Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Eurovision 2012

Oh, the camp-fest that is Eurovision! Most Americans have no clue about this yearly musical battle between countries of Europe and beyond... even though it spawned wonders like ABBA and Celine Dion. Eurovision 2012 was held in Baku, Azerbaijan, despite its multiple human rights violations. How Azerbaijan is considered European is as baffling as how Celine Dion competed for Switzerland when she's Canadian? More baffling is what you often see on stage.

Eurovision has a habit of fusing the stereotypes of a nation and putting them onstage to folkloric, it's-a-small-world fanfare. Basically, each nation gets the opportunity to commit a bias crime against itself. For example, the Russian grannies:




Eurovision makes you want to cringe and applaud at the same time. These Babushkas do for Russia what Richard Simmons does for me. It's a minstrel show but who can't help but cheer? The tone-deaf, choreographically-challenged grannies and their oven nearly scored an upset to Sweden's winner, the alluring and talented Loreen and her catchy "Euphoria", which I totally want for my iPod.

Other notables included the dreadlocked screamer from Albania, angry clarinets from Serbia, tumblers from France and an incredible anthem "Be my guest" from Ukraine, which I wish would headline the Mardi Gras next year. Listen to this!

What's most strange is that the voting is so regional. Spain will probably vote for Portugal even if it sucks and vice versa. It's not fair - especially if that hottie from Norway can come in last - even to the UK's Engelbert Humperdinck!? But I guess it makes for border peace and neighborliness. Can we please sign up the Middle East and North Africa?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coupon Clipping for the New Generation

The world of Daily Deals gets personal with this bargain, erm, snipped from Groupon Philippines.


Just look at that kid! So happy! Parents, beware. Do not put your child up to stock photography. Because they will never escape the trauma of a past that includes poster boy for circumcision.

When I posted on FB, it led to a fiery debate about circumcision and I'm strongly on the side of not understanding why it's acceptable, encouraged even, as above, to snip off the anatomy of un-consenting infants. I think circumcision is a perfect example of why we must always question, never blindly follow, TRADITION. What's next? Discounted foot binding in Groupon China?

Someone on FB noticed the fine print above, "can be given as gifts" - what an amazing gift idea! You can also recommend to friends! But the best comment on this circumcision deal:
"76% OFF IS WAYYYY TOO MUCH!"


Friday, May 25, 2012

"I'm on right after the stripper!"

Why is parodying women SO hilarious? My friend Heather NumberOne got us all dolled up and out the door for an action-packed night around Sydney. And yes, I'm taking this bottle to GO!
Heather again painted my face so well it was indistinguishable from my Vegas cousins and suddenly, through the pancake mist, Mayday arrived! Heather had a list of locations our presence was requested: birthday at the Tilbury, housewarming in Paddington where she was to perform ("We have to be there by 10pm, I'm on right after the stripper!") and a party at Standard above Kinselas in Taylor Square.
in the society pages!
Heather rocks it
Of course it didn't end there. It ended for Heather at the Stonewall after a tranny-chaser was so into her that he became possessive and wouldn't even let her talk to her friends. "I'm going to the Ladies'" she said, excusing herself and racing to a taxi. Tranny-chasers are like stalkers - you only want one when you don't have one, and I wanted one! The closest thing I came to it on the night was when this kid I'm chatting with says, "I think that DADDY is after you." whereupon I turn to see Daddy... Bam!
the Bamfords
Starting out at the Tilbury, Heather explained how to make an entrance that will have them talking. As if we weren't enough at the Tilbury - where no drag queen has showed her wig. But according to direction, a lady enters an establishment only a couple of steps before purposefully stopping to survey. This gives the patrons ample chance to notice her. When everybody has put down their vinos and iPhones to stare and gawk and the gorgeousness, you carry on confidently past them.

This went off without a hitch, but more memorably we found ourselves at the top of the Tilbury stairs leading down to the outdoor patio. Two Cinderellas about to descend to the ball. I coolly turned to Heather. "My mother had a friend who went to charm school. At charm school they say never to look at the stairs as you descend." Two stairs later, I stumbled and tumbled down the staircase. There may have even been screams. No way to disguise that blunder, but I was most dismayed because I had imagined myself as imposing and imperious and slinky - like the Martian Girl from Mars Attacks.
But I was channeling Priscilla Presley plowing down the stairs in Naked Gun. Much like Priscilla, I pretended like nothing happened and Heather quickly ordered our friend Steve to get us a bottle of champagne. Drag allows you to be bossy and use people as your slaves, qualities I already mildly possess, as Bam will attest...

I may be too old to wake up with mystery bruises (and pancake on my pillowcase) but I'm at a point where the bruises aren't even a mystery. I just pretend I can't remember nosediving down the stairs in drag in front of a million people. At least I'm well-disguised.
Getting ready with Steve. Spot the only pussy!
At the Tilbury with our friend Carl... Happy Birthday!
notice illusion that the ladies are small and diminuitive
 In Paddington at the housewarming for Ben. Clue? Mayday. In the Kitchen. With a Peppergrinder.
The stripper never showed. "Strippers never show," said Heather. "Strippers are SO unreliable!"
But Heather did not disappoint and christened the new Penthouse home with her own stripper nun.
Meanwhile, Mayday was in the bedroom eating sausages.

Can you imagine opening your door to find THIS in your bedroom? Or finding this vision in the cubicle at Bodyline? Or as your winnings behind door number three on a game show reveal??
And this bitch is meant to be a VEGETARIAN!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is AIRbnb.com the new Rentboy?

"It's realllly shameful," declared my friend XOX. "I feel like a hooker!"

XOX had just been renting out his spare room on Airbnb.com. Airbnb is basically a site that charges for couchsurfing (in 192 countries!). But there are added service opportunities. Read on! The last lodger XOX took for his spare room was an attractive, butch Kiwi dude and one of the advantages of airbnb, as the world gets smaller, is that you get to meet people who are local to the area (it's not a soulless lonely Lost In Translation-like hotel room). So for curious travelers... and for people needing to offset rent or a mortgage...it's a win/win arranged marriage of convenience.

Over a few friendly beers and after explaining the neighborhood its surrounding attractions, the Kiwi asked how many renters XOX has had - and queried as to the reason his room was so popular. XOX suggested perhaps it was the affordable price? The location? The Kiwi said, "It's because you're so handsome!" and XOX surprised himself by responding, immediately, "Do you want to make out?"

When he woke up the next morning beside his lodger in his own bed, XOX made some excuse to get out of the house and disappear from town; the aforementioned shame being so awkward. But what I most wanted to know was, "Did you give him a discount?" XOX answered, "No. But he gave me a tip!"

And they both gave each other glowing reviews on Airbnb.com.



Monday, May 21, 2012

New Zealand Photos

Got to tack on New Zealand to the end of Cook Islands - you know, to see where the Polynesians ended up and why they never made it that little bit further to Australia. It's gorgeous and the people are really friendly, in a chirpy authentic way.

That accent ex-sent! In the middle of a word an a often = i, and sometimes e = a, and in some other words the i = e. Hips are heps, heads are hids and the captain is "the ciptin"! Honey, it's vowel incest.

Also, the Kiwis love their rugby. REALLY, they do. That and I remember eating a lot of chutney. 
We rented this car (stick!) from Jucy Rentals. I liked calling the Jucy hotline because it answers, "this is Lucy from Jucy!" which was really fun and also I selected their bottom of the barrel insurance policy termed, "chance it!". The rental was really cheap. Cheap as. That's how they say it, the phrase just ends there. "Jucy rentals is cheap as..." or "that jumper is cute as..."  Don't bother waiting for a noun or comparative metaphor to to drop on the other end, nothing will. Speaking Kiwi's easy as...

New Zealand's south island is vast and wild and reminded me of savage Patagonia, probably because their latitudes are much the same. I believe Poplars act as a sort of wind wall. A lot of these beautiful trees also populate Patagonia.
NZ uses the Maori (?) greeting "Kia Ora", shortened from the "Kia Orana" greeting I learned in the Cook Islands. Both mean something like, "may you live long.." a very gracious intro, I must say! 

Hung out on K Road in Aukland, and then hit ChristChurch. I wonder what Christians are thinking with a place called Christchurch having been battered with two devastating earthquakes in two years. They're woefully silent, but were it called Sodom, imagine all the nonsense they'd attribute to god. Christchurch must be terribly naughty with all its brimstone rubble and a bounce-back hindered by its residents racing off before lightning strikes thrice underfoot. The city lost up to a fifth of its populace.

'Twas sad to see a city so obviously affected and besides the rubble, just empty buildings that were deemed not structurally sound. I didn't even take photos, it was too depressing, but two memorable things: the only gay club, Cruz, was flooded with young girls and when we asked if it was it some kind of a bachelorette party, the locals told us, "It's one of the only spots in the city left to dance."

And then I remember seeing a scaffold wrapped outside of a business, and on the scaffold it was written, in big type, "Don't worry it's safe inside -- we're only painting!" Christchurch is sad as...

Much happier is the action-packed, thrill-seeking, outdoor destination of Queenstown. A natural fit! Even for Mr. CIPD: Cook Islands Police Department.
Yes, that is a parachute stuck in a tree!! Not a good day for para-adventure publicity.
Do these shoes creep you out? These shoes creep me out. I don't care how many colors you make them in, gorilla shoes will always creep me out!
Did you know that in New Zealand they have a different word for hiking? They call it TRAMPING. I about died seeing all the signs for tramping. I should have taken photos and tagged myself... tramping.

We made the long drive to legendary Milford Sound.



Took a couple hour cruise on the beautiful sound that Captain Cook missed twice.

 The valley the glacier wrought!
Always in search of a signature pose.
Last but not least: Bam's epic, interminable, unforgiveable "short cut"! 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ridicu-List

Michael and Mayday Bamford step out...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fat Swan in Swine Lake

Trevor Ashley stars in Fat Swan, a wild send up of Black Swan now playing at Seymour Centre in Sydney. I mean, who wouldn't want to see this?

Fat Swan's marketed as adults-only "Panto" which is a type of theatre I'm unfamiliar with. In fact, I confused it with pantomime and thought it would be silent and starring Marcel Marceau. Don't judge! They don't have this back home.

A Panto, I discover, is all sound, all talk-back, over the top good vs evil with a hyper in-on-the-joke sensibility that lends itself to breaking character. It doesn't get much more ridiculously amazing than Natalie Portley performing "Swine Lake" in a costume with six nipples. And I'm still laughing at the masturbation sequence set to "Greatest Love of All". For all the complaints of a dearth of originality around these parts, Fat Swan also felt like authentically original Australian hilarity... via Hollywood, Tchaikovsky, and Commedia dell'arte.

But the best part? She made "Michael" come up on stage to practice his ballet positions! 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Goodnight, Disco Queen

Donna Summer has died and the voice of an era is gone. For better or worse, she catapulted disco from its underground grit to its popular gloss.

Who hasn't grooved to this on a drunken dance floor at the end of the night?

As I read posts, blogs and blog comments on her untimely death from lung cancer, it's evident Donna Summer's music brought indescribable joy to many at a time when they felt fearful, alone or isolated.

There is no greater achievement, in my opinion, than in having made others' lives more bearable. Well done, Donna. We loved to love you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Is that a bomb on his back?"

At Fitness First last night, a fellow gym-goer stopped me at the shoulder press to tell me he was a Muslim and to ask the implications of my tank top. Hmm. I thought Mr. Jihad was perfectly clear!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Terribly Self-Indulgent

Uh oh. I got myself an early birthday gift!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some Enchanted Week!

At Roratonga airport, Bam and local kids are mesmerized by the airfield and its planes. 
Right upon arrival, a local man plays a ukulele - welcoming passengers to the island. It was surreal, like something out of the musical South Pacific. Minus the military and racism.
In Roratonga, we stayed at the highly recommended right-on-the-lagoon beach bungalows of Little Polynesian Resort! Check out the infinity pool -
 Bungalow Bam!
In between beach and breakers is a perfect lagoon filled with a tropical marine wonderland. And with the surf 200 metres out, there is no worry about crashing waves bumbling up your exit from the sea!
Sunset at Little Poly
We were immediately put at ease after meeting Little Poly's trans-marvelous receptionist/host Billie.
Here with our fabulous neighbors in the bungalow next door, Birgid and Mike
I haven't mentioned how chill and civil everyone is - clipping their lawns daily, speaking perfect English - in addition to their native tongues. We met this chatty lady at the island Saturday market. She was an absolute riot, and makes arts and crafts with a group of local mothers.
There are two buses that circle the island. Their destinations? "Clock-wise" and "Anti-Clockwise". We dined one night at about 8 o'clock, clock-geographically speaking.

I made the local news!! "On the Street' I was asked about the proposed increase in the inexplicably high airport departure tax. How much does that Ukulele man cost??
 Since everyone else was motoring freely about, we got our licenses, too. Bam's transferred over since he's already got a cycle license. 
But I had to take a very official test, weaving through cones outside the police station.
Easy Rider
$20 later, is this not the ULTIMATE SOUVENIR? I already used it to rent a car in New Zealand!
While at the Police Station doing my test, Bam made friends with the police woman, Nane. She showed us the inside of the station, including the jail cell! And then she invited us out to dinner. As we feared those anti-gay laws on the Cook Islands books (7 years in prison! Not cute!) the initial thought was: entrapment!

Turns out Nane, a police officer, had never even heard of those laws. She loves the gays and took us up to a restaurant in the hills with her "church group" which got me thinking, conversion! But it was nothing of the sort. It was just a wonderful gesture of friendship. Made me remember pre-conceived judgments suck. Often law enforcement, and church people, are just plain cool.

Rebellion against a perceived enemy must be measured or, in an unfortunate paradox, we mirror the very bully we rebelled against. It occurs to me that the cautionary lyrics to another song from South Pacific, can apply in reactionary ways:

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year


You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught

Man, I love travel. It is the ultimate teacher.

We had the most amazing dinner and evening with Nane and church friends who wouldn't let us pay for a thing. They had a ton of kids around - it was the end of a Sunday School camp. We had so much fun with these beautiful kids.
Nane and the kids
And the kids had fun with us!