Saturday, 19 September 2009

Gay Serbia - "in our city infidels and Satanists will not pass"

Fine words from a country and the city of Belgrade which should feel shame rather than triumph. Today organisers of a Gay Pride in Serbia agreed to call off the demonstration after renewed threats of violence. Great news form a country which one wold have deemed  "democratic"? This all seems par for the course when one recalls even the first gay pride march in 2001 which ended in violence.
The organisers were asked to move the march from the center of Belgrade to a "field" outside the city and faced with the choice of this humiliation or calling off the march they made the wisest choice under the circumstances and called off the demonstration.
Is seems somewhat overambitious that Serbia a country where both nationalists and religious leaders are for sexual discrimation, that they should have ambitions to become a member of the European Union. Equally the case for a country where many applauded freed war crimes perpetators at The Hague. I think that Serbia has a little further to go in human rights issues before even thinking about joining a European Union where at least the fundamental rights of citizens are secured by law.
The choice to call off the march has propeled the country again to world headlines and not for any reasons to be proud of. Courage to the gay acivists!  As they said The Republic of Serbia has capitulated. We have not.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Crippled Black Phoenix in Thessaloniki in September

This is how the Boston Phoenix (newspaper) describes the group: Ostensibly centering on former Electric Wizard drummer Justin Greaves, CBP are a loose congregation of various musicians who can shade the often lengthy compositions with waltzy Tom Waitsy sea shanties one minute and delve into "One of These Days"-y Pink Floydian bass throb the next, with occasional tracks into Alan Parsons–esque retro-synth fugues of inspired madness.
They will be appearing at the Principle Club which is about 20 minutes form Thessaloniki on the main motorway to Nea Moudania and Halkidiki. As I am unsure about how to book tickets all I can offer is the telephone number of the Principle Club ( 2310)  428 088.

Julia Migenes in Thessaloniki 20 September

One of the world’s leading opera singers, who has also had a successful career in musicals, Julia Migenes, will introduce her audience to the world of one of the greatest classical composers, Franz Schubert. Grammy-winning Migenes gave a historic performance in Francesco Rossi’s Carmen, has performed with Placido Domingo and Ruggero Raimondi and was an inspiration to Leonard Bernstein.
The concert is one night only at the Royal (Vassiliki) Theater.
She has recorded more than 20 albums and won a Grammy AwardCarmen. She was also nominated for the César Awards as best actress. Her one woman show, Diva on the Verge (2000), is available on DVD from Kultur Video. Her fame has spread worldwide and in other performance media and genres. She appeared in an episode of the Emmanuel Lewis vehicle, Webster. She guest starred in the TV series The New Twilight Zone episode "Grace Note". Director Peter Medak asked her to appear in his opera film La voix humaine
for the soundtrack to (1990). 
In 2004, she was in the opera version of Angels in America which premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet: a TV broadcast version is expected to be released on DVD.[citation needed]
She is no stranger to Greece and, in fact, is of Greek origin as her father was a US immigrant from the Greek island of Chios.

Monday, 14 September 2009

gay clubs and bars in Thessaloniki, gkei clubs and bars in θεσσαλονικη,

There is a strange phenomenon in Greece which applies to both straight and gay clubs and bars - they tend to change names remarkably quickly. I am not sure what the reason for this is - I think it is for tax or other commercial reasons - but very often in Thessaloniki you will see a gay bar closing and opening the next week under a new name. This does not mean new management and I have never really understood what the reason for this is.
This, of course, being Greece does not apply to all bars and clubs and cafes like "
Don't tell Mama", "Stretto", "de Facto" have been around for a very long time. On the other hand clubs like "Weger" or "Sodad"  in the city centre have changed names several times - in fact so often I cannot really remember. Perhaps it has just something to do with the fact that people are constantly looking for somewhere to go that is new and when it loses its flair the crowd moves on to somewhere else. So that is why it is a good idea to keep updated on the current scene  - (and another reason for visiting my blog).
All in all there is a fast turn around in many gay bars and clubs in the city. Very often they are one and the same - just under a different name.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Gay marriage in Greece - and?

When I go through the search engines and examine the pages that have been indexed on gay Greece it is really sad that by far the most information in this context relates to the Major of Tilos who some two years ago decided to pronounce civil union on two couples. The powers that be erupted in dismay. Legal proceedings were initiated against the mayor, the unions were pronounced invalid, the government distanced itself from the matter. And that is what you will find today on the Internet if you are interested in gay life in Greece.
Of course the other thing that crops up under this search query is Mykonos and gay holidays etc etc. But that is not really the gay life of a country, is it? Gay hotels, gay clubs and gay beaches in Mykonos.
There seems today little political voice for the GLBT community in Greece. Or if there is I am incapable of finding it? With that there would also seem to be a kind of resignation to the unchangeability of the status quo in this country - its perspectives, its thinking - definitely stuck somewhere which Western Europe has long overcome. Views like politics here seem to be so deeply entrenched. Gays are great if they come to Mykonos and spent lots of money and then go home again and leave us Greeks in peace - that would seem to be the message of a country which is lost in its cultural vision.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Bloggers against discrimination - the gay vote in Greece

Now that the country faces elections one would hope that the Greek LGBT communities will at least make their voices heard and hopefully help the downfall of Karamanlis and New Democracy. Last year a group of bloggers signed a petition against discriminaton following the legislation recognising only heterosexual partnerships in the country. The orthodox church called any attempt at recogniton of gay couples in Greece as a "catastrophic bomb".
And how right and how wise they are - it would be a bomb right on the doorstep of the orthodox church which inspite of its despicable hypocrisy, its dirty political dealings and homophobic gay priests, still has an influence on social life. Thank goodness it is not so strong with the younger generation who see through the political schemes and financial dealings of the Greek orthodox church
  With the death of Christodoulos and a new Patriarch of the Greek orthodox church, it has become less visibile on the political scene although this does not mean less influential. The Vatopedi scandal of this year was proof of that.
At a time when both PASOK and New Democracy are in dire need of votes should not the gay community stand up and let them know under what conditons they will get the gay vote?

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Two Greek euros well spent

When in Thessalonki if you are anxious to see a part of the city, there is now a bus service which is well worth the money and which covers some of the city's most important sites. The bus route Number 50 in Thessaloniki is for tourists and  is serviced by the municipal  bus company (OASTH). During the summer months (June - September) it leaves the White Tower every hour on the hour from 8:00 - 17:00 hours. In winter the timetable from October - May is 09:00 - 16-00 hours and it leaves every hour on the hour.

The trip takes you from the White Tour along a street parallel to Tsimiski but first alongside the Thessaloniki Trade Fair area  on the right hand side befor turning towards the centre down a small street which leads to the Square of Agia Sofia where you will find the finest Byzantine Church in all of Northern Greece. The route then conitnues through Aristoteles Square past the old markets which are still a hub of activity and well worth a visit, until it turns up and on to Agios Dimitrios. From here you climb up towards the old part of the city (Ano Poli) where you will have a tremendous view over the whole city. Finally the bus comes stright down past Agios Dimitrios hospital back to the White Tower. The cost of a ticket - which you purchase from a machien on the bus - is Euro 2. The ticket is valid for for 24 hours and allows you to hop on and off at any stop. My tips - get off at the old market and stroll around this incredible place for an hour - then continue to the old part of the city (Ano Poli) and  again if time permits get off and simply enjoy the view from up there, There are also many quaint cafes and tavernas if you want some refreshments.

Friday, 4 September 2009

David Morales, Kostis Zartaloudis at Lidos Paradise Thessaloniki

David Morales is no stranger to Thessaloniki and tomorrow evening, Friday 11 September he co-hosts a summer party at the Lido Paradise in Thessaloniki. The Lido Paradise is located where most of the summer clubs are to be found near the airport about 20 minutes by taxi from the center of the city. Any taxi-driver will know it so no need to worry.
This is one of the most popular clubs in the city, its stylish and you can choose between a number  of bars - th Mirror Bar, the Garden Bar, etc.
To find out upcoming gigs in and around Thessaloniki you will find the postyourevent website very useful. David Morales, in case you do not know, is from New York and has gained international acclaim as a house music DJ and  producer. He has worked among others with Madonna, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross.
David Morales also has the honor of being listed in wikipedia!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Come holiday with Prince Charles

Usually once a year, Prince Charles, the future King of England, pays a visit to Mount Athos which is little over one hour's drive from Thessaloniki. Athos is the third of the peninsulas on Halkidiki and although strictly speaking part of Greece, it is under the imdependent governance of the orthodox church. It has over 20 different monasteries, Serb, Russian, Bulgarian and Greek. Entrance to Mount Athos is only allowed with a special permit from the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace, located in Thessaloniki and a visitor can stay for a maximum of four days. Females are not permitted on Mount Athos. (Even Charles had to leave Camilla on the boat - no exceptions made!)
The first monasteries were built here in the 9th century, to give you an idea of the time scale and
many riches and treasures of the Orthodox Church are kept here.
I found it interesting that in 1997 when Greece was cultural capital of Europe, an exhibition of the treasures was staged here in Thessaloniki in the Byzantine Museum. The exhibiton almost did not take place as there was great difficulty in finding a company to insure it. One of the small icons alone was insured for 30 billion Greek drachmas!

To visit the island the usual way that pilgrims arrive is using the small ferry boat which leaves from Ouranopoli to the little harbour of Daphne on Mount Athos. The area itself is full of rare plats and wildlife and is called also the garden of the Virin Mary. To understand more of the history and the sights on Mount Athos I would advise you to read this account of a visit. 

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Why does Hildegard Knef have such a following among the gay community

There are entertainers, one remarks as one gets older, who for some unknown yet charismatic reason remain icons for certain social minorities. This is what Hildegard Knef is for many in the gay community. Why, one can well ask and I have trouble even venturing a possibel answer. Her voice, her songs, her wit? Her truth? The woman who outraged press in German in the early fifties by apeparing naked in a performance and replies - "Have they forgotten Ausschwitz."
For those of you who do not know or who have not heard of Hildegard Knef, (one of her most famous songs - "May it rain red roses on me") she epitomizes in many ways the pre-war German Berlin.  She was an actress, a film star and a singer and although in spite of trying her luck in Hollywood with David Selsnick, it never happened in the US. A woman who admitted herself that she earned 35 million German marks and ended her life a quarter of a million in debt, a woman who mastered the gay rights movement and the fight against aids through charity concerts. Her voice is haunting, smokey, inimitable and in many cases outdoes Marlene Dietrich in Dietrich's own creations. In fact life is so strange. Was it chance that she and Marlene Dietrich were one time neighbours in Berlin. After a life-long friendship when Dietrich advised her that Yves St Laurent should come to Berlin to help with her wardrobe, they fell out and never spoke again. Yet upon Dietrich's death it was discovered that she had kept every press cutting of Knef's long after their friendship broke up.
Knef, a woman who gave up her German citizenship when she abandoned the country for the US  and who was given it back again shortly before her death - thansk to the efforts of the then prime minister, Schroeder. A woman who dressed as aman to avoid rape by invading Soviet troops, and whow as then released fro a Soviet camp when they discovered her gender. A  woman who spent the second half of her life fighting off cancer.

Werner Herzog to attend Thessaloniki 50th Film Festival

November 13nd - 22nd celebrates the 50th anniversary of the International Film Festival in Thessaloniki. Director and writer, Werner Herzog, has just confirmed that he will be attending the event. The Thessaloniki International Film Festival which also sees a gay film festival on the sidelines, has become a landmark on the European international circuit. It has been and remains teh aim of this festival to highlight the work of new young filmmakers and the guiding motto for this year's festival is "Why Cinema Now?"
The festival will also include a retrospect of the life's work of German director, Werner Herzog, who incidentally made his first film called "Signs of Life" when he was 24 years old on the island of Kos.
Listed below are some of the films included in the Herzog retrospective.

Signs of Life, 1968, 87 min, West Germany
Even Dwarves Started Small, 1970, 96 min, West Germany
Aguirre, the Wrath of God, 1972, 93 min, Mexico / Peru / West Germany
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser – Every Man for Himself and God Against All, 1974, 109 min, West Germany
Heart of Glass, 1976, 97 min, West Germany
Stroszek, 1976, 108 min, West Germany
Nosferatu, 1978, 103 min, France / West Germany
Woyzeck, 1979, 81 min, West Germany
Fitzcarraldo, 1982, 157 min, Peru / West Germany
Where the Green Ants Dream, 1984, 100 min, Australia / West Germany
Cobra Verde, 1987, 110 min, Ghana / West Germany
Scream of Stone, 1991, 105 min, Belgium / Canada / France / Germany
Invincible, 2001, 158 min, Germany / Ireland / UK / USA
Rescue Dawn, 2006, 126 min, USA

More details of the Werner Herzog retrospective can be found on the festival website.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

new gay bear association in Thessaloniki and party on Friday 5th September

After a bit of snopping around the Internet I stumbled upon a BearThess association of bears of Northern Greece which was set up in 2007 and meant as a venue for bears from the North of Greece. The venue is the bar and club mentioned in earlier posts called Bar Me which you will find at the following address - see also earlier posts as it is a known gay venue in the centre of Thessaloniki.

The gay bear associationis organising its 2nd BEARTHDAY PARTY this Friday evening, 5 September at Bar Me so be there and don't miss out. The party is being sponsored by the bear world wide woof-

Bar Me
3, Agiou Mina str.

The Thessaloniki gay bear group has even got its own website up and running  and this is the place to keep updated on all bear and cub events in Thessaloniki.  Here below is a nice little map of how to get to Bar Me in the centre of Thessaloniki.