The Camp Vamp: Katrina Fox

Commentary on GLBTIQ issues, social justice and some of life's quirks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


So, a gay men’s pub in Melbourne, the Peel Hotel, has won the right to refuse entry to straight men and women, and lesbians. Should we be glad about this?

Well, first off I can appreciate that a queer pub overrun by straights can be really irritating. Being cruised by straight boys with wandering hands isn’t much fun – for lesbians, anyway. Neither is getting filthy looks from bimbos in the women’s loos for physical displays of affection with your girlfriend. (I mean, haven’t they seen a strap-on before?). Women booking a gay venue for hen nights and using the gay patrons as entertainment isn’t on either.

But is refusing entry to someone on the basis of their sexuality and gender identity really the answer? I don’t think so. For one, how on earth can it be policed effectively? Even in days of old, when the words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ were en vogue, it was a dodgy sort of policy. Now, with the modern ‘queer’ label, and the trend for people “not to define” their sexuality but who are on the lookout for same-sex dalliances, it becomes really messy to implement. What of the butch, Muscle Mary ‘straight-looking/straight acting’ queen who wants to get into the Peel Hotel for a bit of man-on-man rumpty-tumpty? What exactly is he going to have to do to ‘prove’ he’s gay? Suck off the doorman or the manager? Bend over for a good rogering from his boyfriend?

Interestingly, the Peel Hotel has included lesbians in the groups of undesirables it does not wish to darken its doors, apparently because they “insult and deride, and are even physically violent towards the gay male patrons”. Now, I will say here that drunk lesbians are a pain in the backside. I’ve had more than my fair share of sozzled dykes getting lairy, and in a particularly wasted moment, I myself threatened to burn down the apartment of a woman I was obsessed with unless she slept me with – it was a LONG time ago, and she’s been my girlfriend for the past 14 years (note to young lesbians: don’t try this, as neurotic lesbianism is no longer fashionable and you’re likely to have an AVO taken out against you). But not all dykes are aggressive drunks out to frighten the delicate gay men.

Neither are all straight people. So, here’s a thought: instead of refusing entry to someone because of their sexuality or gender identity, refuse it because of someone’s behaviour. If someone’s being naff, loud, obnoxious or looks like trouble, whether they’re male, female, straight, lesbian, bi, queer or other, don’t let them in, or if they are inside already, chuck them out. Because if other queer places follow the Peel Hotel’s lead, expect to see select members of the GLBT community setting up the Australian Sexuality Verification Commission who will issue Gold membership cards for the ‘real’ gays among us. The rest will sue. It won’t be pretty.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Armed and ready

Whatever is the world coming to? Almost every week, SX runs a story on countries where freedom of expression is virtually non-existent – such as last week’s piece on 80 gay men being arrested in Iran, because homosexuality is illegal; or all the furore surrounding Moscow Gay Pride. We may tut and shake our heads, and thank the goddess we live in a democratic country, where we have a right to speak our minds and, if need be, take to the streets for peaceful protest. Then we read the newspapers and the horrible realisation dawns on us that actually we no longer have that right.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported last week that “demonstrators and anyone under suspicion” can be arrested and held without bail under unprecedented police powers being brought in for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Sydney in September, which will see the arrival of George Bush and other international dignitaries. NSW Police Minister, David Campbell, reportedly said that if protesters tried to breach police lines erected around the exclusion zone which will be erected in the city, they would be locked up for the duration of the APEC meeting. Special legislation is already in place which gives the police commissioner the right to allow foreign security personnel to carry firearms, and the SAS may well be out on the streets in force. So, the plan is to keep anti-Bush, anti-war demonstrators well away from these world leaders to avoid any embarrassment to them, and if anyone dares to get close to them to express their views, they could be shot. Nice.

It gets worse. Dissident filmmaker, Michael Moore, had to sneak his latest film, Sicko, out of the US, for its debut screening in Cannes this week, and is currently under investigation by the US government for trying to help some 9/11 rescue workers by taking them to Cuba. And over in India, female civil servants are up in arms about a new rule that requires them to reveal details of their menstrual cycle. Female officers must write down their “detailed menstrual history and history of LMP [last menstrual period] including date of last confinement [maternity leave],” on an appraisal form due to come into force in March, 2008, BBC News reported. Talk about nosy!

I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad if they were going to use such information for positive purposes – like providing unlimited camomile tea and free hot water bottles. Or making gifts out of tampons, courtesy of the delightful array of suggestions by the creative folks over at on how to turn your tampons into something pretty or functional – from Christmas decorations, tampon earrings, a tampon toupee for dad and a colourful bouquet of tampon flowers, to a ‘blowgun’. The blurb on this device, also known as a ‘tampon shooter’, is as follows: “Safe for indoor or outdoor use, this air-powered gun fires tampon ‘bullets’ up to 20 feet.” Sod the SAS – I’m taking one of these to the APEC demo.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

If aliens came to earth who couldn’t speak our language and we wanted to explain ‘gay’ to them, one phenomenon could sum it up in a nutshell: The Eurovision Song Contest. I’ve been watching this on British TV since I was a kid. In fact, you could say that Eurovision turned me gay at the age of eight and set up a lifetime’s fetish for older women in blue eyeshadow and glitzy outfits, when Abba took out the top spot in 1974 for ‘Waterloo’. Eurovision is so big in the UK that parties are held, and since public tele-voting was introduced in 1998, you get to really feel a part of the whole fantabulous event. I’m pleased to report that me, my girlfriend Tracie, and a bunch of queens at our friend Bernie’s place in Brighton personally ensured Dana International’s victory nine years ago, by using the landline and our mobiles over and over to cast our votes for the Israeli trans woman.

So it was that I sat happily glued to the TV on Saturday night for the Eurovision semi-finals, and then again for three hours on Sunday night for the final. As well as indulging my inner dancing queen, the Eurovision spectacular also offered a chance for some anthropological study. The following are some observations:

Firstly, people who live in cold countries are depressed and weird. Finland’s entry, sung by a goth chick, included the lyrics, ‘Leave me alone, I feel like dying’; and they have ‘computer assembly festivals’. I kid you not. Second, feminism is alive and well at Eurovision – in addition to youthful pop bimbettes, women in their thirties and forties are encouraged to don mini-skirts and follow their dreams. Third, wind machine manufacturers make a packet out of Eurovision. Fourth, relying on just a singer or song will not win you the competition nowadays – backing dancers are essential. Nowhere was this more evident than this year’s winner, Maria Serifovic from Serbia, a rather tortured butch lass in a suit who sang about prayer and lost love in ‘Molitva’.

Maria was diplomatically described by commentator Terry Wogan as a “homely-looking girl”, while one gay blogger wrote, “She might be a lesbian.” Um … hullo? The phrase, ‘if it walks like duck, talks like a duck…’ springs to mind. If Maria’s not a dyke, she’s got to be the only one who doesn’t know it, bless her. Serbia’s director of performance sensibly decided to offset Maria’s ‘homely’ look with a bunch of high-femme gals with 1970s hair flicks that rivalled Charlie’s Angels, who danced around and touched Maria as if they were starring in a softcore lesbian porn film. The result was gorgeous. Equally stunning was the runner-up from Ukraine – a drag queen in a screaming silver outfit à la tin man from The Wizard of Oz, singing a high-energy euro-pop rave number. If that doesn’t ram home the concept of gay with the aliens, nothing will.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mind, Body, Spirit

I think I'm reasonably open-minded. I believe there are things that science can't necessarily explain, I favour some complementary health practices that sit outside allopathic medicine and I'm all for people healing their bodies and minds and expanding their spiritual awareness. But ... there were some real 'out there' services on offer at this year's Mind, Body, Spirit Festival, which took place at the weekend.

Take 'transference healing', for example, which is, according to the brochure, "a seventh dimensional frequency healing and ascension process" that works with the "lightbody" and is channelled by Alexis Cartwright, who was "divinely guided by the Spiritual Hierarchy to channel and establish the Transference Healing Process onto the planet". Right.

Or, if you've got $450 going spare, don't be surprised if you're encouraged to invest in some 'neurotech training'. This involves the purchase of a gadget called the Psychonaut, which uses specially modulated flickering light embedded in a set of glasses, which apparently "tunes the brain and body". Funny that, because high-end laser lights and a nice E at a rave club does exactly that for me. And of course there's the crystal healing brigade, who were out in force. Now, I do actually like crystals - in fact, looking at them all pretty and sparkling is quite healing in itself, so I can see their potential. But when I'm handed a leaflet on liquid crystal healing that states that each stone has a "deva" - the "single beings responsible for the creation process of the physical crystal ... they are Angels and are awaiting your call" - I feel a teensy bit weirded-out, you know?

No Mind, Body, Spirit Festival would be complete without the God Squad, who are usually good for a laugh - and free books. The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, and World Crisis Foretold were among the light reading offered by Eden Healthfoods. To give them their due, they were promoting vegetarianism, so I guess that puts a whole new spin on Eve's munching of the apple.

Stalls offering aura scans and chakra photos were abundant. As I walked by one, I heard the exhibitor ask, "Is she a journalist?" I turned around and said, "Yes, she is." He called me over and told me I had the "aura" of a journalist. Clever? Not really. Somehow I think the fact I was walking around with a notepad and pen might have given a few clues. Or that dark cloud of evil that shrouds me sometimes.

After a couple of hours I was a bit over it all. Until I spotted a stall called 'Nana May's Magic Hands'. If it were Sexpo, it could have been the perfect end to a lesbian's day. But alas, Nana May wasn't using her hands on anyone - in fact, she wasn't even there. But I did consent to a free scrub treatment by an attractive young woman and left the building with smelly fingers, which was a pleasant reminder of a one-night stand I had with a massage therapist in 1991. See, told you I was open-minded.