KICK THAT GAY BUCKET!
SEARCHING FOR THAT BRAND NEW GAY EXPERIENCE? MATT NEWBURY HAS PUT TOGETHER A BUCKET LIST OF 20 GAY-THEMED THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE
Twenty gay things to do before you go
There’s a thousand inspirational quotes about seizing the day and sucking out the marrow of life, because unless you are a Buddhist (or the bloke from Highlander), you only have a finite time on this Earth before they’re playing Finally by Cece Peniston at your funeral. While the gays are notorious for living life to the full, it’s good to have dreams and ambitions beyond having sex at the top of the Eiffel Tower or on a Virgin Atlantic flight. While most conventional bucket lists involve climbing Machu Picchu or annoying dolphins (who don’t even get a day off anymore…) I thought it might be fun to put together a gay bucket list of experiences you might want to tick off before shuffling off this mortal coil. You’re going to need an awful lot of air miles though…
ACT LIKE A COCK IN A FROCK ON A ROCK ON THE PRISCILLA TRAIL IN AUSTRALIA
“A desert holiday, hip hip hip hooray!” Follow in the high-heeled footsteps of Mitzi, Felicia and Bernadette by taking the ultimate road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs, via a climb up Kings Canyon in a full-length Gaultier sequin, heels and a tiara. The trip is around 2,000 miles, so your bus had better be in good nick, but you will get to see some incredible scenery and stay in some amazing places like the Palace Hotel in Broken Hill (complete with outrageous wall murals, thepalacehotelbrokenhill.com.au), the underground Desert Cave Hotel in Coober Pedy (desertcave.com.au) and Lasseters’ Casino in Alice Springs (lasseters.com.au). It’s then a mere 1,717 mile jaunt back to the Imperial Hotel in Sydney (theimperialhotel.com.au) for a wellearned drink and a drag show.
TOAST THE BIRTH OF MODERN GAY RIGHTS IN THE STONEWALL BAR ON CHRISTOPHER STREET, NEW YORK
This National Historic Landmark was where punters, including a significant number of drag queens, fought back against a series of brutal police raids in 1969, sparking the gay liberation movement. The Stonewall was the largest gay bar in the US at the time, but closed a few months after the riots. However, it was resurrected some 20 years later and today remains at the heart of the Greenwich Village gay community. Following the landmark passage of New York State’s Marriage Equality Act, you can even hold your special day in the legendary venue, showing how far we have come over the last four decades. Stonewall Bar, 53 Christopher Street, New York, thestonewallinnnyc.com
RELAX ON THE ALAN TURING MEMORIAL BENCH IN SACKVILLE PARK, MANCHESTER
The bench was built in memory of the wartime code breaker and father of modern computing, who committed suicide in 1954, two years after being convicted for being gay (see the article in this issue). Shockingly the man who should have been a war hero for his code-breaking work was forced to receive estrogen injections (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. A statue of Turing is seen sitting on the bench, holding an apple – a symbol of knowledge, forbidden love and also the likely means of his own death. He died of cyanide poisoning and a half eaten apple was found near his body, believed to have been laced with the drug.
Sackville Park, Manchester
JOIN THE GAYEST AUDIENCE IN THE WORLD AT THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST
Go on, admit it… however cool you are, you’d secretly love to go to the outrageous campfest that is Eurovision. Next year the 60th edition of the contest will be held in the 16,000- seater Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna on Saturday 23 May. While it will be difficult to top Conchita’s winning performance of Rise Like A Phoenix at this year’s event, more than 40 countries will try, watched by a staggering 180 million people. As there’s a fat chance that the UK will ever host the contest again, why not take the opportunity to travel to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and prepare to party with our Graham and thousands of like-minded lovers of Euro camp.
Go to: eurovision. tv
VISIT OSCAR WILDE IN HIS PRESTIGIOUS PARIS CEMETERY
The final resting place of the gay writer, poet, playwright and wit can be found in the Père Lachaise cemetery, beneath a monument of a flying naked angel inspired by Assyrian figures in the British Museum. Bizarrely the angel was vandalised in the 1960s, when its genitals were hacked off and stolen. For years there was a tradition of visitors leaving kisses in lipstick on the monument, perhaps in reference to Wilde’s quote, “A kiss may ruin a human life.” A kiss may also ruin the stonework of a tomb and so a glass barrier has now been erected to prevent the erosion of the grave. Père Lachaise cemetery, 16 rue du Repo, Paris, pere- lachaise. com
ENJOY A NIGHT OF OPULENT PLEASURE IN THE VERSACE MANSION IN SOUTH BEACH MIAMI
In the 1990s Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace almost singlehandedly turned this faded seafront area of Miami into one of the coolest party capitals of the world, when he built his beachfront mansion in the resort. Soon the aging population of snowbirds were moving out and hoards of the glitterati from the worlds of music, fashion and film moving in, and everyone from Madonna to Princess Diana was swimming in the designer’s 24-carat-lined swimming pool, before he was tragically murdered on the steps of the mansion in 1997. This year the mansion reopened as a luxury hotel with a night in a villa suite starting at £1,315, excluding breakfast. The Villa Miami Beach, 1116 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, Florida, thevillabybartong. com
CLICK YOUR HEELS TOGETHER AND VISIT THE ACADEMY MUSEUM OF MOTION PICTURES
The museum won’t open until 2017, but it’s worth planning ahead, as one of the main exhibits will be Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz. While five pairs were used in the 1939 film, it is believed these are the ones used in all of the close-ups including the heel-clicking scene. Leonardo DiCaprio led a group of donors who purchased the shoes before giving them to the museum. If you can’t wait until the museum opens, another pair can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution, believed to be the main shoes Judy Garland wore through most of the film. Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, 6067 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, oscars. org/ academymuseum
VISIT A GAY ISLAND CREATED BY ITALY’S FASCISTS 75 YEARS AGO
In 1938, 45 men believed to be homosexuals in Catania were rounded up by Mussolini’s fascists and exiled on the Island of San Domino (some 600 miles from their homes), in the middle of the Adriatic sea. However what was supposed to be a punishment, actually turned out to be a blessing for the men, who suddenly found themselves in the part of Italy where they were free to be gay without stigma or ridicule. As one veteran named Giuseppe B said, “In those days if
you were a femminella you couldn’t even leave your home, or make yourself noticed - the police would arrest you. On the island, on the other hand, we would celebrate our saints’ days or the arrival of someone new... We did theatre, and we could dress as women there and no-one would say anything.» He goes on the describe romances, fights over lovers and finally how prisoners wept at the outbreak of World War II when they were forced to return to their homes. Today the island makes a stunning place to visit, albeit one with an astonishing history.
Go to: isoletremiti.it
COOL OFF IN KYLIE’S SWIMMING POOL IN BARCELONA
Let’s face it, the video to Kylie’s Slow is a classic, featuring the diminutive Antipodean stretched out on a beach towel, while stunning oiled-up male bodies writhe all around her. It’s got to be one of the most sexy and indeed gay videos ever, while the pool itself is not too shabby either. Dating back to 1929, the spectacular venue was refurbished for the 1992 summer Olympics, when the famous diving pool was also built. Try and coincide your visit with a diving competition and you’ll get to enjoy buff bodies framed by breath-taking panoramic views of the city. Don’t forget your towel to wiggle about on later! Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc, Barcelona, picornell. cat
LASSO A YOUNG BUCK AT THE GAY RODEO IN THE CANADIAN ROCKIES
If the cowboy was always your favourite member of the Village People, then saddle up and head to the annual Canadian Rockies International Rodeo and Music Festival. Open to both gay cowboys and gals, you’ll get to enjoy all the traditional events including bull-riding and calfroping, as well as some camp events like goatdressing and wild drag (the mind boggles). You can even enrol in a beginner’s school and then participate if you are feeling brave. It’s then on to the hoedown until the early hours, before fulfilling all your Brokeback Mountain fantasies.
Go to: argra.org
CRUISE THE CASTRO IN SAN FRANCISCO WITH THE AMAZING KATHY
The Castro district has an incredible colourful gay history dating right back to the Gold Rush days (when hanky codes first made an appearance) and there is no person better to guide you around the area than local legend Kathy Amendola. Her Cruisin’ The Castro Walking Tour takes in Harvey Milk’s former camera shop, Pink Triangle Memorial Park, the original site of the AIDS Quilt Names Project, The Rainbow Honour Walk, Twin Peaks Tavern and the iconic Castro Theatre.
Go to: cruisinthecastro.com
ENJOY A DRINK OR THREE IN AMSTERDAM’S (AND POSSIBLY THE WORLD’S) OLDEST GAY BAR
Café ‘t Mandje dates back to 1927 when it was opened by a butch leather-jacketed dyke called Bet van Beeren. She would serve drinks to the underground gay community when she wasn’t chasing the girls on her motorcycle. When she died, her younger sister took it over and ran it until her death in 1982. The bar lay frozen in time behind closed doors for 26 years before the niece of the sisters restored and reopened it in 2008. The bar is now a piece of living history complete with stuffed lizards, tiger and bear heads and neckties pinned to the ceiling – cut off to punish naughty patrons long since departed.
Zeedijk 63, Amsterdam, cafetdmandje.nl
EXPLORE YOUR SAPPHIC SIDE ON THE ISLE OF LESBOS
The Greek island off the coast of Turkey has become a pilgrimage for lesbians eager to visit the home of Sappho (620- 570 BC), a poet who wrote of her love for other women. Indeed, the term lesbian was adopted as a term for women who love women in reference to the poet’s island home. A permanent lesbian community lives in her hometown of Eressos, where a large statue of Sappho can be found and an International Women’s Festival is held annually. Lesvos (the Greek spelling) is also renowned for its ouzo should you fancy sampling the local tipple. Why not keep a bottle of Lesbian Ouzo next to the Mount Gay Rum in your cocktail cabinet to amuse friends at dinner parties?
Go to: lesvos. co. uk
RELIEVE YOURSELF IN THE MOST FAMOUS PUBLIC TOILET IN THE WORLD
When George Michael strolled into the public restroom in Will Rogers Park in Beverly Hills on 7 April 1998, he had no idea that he was about to make the popular cruising spot part of every Hollywood sightseeing bus tour. His arrest and very public “coming out” almost led to his career going down the toilet, until he turned things around with some very honest TV interviews and the wonderfully self-mocking Outside video. The incident also inspired the best ever Sun headline: “Zip Me Up before You Go Go”. Will Rogers Park, 9650 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, beverlyhills. org
JOIN THE OTHER DANCING QUEENS AT THE ABBA MUSEUM IN STOCKHOLM
Your life can be as good as an ABBA song if you visit this wonderful museum dedicated to the Swedish super troupers and opened just last year. The hi-tech interactive museum is now the permanent home of costumes from the ABBAWORLD exhibit that toured Europe and Australia in 2009-2011, and also houses stage costumes donated by the band members. If you feel like joining the fabulous four, there are also several interactive audio and video stations that allow you to perform the band’s music. Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21 Stockholm, abbathemuseum.com
GET OILED UP AT THE MOST HOMOEROTIC SPORTING EVENT IN THE WORLD
The annual Kirkpinar oil wrestling festival in Edirne, Turkey, is the longest running sporting event in the world (this year was the 653th contest) and involves large hairy men covering every inch of their bodies in olive oil and then sticking their hands down each other’s kispets (leather shorts) trying to grapple their opponents to the ground. Oil wrestling is the Turkish national sport – much more fun than football we feel. So if the idea of beefy guys wearing only tight water buffalo-leather pants and coating themselves in 100 drums of olive oil and then grappling with each other for your pleasure sounds tempting, the event is held in June each year. Don’t forget your video camera.
Go to: turkishoilwrestling.net
BECOME A BRIDE AND A WIDOW ON THE SAME NIGHT IN CHENNAI, INDIA
The Koothandavar (or Ali) Festival is held in April-May each year honouring Aravan, a Hindu hero who sacrificed himself to ensure victory for his people. On the eve of the battle he prepared himself to die in battle, but wanted to be married before his death. Lord Krisna transformed himself into a beautiful woman and fulfilled his wish before his demise and now the festival draws transwomen (often known as hiras and alis) from across India and the world to declare themselves brides of Aravan, celebrate and then go into mourning. The 16-day festival also features Pride-style celebrations, races and a Miss Koogavam beauty pageant.
PARTY AT A GAY NIGHTCLUB THAT ONLY EXISTS FOR FOUR DAYS EVERY YEAR IN A FIELD IN SOMERSET
There was a time when only the hardiest of homosexuals would dare venture to the Glastonbury Festival, but all that changed in 2007 when NYC Downlow opened its doors. The time-travelling gay disco resembles a life-size New York tenement from either the 70s or 80s (depending which year you visit) with smoke pouring out of a taxi crashed into the second floor, next to a window where drag queens taunt and tease you. Your ticket is a moustache, purchased from the Porn Kiosk (raising money for an HIV charity) while inside the sort of sleazy disco that no longer exists anywhere in the world awaits. Horse Meat Disco and London’s best vintage DJs spin the tunes, while Voguing on the catwalk and genderbending shows are just part of the entertainment. Less brave party monsters can also catch the club at Lovebox each summer.
Go to: thedownlowradio.com/ the- downlow
JOIN THE SLAPPERS AT GAY SUNDAY OKTOBERFEST IN MUNICH
Grab your Lederhosen (or Dirndl dress) and prepare for some beer swilling, ass slapping fun in the Gay Sunday Beer Tent. 8,000 homos pour into the tent and pour beer down their necks to the sounds of traditional Bavarian music, with a bit of disco thrown in for good measure. Munich gay group the Münchner Löwen Club (Munich Lions’ Club) have been taking over the Bräurosl Festzelt tent for years for a day of unadulterated hedonism and we’ll certainly drink to that. This year the event took place on Sunday 28 September (yes, it’s not actually in October) although it’s worth booking your flights and hotels for next, as the city gets understandably packed at that time of the year.
Go to: rosawiesn.de
TAKE A MOMENT TO REFLECT AT THE MEMORIAL TO HOMOSEXUALS PERSECUTED UNDER NAZISM IN BERLIN
On the edge of the Tiergarten in Berlin stands a unique memorial designed by Danish-Norwegian artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset which was inaugurated in 2008. It’s a simple grey concrete cube with a small window that you can look through to see a short film of two men kissing. The film is changed every two years to show lesbians kissing. It’s a simple and moving tribute to the persecution of gays by the Nazis, who were forced to wear pink triangles in the concentration camps. Other monuments to gay Holocaust victims can be found in Amsterdam, Sydney and San Francisco, as well as a new memorial opened in Tel Aviv back in January of this year. As many as 15,000 people were killed for their sexuality in the Nazi camps. Tiergarten, off Ebertstraße, Berlin, tinyurl. com/ p4ozol6
PISCINA MUNICIPAL DE MONTJUÏC, BARCELONA
ISLE OF LESBOS
SHOWTIME ON THE CASTRO, SAN FRANCISCO
ROCKIES INTERNATIONAL RODEO FESTIVAL
CAFÉ ‘ T MANDJE, AMSTERDAM
SAN DOMINO ISLAND
THE VERSACE MANSION, NOW A LUXURY HOTEL
OSCAR WILDE’S FINAL RESTING PLACE
ALAN TURING MEMORIAL IN MANCHESTER
THE STONEWALL BAR, NEW YORK
THE KIRKPINAR OIL WRESTLING FESTIVAL
GEORGE MICHAEL WAS ARRESTED HERE