Love him, love Alice Cooper

JO HARTLEY
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2014
Paul Joseph

FOR THE LOVE OF ALICE: Julijana Trifunovic with her husband Paul Joseph.

Dean Katsavos
Thom Rigney
FOR THE LOVE OF LEGO: Dean Katsavos with his wife Sarah.
Bruce Hatfield
Thom Rigney
FOR THE LOVE OF PECS: Bruce Hatfield and partner Jane Wallace.

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Meet three women for whom romance has involved tolerating, and even learning to love, their partners' obsessions.

LOVE HIM, LOVE ALICE COOPER

Julijana Trifunovic, 46, lives in Sydney with her husband Paul Joseph, 46. Paul is a dedicated Alice Cooper fan.

I met Paul when I was 28, and on one of our first dates we talked about the types of music we enjoyed. Back then I was into Duran Duran and knew very little about Alice Cooper, other than a few songs that I had heard on the radio. Things have definitely changed now.

Paul lives and breathes Alice Cooper and has done since the age of 13. Growing up in an apartment with his mum it was all about him and Alice. He'd put his headphones on and listen until he knew every word to every song.

But it's not just about the music. He has an amazing memory and is really interested in the trivia as well. He's got books about Alice Cooper's connections with other people, all the DVDs of live shows, documentaries and music, and rare memorabilia. He knows things like dates and times of events, all about Alice's family, information about the setting up of Alice Cooper fun parks, who he has played with and who he doesn't like.

Paul formed his first band after we got married, but started the Alice Cooper show 2½ years ago. He's extremely dedicated and practises by himself every day and every Wednesday with the band. This is the only thing that causes tension; my biggest argument is that instead of practising, he should be getting gigs. He needs to go out and share his skills with others, not just us.

When Paul does his shows he loves getting into character and I've never had a problem with it. The other day I picked out some leather gloves with skulls on for him, and I've been shopping with him to buy tights with crosses on. I also do his make-up. Even though I'm not into it myself, I just want to make him happy, so I embrace it.

I think one of the funniest things is that Paul has started to look like Alice Cooper. He has had people ask him to sign posters, and as far as our four-year-old son is concerned, Dad and Alice are one and the same person. He's seen Dad in his show and watched Alice DVDs, so he can't differentiate.

When I was pregnant, we agreed that a girl would be named Alice and a boy would be Cooper. But when our son arrived we decided against Cooper because it was really popular. Instead we agreed on Zeppelin, and it's very fitting. He knows his rock'n'roll and does air guitar to all the songs daily with his Dad. He doesn't know any Wiggles songs but he does know School's Out.

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There's not a day goes by without a mention of Alice, a song being played, or some association coming up in conversation, whether it's to do with a movie, show or food. Some people ask me how I put up with it, but it's all a bit of fun really, and people who have known us for a long time just accept it.

Both our mums say that Paul will never grow up. His mum always thought he was going to grow out of it and can't believe he hasn't. She tells him to cut his hair and get over this "phase", but it has been 30 years and it will never end.

He had a school reunion recently and everyone immediately asked, "Are you still into Alice Cooper?" It's like he's frozen in time.

I'm sure there are lots of people who have shunned their passions because their other half has been dismissive or told them they should be "over that by now", but I think that's ridiculous. Why change? You are who you are.

LOVE HIM, LOVE HIS LEGO

Sarah Katsavos, 35, is married to Dean, 32. They live in Melbourne with their daughter Sophia.

When I first started dating Dean, he was temporarily living in Brisbane for work, and most of his things were in storage in Melbourne. I gathered he had an interest in Lego as there were a few pieces around his home, but I had no idea of the extent of his passion.

About a year and a half into the relationship we moved to Melbourne, and that's when the Lego started to come out of storage and into our house. At that time we had a small place with a combined living and dining area and it rapidly started filling with Lego. He'd return from his parents' with boxes of it, which he'd unpack and put together. Every flat space - benches, the top of the piano, the coffee table - had something on it. They were all filled with planes, pirate ships or a Star Wars set.

We have the Star Wars Super Star Destroyer on our dining table which, at over a metre long, is one of the largest pieces you can get. It was a wedding present from his mum, who had said when he was younger, "When you find a nice girl and get married, I will buy you the biggest set of Lego I can find."

This, and the Lego wedding cake, were the only Lego-related things at our wedding, though. When Dean proposed, he did it with a Lego ring in a Lego box. He went to a jeweller and had the base of a ring made out of silver and then clipped a piece of clear Lego onto it to resemble a diamond. When he pulled it out of the box, I had no idea what it was. It was only as he was helping me work out how to open it, that it clicked he was proposing. I did get a proper diamond afterwards, but I still have the Lego ring and box.

When we first moved into this house, Dean had his own Lego room. But since we've had our daughter Sophia, he has lost it. It means we are back to sharing our space with his Lego and it's jammed in every corner. Having said that, it's all very organised - sorted into colours and sizes - and he cleans it regularly. I think it's just one of the many quirks that goes with loving Lego. Like when he gets a new set and has to put it together in one sitting. He started on the Super Star Destroyer set at 8am and didn't finish until 2am the next day.

I would say we have thousands of dollars worth of Lego, and he spends a couple of hundred dollars every few months to add to his collection. But Dean keeps telling me it's okay because Lego holds its value, especially the mini figurines that people collect. He's got a lot of these still in their original packaging so they don't get damaged. He's also got sets that you can't easily get here because, on my previous work trips to Florida, I went to the giant Lego store at Disneyland for him.

Dean's very dedicated to his passion and spends a lot of time and money on it, but I don't have a problem with it and love him regardless. I am interested to see what happens when Sophia gets old enough to play with Lego. Will he share and let her play with it, or will she have to play with her own toys?

LOVE HIM, LOVE HIS BODYBUILDING

Jane Wallace, 47, met Bruce Hatfield, 50, online and they have been dating just over a year. Bruce is passionate about bodybuilding.

I can't remember who started chatting to whom first, but I do remember all of his profile pictures were of him working out and I thought he looked like a bit of a meathead. As far as I was concerned, it would just be one date and I would walk away with a funny story about the night I dated a bodybuilder. I didn't think we'd have much in common, but it turned out that we did.

When I met Bruce, he had been doing bodybuilding for 12 years and been in lots of competitions. He told me it was a big part of his life and he trained all the time, in and around his day job as a personal trainer. I recall saying I was a bit intimidated because he was so into exercise and I'm not, but he just laughed.

Bruce trains every day and, because he has to work it around clients, he often won't get home until 10.30pm. The hours don't affect me too much because we don't live together, but it does make socialising more difficult. And it's not just the training timetable that affects our social life. It's also affected by Bruce's diet, which is often strict and set out by his nutritionist.

Before a competition, we tend not to eat out as there is no point, and we definitely don't go to events where there is a set menu because he can't eat anything. During those times his eating is disciplined and he will spend most of his evenings organising his food for the next day or two, measuring it all out in the right quantities and containers.

Competitions are a big part of his life and we have three coming up over the next few weekends. Turning 50 this year means Bruce has moved into a different class, and so has the advantage of being one of the youngest. This means he will compete much more, and he has some events planned for September and October. He wants to add more trophies to his already huge collection.

The first time I went to a competition, I didn't know what to expect; it wasn't like anything I had been to before. Everyone was an orange colour, and walking around with barely any clothes on. It was definitely an eye-opener. It was interesting to see Bruce in action as he is a bit of a performer when he gets on stage. He doesn't just do the poses, he makes jokes and gets the crowd going and is very entertaining.

After competitions, Bruce spends a lot of time updating his Facebook page with results and pictures from the day. He will upload any professional photos, but also any selfies - it's fair to say that he is a bit selfie-obsessed.

I have never felt that his love for bodybuilding has detracted from any attention from me as, even though he loves it, he is quite balanced about it. Obviously it is a priority for him, especially around competition time, but I accept it and will continue to support him. In fact, I am starting to enjoy the competitions - there's something I never thought I'd say.

- The Age

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