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Hotel Homo

This documentary explores what it's like to work in the hospitality industry.

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This summary covers the key points from the documentary "Hotel Homo," an audio recording exploring the experiences of working in the hospitality industry in New Zealand, particularly from the 1980s to the 1990s. The primary speaker, Hamish Allardice, shares varied accounts, including their personal journey and the general experiences of gay individuals in hospitality roles.

The documentary starts with a vivid recollection from Allardice that illustrates the demeaning attitudes some customers exhibit. They recount an instance of being ordered around by a patron and their retort to a condescending request, showcasing the interpersonal challenges faced in hospitality. Allardice further discusses the sector's duality, contrasting their professional persona with their personal life, highlighting the private struggles with identity and the facade maintained at work.

Throughout the narrative, the speaker reflects on the notion of subservience in gay culture and its perceived compatibility with service roles in hospitality. It is mentioned that gay individuals are adept at recognizing and fulfilling customer needs—a skill attributed to the necessity of assessing environments' safety regarding their sexual orientation.

Allardice delves into the employment structure of the hospitality industry, observing a high ratio of gay workers, driven by immediate job prospects post-school for those eager to leave educational settings. Their storytelling highlights the opportunity to enter the industry immediately upon leaving school, often without extensive training, which can be appealing for individuals who seek quick independence.

The speaker also conveys personal sales experiences, emphasizing the value of the tactile and sensory aspects of hospitality service, particularly when showcasing hotel amenities to potential guests. Allardice projects confidence and wit during these interactions, using the opportunity to differentiate their establishment's offerings with humor and attention to detail.

The struggle between the necessity of adapting one's behavior to achieve professional success and the weariness of maintaining a performative personality is candidly conveyed. While discussing promotions within the industry, Allardice notes that while initial progress can be achieved through diligence and charm, advancement beyond middle management can be more challenging, potentially due to industry biases.

Instances of being propositioned by guests are recounted, emphasizing the rarity of such occurrences and the speaker's response to them, as well as strategies employed by some travelers, such as mentioning honeymoons, to receive upgrades or special treatment in hotels. Allardice notes the variance in guest treatment, stressing that those who treat staff with respect and kindness are more likely to receive favorable treatment or upgrades than those who express entitlement or rudeness.

The discussion turns to stereotypes and misconceptions about gay individuals in hospitality, addressing both the supportiveness encountered within the industry and the occasional need to navigate guests' assumptions or inappropriate behavior. Female guests are recognized as typically more receptive to gay hospitality workers due to perceived non-threatening qualities.

The documentary concludes by touching on the nature of service work and the peculiar juxtaposition between superficial requirements for hospitality roles and the authentic connections that can emerge from such interactions.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:19th June 1999
Interviewer:Gareth Watkins
Location:Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-003837).