It’s only a 15-hour flight to Sydney… from the west coast. I figured, since my laptop, iPhone and battery extender wouldn’t even come close to keeping my mind occupied for that whole time, that I’d pick up a few books for the trip. I went with Chelsea Handler’s 2nd book (because there was no way I was paying for/lugging aroundKathy Griffin’s hardcover) and Matt Rothschild’s Dumbfounded (a very good recommendation by a very cute literary agent). For the third, I had planned to get some gay erotic fiction. You know, something to make people gasp while I was sitting in LAX. But while I was looking through the gay lit shelves at Borders, Dwight A. McBride’s Why I Hate Abercrombie and Fitch: Essays on Race and Sexuality caught my eye. Total nerdy academic soc-major material. When I saw the side-view of the model in the string thong on the cover, I had to have it!
My flights were pretty boring, but I had a whole row to myself across the Pacific. We landed around 8:30am, but I wouldn’t be able to check into my hotel and take a shower til about 2. As soon as I got through customs, I gave myself a thorough wipe-down (though there was a handicapped shower in the bathroom, I couldn't deal with that bench) and changed clothes. I was pissed about the AUD $15 to take the train from the airport until I thought about the combination of the subway, LIRR, and AirTrain fares to get to JFK.
I got to the CBD and went to drop my bag off at the Travelodge on 27 Wentworth Ave, Sydney, NSW 2010 (going for SEO points here) near Hyde Park. They let me do an initial check in. I’d made a reservation on Booking.com.au for a room with either 2 twins or a double, and I’d specified that I had a preference for a double when I booked the room in December as well as when I’d confirmed directly with the hotel a week before. When I asked at the front desk, they said the rooms hadn’t been assigned yet. I asked if the front-desk clerk could note that I had a preference for a queen, and she said that she would. They had me fill out a claim ticket and drop my bag off in a small room behind the front desk myself. I thought twice about the security of my things, but I figured they had a system that was better than my lugging it up Oxford St. (Sydney's 8th Ave).
Free of my burden, I walked up Oxford St. to Battuta Café, one of my favorite spots from when I studied in Sydney in ‘03. Once I found out they had free wifi (as opposed to the $20/night wireless I barely got a signal for in the hotel… and data roaming is not cute!), it became my favorite for this trip as well. A young blonde RG was my server, and I noticed a rather cute male server working the other side of the dining area. The male server went to ring me up but couldn't find my check for some reason. He seemed slightly flustered, but I smiled and told him what I had ordered.
I still had a few hours to fill, so I hopped a city bus to Bondi Beach. I figured I could take a walk to Tamarama Beach (I remember someone saying it was gay) since they were in the same area. I forgot that a) it takes a little over a half hour to get to Bondi from Darlinghurst and that b) Tamarama is a long walk along the shoreline from Bondi Beach. I ended up coming back after about an hour to try and check into the hotel, praying they gave the 6'2 guy a queen room.
Of course, I got back, and there were no queen rooms. The clerk was no help. The manager was no help. In fact, the manager seemed annoyed that a customer would even be dissatisfied with his conditions. He gave me some bullshit about not being able to guarantee rooms when they’re booked through another site. Even when you request in the comments, email the hotel directly, and make a verbal request before rooms have been assigned. What an asshole. (See why I was so specific earlier?) Plus, no one asked for a claim ticket when I walked into the room and picked up my own bag.
Quite frustrated, I hopped back on the bus and went out to Bronte Beach, which is a closer walk to Tamarama Beach. I got there and realized it wasn't really that gay (but maybe just because it was a weekday).
I came back to the gaybourhood and saw two of Duplex's friends across the street. It’s hard to miss two 6’6” black guys walking on Oxford St. I saw another one of Duplex’s friends, Colin of Minoritees, in the window of The Colombian Hotel, so I wandered in, hoping for a happy hour. That’s when the whole measured-pours thing came back to me.
See, in Australia (or at least in New South Wales and Victoria), all mixed drinks are made with no more than one 30ml shot unless you pay for a double. And at AUD $7 and change, "You'll go broke drinking liquor in Sydney!" A few minutes later, NYC sensation DJ Corey Craig joined us (why did I fly 10,000 miles again?), and we discussed the complexities of promoting oneself on Grindr while in a relationship.
After a nap and a shower, I was ready for my first night out in Sydney. I was walking near Taylor Square (on Oxford St.) wearing my “Beauty Is a Talent” shirt. A woman with messy curly hair eyed me as we approached each other. As we passed, she poked me with her finger in my chest and aggressively slurred, “Beauty is a talent? Beauty is a talent?! What the fuck is that?!” Wow.
I calmed my nerves with a drink at Stonewall Hotel (my fav bar from my semester there) and enjoyed a choreographed go-go show on the bar. 'Cause that's how they do over there. Most drag queen/go-go shows feature multiple performers, multiple costumes, and impressive choreo.
Around 11:30, I headed next door to see Shequida (yet another person from NYC) at Boy Bar. Colin of Minoritees and DJ Corey Craig were there to see the show. She did a hilarious routine, lip synching pop songs and movie monologues and taking the piss out of (i.e., making fun of) Australia.
A guy I'd talked to on Gaydar was headed over to meet me. He'd worked on an event featuring Corey Craig (and Peppermint, who had already left the country), and I could see the surprise in his face when he realized we knew each other.
Corey Craig: "All the black people hang out in NYC, too!"
After the show, the promoter left, and I headed to Arq for their underwear party. Then I realized it was $40 to get in. I settled for The Colombian instead. Who was the first person I saw at The Colombian? The drunk Aussie woman, wearing an ankle cast and one heel. That’s when I realized that I recognized her from my last trip to Oz! She was the loud, drunken woman on Oxford St that I used to try to avoid at all costs 6.5 years ago!
I crossed the bar and ordered a drink. As I was waiting for the bartender, a redhead standing beside me smiled and said, “Hey, I like your hair.” He was cute, too. We talked for a bit, and I learned that he was from DC and was staying with an ex of his from when he studied abroad. He was at the bar with said ex, another ex of the ex, and the ex’s new bf, and they were all staying in the same apartment for the week. Sounds like
a whole lot of sexual frustration fun. So you know that annoying thing that girls do when they insist that their friends leave a party with them “because we all came together”? That’s exactly what happened in this situation. I felt much better about spending money on my poor choice of hotel.
Two minutes later, the Crazy Aussie Lady, who had been dancing with a 200-lb guy, lost her balance and brought the two of them to the ground. She was surprisingly cooperative when they escorted her out.
Just before I left, I had some eye contact with a 40-something Asian guy, who caught up with me on the street.
Him: "Hey, what you up to?"
Me: "I was just seeing if I could grab some wifi."
Him: "You come with me. I take care of you. We friends first. Don't worry. My name Jackie. You know Jackie Chan? I Jackie Lee!"
Jackie Lee (with a story like this, I couldn't resist using his real name) was from Taiwan and confessed that he liked "brack guy." He repeated about 5 times that we were "friends first" but threw in that he was single just as many times.
We arrived at the lower level of Arq. He bought a couple of rounds for me and some of his friends that were already there, assuring me that he didn't mind if I went after another guy. Too bad all the hot guys were upstairs at the $40 underwear party. He and his friends were fun, but I was over the scene pretty quickly.
On the way home, I ran into Crazy Aussie Lady, who had a bloody lip (already cleaned up). She ran up to me and started babbling, so I asked her if she needed to go to the hospital. She said yes, but as soon as I got a cab for her, she said she was going home and stumbled off.