Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras 2013

Yes, I am aware that I already blogged about Mardi Gras in 2011.  But this year’s Mardi Gras was pretty frickin’ amazing so I thought I ought to do a follow up blog.

Also, I would have done a follow up blog for Mardi Gras 2012 except that it wasn’t as great because it rained on our parade.  Literally.

As a recap for those who do not know what Mardi Gras is, I am first and foremost NOT referring to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  Though I’m sure that one is fun too.  What I am referring to is the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras – our local take on a gay pride parade.  And by local, I mean Sydney… and all of the people it brings in from around the world… and that’s a lot of people… drawing in more tourists than any other event in Australia… and they’re all gay… super gay… GAYYYYYYYYYY…

For the Jews reading this – and that’s probably a good chunk of you - “Mardi Gras” is actually a Christian tradition which marks the last day before Lent – the last day you can indulge for the forty days before Easter (or whatever it is).  Now, the Louisianans have taken that indulgence to the extreme, but I reckon Sydney could give them a good run for the money.  Originally, Sydney’s gay pride parade was held in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in New York – widely regarded as the start of the gay rights movement – but was moved to February to coincide with Australian summer back in the 80’s.  With that move in date came the change in name which was fitting because it was conveniently scheduled right around the actual Mardi Gras.  The parade is generally now on the first Saturday in March and marks the culmination of a roughly three week-long festival.  I hadn’t really delved into the full festival before, but this year I jumped right it to get more than just my toes wet.

Fair Day kicks off the Mardi Gras season – a full day at the park featuring hundreds of stalls ranging from gay sports teams and community groups to charities and local businesses.  There’s also food, rides, performances, and more.  One of my besties, Jessica, tagged along this year with me and my posse of gay Jews.

Elcid and David took their turn on this big loopy ride which flung them into the air upside down and every other way and it made me sick just watching them.

Then there are performances, which I had wholly ignored in 2010, 2011, and 2012.  But this year, one of my mates invited me to two of them, which then spurred me to see what else was on offer.  There was the insanely funny yet only forty minutes long Confessions of a Grindr Addict – a one man show with the dude talking about his fear of going on an actual date after a whole year of nothing but Grindr dates.  (Grindr = a smartphone application which locates other gays… it’s “GPS for cock.”)

On the flip side, there was the four hour long Torch Song Trilogy – a heart-wrenching three part play about a Jewish New York drag queen’s (mostly tragic) quest for love.

There was a Golden Girls puppet show.  I’m not even shitting you.

And the play version of one of my all-time favourite gay movies:  Beautiful Thing – the story of two young neighbours who fall in love in a housing project in London.

But the kicker was An Evening with Megan Mullally!  Famous for her role as Karen on Will & Grace, Megan told the audience a bit about herself, sang a few songs (who knew she could sing so well?!?!), and just made us laugh the entire time.  I wish people would pay me that sort of money just to go on stage and talk about me!

There’s also a whole Mardi Gras film festival, but my schedule was already filled up so I didn’t check any of them out, but it’s already on my agenda for next year.  And parties.  Don’t forget the parties!  All day and all night parties, but they are quite expensive and I’d rather just go to bed (I’ve hit thirty and I’m feeling sleepy), so I didn’t go, but they are an integral part of Mardi Gras.

Once again, I marched in the parade with Dayenu, Sydney’s Jewish GLBTI group.  We kicked off the celebrations the night before at Emanuel Synagogue with a special Mardi Gras Shabbat service followed by dinner.  I am pleased to report that, unlike last year, nobody got food poisoning this time.  Oh - did you not hear about that?  That’s a whole other story…

Then there was the parade.  I was a bit nervous as Mother Nature got all pissy and decided to rain heavily on last year’s parade, and this year’s weather was looking equally as sketchy.  Also, my cape broke last year (yes, I had a cape on my costume) and I had to hold it on with one hand while marching, so that was a letdown.  But, the weather held out for the most part and we were able to stay comfortably dry during the march and I didn’t have any sort of elaborate cape this year.  Yay!  As this was Dayenu’s 13th year marching in Mardi Gras, it was only fitting that our theme was Bar Mitzvah.  We had pink kippot and rainbow tallit!  This pic of Brandon and Michael modelling our gear was so good that it was featured in a story about our float in Haaretz, Israel’s most influential newspaper.

In addition to our fabulous kippot and tallit, our float had a giant Star of David inscribed with “Mazel Tov”!  Because it wouldn’t be a Bar Mitzvah without a good dose of mazel tov!

A few of us made “Kiss Me, I’m Kosher” t-shirts to wear, and we had some fun posing for a picture or two.

The best part of the parade is the staging area beforehand.  For 2+ hours, all of the floats are lined up behind fences and you can walk around and check out all of the fabulousness.  And by fabulous, I mean drag queen nuns out to spread the truth about Jesus.

And tuxedo tops with lacy stocking bottoms! (and no, no pun intended there…)

Did I mention that Jessica accepted an invitation to march with the gay Jews this year, even though she’s straight and Episcopalian?  We don’t judge.

She even snapped a photo of us walking over to the parade as we crossed the rainbow crosswalk at Taylor Square!

She had such a blast hanging with the gay Jews that she’s already confirmed that she wants to march again next year.  Hmmm… maybe I’ll get her to convert… to Judaism… not to lesbianism…

And then we marched!

And then it was over and we celebrated with Thai food and gelato because all of the gays (aside from me) had been starving themselves to get skinny for Mardi Gras and they were ravenously hungry.  Silly boys.

As the night faded, we began the important process of starting to make plans for next year’s parade.  How exciting!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dear Corona Marketing Department

Dear Corona Marketing Department,

I write this letter to you in regards to your current advertising campaign that has blanketed our fair city.  “From Where You’d Rather Be” is the theme, and the advertisements on billboards and bus shelters feature one or more bottles of your beer on some sort of beach-type setting.  The scene almost always also includes young, attractive men and women who appear to be really enjoying life.  This implies that by drinking a Corona you will instantly be transported to a tropical beach full of hot, young people.  The marketing idea is indeed clever.

For the United States and Canada, undoubtedly your largest target markets, these billboards must do wonders to drum up business.  I get the image of a man slowly sliding down an ice-covered hill somewhere in Minnesota, struggling to stop on the slippery ice, finally coming to a halt at the bottom just before he’s thrust into traffic which wouldn’t be able to stop for him due to the slick conditions.  Then, as he lets out a big sigh of relief, he looks up to see the massive billboard just across the road – the one with the beach scene and flip-flops and attractive 20-somethings and sunglasses and, of course, a bottle of Corona, with the words “From Where You’d Rather Be” in the top corner.  And he thinks to himself “Fuck yes.  I’d rather be there.”  And he goes to the liquor store, buys a six pack of Corona, heads home, puts on some tacky Hawaiian shirt or something, and sits in front of his fireplace quietly thawing out while he enjoys a refreshing beer.

Genius marketing.

Now, the marketing campaign seems like the best thing since sliced bread and your advertisements surely also blanket North America during the cold winter months of December, January, and February.  The person in charge of distribution must think to him or herself “This is working so well in Massachusetts and Montana and Manitoba that surely all I have to do is check a little box or hit forward or something on my computer and this campaign will go global and I’ll be praised by my managers!”  And once that little box is checked, suddenly Australia is also blanketed with the “From Where You’d Rather Be” advertisements.  All good, right?


Do you understand that you are putting up billboards here in Australia during December, January, and February?  And that Australia is quite the opposite of the United States and Canada when it comes to seasons?  While it dumps down snow on Milwaukee and Kansas City and Fargo and all those other frigid places in North America, it’s hot as fuck here in Australia.  It’s summer.  Assuming that the place you suggest in the “From Where You’d Rather Be” ads is Mexico – because that is where Corona comes from – then I must say with all confidence that not a single Australian would rather be there.  It’s winter in Mexico, and while I’m sure Mexican winter isn’t all that noticeable, why would anyone leave summer in Sydney for winter in Mexico?  Also, Mexico has crime.  Lots of it.  And kidnapping.  Number 1 in the world in fact.  And dysentery.  A quick way to ruin expensive Australian underwear.  Why would any Australian go there during this time of year?

Allow me to present to you, esteemed members of the Corona marketing team, two scenarios for your consideration.  Scenario 1: You can spend thousands of dollars on airfare and accommodation to travel to Mexico just to get robbed, beaten, kidnapped, and left for dead in a kiddie pool full of your own uncontrollable diarrhea, or Scenario 2:  Spend $3 to take the bus down the road to Bondi with your beach towel and sunglasses and board shorts and flip flops and have little to no chance of getting robbed, beaten, kidnapped, or shitting yourself?  Which one better resembles that scene on your advertisement?  I’ll let you ponder for a minute.

Are you ready with your answers?

I thought so.  Maybe you should bring back these ads in June, July, and August, when beach season is over in Australia and people may actually be inspired to drink Corona based on that sort of advertising.  Or maybe you can pay a few local Australian advertising professionals to come up with some concepts that actually suit the Australian market?  Just a thought.  Until then, I’ll drink one of those European or Japanese or New Zealand beers that have pictures of frozen mountain scenes on the bottle – you know, the ones that are made from glacial water or some shit like that.  Surely those beers must be colder – I mean, they come from a fucking glacier – and when it’s 115 degrees outside and my ass skin, shorts, and the bar stool have all melded together and I’m stuck to my seat, I think I’d rather have a cold, crisp beer than one that’s been out in the sun on some Mexican beach all day.

Yours truly,
Confused Customer

p.s.   Your sign is broken.  In more ways than one.