl (1982) Vinyl record
  • The Topp Twins Go Vinyl (1982, official Nuclear Free re-issue, plus two extra songs). Vinyl record
  • Two tracks on Out of the Corners (Web Women's Collective, 1982)
  • Twinset and Pearls (1984) Vinyl record
  • No War in My Heart (1986) cassette
  • Wear Something Sexy (1990) cassette EP
  • Hightime (1992) cassette
  • Two Timing (1994) CD
  • Grass Highway (2000) CD
  • Flowergirls & Cowgirls (2005) CD
  • Honky Tonk Angel (2009) CD

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Topp Twins". Christchurch City Library. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
  2. ^ "Characters: Camp Mother & Camp Leader". The Topp Twins Official Website. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Jools Topp". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  4. ^ Van Beynen, Jack (3 June 2018). "'The rebels got their medals': Topp Twins Jools and Lynda made Dames". Stuff. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  5. ^ Bourke, Chris (27 April 2018). "The Topp Twins: Good Sisters Gone Bad". RNZ. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  6. ^ a b Boyack, Nicholas (7 May 2019). "Ken and Ken, aka Lynda and Jools Topp, still popular after 40 years". Stuff. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Characters: Ken & Ken". The Topp Twins Official Website. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  8. ^ "The Show". Topp Country. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  9. ^ Abadia, Karina (15 August 2015). "Topp Country back for second season". Stuff. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  10. ^ "The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls". www.boxofficemojo.com. 21 August 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  11. ^ NZ On Screen. "Leon Narbey". Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Untouchable Girls: Film Listings and Awards". The Topp Twins Official Website. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  13. ^ "Dragon Award Winners". Göteborg International Film Festival. Retrieved 18 April 2013. Audience Award – Best Feature Film ... Winner 2010: The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
  14. ^ "Untouchable Girls". The Topp Twins Official Website. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  15. ^ "Topp Bio". ToppTwins.com. Archived from the original on 15 October 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2009.
  16. ^ "Lynda Topp Marries Her Lady Love!". Topp Twins Official Website. March 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Couple to tie knot in Topp style". Television New Zealand. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  18. ^ a b "MPs vote to legalise same sex marriage". Television New Zealand. 17 April 2013.
  19. ^ "We Support the Gay Marriage Bill introduced by Louisa Wall and urge MP's to consider the rights of all New Zealanders in their pursuit of happiness". Topp Twins Official Website. 17 April 2013.
  20. ^ Glucina, Rachel (17 February 2007). "Jools is coming out on Topp". The New Zealand Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  21. ^ "The Topp Twins Recovery Tour". Eventfinda. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  22. ^ Screen, NZ On. "Lynda Topp | NZ On Screen". www.nzonscreen.com. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  23. ^ Baillie, Russell (10 September 2006). "Opshop win Silver Scroll Award". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
  24. ^ "Topp Twins Accept Honorary Doctorates From Waikato". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 26 October 2011. Last year Jools and Lynda Topp were honoured with honorary masters' degrees from Wintec, and yesterday they were back on the Founders Theatre stage accepting honorary doctorates from Waikato University.
  25. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2018". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  26. ^ Martyn, Shona (8 February 2019). "The Topp Twins: 'Young lesbians are so confident now...that's amazing'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  27. ^ Lang, Sarah. "Meet Next Magazine's Woman of the Year 2019 Winners". Now To Love. Retrieved 6 June 2021.

External links[edit]