Article Title:A postcard from Mardi Gras
Category:Events
Author or Credit:Matt Akersten
Published on:8th March 2007 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Internet Archive link:https://web.archive.org/web/20170423044601/http://www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/21/article_1623.php
Story ID:1623
Text:A couple of Sydney Mardi Gras partygoers! FLY MY PRETTIES FLY! "The party starts as soon as you get to the departure lounge," said her royal drag Highness Buckwheat… and I'm glad I got there early. The masses of pink balloons were a nice touch, but it was the complimentary vodka cocktails that won me over. Whereas the airport is usually a depressing 'lost luggage and lost souls' type of place, the Air New Zealand Pink Flight of Fabulousity to Sydney Mardi Gras was going off. Muscled promo boys from Coca-Cola were there giving us all-new pink energy drinks – it was the first time I'd seen them and I'm sure it won't be the last. Before boarding our 747 we were treated to a drag show from Buckwheat, Venus Mantrap, and Bambi Slut – and then Miss Ribena in a very rare lip-synching appearance. The pilot, aircrew and other Air New Zealand staff gave us a special dancing show too – how adorable! Then it was onto the plane… "The Auckland gay scene's fucked if this plane crashes," a young Ponsonby-ite ejaculated inappropriately after half a free cocktail too many. Looking around the full cabin and recognising the scene-queens, gay bar owners, 'Flirt' girls, gay media hacks, GABA members and Mika, I thought we'd all make an interesting ‘Lost' scenario – but I'm sure we'd only last a few hours out in the wilderness. "I heard the crew are all straight, so they can make sure there's no ‘mile-high' toilet action," said another foolish boy. Well this was total rubbish – the flight crew were as camp as anything, and I imagine they'd been looking forward to working on this flight for a long time as a chance to 'be themselves' slightly more than normal. "What can I spill on you?" said the delightful guy with our drink-cart. "Do you want ice, so your drink's as cold as my last boyfriend's heart?" "Oooooohhhh! I got this guy's phone number!" Miss Ribena gushed loudly, mid-flight. "But I'm STRAIGHT, loves. STRAIGHT ON MY BACK!" You get the idea. And this was one of her better jokes! By now the flight had turned into a 'mix and mingle', with passengers struggling to stay in their seats, many getting their picture taken with their favourite drag star, or eager to check if that young German guy up the front was single. Competitions were drawn – Sarah Lambourne won a PlayStation2 for being the first person to book the Pink Flight. Others won trips to Sydney or Wellington, Air NZ retro travel bags, and beauty lotions. The booby-prize? Going home with Ribena. Bless her heart! Then, the announcement: "As we start our decent into Sydney, please ensure your flight attendant is returned to an upright position". The first fab-drag flight was finished. TOGS, TOGS, TOGS, UNDIES, UNDIES The rest of the Sydney weekend went by in an 'Amazing Race'-style blur… trying desperately to see as much as possible. Many ‘pink flight' passengers met again at the 'Welcome Kiwis' party later on Oxford Street, where former New Zealanders now living in Sydney met up with old friends, Mike Stanford from Gay Ski Week was considering organising a ‘Pink Flight' for Aussies to Queenstown, and Buckwheat dealt very well with a drunken Aussie troublemaker. You go, girl! A few doors down the street at ‘Slide' bar, Sydney drag diva Courtney Act presented the ‘Bent' magazine ‘Search for a Coverboy' final pageant. I wasn't going to take pictures here – but rapidly changed my mind as hotness after hotness stripped to their little togs and undies on stage. Our group was lucky enough to be up the front – my snaps are now up in our ‘Out and About' gallery, hope you like ‘em. Our last stop on the Friday night was the ‘Foamosexual' foam party at Arq nightclub. I'm so sorry, I didn't take my camera for fear it would be irreparably damaged by the suds and the wet – but close your eyes and picture hundreds of tanned, toned and twenty-something guys all writhing together in soap suds, dancing to electro-handbag house under laser lights… OK, sorry again for the lack of picture evidence! The Sydney gay scene is a lot more intense than our own – ‘harm prevention' ads in the toilets give this advice: “try to reduce the combinations of drugs you take on a night out… and avoid mixing them with alcohol”. I noticed a former Aucklander in the crowd – his shirtlessness showed he'd clearly ‘bulked up' in the last year. “It's that kind of scene,” he shrugged. “You either fit in or dip out”. SATURDAY - THE GAYEST DAY OF MY LIFE SO FAR? The big day was finally here – and where better to start it than at a Mardi Gras parade media conference! I noticed two people wearing ‘Worst Prime Minister' John Howard T-shirts. It really made me glad to be Kiwi when they spoke about the Aussie struggle for gay marriage and other equality law reforms Kiwis have already fought for and won. Unlike NZ political leaders who appear at our big gay events to show they're gay-friendly… there was no peep of endorsement for the Mardi Gras Parade from John Howard. The guys who'd done an amazing job on the Kylie Minogue tribute floats were also miffed – they hadn't heard from Kylie herself. “She's in Paris now, I'm sure she's thinking of us but she's just really busy,” a grown man almost sobbed. The parade itself was an amazing and huge event, with over 100 floats representing every conceivable type of gay or lesbian – from youth groups to oldies, motorbike dykes to lipstick lezzies, teddy bears to leather men to twinks, to gym bunnies, either marching, mincing, bopping and skipping, clowning around, politicising, dressing up or dressing down (togs and undies on show again), showing off or standing proud. Sydney LGBT groups were well represented, along with many other Aussies from other cities and states, but there was no specific New Zealand float - shame! The loose theme of the parade was ‘Objects of Love', but quite a few floats had a green ‘anti-global warming' theme also. The official number of spectators was put at 350,000 – with the streets all along the parade route chokka-full, and people further back (who hadn't sat waiting for three hours to keep their spot up the front) were finding milk-crates useful for standing on. Many teenage girls seemed to be wearing the most ridiculous, outrageous and garish make-up, feather boas and Halloween-style outfits. Some young guys were in ‘first time drag'. There were the Goths and Emo's in their black and pink, middle-aged straight couples in leather gear, even kiddies in campy outfits... all out to prove they didn't need a place on the parade to get into the spirit of it. Party time came. We exhausted Kiwis were ‘running on empty' by this stage, but the excitement of it all kept us going. BZP is illegal in Australia, so no ‘Party Pills' for us! New South Wales police had closed a gay party the previous weekend after finding all sorts of drugs in use, so there were fears similar could happen again – it didn't, but officers with sniffer dogs were present at the entrance gates and they made a few arrests (the dogs are trained to identify ecstasy, some types of methamphetamine, and are particularly good at finding marijuana… if a dog sits down next to you, you can be searched). The party sold out, we're told – the last of the 16,000 tickets were snapped up at the door on the night. A sea of people stretched ahead of us as we made our campy way through the Fox Studios gates around Midnight. There were many dance areas – some in air-conditioned arenas, but the harder the music, the hotter the zones seemed to be. Boy George was there in another of his comical home-made hats – his was the most high-profile appearance, but if you know much about dance music, you would have recognised many of the big DJ names on offer. I had fun playing ‘spot the shirtless kiwi', and was impressed at the number of women at the party – it really wasn't just a cock-fest! This was the homo-hedonism party to remember. The atmosphere was electric and the full-moon bright. It was the 29th Sydney Mardi Gras… I'll be there at the 30th in 2008 – who's with me? Matt Akersten flew to Sydney and back courtesy of Air New Zealand. Matt Akersten - 8th March 2007    
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