LIPSYNC1000: Not Your Mom’s Drag

We definitely have our own style of drag here in London. In East London, and especially at The Glory, there’s a raw, rough and ready, visceral style. RuPaul’s Drag Race has, of course, been influential here in London, if only for the amount of young queens wanting to participate. I see the imported style very much in the makeup choices now, which are often highly contoured and professionally applied. If only I put that much effort into my makeup, but contouring and I don’t get along. I am always super impressed with the Drag Race-esque looks, but on stage, I want to see what lies beneath the mask. What is the raw talent? Much of American drag is all about being sassy or “fierce.” For me that is just one flavor, I want to see the depth of character, skill in connecting with the audience, theatrical craft, and above all, joy in the performance and transcendence. Not much to ask of our competitors, huh? Oh, and they need to look amazing, too!

LIPSYNC1000 definitely delivers all of this and more. The Glory’s annual drag (queen) lip-sync contest, now in its third year, is truly remarkable. The eight heats took place weekly in The Glory itself, with anything from seven to 14 contestants, three judges, and a capacity crowd straining to see what each of the acts brought to the stage. We had about 80 contestants throughout, and I whittled it down to 25 for the final. I had planned to put one or two through each week, but the passion, standard, and sheer guts of the competitors led me to put through two, three or even four.

So, since performers have so much to offer, why a lip-sync contest? Well, it’s part of our queer heritage. It’s at the heart of drag. While people lip-sync to both women and men and even their own voices, it’s this taking on of another character, this channeling of somebody else which when done well, is truly transformative. Queens have lip-synced to their female heroes throughout our queer history, taking on and celebrating their connection with their femininity. It’s practically impossible to give a real illusion of being a woman with a bass voice. Take away the voice and the audience’s critical attention to singing or acting ability, and the performer has free range to explore the female illusion through costume, movement, gesture, dance and narrative. It frees up the performer and makes it open to everybody. Everyone can lip-sync, everyone can move onstage, everyone can give it a go, and everyone has a song they know inside out. This makes it accessible as an art form, not less of one. A great starting point that, when executed well, offers great possibility for the artist.

The finale of LIPSYNC1000 was full of true London style. One that saw politics brought to the stage with a critique of Trump from English queen Bimini Bob Boulash, and USA import, Bougie Bourgeoisie, who presented a triple costume extravaganza. Barbs put a spell on us with a very British buffoon like X-rated Monty Python-esque routine, complete with visible ball-sack. James Morgan gave us an LGBTQ dragon, incorporating his own word on queer politics and Shay Shay floored us all with a perfectly executed multimedia interpretation of Bjork. But it was who Sue Gives A Fuck presented a flawless theatrical interpretation of Boudicca, and was unanimously voted the winner by our judges. Ultimately, the LIPSYNC1000 finale was a winning night for everyone who was there, our queer community, and for the future of drag, which proved itself to be enduringly entertaining, challenging, provocative, and revelatory.

The Fiercest Looks in Video Game Herstory

From the scantily dressed fighters in Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter to Princess Peach, the classic princess in distress, women haven’t always been represented realistically (or appropriately) in video game history. Nevertheless, they have always showcased some of the most amusing and remarkable outfits in modern popular culture. The heroines of video games are celebrated through fanart and cosplay homages, with some of them becoming popular household names, like Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft.

With this in mind, let’s take a look back at some of the fiercest, most outrageous and iconic looks ever seen in video games herstory.

Kitana & Mileena (Mortal Kombat)

Kitana and Mileena, the masked sister assassins of the Mortal Kombat franchise, know how to command attention when they walk into a fight: they have been serving body and killer lewks since 1993, as well as some of the most gruesomely entertaining fatalities in fighting games. While Kitana prefers to hide her beauty behind a mask and razor-sharp steel fans, her evil clone Mileena is not as shy. But be very careful asking her for a kiss, as she will probably bite your lips off with no remorse.

Palutena (Kid Icarus)

In Kid Icarus, Palutena is the benevolent Goddess of Light, and her ethereal look is likely based off of the Greek deity Athena, from whom she borrows staff and shield as a staple of her classical style. Just a recommendation for mermaid-haired Palutena: Honey, be careful with all those shiny accessories and stay indoors during lightning storms! Coco Chanel’s wise advice – “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off” – has never been more appropriate.

R. Mika (Street Fighter)

The addition of professional wrestler Rainbow Mika in Street Fighter 5 stirred up quite a bit of drama, even before the game was released. Her goofy costume design has been defined misogynistic by some critics, while others found her too frustrating to play against, because of the character’s peculiar “vortex” fighting style. Love her or hate her, it is impossible to be indifferent to the bold outfit and the signature moves of R. Mika, as this blonde bombshell can easily whomp down any opponent with nothing but her butt. #SKILLZ

Widowmaker (Overwatch)

Dramatic visor move: check. Massive piece of accessory: check. A high ponytail reaching for the sky: check. Fearless sniper Widowmaker is, without a doubt, the Gia Gunn of the gaming world. Absolutely!

Bayonetta (Bayonetta)

Bayonetta is the typical video game character that makes you wanna scream “Yaaaas!” at the screen every time you see her. This sexy and confident witch has more head-turning outfits than Gaga could ever dream of, and she loves guns so much that you shouldn’t be surprised to see two smoking barrels secured to her heels. When Bayonetta is looking at you through her “naughty secretary” glasses, it’s like she is telling you: “Yes, I’m sexy as hell. So what are you gonna do about it?” But be careful with your answer, because you’ll likely have a bullet lodged in your head before you could say a word.

Juliet Starling (Lollipop Chainsaw)

Juliet, high school senior during the day, zombie hunter at night, is the spiritual daughter of Regina George and Ash from Evil Dead. This bubbly blonde loves the color pink, strawberry lollipops (“Are lollipops food?”), and her favorite hobbies are cheerleading and bisecting the undead with a bedazzled chainsaw. Forget the classic damsel in distress trope often seen in video games: Juliet is not waiting for her boyfriend to come and rescue her. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t mind wearing his decapitated talking head on her hip, so that they will never have to be apart again. Codependent much?

The Saints (Hitman: Absolution)

Nuns. With guns. And the sudden reveal of a latex fetish outfit. These ladies certainly know how to make an entrance.

Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)

Probably the most recognizable video game vixen of all time, Lara Croft will raid through any tomb in a skin-tight top, leather harness and khaki hot pants. Despite her appearance being at the center of numerous debates about the over-sexualization of female characters in gaming, Lara is hands down the most iconic adventurer of all time. Her effortless mix of casual and practical, yet sexy attire has inspired all of us, quickly becoming the ultimate last-minute Halloween outfit for legions of girls and gay guys alike.

Evie Frye (Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate)

The character design of Evie Frye in the latest installment of Assassin’s Creed is the perfect case of a well-balanced mixture of femininity and practicality, without falling into garish or absurd clichés. Her costume is feminine without having to display unnecessary flesh, while its fit and finish reek of perfection. Without a doubt, Evie represents one of the most stylish and best-dressed characters of all time, an example that will hopefully lead to a more authentic representation of women in the future of video games.

Self-ish

If photography of the 19th century has given eternity to the image, the practice of taking a selfie has given modern day narcissists the opportunity to look eternally cool and living a life for all their peers to envy. And for a little history lesson, the word ‘narcissist’ is born from the Greek myth of Narcissus, a vain youth so into himself that he couldn’t stop staring at his own reflection in a pond.

The Narcissus of today is still undoubtedly in love with himself, but as photographer Luca Guarini describes in regards to his photo essay, “But he left the forest and became astute, deciding to flirt with his own image reflected in the eyes of his loyal voyeur to whom he always leaves the entrance.”

So keep looking and wishing you had his looks and his life. That’s exactly what he wants.

Tropicana Style: Spring Prints

It’s time to start busting out the lighter layers and ditch those winter coats. It’s never too early for tropical prints, but dark backgrounds make things a little easier on the eyes for spring time.

Image Credit

Fern leaves, palm trees, and rose prints guide us into spring in soft pink and orange tones on dark base backgrounds. Think Elvis in his sexy days with bowling shirt styling or Leo DiCaprio in Romeo and Juliet (swoon!).

Left to right: Mango, River Island, Zara

Layering is a must this season, with plain white tees brightening up dark based floral prints. If you’re feeling a little braver, throw on a vest instead. Sun’s out guns out.

Left to right: Pull Bear, Topman, Uniqlo

Casual tapered trousers have a slightly tailored feel to smarten up easy wear styles. Roll the hem for a cooler feel and tuck in the shirt.

Left to right: Reiss, COS, HM

Sneakers are still a key footwear item for the season, and the catwalk shows see tailored suits and dress pants being styled in a more casual way. Go vintage and return to these classic 90’s favorites.

Left to right: Puma, Adidas, Reebok

Do You Hit the Gym Just to Get a Man?

Spring is both the start of warmer weather and the end of my gym freedom. Nearly every machine is packed with seasonal Sams looking to gain new muscle before the summer. Now dudes are scrambling to lift as many kettlebells as they can while filling their Instagram feeds with sweaty selfies. Meanwhile, I’m stuck on the only working piece of equipment––a run-down elliptical next to a wheezing woman.

One evening, as I waited patiently for a cable machine behind two dudes in Lululemon, I heard one of them pant, “once I get a man, I’m done with this crap!” Suddenly, I was reminded of my friend from college who said those exact words. Since my friend hated the gym, he vowed never to lift another weight once he nabbed a guy. He felt that only his prime figure would land him in a relationship. Now, I’m left wondering how many guys hit the gym just to get a boyfriend.

It’s easy to feel that gay culture is body-obsessed. Our magazines, social media, and advertisements are filled with beefy chests and chiseled abs. Online, it seems like every few minutes I’m flashed a pair of man nipples. It’s no wonder a fit guy might feel more comfortable posting a pic of his torso rather than a shot of his face. Heck, I’ve even contributed to the sea of shirtless selfies. Perhaps, because of this media, the idea of having a gym-made body feels like the easiest way to grab a guy’s attention.

Once a boyfriend is obtained, does the gym matter? Your lover has likely seen you naked, and you’ve smacked each other around in bed a few times, so why grow those biceps? While many couples keep the gym in their routine, others might trade barbells for forks. I asked a few of my coupled friends, and they say that since they met, their gym consumption has gone down and their dining out has increased. Was that the goal all along?

Personally, I love everything from fine dining to In-N-Out––but I also love feeling fit. The two can go together, but it’s a lot of work. If I stopped hitting the gym, would my commitment to fitness suddenly feel like a lie? My boyfriend doesn’t mind whether I pack on the muscle or not. Yet, I am left wondering if he’d truly be okay if I stopped lifting and started lounging. He’d likely still find me attractive, but he might miss the way I used to look.

Then again, isn’t change our destiny? Relationships that last adapt to morphing bodies––thickness, wrinkles, and everything else. Our younger selves are usually fitter than our aged counterparts whether we lift weights or not. In other words, we aren’t always going to look the same. If change is the clear trend, shouldn’t we just expect it? Or are we buying into something that was never meant to last?

5 Ways to Zap Zits

Typical morning: You wake up and have the birds and squirrels help you get dressed. You start to hum a beautiful tune on your way to the mirror-mirror on the wall and then BAM! A pimple or 13. WTF? How did it get here?

First off, you are not @drpimplepopper, DO NOT POP IT. Do not touch it. Popping a zit can push the bacteria further into the skin or cause an infection. If the blemish gets infected it could cause scarring, and that problem lasts a lot longer than if you just left the zit alone. Here are some at-home and over-the-beauty-counter solutions to help aid you in a speedy pimple recovery.

Over-the-Counter

Paula’s Choice Resist BHA 9

Tatiana isn’t the only queen who believes in “choices,” I don’t know who Paula is, but she’s got them too. The main ingredient in this wonder potion is BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acid), and that is another term for salicylic acid. The controlled and sustained salicylic acid in Resist BHA 9 helps to unclog the pores while the plant extracts help to soothe. You can use this on a single blemish, or over larger areas to help clean out and maintain problem areas.

Malin and Goetz Acne Treating Nighttime

The pimple-fighting ingredients in this magical concoction combine salicylic acid with 10% active sulfur to help dry out the imperfection. The organic camphor will aid in healing while the zinc will help prevent scarring. Do not shake, just dip a cotton swab straight down, pull out (that’s what he said), apply, and leave on overnight.

Home Remedies

More of a Frankie, less of a Grace, inspired spot mask.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Here is yet another amazing use for apple cider vinegar. Make a solution that is ¼ apple cider vinegar and ¾ water. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and then dab it on the spot, let it dry, and then rinse. Apple cider vinegar has antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties making it a perfect pimple fighting machine.

Mariah’s two favorite things, other than butterflies and champagne, inspired spot mask.

Aspirin and Honey

Take one plain white crushed aspirin and mix it with a pencil eraser sized amount of honey! The aspirin is anti-inflammatory, and it also contains the number one acne fighting ingredient, salicylic acid. The honey’s antiseptic and antibacterial properties help to heal, so the combination of both is an amazing DIY mask that won’t break the bank. Advice: Do not do this if you are allergic to aspirin.

Butch Queen, first pimple at the ball inspired spot mask.

Tea Tree Oil and Aloe Vera

Take one teaspoon of aloe vera gel and three drops of tea tree oil, and mix well. Apply with a cotton swab. The potent antifungal and antibacterial properties of tea tree oil help to kill the blemish bacteria.

The Unbreakable Perfume Genius

Had he written his new album, No Shape, after the election of Donald Trump, Mike Hadreas – also known as American singer Perfume Genius – admits that he’d have made an entirely different record. “I’m still glad that this is the one that’s coming out now,” he says, “and I still feel that a lot of the songs are useful. But I would have been more overtly political and less personally political, maybe.”

Of course, the personal has always been where Perfume Genius’ music originates from. Hadreas’ first two albums, 2010’s Learning, and 2012’s Put Your Back N 2 It, were both somber and intimate meditations on addiction, self-doubt and destruction, loneliness, and living with a sense of inherent darkness. For him, writing music was a way of processing his much-discussed past of substance abuse and depression, and through his poetic honesty, he developed a dedicated audience that relished the mirror image of themselves being presented.

It was 2014’s confrontational, Too Bright, that saw the singer take a giant leap forward sonically and emotionally; he was telling the same stories but with more of a snarl. Songs like “Queen,” “Fool,” and “Grid” were a stark comparison to the musical fragility he’d previously exhibited and were an overt attempt to make people feel uncomfortable.

Things recently, however, have changed. “It’s weird singing “Queen” live,” Hadreas admits, “because that song is not directed at all the people that would be at the show. The last [album] was a lot of me singing at people.” Instead, “this one is more music for me and for the people listening.” The writing of “No Shape,” he says, was more immediate, the themes focused on the present, rather than revisiting the past to pick apart history to process it. “It was more me trying to write about how I felt right then,” he suggests.

Speaking to Hadreas over the phone is an interesting experience. He peppers his sentences with extended pauses, mulling over what to say next, and it leaves you wondering whether he’s extremely nervous or whether he’s just carefully considered. It’s something that’s also mirrored in his music. Album opener “Other Side” presents both sides – it’s glittering and phantasmagorical production offers up strong musical tenacity and assaults the senses, while Hadreas’ trembling vocals shift around the magic. Likewise, lead single “Slip Away” holds much of the resilience of previous album Too Bright, but without the accusatory finger pointing. “My life has become, I guess, a lot gentler,” Hadreas says of the change. “There’s way more room for me to be kinder to myself and to be not so scattered.”

Taking a pause, he continues: “I don’t know, my circumstances have gotten a lot better, but my brain still feels wired like it’s not there for that. I still feel detached from goodness for some reason, and I don’t know why. I kept up distance as a protection for a while, but I don’t think I really need to be so guarded anymore. That’s why I write songs because I feel a lot smarter and thoughtful when I try and figure it out. And there are things that, to be honest, I don’t really have figured out, and my songs are an attempt to do it.”

He admits that he finds this feeling of ennui embarrassing. “It’s a very luxurious problem to have,” he adds. “That’s why it feels weird to talk about because it feels really bratty. But I guess I have all these complexes and ways of thinking for a reason. It’s not like I just picked it. I’ve built all these defenses because they served a purpose growing up. But I feel like I just don’t need them that much anymore. Or, I just feel like it’s time to try and shake it all off.”

This dichotomy between finding happiness and living in pain seeps into Perfume Genius’ work, with tracks like “Wreath” and the Enya-esque “Just Like Love” – both jaunty with small flecks of melancholia – sitting next to likes of the depraved and frenetic “Choir.” And later, the haunting “Die 4 You,” supposedly the next single, is a beautifully disconcerting listen.

“It’s straight up just a love song, but there’s still this dread underneath that’s a little dissonant,” Hadreas says about the track. “I like that. It keeps things from being corny, or if something is just purely beautiful then it usually just goes straight into the background. Or you feel the beauty while it’s happening, and then completely forget about it, or don’t want to go back to it because there’s nothing to figure out.”

No Shape is intensely personal, but since the rise of far-right politics and infringements on LGBTQ rights, the album’s themes of domesticity, love, freedom, and resilience have taken on a new political meaning, too. “I knew everybody was fucked up. Like, I knew there was a huge part of America that was racist and homophobic – I’ve known that since I was little,” Hadreas says, letting out an inappropriate laugh. “And I’m always writing in the face of that and in protest of that. A lot of the songs are still very rebellious against that, and even against myself and whatever weird fucking shit I’ve developed and what I thought of the world growing up.”

In fact, the singer confesses, the recent election is part of what has inspired a potential relocation from Tacoma, Washington to Los Angeles. “I’m not that optimistic about what’s going on,” he says. “Even if people don’t always feel as accepting, at least the laws supposedly protect us. But it feels like that’s in danger of going, too, so it’s really just up to you and the other people that are on the other side. The way with how shitty everything is, I just need to see more of my people everywhere as a protection. I don’t know; I want my people around me.”

There’s also a worry about checking out. Hadreas says that he, “still wants to be, like, doing shit,” but admits that, as we enter into the next four years, he’s struggling to find a balance between shutting out world events and obsessing over them. “If I do pay attention I can just fucking freak out,” he says, “and I just ended up getting into such a fury. You have to find a way to feel some warmth and kindness, but not at the expense of being outraged.” One coping mechanism, he suggests, is to attempt to find humor in life’s complexities. “It’s just something that I can have more control over. Even my darkest memories, I can write a really dark song about them, but I can also laugh about them because sometimes they’re so over the top and insanely fucked up. I think it’s just a way to not take life so seriously, which I’m in danger of 24/7. It’s a way to check myself, you know?”

“There so many times where I’m, like, plagued by problems,” he adds. “I’m like, what am I going to do about those problems? And I’m obsessing over it. Then, when I really think about it, it’s like, who fucking cares? But they’re so close together; they’re so inconsequential but feel so consequential. I think that humor is a way for me to fucking knock it down.”

You hear artists talk about how writing music is like therapy, but Hadreas likens it more to an exorcism; it’s difficult and dark, but weirdly freeing. And, in spite of his insecurities, complexes, wavering stability, and less than positive outlook on the future, it does feel like No Shape is a self-assured portrait of an artist reaching a new stage in his life.

So, does Mike Hadreas – Perfume Genius – finally feel like he’s found a place for himself? “Yeah…for now,” he says, that creeping self-doubt an ever-present force. “But I sort of realized that I was capable of a lot more than I thought I was, in terms, of what I could sing about and how I could sing it.”

“But I know that next time it could completely change, too,” he adds, playfully, “and that’s one of the funnest parts of it.”

Gaychella: A Survival Guide for the Hennys

Coachella has turned from a music festival to a Forever 21 version of Mean Girls. You have all these cliques walking around in their fashions, with their connections and a giant cup of alcohol in their hands. There are a lot of girls you’ll likely see at Coachella that you would also see at brunch over the weekend. Then they end up at a gay bar, wasted, asking the DJ to play “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry, after they’ve added their hippie/tribal apparel to their shopping cart at CharlotteRusse.com. If you’re heading out there for the second weekend, here’s what would help make the experience an easier and more interesting one for you.

First off, let me say I am not the authority on everything cool. In fact, if I went to Coachella this year, I’d end up looking more like Susan Boyle than Selena Gomez.

Exhibit A: Me spotting some friends across the way at Coachella…

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are some essentials I feel like would come in handy for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters:

1. Bee Repellent

Is Coachella filled with tiny flying insects that want to hurt you like that last guy you hooked up with who didn’t go slow in the beginning when you asked him to? No, maybe not. But you know what will be there? A very disgruntled Bey-hive. Beyoncé fans are going to be livid because of her canceling on them, and now they are stuck with a Coachella ticket, forced to listen to Phantogram on day one, just so she can give birth to the other two members of Blue Ivy’s new girl group. Now, this may only work on actual bee’s, but I’m sure if you happen upon a vengeful Beyoncé fan, this could take them out for at least a minute.

2. Locker Decorations

Bitch! Make that locker you have to rent to store your stuff all weekend look like the new Interior Illusions Lounge! Grab some stickers, feathered boas, rhinestones…whatever you can find! Bonus: It will also help you find your locker from long distances. #winning

3. Make It A Say Something Hat Festival

The sun is way harsh, Tye, but make it work by picking a hat that the children will remember! Don’t pop into HM, because you know their clothes are like the Wicked Witch of the West – meaning they melt at the first hint of rain, sun, air, someone staring at it… you get the picture. My suggestion is: the floppier the better (I usually only apply that rule to hats, wink wink), the more feathers the better, and find the most obnoxious color you can. Bonus: It will help your friends find you easier when you inevitably get separated.

4. Cheap..BUT CUTE..Sunglasses

Do NOT bring the Tom Ford sunnies you used your friend’s Solstice discount on to Coachella. Find a pair of cute and fun cheap sunnies for the weekend. Because if you don’t lose them, Becky with the good hair will when she asks if she can borrow them for a second. Then the next thing you know, you turn your head for one second, then there’s Becky hooking up with Bon Iver behind a ramen burger stand, and your sunnies are nowhere to be seen.

5. Bring Out Your Hair Bow from 2008

Remember that hair bow you bought after “Poker Face” came out in 2008? Well, now would be the perfect time to whip it out since Lady Gaga is headlining. Leave the frosted lip gloss at home, also leave your Ray Bans home (REMEMBER WHAT I SAID UNDER POINT #4?!). Beware the Beyoncé fans; they might “Single Ladies” dance slap it off of your head unless you know every lyric of Beyoncé’s verse in “Telephone.”

6. Funscreen

Girl, hop off that Banana Boat and let her sink. Everyone’s going to just pop into CVS and use their ExtraCare card to get the most boring sunscreen imaginable. But Zinka can change that! I know, it sounds like Zika virus, but it comes in neon colors so you can paint each other like it’s an episode of Skin Wars. Bonus: A hot guy will be like, “Can I try that?” And then you’ll be like, “Only if I can apply it. Also, ever hear of someone painting with their penis?”

The last thing you thought would be brought up in this article was the Zika virus.

Purchase Zinka here.

7. Green Laser Gloves

These are primarily for the Lorde fans. The second she comes on and sings “Green Light,” you open your Jansport, whip these out and shine them on stage. Making for a fun effect but ALSO great to point on her boobies and her Lorde labia for comic relief. See ya on the tennis court!

You can pick up a pair here.

8. Organic Lube

The last thing you want to happen is you find the second coming of Matthew McConaughey circa 2003, and he’s like, “Alright, alright… I only use organic lube! Go planet!” Because this is the festival where everyone pretends to be woke, but really they’re just fucked up and looking for their festival hookup. Cause bitch, if you truly cared, you would not be spending all this money at Coachella instead of donating it to a good cause.

If you care to donate to a good cause, check out https://www.donationplanet.org.

9. Lots & Lots of Aspirin

You’re going to need it. Whether it’s from the side effects of drinking, the fact that you had to butt fuck a speaker because you were pushed so close, or the effects of Becky talking about how she thinks some guy is into her because he asked her if she knew what time the XX was going on. Just come equipped with aisle 11 from Rite Aid in your fanny pack. Oh! That reminds me…GET A FANNY PACK. Also, reminds me…anti-Becky earplugs. Get those, too.

10. If You’re Camping…Do It With Taste

You don’t want to be the one camping whose tent smells like mildew and has urine stains on the side from that trip upstate that one time. Grab a potted plant, some cute decorations from Target, maybe a chenille throw, a wingback chair and 1000 thread count sheets. Just kidding! But make it fun. Go to Wal-Mart, get some pinwheels, some flags, some bubbles, a garden gnome, and a yoga mat to show off in the morning in front of that mysterious tattooed guy that looks like Jason Mamoa you keep eyeing and call it a day. #DownwardDog

All in all, the above could very well help enhance your 2017 Coachella trip. Some quick tips are to make sure you always have cash on you, some Chap-stick, gum, condoms, and shower supplies. Personally, I will not be there this year because I didn’t die over the line-up. With that said, I decided to make my own dream line-up, mostly filled with acts that wouldn’t ever be invited to Coachella obviously…

The Top Gay Beaches to Crash This Summer

You can tell yourself that you love the beach because you’re a sun-worshipper, surf bum, or outdoors lover (and that’s cool), but for the 99% of us that like checking out handsome fellas in banana hammocks slather themselves in oil, gay beaches have a clear edge. So plan your summer months right by adding one of these destinations for your next getaway:

Photo Credit:Sittixay Dittavong

Sydney, Australia

Infamous Bondi beach attracts characters from all walks of life, but head to the North end where the gay guys hang out. Nude beaches are a little harder to come by in Australia, but Obelisk Beach in Mosman is worth a visit.

  • When to go: Warmest weather is between October and April
  • Party time: Mardi Gras (March 2018)
  • Upside: High-quality lifestyle, hot guys, lots of sights to see
  • Downside: Can be pricey

Fire Island, New York

Escape the NYC heat, and head to Fire Island to cool off (and strip off). Manhattan gyms would be out of business if it weren’t for here. And now, LogoTV has a new show of the same name. We can’t wait to see how that one plays out.

  • When to go: From end of May to beginning of September
  • Party time: Pride (June 2017)
  • Upside: Great escape from the heat of the city, fun atmosphere
  • Downside: Getting there, finding a place to stay (plan ahead)

Tel Aviv, Israel

The most open Middle Eastern city, Hilton Beach is where you’ll find the guys hanging out – and just a handy walk into the city center. Expect it to be packed to the rafters on weekends when the weather’s goodwhich is pretty much all year round.

  • When to go: May – October (July & August are scorching)
  • Party time: Pride (June 4 -10, 2017)
  • Upside: Vibrant city with beach close by, eclectic mix of visitors from around the world, still warm in spring & autumn
  • Downside: Extremely hot during the summer

Ibiza, Spain

If you like to party hard and like your men bronzed and buff, then the white isle will not disappoint. Head to Playa Es Cavallet near the airport, then enjoy an after dinner treat in the dunes behind the bar and stick around after 4pm for when things really heat up with killer DJ sets preparing you for the night ahead.

  • When to go: June to September (July & August are the busiest months)
  • Party time: Pride (June 14 – 17, 2017)
  • Upside: Clubber’s paradise
  • Downside: It can be pricey

Photo Credit: Maspalomas Pride, Pro Gay Events

Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

Attracting a wider age group, from Twinkies on their first vacay without Mom and Dad, to hot go go veterans, to bulky Daddies for cuddles. They head for the infamous Maspalomas sand dunes, which offer privacy when you want it and open spaces if you prefereverything and anything goes on here.

  • When to go: Warm all year round, hottest June to September
  • Party time: Pride (May 4 – 14, 2017)
  • Upside: Perfect for all budgets
  • Downside: Can be a little trashy sometimes

Cape Town, South Africa

Rack up those air miles and head to Africa’s cosmopolitan heartland, a vibrant city with beautiful beaches and even more stunning guys and a relaxed vibe. Two beaches are worth a visit; Clifton Three with its natural beauty, and the aptly named Sandy Beach.

  • When to go: January to late April
  • Party time: Pride (February / March 2018)
  • Upside: Great value for money, unique city with cosmopolitan vibe, great outdoor life
  • Downside: It’s a long way to travel

Photo Credit: Visit Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Playground for the beautiful, head to the southern end of Playa Los Muertos, where you can enjoy an abundance of water sports and eye candy. As the busiest beach, it’s a handy location to roll from the beach to a bar to your hotel.

  • When to go: November to May
  • Party time: Pride (May 21 – 28, 2017)
  • Upside: Easy to get to from the US
  • Downside: It’s a Spring Break hotspot, so choose your month wisely

Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos attracts a high caliber of sun worshipping guys from all over Europe and beyond. With no high rises, it’s a whitewashed, pretty Greek Island with a selection of friendly bars and a great daytime hangout at Elia Beach.

  • When to go: June to September
  • Party time: XLsior Mykonos (August 23 – 30, 2017)
  • Upside: Quality island with an attractive crowd
  • Downside: Can be expensive, and it books up early

Why I Use Grindr to Make Friends

I live in a high-rise filled with people that I rarely engage with. Sometimes we’ll chat in the elevator about the weather while our dogs gingerly sniff each other’s genitals until the doors open and we go our separate ways. In the city, where I’m constantly surrounded by people, I frequently find myself in these situations. It can feel strange to chat with neighbors––as though I’m already invading their privacy by coincidentally sharing a wall.

In recent years, my friend circle has dwindled because many have moved, become parents, or consumed by their career. So, I started searching. The bars in the city are far more crowded than the streets––and often just as isolating without a group. I don’t know many guys who date from the bar scene anymore, let alone find good friends there. Since meeting people in the city doesn’t come easy, I downloaded Grindr on my phone. At first, I was reluctant. I’d never heard of guys using it only to make friends, but I thought I would give it a shot anyway. My profile specifically states that “I’m just looking for friends,” and only about half the guys don’t read the text––which, I think is a pretty good ratio.

The biggest obstacle I’ve found from finding friends online is explaining that I’m actually just looking for friends. I’ll have a ten-minute chat with a guy who seems to have a ton of mutual interests, and then he texts me an unsolicited wiener shot. As nicely as possible, I redirect the conversation, sometimes even commenting politely on his junk––if it’s nice––out of courtesy, of course. Though once the air clears, I’ve already seen which of his testicles hangs the lowest and, for some reason, that now makes things weird for him.

On rarer occasions, a guy will become enraged about my mission for friendship. A few months ago, a gentleman with a photo of an almond as his default pic, heavily questioned my truthfulness. He believed that I wrote “friendship” as a method to “screen out old queens.” I still don’t know what that means, but I’m glad it didn’t deter me.

Even though I feel like some guys don’t believe my intentions, Grindr has worked out in my favor. Over the past few years, I’ve made about ten great friends from the app. Most are guys that live in my building or nearby, and like it says on our profiles, we share a lot of the same interests. Perhaps, that’s the benefit of using Grindr over meeting in-person. At a bar, I can’t see who my fellow beach bums are or where the travel-holics are standing. Admittedly, it does take a bit of work to search for friends online, but the hunt has been worth the effort. For the ones that don’t work out, at least I got to see some nice wieners.