Sunday, September 5, 2021

New Gay Beach at Eze-sur-Mer?!

It may be near the end of the season but here in the French Riviera, we locals milk summer for all its worth.

Of late, something curious has been happening. Gay gathering spots no matter where you travel do tend to change from time to time for whatever reason, but this summer something has been slowly taking place on the beach at Eze-sur-Mer.

For a bit of a change this season, and quite frankly, to try and find a beach without tons of people occupying it at the height of the summer months, either on my own and/or with various friends, we’ve been going to the beach in Eze-sur-Mer and over time, we began noticing, however subtly, an increase in the variety of gay men also going to this beach.

Without fail and for sure on the weekends, this new gay gathering beach spot is situated between Bono’s (of U2 fame) amber-colored villa and more so directly in front of the yellow villa to the west of his property.

Photos below taken early in the morning before the crowds...

Nothing untoward is taking place at this plage, and maybe it’s an instinctive comfort in numbers deal but it’s definitely becoming a new gay zone.

During the summer we started recognizing who we considered gay regulars to this part of the beach starting about mid-morning with the numbers increasing and then varying as the day goes on and on each visit, which was for the most part weekly for either myself or my friends.

Men of every age, body type, and nationality seem to be heading to this specific location, which also made us wonder if the more well-known St. Laurent-Eze gay nude beach has become too crowded with tourists given it is a smaller location. Or if this beach is just easier to access with the train station near the beach in the village?

Its obvious cruising is taking place - but only by knowing glances of possible interest to each other and then by an informal chat while sunbathing on the beach or swimming, or connected by Grindr or Scruff as you’ll notice men on their phones and then looking around for who’s close by, but for sure nothing sexual is taking place as the area is still very public and open.

And as with any gay gathering type spot, of course, there is no guarantee of men being around, especially during the winter months. Some days there would only be about 6 men enjoying a swim and time at the beach, some days there would easily be at least 20 men.

The nice thing too is there feels like there is no attitude, whether it’s the locals and/or visitors coming to this beach. I’ve found it easy to speak with those I’ve become familiar with and the same with friends of mine.

Next time you are in Eze-sur-Mer, check out the beach for yourself.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

13e Festival de Cinema Queer de Nice (13th Queer Film Festival of Nice)


With the Covid19 health crisis still amongst us and in our thoughts, this year, there were questions of if the Queer Film Festival would even happen.

Thanks to vaccinations slowly on the rise, restrictions still lifted and the ever-handy TousAntiCovid App making it more possible for life to return to some sense of normalcy, the cinemas are open for everyone to enjoy.

Finally, and in full force, the 13th Queer Film Festival in Nice will take place from September 9-18, 2021!


With the diverse range of films for the festival both vast and impressive! There is certainly something for everyone with many new topics and issues available to pique the interest of many.

As always, the film festival is known for bringing the passions of the world of cinema and commitment to others to explore life’s sexuality and all it encompasses.



This year’s program has a lot of surprises in store for you with a retrospective + master class of one of our most talented filmmakers, Catherine Corsini, whose new film, La Fracture, the winner of the Queer Palm 2021, will be premiered.

There will also be a dance master class and a few photo exhibitions on "Corps (im)possibles" as seen by queer artists; along with an outstanding display of new films for everyone to appreciate.

Take advantage of this creative abundance for this year’s 13e Festival de Cinema Queer de Nice and book your tickets early.

The Queer Film Festival listings and events can be found here: http://lesouvreurs.com/inout-nice

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Bathhouse Babylon Book

It’s been almost three months since Bathhouse Babylon was first published and it’s certainly added to an already interesting summer here in the Cote d’Azur of France.
Writing the book was extremely cathartic and one of the best projects I have ever worked on. I wasn’t nervous about releasing the book since it’s my truth, except for wanting to make sure the publishing of it was done correctly with the whole process along the way being a pleasurable task.
When the book first came out, I was and still am expecting all kinds of feedback. Overall though, it’s lead to some interesting discussions in all avenues of my life and I’d say 99% of it has been positive.
Although I feel Bathhouse Babylon isn’t necessarily the type of subject matter everyone might be interested in, people of every age and sexual orientation have reached out to tell me how the book has either opened their minds to a whole new subculture they never knew existed or brought back all kinds of memories, even if the bathhouses I wrote about were not the local venue they visit.

Something that surprised me most is when my business partners found out about the book, frankly, it could have gone either way but they have all been supportive and now see where I get a lot of my strategic work ethics from, and it’s certainly made for some entertaining conversations.
One of the questions I’ve been asked is why I didn’t name the actual bathhouses in the book I worked at or even the cities?

My thoughts were, having worked in a number of bathhouses in North America, along with my fair share of visiting these establishments both there and here in Europe, the stories I wrote about from my past experiences, I felt could belong to almost any bathhouse or gay sauna in the world.

Plus, it’s actually turned into a fun guessing game of which bathhouses might have been written about for those that read any of the comments in the online articles that Bathhouse Babylon has been published in.
I also must say, one of the most amazing things that have happened since the book was published in late May 2021 has been the media attention and support from those in the LGBTQ community.

Once I pressed the “publish” button, literally within two days, besides telling a few friends and family members who have been supportive about the book. A number of remarkable journalists  have continued to reach out to write about and help promote Bathhouse Babylon, to the point, it has taken on a life of its own and continues to take me on an incredible journey.

Besides the wonderful publicity, the book has been brought to the attention of some key people in the media world enabling me to connect with and discuss future projects with not only other writers but a few productions companies too.

It seems every time an article is published about Bathhouse Babylon, besides it automatically garnering more sales for which I am grateful, best of all, that publicity has opened more doors to more people offering more opportunities for all involved.
I have also been recently informed that a number of public libraries in major cities in North America will also be carrying Bathhouse Babylon in their LGBTQI sections, which is exactly one of the things I was hoping would happen as I think our community stories, no matter how diverse, should be available for everyone to discover.

From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank everyone for their ongoing support of my first book. An idea about a past life work experience has come to light and has been deeply fulfilling.
Feel free to click on any of the media images listed below that will take you to the articles featuring the Bathhouse Babylon book and expect to see a few more write-ups coming out in the future as the book is still being reviewed with interviews scheduled into the next few months at least.




By the way, due to demand, there will be a Bathhouse Babylon ll coming out next summer.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Pink Parade 2021!

It’s back! After well over a year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Pink Parade (Pride) will take place in Nice on the afternoon of July 24, 2021!

Everyone is to gather on Boulevard Jean Jaurès at Place Toja in Nice at 4 pm to start the parade. (see map)

*Update* New route change as of July 22, 2021.
Wearing a mask is recommended due to crowd size and this date is subject to governmental modifications. At the end of the march, everyone is invited to the Pink Party at the Théâtre des Verdures from 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm.

Access to the after-event is based on the presentation of your health pass, so bring everything required in order to attend the party.

This year, the parade is shorter due to the ongoing pandemic situation but as usual, instead of watching from the sidelines, everyone is welcome to join in the march to stand in strength, solidarity, and love with each other.

And as you know, summer in the French Riviera means it’s going to be hot, so come prepared with a refreshing liquid of choice to keep hydrated.

If it’s your first time at the Pink Parade in Nice, you’ll notice immediately this is very much an LGBTQI community-minded event. There are no corporate sponsors in attendance, only the individuals and local businesses that help make up the region.

Enjoy!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Nightlife is Back in France!

It feels like it has been forever but as of today, July 9, 2021, the nightclubs, bars and outdoor LGBTQ events in France are back in business!

It is time to party and dance!

When the pandemic restrictions were coming into effect, quite literally by the hour in France on the evening of March 14, 2020, any public gathering place such as a nightclub or bar was at first limited to the number of people inside those establishments. Only to be told at 10 pm that night they had to close by midnight (when most nightclubs don’t even open until that time). All for legitimate safety reasons due to Covid19.

It’s been a long haul for the owners and managers of those entertainment venues but as of this evening, they are opening and just in time for summer!

There were a few nightclub and bar owners, like with those in the bathhouse world, who were testing the government rules and restrictions the past week or so by opening with limited capacity and without a lot of fanfare but now the all-clear has arrived.

Months and weeks ahead of the proposed date, owners have been posting online the updates and overall changes they have been making in anticipation of the opening date and now they will be back in force for everyone to enjoy.

The city of Nice has always been the central hot spot in the Cote d'Azur region for those in the LGBTQ community with any number of venues to enjoy. With these restrictions being lifted, because there is still some cause for concern, especially with the new variants popping up, some rules will still be set in place.

Such as, you will need to show that you have been vaccinated with your health pass (QR Code) to enter, expect to be checked with a monitor on your forehead for your temperature upon arrival, don't forget your identification no matter where you are from and all staff must wear a health mask among any other requirements an owner or manager may feel necessary to the safety of everyone, at least for the next while.
Also, don’t be surprised if you see government inspectors coming into the venues to make sure everything is up to current health standards.

So the nightlife is back, who knows for how long at this point but be safe and have fun!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Bathhouses, Saunas and Cruising Bars in Covid19 Times

As of today, July 1, 2021, another Covid19 restriction has been lifted in France, that being where gathering spaces such as bathhouses (otherwise also known as gay saunas) and cruising bars which were closed for well over a year, are now open.

Hooray!

There were a couple of bathhouses in the country testing the waters and opening once or twice a week before the restriction was technically lifted but now it’s game on again.

Rules for who can come inside during these unusual times will be guided by what the government still currently dictates but also with what an owner of these establishments wants to include for their own precautionary measures for the safety of everyone at the moment.
For those that live in France and those lucky tourists visiting, it is suggested you arrive at these venues prepared so that you don’t get turned away.

France loves paperwork, so bring along your passport or other nationality identification and anything related to confirming that you are double vaxxed, that being any documents preferably with a QR Code or have the QR Code of your vaccination through the Tous AntiCovid App available

Apparently, as of today, there will be a European Health Pass app available for those traveling that might help with proving you have had your vaccination shots.

Upon entering one of these premises expect to have a fever monitor device set on your forehead to check your temperature as an added precaution and you may be asked to use some of their hand sanitizer gel also before venturing around inside.

What each owner decides to do is totally up to them, the ones I know of though here in the French Riviera will be very on top of things with added precautions in place as they will not want to risk having to close again.

Word is that on July 9th, the nightclubs will reopen, I’ll post an update as more news and information comes in.

Enjoy yourself and stay safe

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Cannes Film Festival Selection 2021

 

The Cannes Film Festival makes its return this year for its 74th edition, from July 6th to 17th after the Covid-19 pandemic put a pause on the world's leading film festival for its 2020 edition.

An extensive list of past Palme d'Or winners and art house favorites are set to return to the seaside city of Cannes as organizers announced the official selections for the competition on Thursday.

Among the 24 directors whose films are heading to the Cote d'Azur is Sean Penn for his new film "Flag Day", Italy's Nanni Moretti with "Tri Piani" and France's Jacques Audiard with "Les Oympiades".

They will be joined by three big influential directors that had already been announced: Wes Anderson for "The French Dispatch", Paul Verhoeven for "Benedetta" and Leos Carax for "Annette".

"Annette" is the first film in a decade from French arthouse darling Carax and his first in English. It stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard as a celebrity couple awaiting a mysterious child.

Dutch filmmaker Verhoeven – who has often married art and salaciousness with movies like "Basic Instinct", "Showgirls" and "Elle" – is being recognized for his latest offering "Benedetta", about a lesbian nun in a 17th-century Italian convent.

Normally the Cannes Film Festival takes place in the month of May but this year the festival was postponed until early July. France will have lifted the evening Covid-19 curfew by then, although travelers from specific locations may still face quarantine measures, including those from Britain although things appear to be on the positive side.

Festival director Thierry Frémaux stated there will be the usual parties and dinners as well as events to give holidaymakers on the Cote d’Azur a chance to enjoy the event, such as screenings on the beach.

Covid-19 precautions will still be in force, however. “We won’t be kissing at the top of the [red carpet] steps,” Frémaux said.

Oscar-winner Jodie Foster, who first walked the red carpet at Cannes as a 13-year-old when she starred in “Taxi Driver”, will be presented with an honorary Palme d’Or.

One silver lining from the disruption of the past year has been a backlog of cinematic gold that gave organizers some 2,000 films to wade through as they made their selection for the 74th edition.

Another past Palme d'Or winner returning to the Croisette is Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul with his first English-language film "Memoria", starring Tilda Swinton.

Iran's two-time Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi will also return with "A Hero" while Russia's renowned director Kirill Serebrennikov – who has lately faced significant pressure from authorities – will be in competition with "Petrov's Flu". 

Here are the 24 films competing for the prestigious Palme d'Or prize, to be awarded by a jury headed by US director Spike Lee.

- "Annette" by Leos Carax, France

- "The French Dispatch" by Wes Anderson, US

- "Benedetta" by Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands

- "A Hero" by Asghar Farhadi, Iran

- "Tout s'est Bien Passé" (Everything Went Well) by Francois Ozon, France

- "Tre Piani" (Three Floors) by Nanni Moretti, Italy

- "Titane" (Titan) by Julia Ducournau, France

- "Red Rocket" by Sean Baker, US

- "Petrov's Flu" by Kirill Serebrennikov, Russia

- "Par un Demi-Clair Matin" (now known by the title "France") by Bruno Dumont, France

- "Nitram" by Justin Kurzel, Australia

- "Memoria" by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand

- "Lingui" by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Chad

- "Les Olympiades" (Paris' 13th District) by Jacques Audiard, France

- "Les Intranquilles" (The Restless Ones) by Joachim Lafosse, Belgium

- "La Fracture" by Catherine Corsini, France

- "The Worst Person in the World" by Joachim Trier, Norway

- "Compartment No 6" by Juho Kuosmanen, Finland

- "Casablanca Beats" by Nabil Ayouch, France-Morocco

- "Ahed's Knee" by Nadav Lapid, Israel

- "Drive My Car" by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Japan

- "Bergman Island" by Mia Hansen-Love, France

- "The Story of My Wife" by Ildiko Enyedi, Hungary

- "Flag Day" by Sean Penn, US

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

June 2021 Coronavirus Update

 

Well, it’s looking like things are finally getting back to some sense of normalcy, almost.

As of May 19, 2021, the curfew in France was moved from 6 pm to 9 pm with restaurants and cafes being allowed to open their terraces at 50% capacity.

As of this evening, June 8, 2021, the curfew gets moved from 9 pm to 11 pm, although those out between 11 pm and 6 am will still need an attestation filled out citing an essential reason for being outside.

More welcoming changes include the reopening of indoor seating in restaurants and cafés. Customers will now be welcomed back inside, albeit with a 50% percent limit on capacity and a six-person maximum per table. Customers must, however, provide contact details in order to take advantage of indoor seating, with many cafés offering a scannable QR option to make the process simple.

Rules on terraces will also change, allowing establishments with outdoor space to operate at full capacity, though the six-person per table restriction will still be in effect.

There will also be the introduction of the travel ‘traffic light’ system that also goes into effect on June 9th. This program entails a green, orange and red list of countries who are allowed into France under differing criteria based on the current health situations in their nations.


Also, to begin with, are the health passports. Already operational via the TousAntiCovid app, users can scan vaccination certificates or recent negative Covid tests from the My Wallet section. From June 9th, this will be an entry requirement for certain large events, such as concerts and sports matches.

With the advent of the health passport, events of up to 5,000 will also be allowed once more, subject to rules regarding social distancing and the usual protections.

Tourist sites, cinemas, shops, and museums will also be able to welcome the public back with an increased capacity. Theatres and cinemas can have up to 65% normal capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 patrons, or 5,000 with a health passport.

Guests at weddings and civil ceremonies are limited to 50% venue capacity and funerals can have up to 75 attendees. Currently, nightclubs will remain closed but there is talk of them opening possibly around July 1st, so fingers crossed there.

Also, some gay saunas are slowly up again in places like Marseille but I'll keep you updated on other locations as time moves on.

Gatherings of more than 10 people in public spaces are still discouraged, and masks are still mandatory in public indoor spaces, with a risk of a €135 fine for non-compliance. Check your local listings on rules as most cities are also still requiring masks in outdoor public spaces as well.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Summer Reading


In the middle of March 2021, announcements continued to be made practically every week in regards to what restrictions were about to be added or staying the same for us in France due to the Coronavirus situation.

This meant, our curfews were still going to stay in place and most of the shops were going to be closed again for an extended time period along with the radius of which we were allowed to travel being that of 10km. Basically, the government wanted everyone to stop movement as much as possible to protect against the spread of the virus while vaccinations have increased.
Fortunately, my work has kept me busy taking care of clients’ requests from around the world, if not for now, then in the near future once borders start opening up again.

Although I work a minimum of 12 hours a day, pretty much every day of the year, I still felt like I had some time to take on another project, and what better time than during a pandemic? This project has been in the back of my mind though for years and encouraged by others to pursue it, so that is what I have done.

I’ve written a book.

Bathhouse Babylon has been released this weekend as an e-book and paperback and tells a true, in-depth account of part of my former work and life in North America.

At that time, I managed three gay bathhouses, or gay saunas, as they are called here in Europe, over an extensive number of years. I wanted to tell a story that is more of an insider’s scoop on the inner workings of the bathhouse industry, kind of like a behind-the-scenes adventure.

During various times in that field of work, I kept diaries as a way to navigate what might have been taking place, no matter the emotion (and there were plenty), and as it was happening. I had a gut feeling it would at some point be useful for myself in the future, most of all to see how I have grown as an individual.
When you work in bathhouses, the bullshit is stripped away, quite literally at times. There is a whole social dynamic about it all that much of the outside world might not have privy to and is absolutely fascinating to observe and be surrounded by at all times.

You see how men manoeuver in that environment on a daily basis, for the most part simply because of their unending sexual desires which in turn both motivates or can dictate how men think on occasion, whether it is to their benefit or not.

You can’t have a bathhouse without sex so of course, there are extraordinary sex stories in the book but there is far more to what encompasses bathhouses than all of that and this is what I also wanted to write about, to give people background information based on my experiences.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel working on my first book, but it’s been one of the most enjoyable projects in my life and seemed to flow naturally, which is easy to do when you’re telling the truth.

It’s brought back every emotion of that time, both good and bad and it’s felt extremely cathartic in many ways. It’s given me the gift of being able to see how I was then, to how I have grown now, and to be able to realize how much of it has actually helped prepare me for my life in France and my work in the luxury real estate world.

It’s given me the education on how to observe everything at all times, negotiate better, navigate scenarios through strategic thinking, know when to speak up, know when to have decorum, and best of all, how to deal with bullshitters.

Overall, I feel that the more those of us in the LGBTQ community can contribute to our history, no matter our experiences have been, it is all a part of our story and I believe it will be beneficial for those who will come after us to learn from it all to know how to best move forward in life.

Unintentionally, as life does come at you full force, there will be things in this book that will shock people but also make them laugh, sad, infuriated, happy, and hopefully learn from to see other aspects of the world.

Please find Bathhouse Babylon on Amazon and several other online retailers to come.

Enjoy!