A lavish life

Throwing extravagant parties for The Rolling Stones, dancing with Madonna, and having lunch with the Queen while travelling the world on a super yacht – Jeanette Radici has done it all. As we sit in her North Fremantle home, she tells me about her life before becoming a mother, and how it shapes her as a parent today.   

Jeanette Radici-Nicholls. Photo: Katya Minns.

Born in a traditional Italian home, Jeanette Radici, now 56, understood the importance of family and hard work from a young age. Her father, who immigrated to Australia in his mid-teens, built the family home and business to provide for his six children and wife. While recollecting her childhood, she describes her family as a very talented and musical bunch. “We had fantastic family dinners with the whole extended family every Sunday,” she says with a smile. “We were a musical family so would sing and dance while my dad played the piano.”

Knowing she didn’t want to go to university, Radici continued to commit herself to jobs throughout high school and ultimately landed herself as an electoral secretary in State Parliament at 17. There, she met another woman in the office who took her under her wing and mentored her through Australian politics during the late 1970s. “The job was way above anything I ever thought I would do, and she taught me a lot of my most valuable life lessons.” she says. After two years of this profession, Radici wanted to do something different and applied for a job as an assistant manager at one of Perth’s most famous venues: the Underground Nightclub.

The Underground Nightclub. Source: State Library of Western Australia.

Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, KISS and David Bowie – these were just a few of the big names that graced the Perth party scene at events organised by 19-year-old Radici. “They [venue management] would ring me and say ‘KISS are coming over we need this, this and this’ and I would organise it all,” she says. With around 50-100 people drinking the best champagne at the top floor of the Hilton, Radici attended what only a select few of Perth’s notorious figures were invited to. “The Underground was a very exclusive nightclub.”  

Through long hours of hard work and diligent saving habits, Radici was able to purchase her first house at 19 and travelled extensively around the world. By her late 20s she felt as if her life was one big holiday and decided to return home. At around the same time, The Rottnest Lodge had just reopened after renovations and approached Radici to be public relations officer. She worked there for four years during the mid 1980s, where she met a wealthy business owner who invited her to work for him in Monaco on his super yacht – an offer of a lifetime that she did not hesitate to accept.

Dancing with Madonna and Eddie Murphy, lunch amongst Queen Elizabeth in Windsor, and plenty of shopping trips around Europe – a life of glitz and glamour some would say.

“I’ve met some incredible people,” Radici giggles.

Then, she fell in love.

A boat engineer who worked on the same yacht as Radici. They decided to leave their jobs so they could be a couple and move back to Perth. “We were only at the house for over a year, then the guy who we worked for asked us both to come back to work for him and live in Europe,” she says. Unable to decline the rare offer of maintaining a relationship on the yacht and working, they both went back to work and resided mostly in Monaco.

While working in Europe with her partner, Radici fell pregnant with their first child but became terribly sick and had to be rushed to hospital. Following life-saving surgery, an ectopic pregnancy was diagnosed, and the couple went back home to Perth. A year later, they went their separate ways.

Twenty years after coming back home, Radici and I sit in her living room with her best friend Carol Jones. Radici and Jones met in Rottnest while working on the island and have since spent every stage of their life together. “In the ’80s, we got up to some mischief,” Jones says with a cheeky grin. Jones considers herself to be a second mother to Radici’s daughter, Isabella, and understands the hardships of parenting daughters. She and Radici often compare parenting notes and offer each other advice when they question themselves. “I just feel very lucky that she’s in my life and in my children’s life.”

Jeanette and her daughter looking through old photographs. Photo: Katya Minns.

As we chat and shuffle through old photographs, I ask Radici about her current goal. Since returning to Perth, she settled down and completed her Masters in Life Coaching: “My plan with that is I want to write a book – and my story will be all part of my book,” she explains. “It will be a condensed version of my life as the introduction, so people get to know me, then the rest of the book will be on parenting and things I would do differently as a mother.”

As a parent, she emphasises the importance of maintaining discipline, especially with materialistic items and phone use. On average, young Australian’s spend around 7.3 hours per day on their phone – that’s 33 per cent of our waking hours! As we talk about phone use, her daughter Isabella Radici-Nicholls walks in and sits next to her on the couch, scrolling through her phone. Isabella scoffs in protest: “I’m not that bad!” she laughs, rolling her eyes.

Despite the typical mother-daughter disagreements, Isabella doesn’t know where she’d be without her mother. After experiencing Italy herself on exchange back in 2019, Isabella understands her mother’s lust for travelling and working hard: “It inspired me to listen to her advice more and her success also made me want to succeed,” she says.

“I am the woman I am today because of my mum.”

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