Em Rusciano’s favourite objects: ‘It took me 17 years to properly invest in my earholes!’

Australia first met Em Rusciano on reality TV. She was 24 and a finalist on season two of Australian Idol, where she eventually finished in ninth place behind the likes of Casey Donovan and Anthony Callea.

But since her Idol days, Rusciano has built a career as a radio host, podcaster and standup comic. She has also brought relatable and endearingly self-deprecating stories to the stage, including once turning her separation into a musical comedy show called Divorce, the Musical.

In September and October, Covid-willing, she’ll head around the country once more with her new Live and Unleashed tour, which promises to deliver “swearing, sequins and stories”. There’ll also be plenty of songs – in a true family affair, Rusciano will be joined at each show by her daughter Chella on vocals and father Vince on guitar.

Here, she tells us about a “life changing” purchase, as well as the story of two other important personal items.

What I’d save from my house in a fire
My grandmother was a monarchist to her core; she loved the royal family. I suspect she modelled a lot of her outfits, hair and mannerisms on the Queen. We’re talking about a woman who lived in country NSW for most of her life, but still spoke with a “plum in her mouth”, as she used to call it.

Nanna and I were two peas in a pod – strong, camp women who speak their minds freely. She had commemorative tea towels and keepsakes from all the royal weddings and some of the births, but my favourite of her collection was the Charles and Di commemorative wedding plate. It sat pride of place on her mantle, and I thought Di looked so glamorous on it.

When she died, Nanna left it to me in her will. I keep it safely locked away, no one is ever allowed to eat off it or even look at it. It reminds me of her, our bond, and I can also imagine her face when she was instructing her lawyer to put it in the will. A crafty, conspiratorial smile would have been present, and her infamous chuckle.

My most useful object
I have been in broadcasting and music for nearly 20 years now, and it took me 17 of those to properly invest in my earholes!

In-ears are custom headphones that are moulded to the shape of your ear canal, so that the sound quality is pristine and you don’t need to turn them up too loudly, thus saving your hearing.

I was aware of them, but had never really looked into it as they seemed a bit full-on and professional … like something only Beyoncé and John Farnham would need. When I started out on my last big tour, my musical director told me that as a singer, I should invest in some. So I did! I went to see an audiologist and got moulds taken of the inside of my ears, then I had to send them over to the States. A few weeks later my custom silver sparkly in-ears appeared, and as soon as I put them in it was life changing!

I can’t believe I waited so long. Every time I slide them in I thank myself (and my MD). Look, they were pretty expensive but three years on I can totally say – worth every cent.

The item I most regret losing
The first laptop I ever owned was the same as Carrie’s from Sex in the City. It was stolen from the back of my car when one of my children was competing at a Little Athletics track meet. I regret losing it, as it had all the original (and only) copies of the photos of said child’s birth on it!

It also had all the photos from my first overseas trip to Paris and Italy with my mother. The cloud wasn’t really a thing then, and I certainly had no back-ups. So all those very important memories were lost for ever. Just floating around out there, perhaps at some random Cash Converters?

Honestly, if anyone ever comes across it please let me know – you’ll know it’s mine. There are a lot of post-birth shots, which will make it easily identifiable!