Pat is our longest serving Mardi Gras host, so he's a pro when it comes to this gig by now. Still, he tells us that "every year has a totally different vibe, but it’s always happy and inclusive and there’s a real sense of freedom in the air".
"It’s the one night that I feel genuine togetherness," he says, adding that if it's your first time attending the parade, "all you need to bring is an open heart", but it's also good to take a moment to reflect on the history of the event.
"There are so many incredible people like the '78ers who fought hard for the freedoms we have today," he says. "Don’t forget when Mardi Gras started it wasn’t a street party, it was a riot where police were locking our community elders up for standing for equality and an end to discrimination against LGBTQI people. It’s important to spare a thought for those that came before us and thank them by embracing all the colours and shades of difference that you will see on the night… that’s what makes our community so unique and beautiful from the inside out.
And when it comes to Mardi Gras festival highlights, Pat's all over it. He's super keen to check out the Koori Gras exhibition, especially because he's been filming stories with them for the Mardi Gras broadcast. He also rates the Comedy Gala, Queer Thinking, and had a blast at the Style Agender fashion show last Friday. As for parties, he says he would "never miss Laneway and Kooky" describing them as "so much fun!"
Her second year hosting Mardi Gras, Faustina says that last year was "just so wonderful".
She exclaims: "It’s so bizarre that I’ve lived in Sydney for so long and never been to Mardi Gras! And my first time attending was hosting, it was wild!"
Despite having hosted all kinds of glam events, Faustina says that "the distinct thing [she] noticed was that it was so different from any other time of the year" describing the atmosphere as "so vibrant and joyful!"
As for first time tips, Faustina advises us to pick our parties wisely, saying: "I’m not bagging the official after party, not at all - if you’re a male, it works for you. But if you’re a gay girl, look, it was just a total rookie error! I went there thinking ‘oh, it’s going to be a total mixed crowd, and there’ll be a lot of women - no women. NO women. I’m not going to make the mistake I made last year! That’s my tip! Go to the gay GIRL parties, don’t go to a generic party."
Also coming up for Faustina this week is the LGBTI awards, which she says is "so huge".
"It’s important for [the LGBTI community] to have many cultural events," she says, adding: "I don’t see the awards as a competition at all, I just think it’s wonderful to shed a light on active members in the LGBTI community, and you know, people who I’m sure are not given attention to otherwise, as well as celebrating our LGBTQI allies, as well."
Joel is stoked to be hosting Mardi Gras for the first time, and exclaims to us that he's excited about "everything, because it’s my first time attending the parade!"
"I’ve been to Mardi Gras once before but I was working the night of the parade and only went to the after party, he explains, adding: "I just want to experience it, and be part of the community!"
A comedian currently on tour with a show he describes as "a little more personal" Joel says this he's discussed coming out on stage, and says that overall the show is "a little dirtier, a little naughtier" than his previous shows.
Aside from his own comedy tour, Joel's also keeping busy with a joint show with Rhys Nicholson on the Friday night before Mardi Gras this Saturday, March 4. He says we should expect "a lot of silly laughs" from the night.
“Rhys and I are frenemies, so we thought we’d combine our frenemy powers and team up and do a show together as two gay queens of comedy," he says. "And we’ll have guests joining us - we thought, Friday night before the parade, you don’t wanna write yourself off! But everyone’s in town and looking for something to do, so we thought, come along to our show, have a few drinks, it’s a really chill time. We’ll be onstage playing drinking games with a bunch of celebrities and having a good time!”
A comedian, writer, television and radio presenter, as well as a former Australian Idol top 12 contestant, it's fair to say that Em can and has done it all by this stage.
Her first time hosting, Em's been keeping super busy in the lead up to Mardi Gras with her radio show, The Em Rusciano Radio Show with Harley Breen on the Hit Network. She also released an autobiography called Try Hard late last year.
On top of her duties as host of the actual parade, Em's also co-hosting the Mardi Gras Comedy Gala on February 28, along with Bob Downe.
SBS will be streaming the 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade live on Saturday, March 4 on SBS On Demand, and will then air our Mardi Gras special event - with commentary from our hosts, behind-the-scenes action and exclusive interviews - on Sunday March 5. In the meantime, you can keep up with all our Mardi Gras content here.