The Peruvian Nights

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Take Those Potato Chips And Go

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Wednesday evening,

I went to a “sex communication” workshop at Gordon Ramsay restaurant. We had a private room, but the waiters were incredibly mindful and kept coming in with large smiles to make sure we weren’t short on drinks. A guy even started making a pizza. As an exercise, we had to tell our most embarrassing sex moment. A girl said that she was sick all over a stranger’s floor one night, and when she saw him again, he asked her to s**k him while watching Harry Potter. He then told her to leave.

Thursday morning,

I went for a DBS check at the crack of dawn. That’s a legal thing to ensure you don’t have any criminal records. I had to fill in a form with all the addresses where I’ve lived in the past five years. Given my inclination for house movings, that was the hell of a mission. I kept asking random questions to the lady who was in charge. “What about the phases when I was homeless? Like sleeping on a lot of different friends’ couch?” “Shall I include the house where I lived only 24 hours because my ex-girlfriend had a mouse phobia and she found a mouse trap in a kitchen cupboard on the first night?” “Will I get in trouble about the live-in guardian house that I was illegally sub-renting from a  friend when she was in Thailand for 9 weeks although she wasn’t supposed to leave for more than 10 days?”

It was funny.

Thursday evening,

I organised the first LGBT group gathering at work. We were seven people and I was the only girl. And the only single. And the lowest in the hierarchy. Everyone was kinda super married or “buying a flat together”. It was fun but I was once again feeling out of place within my supposingly own crowd, and my flamboyance didn’t help me that time. So I had two Pornstars – a fab passion fruit cocktail that comes with a shot of champagne on the side – and I went drunk to the 5 Rhythms dance class. The effects of alcohol made me cry and my face ended up covered with mascara. People asked me if I was fine. “Don’t worry, it’s the pornstars”, I said. Since then, I’ve decided to take a break from drinking.

Saturday afternoon,

I went to the Body Mind Soul show at Alexandra Palace. It was funny in a creepy way. It was all vegans, yoga teachers, magical stones and tarot readers. There were lectures such as ‘Find your inner Goddess’ or ‘Meditate with your dog’ (I swear that I am not making anything up). My flatmate Ο took me there because a friend of his was giving a talk about the Law of Attraction. O is heartbroken. While I was in the Californian desert without wifi, some domestic drama happened in London. My female flatmate left my male flatmate and moved out. So now, it is me & the boys at home. O & I decided to be partners in crime and do as many random things as possible to help each other on the path of reopening to life.

Saturday night,

O & I went to a party in an art studio in Archway. It was a beautiful white space with several artists studios and a DJ. I was wearing my poney pencil dress and drinking smoothie because alcohol makes me see life in a dark light (see above). I made a LOT of new friends. One of them wanted to set me up really hard with a super cool lesbian who wasn’t at the party. She even started Facetiming the girl to introduce me live. Thank God she didn’t pick up, cause I wasn’t exactly prepared for this. The cool girl is a high level barber. I am meeting her next week.

Sunday evening,

O & I watched The Seven Year Itch in our pyjamas. It is the cult movie where Marilyn Monroe stands over a subway grate which lifts her cult white dress and reveals her cult legs. It is a brilliantly written comedy. At some point, the poor married man trying to resist her charms kicks her out and says: “Please go! Take your potato chips and go!” We both cracked up. I told him that we must make a bet on that line. Whoever manages to bring a girl over and asks her to leave with “Take your potato chips and go” will win a priceless price.

Oh yay. I sense this is going to be a fun winter.

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Portraits of America #1 – The Drag Queen of New Orleans

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βμ goes by the name of Eureeka Starfish* as a drag queen in the local clubs of New Orleans. His main job is at the Lucky Pierre on Bourbon Street.

He moved to New Orleans two months ago from his native South Carolina where he used to occasionally perform in small clubs. But that wasn’t taking him where he wanted and his ambitions were frustrated.

A few months ago, his dad manifested from Louisiana where he had moved. βμ hadn’t spoken with him for ten years because he disapproved of his homosexuality and queerness. βμ took it as a sign of destiny and made the move to New Orleans to live with his father on the other side of the river.

He’s quickly built a professional circle here and now spends most of his time in drag, working in average 6 nights a week. His skin can barely breathe, and as he “loves his porcelain skin”, he walks around the hot streets of New Orleans with a vintage sun umbrella.

About a month ago, his dad came to see him on stage. He finally understood. (There is hope for everyone!) Not only is he now supportive of his son’s life style and identity, he’s also super proud to have given birth to a diva with that many eccentric yet classy outfits.

βμ now lives with his boyfriend on the second floor of a gunshot house near the French Quarter, where most of his gigs are happening.

On his days off, βμ goes drag shopping in the vintagy extravaganza shops of the city: Fifi Mahony’s, Trashy Diva… he knows his wig and lingerie stuff.

He’s mixing all kind of influences in his numbers and outfits: Japanese pop culture, Pop Art Warholy icons, house wife from the 50s, vintage, mainstream. He also writes his own electro music and would like to bring more arty numbers to his drag club such as covers of the electro French singer Emilie Simon and other French divas who are unknow here. (I HAD to tell him about Mylène Farmer and he obviously instantly fell in love with her. If some Mylène Farmer covers are ever being performed in NoLA drag clubs, I might be the one responsible for it.) He’s finding his balance between paying mainstream gigs and his real artistic, more alternative vein.

One of his favorite part about drag is contributing to the cultural shift in mentalities, especially when working in more commercial venues. He’s very often confronted to audiences who have never seen drag before. They can even be afraid of queer and gay, because it is unknown to them. He takes time to make them feel comfortable about it, to talk to them with goodwill. In most cases, after the show, uptightness and fear have turned into enthusiasm and admiration. These are his routinely little victories.

βμ is changing the world on his own way.

*His facebook account as Eureeka Starfish was recently suspended by Facebook which censored many drag queen artists and arbitrarily closed their accounts under the pretext that they were using their stage name and not their legal name. Facebook has since then presented an apology to the Drag queens in question.

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Vintage, Seals & Trannies

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After the aqua emotions of the night, I woke up the next morning ready to devour San Francisco. I helped β³ cleaning the bamboo pots around the indoor pool before breakfast. I was happy to help, but I become a real biatch when I am in hypoglycemia. I had to make tremendous effort to remain polite while I was carrying very heavy stuff on an empty stomach. Thank God, I soon stuffed carbs down my throat and we hit the road to reach the heart of the city.

From the bridge which name I forget, I was thinking of Jack Kerouac and wish I had read more of ‘On the Road’ to have a quote in mind. He is describing my experience of that morning better than I ever could:

“It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out ahead of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness in the late afternoon of time.”

There I was finally, treading upon the Holy Land. We went to Haight first, Hippy Kingdom – although everything about San Fran is hippyish, queer and yet slightly bourgeois at the same time. It is almost unconventional not to be queer and/or hippyish, so conformism is different, but it does exist. “You are not weird? Go away!” style. Vintage shops endlessly. β³ was effortlessly wearing an outstanding long gothic fur and leather coat. Of course. For the first time of my life, I was feeling plain. 

After wandering the colourful streets, we drove to Baker Beach, which has the best possible view on the Golden Gate. The bridge seems so close that you could almost touch it reaching out your hand. The beach was desert. β³ told me it is nudist in the summer. Of course. I soaked my feet for the second time in the Pacific. All of a sudden at my greatest surprise, I saw 2 seal lovers a few metres away from me, kissing and diving in the waves. That’s how cold the water is in SF. There are more seals than people on the beach in October. I followed the 2 seal lovers with my eyes for a moment, they were really behaving like a couple. I wanted to dive and pet them, or put some random object on their nose. Then, I saw another one and another one. Seals everywhere!

We walked the Golden Gate from one end to the other. It takes half an hour. The night was falling when we started. In the Bay, closer to the shore than I thought, the mystical Alcatraz island was standing out in the dusk. It captivated my imagination for a moment. The bridge and the city gradually got illuminated by the time we reached Marin County on the other side. I was intrigued by the suicide phones saying “Don’t jump, there is hope!” every few meters.

We had a booking at the AsiaSF Club for dinner. It is a trans club where all the dancing Ladies are male-born Asians. We got seated at the bar and β³ told me: “I came here once with one of my customers on a leash” (as part of his Dominatrix job, I’m reminding). What do you reply to that? The show was hilariously cheap, which made it amazingly cult. Poor scenarios, poor costumes (school girl, female cop, all the outdated bedroom classics), but there was so much heart in it that I found myself loving it. Especially the tiny Superwoman in her 50s and her super heroin mimetic gestures. Rock on! You got it, ladies. We got kicked out of our seats promptly after dessert for second service. So we went to the club downstairs and performed an impromptu contemporary dance/contact improv duet on the dance floor. Nobody paid attention. San Francisco. 

We then wandered in the Castro – the gay neighbourhood – although San Francisco itself is the gay neighbourhood of California. β³ wanted to hook me up in lesbian bars. Haha. Classic. We went to The Café, which is supposingly the lesbian friendly bar of the Castro. Huge joke. We were about 5 physically challenged girls and 200 cute boys and there were body built male dancers shaking their lovely booty on pool tables. I was like: “So that’s the lez scene of the  queer capital of the world?” I wasn’t even surprised. Always the same story, although it has been evolving quickly in the last few years. But the gay scene is for men. Oh My God girls! Let’s make it happen!

Needless to say we didn’t hang out too long. We walked the streets of the Castro instead, to smell the warm air charged with testosterone and male-for-male desire – I love it anyway. We stopped at a sex shop for β³ to get his work supplies. A cute gay boy on the street proposed to marry me just like that. I didn’t tell him that he wasn’t as original as he thought.

We stayed up till late in the night. Queerness, I love you.