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The Masked Singer

EXCLUSIVE: The Masked Singer runner up Em Rusciano owns up to being a total “pest” on set

“I know there were emails sent about me.”

By Maddison Leach
Last night Em Rusciano popped off her giant Dolly head and beamed as she was named the runner up of The Masked Singer Australia 2021.
Strapped into her costume with a bizarre rigging of metal and harnesses, TV WEEK asked the comedian and radio personality if she ever imagined she'd be on that stage.
"If someone had said to me a year ago that I'd be on stage as a giant dunny dolly with dancing toilets," she begins, before taking a pause.
"Actually, I probably would have gone, 'yeah, I believe that'."
The hilarious mum-of-three came in second place behind US star Anastacia, who wore the Vampire mask, but was happy to lose the trophy to the Out Of Love singer.
Em Rusciano popped off her giant Dolly head and was named the runner up of The Masked Singer Australia 2021. (Ten)
"If you're going to finish second to anyone, please let it be iconic diva Anastacia," she says, adding that she was overjoyed just to make it to the finale.
"I was just so happy to be there! Every week when I didn't get sent home or unmasked I was really happy, I didn't take a moment for granted."
Though none of the contestants are supposed to know the identities of their competition, the 42-year-old figured out who was hiding under the Vampire costume pretty quickly.
Em picked up on Anastacia's iconic vocals after hearing her warm up for a group number, and she quickly developed a reputation on the show's set for trying to do the judges' job.
"I was obsessed with finding out who all the masks were! I was a pest, I know there were emails sent about me," she laughs.

The judges were also guessing and threw out plenty of big names when trying to figure out who was under the Dolly mask, though one judge never could hit the mark.
"I don't know how seriously we were taking Hughesy's guesses," Em says of Dave Hughes.
"I'm fairly sure he knew it was me the minute I started singing… but his jobs is to keep it fun and entertaining."
At home, Em's "army of fans" figured out she was Dolly from episode one, with many of them taking to social media to share their theories.
Not only did they recognise her voice, they also analysed details in the back of Instagram photos and compared dates to prove she was in Sydney when the show was filming.
"I loved how into it some of my community got, they treated it like a true crime podcast," Em admits.
"I loved that I gave them a project in lockdown, and I was so entertained by the conspiracy theories."
Em feels reassured by how observant her fans are, joking: "If something happens to me, do not call the police - call the Facebook group and they will find me, I have no doubt!"
But the love goes both ways and Em has been desperately missing her audience during the pandemic, which has already postponed her Live & Unleashed tour twice.
Though she's super excited to get back on stage and see her fans in March of 2022, it's been a long and sad wait while the music and entertainment industry has been at a standstill.
The Masked Singer was a rare opportunity for her and the other celebrities, including the likes of Axle Whitehall, Ella Hooper and Jack Vidgen, to perform again.
"This reminded me how much I love singing and that I'm actually good at it," Em tells TV WEEK, adding that she had almost forgotten how much joy it brings her.
These days most of her time is dedicated to her radio and comedy career, but Australia first fell in love with her as a young singer on Australian Idol.
That particular TV journey may have ended in disappointment, but Em says the Masked Singer reignited her passion for music and has brought her full circle.
"It almost felt like a bit of an Australian Idol redemption," she confesses, recalling how Osher Günsberg, then known as Andrew G, "sent me off crying" on Idol so many years ago.
Em said her time on the show reignited her love of singing. (Instagram)
In fact, she loved being on the show so much that she would even hop back in the Dolly costume and appear on the series again if Network 10 asked.
"It was such a great experience, I would do it again in a heartbeat… Dolly was the greatest gift, she appeared in my life at the best time," Em gushes.
Speaking of that costume, despite the bizarre contraption that kept it all in place - and a few accidents – Em grew to love being Dolly.
"I broke her shoulder socket so many times with the aggressive hand moves! I was ready to not have to wear dolly every second day by the end, but now I miss her."
She's decided to bring a little bit of the character on the road with her when she gets back to touring next year, as she plans to include some of Dolly's songs in her shows.

"Now I'm going to have to put in a whole Masked Singer bit, and I'll put some of the Masked Singer songs in the show," she says of her tour plans.
"When we can finally do it it's going to be like an explosion of glitter and white wine on the stage."
If that description alone doesn't convince you to see her live, we don't know what will!

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