Tag: Enjoy

Former model Carey James on the best clubs to enjoy in post-pandemic Berlin / GayCities Blog

Former model Carey James on the best clubs to enjoy

GayCities encourages you to stay safe during the Covid 19 pandemic. If you choose to travel, we recommend that you follow all CDC Travel Guidelines and adhere closely to all local regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures.

Carey James, retired model and host of the Failfighters podcast

Think of Carey James as a modern male Dorothy Gale.

Like the Wizard of Oz heroine, Carey started life in Parsons, Kansas, before traveling to fantastical lands populated by colorful characters. His journey began in Los Angeles where he pursued a modeling career while earning his psychology degree. From there he Yellow Brick Road-ed across the globe, adventuring in the major metropolises of Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hamburg before settling in Berlin.

Now he’s applying his psychological savviness into his podcast Failfighters while navigating Germany’s strict quarantine.

In order to glean a global perspective of queer culture outside of the US, we kiki’ed with Carey about Berlin, surviving during the pandemic, and the benefits of failing.

A glimpse into Carey’s LA modeling days

How is Berlin dealing with the quarantine? What is open?

Germany is pretty hardcore on restrictions and lockdown. Angela Merkel is pretty tough about this stuff. We’re in full lockdown, meaning nothing is open. They closed down all the stores, all the restaurants. The only things open are the grocery stores or necessary places like the post office. That’s it.

If you know anything about Berlin, it’s an old decaying former half communist/half western mash-up. It’s an old, piece of shit city. But the beauty of this city is its people, and nightlife, and art scene, and start-up scene. That’s all completely dead now. It’s a shell of what it once was. There’s no crazy sex clubs going on, no wild raves in the parks, no start-up competition.

When the city reopens again, where do you suggest gay tourists hit up?

Tempelhofer Feld is this old abandoned airport in the center of the city. It’s now this huge green space. People go there and have parties, and sports, and markets. It’s really interesting.

The rest is all nightlife.

Kit Kat is the craziest public sex club in the world. There are plenty of private ones I’m sure are better than it, but it’s the one that if you had a friend in town, you would bring them to see someone get $%^d in public. It’s full of all kinds of crazy people.

And then there’s Berghain, which is like the most popular club in the world.

Yeah, I hear Berghain is hard to get into.

When I first visited Berlin in 2017, a girl I was hanging out with at the time said, “Let’s go to Berghain and see what happens.” On the website, they say don’t dress too crazy. You gotta be all goth-ed out. So we did, and when we got to the bouncer she said something to him in German. He looked at me and let us in. It was no big deal. I’d say, it helps to go in small numbers of cool people that speak German. And it doesn’t hurt to have a dominatrix-looking chick with you, too.

Well played. Now let’s talk about your podcast Fail Fighters. What motivated you to start that podcast?

I was working with a friend that started an event series that celebrated the art of failure. He invited successful people to come talk about the times they screwed up. It went well, and I’ve been doing voice-over for the past 6 years, so it made sense to put the two together and interview some cool people.

Why do you think it’s important to fail?

There is no true winning without failing first. You have to learn the lessons to get to the point of seeing real success. The only thing permeant in life is change. If you can figure out how to change and always come out on top, that’s real success. The only way to get there is to get your ass kicked a few times.

 

I feel that. Covid has been kicking our asses for about a year now. In your professional opinion, what would you advise to stay sane during quarantine?

The pandemic is a mental health crisis. I know a lot of coaches and people in the personal development industry. I was talking to one of them and his client went crazy. Not drugs or anything, she just went crazy. Like talking to trees and stuff. She was totally normal outside of the pandemic. But if you put someone in solitary, it’s the cruelest punishment you can give someone. It’s what they do to guys in prison for fucking up. They put them in a little box by themselves. And that’s how millions of people are right now. It’s fair enough that they are going insane.

The online space is different, the means of connection is different, but if you make the most out of it and are proactive you can do a lot of cool things. Last week, I was supposed to visit my friend in Holland. But, it got fucked up. We had to get Covid tests, and there were border problems, and it just fell apart. So we were like, fuck it we’ll do dinner together over Zoom. It was the best 2-hour dinner we could possibly do. You have to make an effort. It’s not like you are going to run into your friends and things will be planned. The best way to get through this is to fill your schedule with activities. Always have something to look forward to, especially things that involve other people.

 

It’ll be a lot easier once everyone is vaccinated. I don’t know if you’ve been following, but in the US it’s become incredibly politicized. How is that in Germany?

In Berlin, there are fucking Neo-nazi groups protesting in the streets. There is hardcore shit going on here. Right-wing conservative nazi groups are getting more attention than they used to get. I’m not really paying attention to that, being locked away all the time, but I know there are arguments over who should be vaccinated first. The government needs to get their shit together and get more doses. They’re actually talking with Russia about their Sputnik vaccine. It’s usually America that’s the leader in the world, but they’re fucking everything up. They’re not doing so well. Usually Germany would buy everything from America, but here they are cutting deals with Russia.

Well, I hope Germany pulls it together so your city can reopen. What will be the first thing you want to do in Berlin once quarantine is lifted?

Party like a fucking animal for two or three days straight. There is no better place in the world to do that than in this city.

5 amazing Miami beaches where you can enjoy a little bit of everything / GayCities Blog

5 amazing Miami beaches where you can enjoy a little

At this stage in 2020, we all deserve a getaway–or five!

With its palm-fringed beaches, art deco architecture, and sumptuous hotels, Greater Miami is the perfect getaway any time of year. The winter and spring months offer tropical warmth: the perfect, balmy respite to other parts of the frigid U.S.

Miami also offers choice, whether you’re looking for arts and culture, queer family-friendly outdoor adventures, high-end shopping or somewhere to frolic with your pooch.

Miami is also famed for its vibrant LGBTQ scene. Its LGBT Visitor Center in South Beach’s historic City Hall building is one of the very best in the country, and the destination’s festivals and parties draw visitors from around the world (pre-and post-pandemic).

Now is a particularly great time to plan a visit, as it offers special deals to lure back travelers as the world begins to open back up.

Check out some of our favorite beaches, beach walks, and parks in Miami.

1. Bark Beach at North Beach Oceanside Park

North Beach, Miami
North Beach (Photo: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau www.gmcvb.com)

North Beach Oceanside Park is in the northern part of Miami Beach, from 79th to 87th Street.

It offers a chilled-out, low-key vibe, with the only sound being surf, seagulls, and pelicans. The park also offers plenty of picnic tables for you to safely enjoy takeout food from the local street vendors, with fresh seafood in abundance.

2. Hobie Island Beach Park

Hobie Island Beach Park, Miami
Hobie Island Beach Park (Photo: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau www.gmcvb.com)

This one is great for dogs and owners who love to play together in the surf. Hobie Island Beach Park – also known as Windsurfer Beach – lies on the Rickenbacker Causeway, running from Miami to Virginia Key and not far from the Miami Seaquarium, which also deserves a visit, especially with kids in tow.

Hobie Island Beach Park offers kayaking, windsurfing, and paddleboarding, all set against the panoramic (and Instagram-friendly) backdrop of downtown Miami on one side and the vast expanse of the Atlantic on the other. The water is shallow enough here to wade and play, yet another reason it’s popular with families.

3. 12th Street Beach

A rainbow flag over 12th Street Beach, Miami
12th Street Beach (Photo: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau www.gmcvb.com)

12th Street Beach, in front of Lummus Park and Ocean Drive on South Beach, is loudly and proudly gay. Populated mostly by gay men, look for the rainbow flags by the lifeguard stations and you’ll know you have found your outdoor vacation home.

Traveling with kids? This part of South Beach has a reputation for those looking to party. If you want a quieter, LGBTQ family-friendly alternative, check out South Pointe Park Beach (with its play areas and dog park) or the beach at 20th Street.

4. Bal Harbour Beach

If the idea of designer living and upmarket shopping is your thing, head for Bal Harbour Village, at the northernmost end of Miami Beach island. The area is known for attracting the rich and famous with its luxury stores and five-star restaurants.

Bal Harbour Shops offers the likes of Versace, Chanel, Gucci, and Valentino, all spread around a restaurant-packed inner courtyard, with family favorites such as Bianco Gelato.

Bal Harbour’s pristine, white-sand beach is considerably quieter than South Beach and offers boardwalks for walkers and cyclists. The nearby Surfside Beach is another one popular with paddleboarders and kite surfers.

5. Beach Walk

This last recommendation is not a beach per se, but a paved walk that runs from South Pointe Park in Miami Beach’s southern tip, parallel to the ocean along South Beach, stretching north all the way through Bal Harbour and offers people-watching extravaganza.

Along the way, check out the outdoor muscle gym at Ninth Street. Take your pick from the restaurants along Ocean Drive like the Front Porch Café (a popular breakfast and brunch spot), and others such as Havana 1957, offering Cuban-inspired lunch boxes to enjoy outdoors on your journey through this urban beach paradise.

Kids will love the Willy Wonka-ish vibe of Ocean Drive’s Sugar Factory (while adults will appreciate its brasserie and candy-flavored cocktails).

Enjoy a taste of Queer Japan from the comfort of home / GayCities Blog

Enjoy a taste of Queer Japan from the comfort of

A go-go dancer captured in the documentary, Queer Japan
A go-go dancer captured in the documentary, Queer Japan

While we continue to dream about escaping to far-flung climes, a new documentary coming to streaming services next week brings Japan to you.

Queer Japan is an acclaimed documentary by Los Angeles-based, Canadian filmmaker Graham Kolbeins. It has already played at international LGBTQ film festivals around the world, with the Hollywood Reporter calling it, “an engagingly colorful panorama.”

On December 11, it will become available to viewers in the US and Canada via Theatrical At Home and on Digital HD (including Apple TV, Prime Video and Google Play).

Nogi Sumiko, Atsushi Matsuda, Hiroshi Hasegawa, Gengoroh Tagame, Akira the Hustler, and Tomato Hatakeno
L-R: Nogi Sumiko, Atsushi Matsuda, Hiroshi Hasegawa, Gengoroh Tagame, Akira the Hustler, and Tomato Hatakeno (Photo: Queer Japan)

Kolbeins and his producers spent five years making the documentary and interviewed over 100 people. They wanted to capture an authentic cross-section of Japan’s LGBTQ community, from erotic manga artist Gengoroh Tagame to HIV+ advocate Hiroshi Hasegawa, drag queen Vivienne Sato to trans author Tomato Hatakeno, crisscrossing the nation from Osaka to Okinawa.

Related: Gay Tokyo

Drag performer Vivienne Sato
Drag performer Vivienne Sato (Photo: Queer Japan)

The film features local gay bars and those who work in them, Pride parades and kink-positive parties, and shines a light on Tokyo’s gay neighborhood, Shinjuku Ni-chome.

“There is no singular ‘queer Japan,’ because queer people are not a monolith,” says Kolbeins in a press statement. “This film merely offers a patchwork of personal experiences told by a few dozen artists, activists, community leaders, and everyday people living in Japan today. It is my deepest hope that our approach does justice to the subjects and communities we’re depicting.”

A dancer at Club Explosion, Osaka, featured in Queer Japan
A dancer at Club Explosion, Osaka, featured in Queer Japan

Kolbeins says he has long had an admiration for Japanese, erotic manga art. This led him to make a short documentary in 2014 called The House of Gay Art, about a curator who stored an archive of erotic work in his Tokyo apartment.

Related: Gay couple’s hotel photo shoot prompts praise and criticism in Singapore

It proved successful at film festivals. Kolbeins [pictured below, front row left] says it impressed upon him, “the need and audience thirst for more cinematic representation of queer culture from Japan.”

Kolbeins worked in tandem with co-writer Anne Ishii and producer, Hiromi Iida.

“As a white cis male director aware of the long history of American colonization in Japan, it was especially important for me to remove myself from the frame as much as possible and avoid imposing any preconceived notions,” says Kolbeins. “I saw my role as a listener and an observer, a cheerleader for a community that deserves to be celebrated.”

Kolbeins tells GayCities he first visited Japan in 2012, along with Queer Japan co-writer and long-time collaborator Anne Ishii, to meet with Manga artists.

“I didn’t have much of a sense of what the LGBTQ+ scene would look like, but I was delighted to glimpse the sheer scope of Tokyo’s gayborhood, Shinjuku Ni-Chome, which has close to 300 bars servicing the queer community.”

Tokyo Rainbow Pride
Tokyo Rainbow Pride (Photo: Queer Japan)

Like everyone else, Kolbeins is looking forward to being able to travel and reconnecting with his Japanese friends again. He has recommendations for anyone who’s not been before.

“Personally, I can’t wait to return to Osaka and dance at Club Explosion, a club full of lasers, smoke, fog machines, go-go boys, and great drag shows on the weekend! Plus, Universal Studios Osaka just announced the new Nintendo World, set to open in February 2021 with a real life Mario Kart ride. That’s my post-COVID dream vacation!

“For visitors looking to enjoy Tokyo’s gay nightlife in Shinjuku Ni-chome, I recommend starting with a visit to AiiRo Cafe, which has a street-facing patio smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood. It’s a friendly and casual spot where foreign tourists, expatriates, and Ni-chome regulars congregate early for happy hour drinks.

Contemporary artist, bartender and activist, Akira The Hustler
Contemporary artist, bartender and activist, Akira The Hustler (Photo: Queer Japan)

“Some other favorite spots in the area include Alamas Cafe, Tac’s Knot, drag bar CAMPY!, and Eagle Tokyo Blue, a basement bear bar with exotic fish tanks and great gachimuchi merchandise. Some of Ni-chome’s smaller bars, which may only have 4-6 seats, do not cater to non-Japanese speakers, so please be aware and respectful when visiting.

“Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention one of my favorite queer events in Tokyo, the monthly hentai party Department H,” says Kolbeins.

Drag queen Margarette at Department H
Drag queen Margarette at Department H (Photo: Queer Japan)

Queer Japan producer and drag mega-fan Hiromi Iida took me to Department H on our first night of filming, and it quickly became a major focus of our film. Held in a huge event space with a stage and runway, Department H is an all-night extravaganza of delightful deviance where drag queens and kinky people of all stripes strut, pose, and serve some incredibly bold looks.”

Watch the trailer for Queer Japan below.

Enjoy Eger’s best wines in the Valley of the beautiful women

Enjoy Eger's best wines in the Valley of the beautiful

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably wondering why this place is called: Valley of the Beautiful Women. We’ve been searching for these women, but couldn’t find any specific clues for it!

Then we decided that wine makes everything more attractive, so that must be it: visit this valley, drink loads of wine, and all women (and men) become more beautiful. But apparently, that’s not it either…

So we did some research about it.

The valley was documented with this name for the first time in 1843 and the different legends and tales about the origin vary.

One legend says that the ‘beautiful woman’ is actually a Venus-like goddess of love, whose sacrifice was shown in this exact valley. I’m not exactly sure what this means!

The most plausible story isn’t as exciting as one might think. The name would be originated when peasants used to refer to one of the women selling wine, who was very pretty. Her cellar became more and more popular over the years and the tale of this beautiful wine selling women spread quickly!