Sydney people have probably seen him before; chatting to punters, performing in a club somewhere, smoking a cigarette on William Street. He’s hard not to notice.
Tom Nash aka Hookie is a familiar figure in Sydney’s nightlife scene, a DJ, promoter and sometime music producer best known for his affiliation with cult Sydney party collective Starfuckers. He’s also one of the most impressive guys you could meet.
Just before his 20th birthday, the South African born Sydneysider suffered a debilitating virulent disease called meningococcal septicemia, a diagnosis which lead to the amputation of both his arms and legs, permanent scarring on his face and body, and just a one in ten chance of survival. That he lived is a wonder, that he thrived is a revelation.
13 years after his diagnosis, Nash sits down with SBS2’s The Feed to discuss dealing with adversity, living with a visible disability and managing the assumptions of other people (“Kids will often ask me if I’m a robot a pirate”).
“When I first lost my limbs I was unsure of what the future held. I didn’t have an idea in my head of what people in that situation did,” he says. “The more I got to do things for myself, the more I understood what was possible and what I was capable of. Then you start thinking to yourself, ‘You know what? I can pretty much do anything if I just trying doing it heaps.'”
“People will say I could never have gone through what you have gone through which is complete rubbish,” he continues. “Because people deal with adversity their whole lives, it’s internal, or it’s emotional. It never gets commented on. And they just see someone in a physical position and say “I couldn’t’ do that”. Before this happened to me I probably would have thought that I couldn’t either, but you never know what you’re truly capable of until you’re tested.”
Watch his story in full below.
The Feed airs weeknights 7:30pm on SBS2.