First, grand apologies that this thing is so W-A-A-Y late. I’ve been too tired to try to think about what to say, let alone being able to write. Plus I’ve been sick and had to prepare my first presentation for uni. So please forgive my tardiness.
What happened last time? It seems so far away, let’s see… I was considering not going to the Pool Party, right. Well, I did go and had the most fun I had the entire MG period free of any form of stimulants. It’s pretty easy to understand why the Pool Party is so enjoyable: big boofy men + blow-up pool toys = instant fun. It’s great – basically 100-plus men in a wave pool playing with a lot of beach balls and plastic crocodiles. This year we even had two blow-up pirate ships and we held mock battles until one of them burst and sunk to the bottom of the pool (the Chloriny Deep?). After that we spent the time trying to kick people out of the pirate ship so you can get on instead, then trying not to get yourself kicked off. It’s great, it’s so silly, and there’s not a glass of beer or ecstasy pill in sight. It’s so funny – the event that people always remark on being their favourite memory of MG is caused solely by natural highs.
Afterwards everyone heads off to the Flinders (or tries to squeeze themselves into the Flinders) but I went home to nurse my cold and made do with half a cask of red. At one point, trying to get up after lying on the bed watching telly, I was so stiff from all the additional exercise I’d done at the Pool Party that I found that I could not move. I had to roll myself off the bed and hobble stiff-legged about. I’m not sure if that means I was that sick or that unfit.
Saturday is the pre-March picnic (which was nice) then we were marshalled into our designated spot for the March itself. Again, I was in two minds about the whole thing – last year we stood around for four hours, not being allowed to sit in the curb or leave to get a drink, and I wasn’t sure if I was really up to that sort of marathon again. I still wasn’t feeling fantastic and spent a lump of the time blowing snot into an ever-increasingly soggy handkerchief. Last year the Bears were third last float. This year we were somewhere in the middle so, thinking it’s not going to be that long a wait, I took a wristband and joined the line.
In many ways I think the waiting to March part is so much more interesting than the March itself. First you have the anticipation of the March (which is pretty mind blowing), but you also have the opportunity to see all the other floats on amass. And not just all together, but mingling, blending, amalgamating into one colourful canvas. Next door to us was the Foxtel float (they were a media sponsor) and had lots of boys running around in orange and black and a group of Pam Ann attired drag queens. Over were the surf livesavers in their red and yellow Speedos with their sequenced frilly red and yellow flags. Down a bit were the Leather Pride peoples, staging mock whippings. Further along was a peculiar float about saving the Tasmanian Devil made out of paper flowers – what that had to do with MG I will never understand. There was also the Ethel Yarwood float Surry Hillsong, a parody on the horrendous Hillsong church. A friend of mine was dressed as Anne Kali for the Ankali float (getit?), a support organisation for people with HIV/AIDS; I’ve been meaning to join them for years, perhaps when uni is finished. Plus all the other floats, all brightly coloured and decked out with beautiful people attired in body paint or not much at all. But whoever arranges the floats does have a sense of humour: behind the Bears was the Animal Liberation Front float with their Love Cows, Don’t Kill Cows creation, so you had all these people with “Meat is Murder” banners painted up like Friesians mingling with a bunch of large meat loving men most wearing some form of leather. It was all rather bizarre, especially when a group of them came over and started dancing to our speaker system and not their own.
Luckily we didn’t have to wait very long till we marched, and being in the first allotment we were able to see the floats travel past. It also gave you an idea of how long it was going to be until your own turn. And then we were off. I was wearing my Bill t-shirt for the occasion, mostly as I wanted something warmish (I went topless last year and it was a bloody cold night) as I didn’t want to get sicker.
Marching this year was different than last time. I enjoyed it, but I never obtained the same rush as before. Last year was my first March, and that plus the stretched anticipation caused by being one of the very last floats, had me feeling almost nauseous from nerves. But then we started to walk / march / dance our way along Oxford Street and the noise from the crowds aligning the path – sometimes six or seven people deep, standing on milk crates or squashed down between legs – was overwhelming, and I nearly burst into tears. I didn’t, thankfully, but I had to keep telling myself not to – there’s nothing sadder than a bawling bear. I’ve lived and partied on Oxford Street for over 10 years now, but this was, like I said, my first March, and it suddenly dawned on me that this was such an immense statement to make. I was out and proud and openly… shouting at these hundreds of thousand people, plus those who may see me from the media, that I was gay. Not just that, but gay and happy. Straight people can’t do that; sure they openly telling you that they are straight, but they are never given the chance to so broadly tell you they are happy. I went home straight after the March last year, there was nothing that could have beaten the joy I felt. If I remember correctly I watched West Side Story and enjoyed a few beers.
This year I didn’t reach the same charge, which is a bit of a shame. I wasn’t feeling well. I was incredibly tired from (and perhaps “of”) the Bears Essentials week, and from the previous four weeks making the Bills. I was battling a cold sore so I wasn’t feeling all that attractive. But I also think the float didn’t “flow” as well as last time – our lead truck kept stopping and starting, as if being driven by someone not used to a clutch. This always happens – some group beforehand always stops the whole flow by doing some convoluted dance routine – but it seemed to happen a little more than previously, so you sort of got in the groove of the March, bopping away to the dance music blaring from the back of the mirror ball and strobe light decked out truck, and then suddenly come to a grounding halt where you sort of jiggle on the spot till the truck starts up again. But still, seeing all those people, those complete strangers, cheering us on, for that alone it was worth it.
After the March I met up with Ashley at the Flinders. I woke up at home around noon on Sunday with no money so I’m assuming I had a good time. That night I went to my first Woof Club MG Recovery. I had been told they get very raucous affair, all leather and rubber and promiscuous acts – at 11.30, when I first arrived, there was already people in the darkened corners having sex. Personally, I always feel a little (just a little?) uncomfortable about such open displays of rooting, but who am I to comment; I used to design the invites for an orgy group. It took me a while to get into the swing of the party and had a much better time off the dance floor and hanging out in the open spaces by the bar. I knew a few people there too, so that was nice.
Did I get lucky? No, but I did have the experience that night of urinating on my first gentlemen. Three times. He seemed to enjoy it.
I was there till stumps (some time after 6) and the small group I had joined managed to queue jump and get ourselves into the Phoenix day club. My last memory is standing at the bar, and then I wake up at home with no money, so again I’m assuming I had a good time.
So that was Mardi Gras for 2009. A week later I still feel exhausted, but that’s also because I had to prepare my first presentation for uni – three nights in a row of not getting to bed till after 4am cannot be good for you. That’s also why I’m so late with this blog. I’ll tell you more about uni some other time. Now, I’m going to go and have a nap.