Monday, July 1, 2024

Bathhouse Babylon - Full Release

 


During whatever spare time I could find over the past hectic year, I rewrote Bathhouse Babylon for a final, full release.

When the first edition of the book was published in May 2021, it thankfully garnered global media attention for a solid year, and sales seemed to generate on their own long after.

Although I was pleased with how cathartic and interesting the process was, after some time, I believed I could make it even better.

I listened to feedback from friends and strangers who bought the book. With most of the requests from the LGBTQ community indicating a desire for more juicy scandal and sex stories.

So, I ventured deeper, and added a number of salacious chapters to provide even more bang for the buck.

Consider this a second cumming.

Drawing from my diaries and over 13 years of experience in the bathhouse industry across North America, Bathhouse Babylon offers an unfiltered, behind-the-scenes look at this unique world.

The book charts my journey from a regular customer to managing three gay sauna establishments, providing an insider's perspective that is as candid as it is captivating.

Bathhouse Babylon reveals the intricate subculture of bathhouses, a realm often hidden from the public eye.

Through vivid storytelling, it shares the unusual and shocking sex stories that are an integral part of this environment.

Yet, the narrative also delves into the sociological aspects, exploring the dynamics at play in a venue teeming with half-naked men in party mode. Topics such as drug use, money-driven owners, escorts, celebrities, diversity challenges, business competition, and sex addiction are examined in depth.

If you can imagine it, it happens in a bathhouse.

Bathhouse Babylon, can currently be found on Amazon as a paperback or ebook.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Championing LGBTQI+ Rights with Monaco Pride 2024

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of attending the third Monaco Pride event in the Principality. Despite being relatively young compared to other Pride gatherings, Monaco Pride grows stronger each year, drawing an international and diverse crowd united in championing LGBTQI+ equality rights.

Monaco Pride was initiated in 2022 through a collaboration between Barclays Monaco, Fight Aids Monaco, and the former Stars’n’Bars. Their goal was to educate Monaco’s decision-makers about LGBTQI+ rights and address the outdated laws that cause significant hardships for many families living and working in Monaco.


This year, on June 20th, Camille Gottlieb, Princess Stephanie’s youngest daughter, joined over 150 participants at Monaco’s third Pride event. The event was co-organized by Barclays Bank and the local Fight Aids association, and held at the newly opened Marius restaurant on the Quai des Artistes.


Speakers included Monserrat Marchetti, Team Leader of
Barclays Private Bank Monaco, Hervé Aeschbach, Coordinator at Fight Aids Monaco Association, and Annette Anderson, former manager of Stars’n’Bars.


Barclays has long been a global leader in promoting workplace diversity and inclusion. According to Marchetti, “Making everyone feel comfortable in their work is at the heart of our culture. We foster this environment through various activities and initiatives, creating networks that allow colleagues to build connections.

Our ongoing relationship with PRIDE is just one of many ways we demonstrate our commitment to the LGBTQI+ community.” As in previous years, the façade of the Monaco bank will be illuminated in rainbow colors throughout June in observance of Pride Month.


Hervé Aeschbach reported that since the last Monaco Pride, LGBTQI+ residents have been meeting regularly to discuss educating decision-makers about civil inequalities in Monaco. These inequalities create severe financial difficulties for many, including the lack of spousal rights for widows or widowers in same-sex marriages recognized in other countries and the denial of medical benefits for children in same-sex families.

Monaco is consistently rated among the worst countries in Europe regarding LGBTQI+ civil rights. Aeschbach emphasized that Princess Stephanie, President of the Fight Aids Association, denounces all discrimination and defends the right to equality for all Monaco citizens and residents.

Annette Anderson thanked the courageous members of the Conseil-National and the High Commissioner for Protection of Rights for their efforts in fighting for equal rights for the Rainbow Community. However, she stressed, “It is OUR responsibility to fight for OUR rights.” She applauded the creation of the new Mon Arc En Ciel Association, which aims to educate decision-makers about LGBTQI+ rights and advocate for changing the outdated laws that burden many families in Monaco.

This year’s Monaco Pride highlighted the urgency of bringing even basic LGBTQI+ equality rights to the Principality. Despite the serious conversations, there was a hopeful and positive spirit among the group, with live music, dancing, laughter, and drinks, as participants enjoyed the early evening overlooking Port Hercules in Monaco.

Group photos courtesy of Frédéric Nébinger

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Read The Room - Bookstore & Café in Nice

 

It has been said that estimates indicate there are tens of thousands of English-speaking and even more so, bilingual expatriates living in the region, particularly in cities like Nice, a cultural hub in the French Riviera.

So when I noticed online a new bookshop and café aptly called, “Read The Room” having recently opened in Nice, I had to check it out. I was delighted to meet the owners, Danaé and Andrea at their establishment, located near Place Garibaldi at 3 rue Papon.

Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and what inspired you to open an English bookshop and café in Nice?

My mom and I had already been living in the South of France for just over 2 years. We were both talking one day about how fun it would be to open our own business together and seeing as we are both avid readers with very little purchasing options in the area, we decided to do it ourselves! It literally happened overnight. It’s easy to be inspired in Nice.

What is the overall vision and mission for your bookshop and café?

We have a very clear vision of being a culture hotspot for English and anglophone expats and tourists. We really want to make our space a place where book lovers can connect over their love of literature and a good cup of coffee (and a delicious slice of cake too!). A big part of our mission is to open our doors to cultural events as well so that the community can stay connected.

How did you come up with the concept for combining a bookshop with a café?

This is a very popular concept overseas especially in the UK, US and South Africa where my mom is from. We wanted to give the option to people to be able to sit and enjoy their book outside of their usual comfort zone. The margins on buying and selling books is also so small, so offering the coffee side (with our menu) helps us stay afloat and enables us to invest in more and diverse book stock.

What kind of atmosphere are you aiming to create for your customers?

In my personal life, I am very passionate about art, books, vintage, interior design and beautiful, aesthetic things that make you feel good. My own apartment feels like a fun museum and that’s the energy we wanted to convey for our customers. A space where you walk in and feel at home immediately. A place where you feel relaxed enough to sit by yourself and enjoy a book, and feel inspired when you look up. My mom and I have a lot of pride in our space and I think it is easily noticeable.


What types of books will you be focusing on in your inventory? I noticed you have an LGBTQ section.

Being inclusive and diverse in our book stock is a top goal and priority for us here at Read The Room. Being two strong women who have always been passionate about equality and human rights, we want our stock to reflect that. Our LGBQT selection is not just available for Pride Month, and we restock it weekly. We place quite a lot of importance in women’s rights, women authors and mental health advocacy books. We are also big on giving a platform and help amplify the voices of marginalized authors who are often silenced or ignored. These are all topics we care deeply about personally and we wanted to incorporate that professionally. 

We also always make sure to check out the latest and bestsellers lists, the women’s literature prize winners and runner ups, TikTok’s booktok community favorites and our selected few Instagram book influencers to guide us and keep us up to date with what the public is reading.

We also don’t forget our children’s books and kiddies’ corner. They are also a very big priority for us as we believe reading is one of the most important aspects of a child’s life to benefit their futures. Keeping the stock fresh, educational but also interactive and fun seems to be working wonders so far!

 

Are there any specific genres or authors you are particularly excited to feature?

Like we mentioned above, we are very big on amplifying the voices of women and marginalized authors and it will always be a priority to seek them out. We are also very excited to feature more “alternative” books in our photography and design selection from Mack Books. We really do love our coffee table books from Assouline and the beautiful photographs they hold. At the moment, we are very focused on featuring Middle-Eastern literature from Arabic and muslim authors for all ages to enjoy and learn from.

Can you describe the kind of food and drinks you will be serving in the café?

We have a small menu made up of small, healthy, and fresh meals that run all day. We have breakfast options like chia seed pudding and granola bowls to nice lunch dishes like a delicious caesar salad or salmon trout  and avocado stuffed croissant. Our avocado toast is definitely a fan favorite! We also bake fresh croissants every morning and all our pastries are homemade. We have the usual range of drinks, teas and coffees and offer matcha specials (we’ve been told they’re the best) and fresh pressed OJ everyday!

 

How do you plan to engage with the local community and build a loyal customer base?

We are mainly using Instagram and Facebook as our means of staying connected with our local community but we are also starting to host more events and do collaborations with people. We also have our loyalty card that customers receive after their first book purchase. We have already had two filled out so they are popular! We also have a community pinboard at the entrance of our store where customers and tourists alike can pin up information and events to advertise and find each other for a variety of activities and offers, most of which are in English.

Will you be hosting any special events or activities, such as book readings, author signings, or book clubs?

We have already hosted a book swap event which went brilliantly, people loved the idea of being able to drop books off and swap out second hand books to take home. We also have Taste Taste Thursdays, which consists of cooking a meal from a new cookbook we choose in the store every Thursday. We have a book signing coming up in July and another in August. We are also introducing the kiddies reading corner on Wednesdays: we will choose a book to read for 30 minutes every Wednesday in the kid’s corner. Every book will have a lesson or activity.


What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced in setting up the bookshop and café? Especially since it seems to be a focus towards the English speaking community in France. Did you feel this is something the expat community needs and was asking for?

The English community was definitely waiting for this. The main feedback we received was that this was really needed. There wasn’t a library in a 30 minute vicinity from Nice where you could find a nice, extended selection of English books covering a variety of genres, especially for children. Read The Room has quickly become a spot for locals to come and have a coffee, enjoy a chat, have a nice salad and buy or order a new book for themselves or a friend. 

The biggest challenge we faced was all the red tape that comes with French bureaucracy and admin. Even when you are French, the French are difficult, haha. But we were lucky in most aspects. 


Do you have any personal favorite books or authors that have influenced your decision to open this shop?

This is a very difficult question to answer. 

We have too many favorite books and authors but one that really stuck with me recently is ‘I’m Glad My Mom Died’ by Jenette McCurdy. I was totally awestruck by her courage and bravery. It’s crazy to look back and think I was 12 years old watching her on TV while she was going through hell on earth and hiding it so well. My mom recently read ‘A Woman is No Man’, by Etaf Rum, an American Palestinian author. We are always and what we read is so diverse that I wouldn’t say one particular book is what inspired the book shop. All of the stories we have ever read are part of our own.

What do you hope customers will take away from their experience at your bookshop and café?

A book(s), a good word to a friend or neighbor and a revisit. 

Why did you choose Nice as the location for your business?

It’s the middle ground of everything. It’s in between Monaco and Cannes and with the airport being in Nice, a lot of our clientele is around this area because of tourists and expats. 

What are your future plans for the bookshop and café?

We already want to find a bigger space to have more bookshelves filled with books! We want to add a bigger seating area for reading and eating, as well as sell more art and photography when the opportunity arises to expand. We will soon be getting our terrace confirmed, so we will be adding 4 more tables outside (with shelter of course!) so more people will be able to enjoy our space. 



Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about your new bookshop and café?

Dogs are welcome and definitely get a puppacino on the house. We take special orders every week and place them on Sundays, which in turn arrive no later than the next Thursday if there are no public holidays etc. We are open to suggestions and book recommendations and anyone is welcome and free to email us should they want to use our space for an event. 

How can people stay updated on your events and new arrivals?

Follow us on Instagram and make sure to turn the post notifications on so you can stay up to date with our newest arrivals, our business updates and events!


As the saying goes, reading is fundamental. Be sure to visit Read The Room the next time you are in Nice.

Monday, June 10, 2024

The Monaco Open Air Cinema 2024

 

If you're seeking a truly wonderful experience in the Principality of Monaco, we recommend spending part of an evening watching a movie under the stars at the Monaco Open Air Cinema.
 
We first wrote about this unique venue a decade ago, but it’s always worth revisiting as it is quite the experience. And as of June 15, it reopens to the public for the height of the summer season.
 
Situated next to the architecturally stunning Oceanography Museum and just a few minutes' walk from the Prince’s Palace, the Monaco Open Air Cinema offers a picturesque setting by the Mediterranean Sea. Throughout the season, you can enjoy a variety of movies, from new releases to vintage classics.

Seating options cater to different comfort levels and budgets, ranging from standard outdoor chairs to more lounge-like areas. All seating is on a first-come, first-served basis to ensure fairness. Refreshments are available for purchase as well.

The cinema opens at 8:45 pm, with the evening's events starting at 9:30 pm and the movie commencing at 10:00 pm. It's advisable to arrive early, as tickets cannot be purchased online. This traditional approach to cinema-going adds to the charm and memorability of the experience. 
 

A lesser-known fact is that the fortress wall behind the screen is part of the Monaco prison, though there are few windows in the area near the top of the wall.

For a memorable movie-watching experience, spend an evening at the Monaco Open Air Cinema.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

A Season On The Sea

 

If sailing and yacht shows are your passion, you’ve definitely come to the right part of France.

From yacht shows to regattas and races across the Mediterranean Sea, the sailing calendar is packed with exciting events over the next few months in the south of France and Monaco.

At the end of June, the Riviera will host a unique regatta called Les Voiles de l’Espoir, an event that occurs only once every two years.

This special regatta aims to involve children in remission from cancer and leukemia in the sport, with professional crews guiding them out on the waves.

The 2024 edition will take place from June 15th to June 22nd, with a scheduled stop in Monaco on June 19th.

In the height of summer, the Palermo-Monte Carlo regatta will set sail from the Gulf of Mondello on August 20th, making its way to the Principality via Porto Cervo. The winner's ceremony is scheduled in Monaco for August 25th. Registrations are still open; for information on how to participate and more details, please visit the event's website.

Later in the season, the 46th Cannes Royal Regattas will take place from September 23rd to 28th. This prestigious event has become one of the world’s premier classic sailing competitions, known for its professional participants and diverse range of categories. Sailors from around the globe, from novices to seasoned professionals, aspire to attend or compete in this regatta.

Down the coast, the annual Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez will be held from September 28th to October 6th. First organized in 1999 by the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, this event showcases a stunning mix of classic boats, some over a century old, and cutting-edge modern yachts. Approximately 250 vessels are expected to participate this year.

As part of a local tradition that attracts an international audience, there will be two major yacht shows this Autumn.


First is the Cannes Yacht Show, running from September 10th to 15th, featuring up to 700 yachts.


And of course, the
Monaco Yacht Show. This annual event in Port Hercule is scheduled for September 25th to 28th. MYS has established itself as one of the world's premier showcases of innovation and luxury craft, drawing significant international attention.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Pink Parade in Nice 2024: Celebrating Diversity and Pride

 

On June 23, 2024, the vibrant city of Nice will once again host the Pink Parade, a dynamic and colorful celebration dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ rights, diversity, and inclusion. This annual event, set against the stunning backdrop of the French Riviera, draws thousands of participants and spectators from across the globe, uniting in a powerful demonstration of solidarity and pride.

A History of Advocacy and Celebration
The Pink Parade has its roots in the early 2000s, emerging as a grassroots initiative to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues in the region. Over the years, it has grown into one of the most significant Pride events in southern France, symbolizing both the progress made and the ongoing fight for equality.

Highlights of the 2024 Pink Parade

This year's Pink Parade promises to be a spectacular affair, featuring a range of activities designed to engage, educate, and entertain. The festivities will kick off with a colorful parade through the heart of Nice, where participants dressed in an array of costumes and waving rainbow flags will march in a joyful procession.

This year the parade route will start at the Port of Nice at “Place Île de Beauté” close to 4 pm and wind through some of Nice's most iconic streets such as around the port towards and down part of the famous Promenade des Anglais, offering a feast for the eyes and an opportunity for onlookers to join in the celebrations.

After the parade, everyone is welcome to gather at the open air, Théâtre de Verdure, situated between Place Masséna and the Promenade des Anglais for a wide range of free entertainment featuring renowned DJs and performers, the party will provide a space for revelers to dance the night away in a safe environment. And of course, the local nightclubs, bars, and restaurants will be extending that welcome for their own Pride celebratory events.

The Significance of the Pink Parade

The Pink Parade is more than just a festive event; it is a powerful statement of visibility and resilience. For many participants, it represents a rare opportunity to express their true selves openly and without fear. The event also serves as a reminder of the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community continues to face, both in France and around the world.

Community and Support
The success of the Pink Parade is a testament to the strength and solidarity of the LGBTQ+ community in Nice and the broader region. It is supported by numerous local organizations, volunteers, and sponsors, all of whom play a crucial role in making the event a reality. The inclusive nature of the parade invites everyone—regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity—to join in the celebration and stand in support of equality and human rights.

Looking Forward
As the Pink Parade in Nice prepares to take to the streets on June 23, the excitement and anticipation are palpable. This year’s event promises to be a memorable occasion, filled with joy, pride, and a shared commitment to a future where everyone can live freely and authentically.

Whether you’re a local resident, a visitor, or a member of the global LGBTQ+ community, the Pink Parade offers an inspiring and uplifting experience that underscores the importance of love, acceptance, and unity. Join the parade, celebrate diversity, and be part of this extraordinary movement towards a more inclusive world.

Happy Pride Everyone!

Vicious Pink Interview

 

This may be unusual, considering Gay French Riviera is supposed to be about everything LGBTQ related in the Cote d’Azur, but there is a couple of unexpected connections. Without question though, the 80s group, Vicious Pink has always been a hot favorite in the gay nightclub scene.

As many a longtime fan of the 80s band, Vicious Pink. One evening, playing around on one of my Instagram accounts, I took a clip from a vintage fashion show in Paris and paired it with their song, “I confess”.

Not long after I posted it with the hashtag #viciouspink, the singer Josephine Warden (Jose) of Vicious Pink noticed it. I was thrilled that she simply liked the post.

Over time, our online friendship grew, and I eventually discovered that a new Vicious Pink vinyl, aptly named "Unexpected," would be released in a limited edition by Minimal Wave Records on May 21, 2024.

From there, we connected, and I was fortunate enough to interview both Brian Moss and Jose Warden of Vicious Pink. We discussed their impact on the nightclub scene in the 80s, particularly within the LGBTQ community, as well as their future plans for music.

To jump right in, do you realize just how big of an impact your music has had in the gay community in the 80s and continues on to this day?

Jose: That is such a compliment, the music is always so much better in gay clubs! We started to realize very quickly that the gay crowd was behind us and as we started to play live shows and meet our audience, we knew that a lot of our support came from the gay community. I have always been a fervent supporter of LGBTQ rights and stand solidly at their side.

Your music stands out from the other high energy sounds back then. To friends and myself, it was also Jose’s vocals that helped make what was already forward-thinking music, into something that had a sense of sophistication and erotism. And people took notice, especially in the club scene. Is this something you recognized when first getting out there as well?

Jose: We knew we were different, and we knew that we wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but that was irrelevant, because we appealed to people like us. We were both great clubbers ourselves, so we were right in the midst of it. Good times.

To provide some history to readers. How did the two of you get together musically?

Brian: We met at an alternative night in Leeds 1979 at a pub called The Adelphi, where I was the DJ. We decided to start the band initially for a bit of fun. As we developed, we aimed for success in the clubs and alternative bars with DJ friendly mixes for night clubs, rather than radio friendly commercial hits. There was no internet then, the DJ’s and the night clubs were like the internet of the day, they got your sound out there.
Can you share the story behind the name "Vicious Pink"?

Jose: Me, Brian and Dave wrote some our favorite words down on pieces of paper, turned them upside down and shuffled them about. Then we each choose one of the pieces of paper. On my piece of paper, the word was Vicious, Dave's was Pink and Brian’s was Phenomena. We rearranged them on the floor, to read, ‘Vicious Pink Phenomena’.

And you both also provided backing vocals for Soft Cell at one point? How did that come together?

Jose: One night, Brian and I had gone to a bar in the center of Leeds called Amnesia, to watch my friend, the fabulous performance artist Marc Almond, perform with his new band, Soft Cell, which he had formed with Dave.

I think Anni Hogan was the DJ that night, which was pretty cool as there weren’t many female DJs at the time. About five minutes before Soft Cell were due on- stage Marc asked if we would do some backing vocals for him. “Tonight?”’

I asked, “I don’t know any of the lyrics?” Unperturbed, Marc rushed to the bar, grabbed a pen and a white serviette on which he wrote in big, black, capital letters ‘MISERY, COMPLAINTS, SELF PITY, INJUSTICE. CHIPS ON MY SHOULDER, CHIPS ON MY SHOULDER.’

“Just follow me”, he said.

And we did, all the way to New York, where three months later, in Media Sound Studios, Manhattan, I held onto the same serviette as we recorded, ‘Chips on My Shoulder’ and other songs for ‘Non- Stop Erotic Cabaret,’ Soft Cells debut album.

That’s amazing! What is your typical songwriting process like? Do you start with lyrics or music?

Brian: Usually, music first.

How do you approach production and the use of technology in your music?

Brian: When we started out there were no Music Technology courses, no Midi, it all had to be learned from scratch. That was probably a bonus in some ways, because I had to experiment with all the new equipment, so sometimes there would be a happy accident!

One example: I could sync my Roland BassLine TB303 to the Roland TR606 Drum Machine, via a 5-Pin Din lead, which looks like a Midi lead, but is wired differently. I could also trigger the Arpeggiator on my Roland Juno 60 by connecting a quarter inch jack lead from the TR606 to the Arpeggiator Clock-In on the Juno 60. Then program, for example a tom pattern in the desired rhythm, to send the pulse to trigger the Juno 60, then all 3 were in tempo sync.

This was used for ‘Fetish’, 8:15 To Nowhere and other songs. I also used this for live shows, so no need for tape backing tracks when in use.

I know you played in New York live at the Ritz in 1984. The 80s were such an individualistic and artistic time, especially in New York and London. Who and what were your influences then?

Brian: I loved Kraftwerk, YMO, DAF, Devo, Bowie, John Foxx and many more, but we always wanted to have our own sound, so we didn’t let the love of other artists creep into our music, plus the world already had those great artists.

Do you have any memorable stories from your various live performances?

Jose: We always took a 1960’s mannequin, who we called Lucy, to all our shows as a stage prop. I would dress her up in my clothing. We played The Crocs Club (later, Pink Toothbrush) in Rayleigh, Essex one night, and I dressed Lucy in a tiny black leather miniskirt and black lace top that I had worn the night before at a show in London. After the show, we said ‘hello’ to some people and had a few drinks as usual. When it came to do the loadout of our gear, we found Lucy, still onstage, naked, someone had actually stripped her and stolen my clothes!

How did it feel to achieve success in the 80s music scene?

Brian: We were amazed, because initially we really started Vicious Pink more as a project and mainly for fun. It's a strange feeling at first, just to see people dancing in clubs to our music. I remember going to Area in Manhattan one night and the dance floor was rammed as people danced to, ‘Cccan’t You See’.

What inspired your hit singles like "Cccan't You See" and "Fetish"?

Jose: Youth, lust, passion, sex, desire. We had just reached that age when these things are so much more important than anything else.

Do you realize just how big of a contribution you have made to the electronic music scene?

Brian: We realize it more now due to the feedback we get online and the global audience we can reach through the Internet.

Which of your songs are you most proud of, and why?

Brian: That’s a difficult one, it’s like asking which of the children you like best!
Jose: I’m proud of all of them but my favorite is, ‘Ask Me To Stay’. There is something about it that makes me want to sing along with it when I hear it.

For the audience reading this, what did you both do after you stopped recording in the 80s? People continued to love and desire your music, wanting more. Did it make you want to rethink things in how you produce music for the future?

Brian: I continued recording, writing and producing with Drug Free America into the late 90’s. Then I worked/collaborated with other bands and I didn’t stop writing music. 2003 - 2018 I worked touring with different bands around the UK and Europe doing TM, merch, driving and lots of other on-tour duties. Some of the bands: Bullet For My Valentine, Bring Me The Horizon, It Dies Today and many more and with different styles of music!

A few years ago people were quite excited and pleasantly surprised to see the elusive Jose back in view. It was like a firestorm on the internet about it all. What seemed to be the reasons to get back into the music industry, Jose? The fans are so excited you are back!

Jose: I stopped writing and performing completely, although I kept in touch with what was happening in the music world as I married a music lawyer, and a lot of friends were still in the business. I was only persuaded to come back to it by the wonderful Veronica Vasicka, founder of Minimal Wave records just before ‘West View’, the album she released two years ago.

How has the music industry changed since you first started, and how have you adapted to those changes?

Brian: Less CD sales, vinyl almost dying then making a comeback and now downloads, and streaming added to the mix. Yes, we’ve adapted very well to the internet age, it would have been nice to have it back when we started.
 
Your new LP, ‘Unexpected’, which I absolutely love, offers 10 tracks being released this week. How did you choose the songs for the LP?

Brian: I went through lots of reel to reel tapes and cassettes of our work, then together with the help of my DJ friends Jase Matthaus and Dee Shaw, did the digital rips at Jase’s studio. I then sent copies to Jose and between us we chose the 10 tracks.

My favorites are, So You Want to Love Me?, South Side, Not Your Kind of Girl, Night Drive. Each of the songs on the LP are unique and seem to display your musical experiences from over the years. Much of it I can see being played not only in the nightclubs but also as background in movies.

Brian: I can see that happening too. I hope so.

Are there any songs that stand out to you or are more personal on ‘Unexpected’ that you love?

Jose: It’s perpendicular for me because it takes me right back to the start of it all. It reminds me of our very early days when Brian, Dave and I used to just experiment with sounds and beats, before we even thought about introducing vocals.

What are the plans for Vicious Pink now?

Brian: New Vicious Pink remixes by Paul Dakeyne (Tin Man ‘18 Strings’ fame) to be released. New Vicious Pink songs in the pipeline and maybe some live shows.

What legacy do you hope Vicious Pink will leave in the music world?

Brian: I would like more people to discover us around our beautiful planet and that they continue dancing to and enjoying our music.
Jose: Dance!

In contact with Jose for the interview, she learned that I live in the French Riviera and mentioned she sometimes goes on holiday in the region. So I’m excited to hopefully meet up with her at some point this summer.

To purchase Vicious Pink’s new vinyl LP, ‘Unexpected’, click here:

 

A massive thank you to Vicious Pink for the interview!

Thursday, May 23, 2024

French Riviera Real Estate Options Twenty Two

 

With all of the excitement of the 77th Cannes Film Festival, it’s no wonder that the city makes for an attractive investment in real estate which can be a highly attractive proposition for numerous reasons:

1. Global Prestige: Cannes' famous film festival attracts global attention, maintaining demand for luxury accommodations.

2. Year-Round Tourism: Mediterranean climate, beaches, shopping, dining, and nightlife ensure high rental property occupancy.

3. Prime Location: Positioned on the French Riviera with stunning views and connectivity to Nice, Monaco, and Saint-Tropez.

4. Luxury Market: Known for high-end properties and lifestyle, attracting affluent buyers and renters.

5. Cultural and Recreational Amenities: Rich in cultural attractions and activities like yachting and golf, enhancing its appeal.

6. Strong Rental Market: Robust demand from tourists and business travelers provides reliable rental income.

7. Property Value Appreciation: Steady value growth due to limited prime coastal property and high demand.

8. Infrastructure and Accessibility: Modern infrastructure and proximity to Nice Airport ensure easy access.

9. Stable Market: The French real estate market, especially in Cannes, is stable and less volatile.

10. Quality of Life: High quality of life with natural beauty, cultural richness, and modern conveniences.

These factors collectively make Cannes a prime location for real estate investment, promising both strong returns and an appealing lifestyle.

With that, here are a few seaside properties on the market:

Cannes
Price: 2,580,000 EUR

Living Area: 70 m2
Terrace: 10 m2
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2

Located in a prestigious building on the Croisette in Cannes. This splendid property of 70m2 is situated on a high floor.

It consists of a large living room facing south, opening onto a 10m2 terrace allowing you to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea with the beach directly across the street.

Spacious living room with an open-plan kitchen.
2 bedrooms en suite with shower room.
Completely renovated with top amenities.
1 garage and a cellar complete this property.

Cannes

Price: 3,080,000 EUR

Living Area: 110 m2
Terrace: 11 m2
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 3

Situated within a secure residence on the prestigious Croisette, this 110m2 T4 awaits your discovery on the 6th floor.

Its spacious layout encompasses a generous living area, incorporating a lounge, dining area, and open kitchen.

With three bedrooms and three shower rooms, comfort is paramount.

Step onto the 11m2 terrace to revel in panoramic sea views, enhancing the allure of this property.

Meticulously renovated with tasteful, high-quality materials, it exudes elegance.

An added convenience is the included garage.
This residence epitomizes the essence of an ideal location.

Cannes

Price on Application

Living Area: 580 m2
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 5

This luxurious duplex penthouse sits at the heart of the Croisette within a secure residence.

A rare gem in Cannes, it has been impeccably renovated by Pellerin, boasting 580m2 spread across two levels with panoramic views of the bay, Mediterranean, and Esterel mountains.

The first floor features a spacious living room, dining area, fully equipped kitchen, and 5 en suite bedrooms, including a lavish master suite.

Ascend to the upper floor to find a grand reception room with an open-plan kitchen overlooking the Mediterranean.

Additionally, a wellness area with Hammam, sauna, and indoor swimming pool adds to the allure of this exceptional property.

Outside, a magnificent 400m2 terrace beckons, offering unparalleled vistas and an ideal space for relaxation and entertainment.

Completing the package are multiple garages and a cellar, ensuring both convenience and luxury for its fortunate residents.


To explore these or other property choices, reach out to Experience The French Riviera for further details.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Monaco Grand Prix Travel Tips

 

One of the biggest weekends of the year is upon us with the upcoming Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix taking place from May 24th to 26th.

Planning on how you will get in and out of Monaco during this time is key to having the best experience.

To accommodate the races and the thousands of fans who attend over the three-day event, numerous roads are closed, most of the car parks are closed, and access to certain areas of the Principality is significantly restricted for both drivers and pedestrians.

Which means, driving into Monaco by car or taxi during the Grand Prix can easily take two or three hours or more.

Big tip: don’t bother driving as once you finally arrive, you will spend almost as much time trying to find a place to park and will likely have to walk a considerable distance to the race tracks.

Public Transit

Bus services have already increased this year due simply to tourist demand. The bus from Nice might take longer than the train, especially with the additional traffic and congestion during the event, but it remains a viable alternative and quite scenic.

There are various bus routes available, including the Ligne Express 80 from Nice Airport and the 602 from the Vauban bus station in Nice to the Casino in Monaco. Additionally, the new 600 bus line runs from Nice to Menton via Monaco and back.

The train journey from Nice to Monaco takes about 22 minutes. During the Grand Prix weekend, trains will depart from Nice approximately every 15 minutes and cost less than €5 if booked in advance.
The first train departs at 5:40 am, and the last trains back from Monaco on May 25th and 26th are scheduled for 11:51 pm—perfect if you want to stay a little later in the Principality.
For both the trains and buses, expect lineups and plenty of people in general so leave earlier for your arrival to Monaco.

Taxis, Uber, Bolt

Another option is to travel to and from Monaco using a taxi or ride-hailing services like Uber or Bolt, though this can be more complicated than it seems as there are various rules.

Monaco-registered taxis can only pick up passengers within the Principality, as there is no agreement permitting them to collect passengers from French territory.

Car service drivers from France can collect and drop off passengers inside Monaco, but only if they have an official vignette. With only 320 of these permits available, the demand for taxi and ride-hailing services is high, resulting in elevated prices.

Alternatively, you can still take an Uber or Bolt (expect to pay premium rates) into Cap d’Ail, as an example, and make your way into Monaco by foot. Taxis in general in France are more expensive than Uber or Bolt.

Helicopter

Flying from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport to the Principality takes just seven minutes from helipad to helipad, making it unquestionably the fastest and most stress-free way to reach the action.

But again, book ahead.

Taking a scenic flight is a great alternative. Blade, owned by Monaco-based Monacair, offers rates starting at €550 on May 24th, 25th, and 27th, with prices for "Race Day" flights on May 26th starting at €650.

Walking

As odd as it sounds, it can be done. One example is, if you can make your way to the heart of Cap d’Ail then a leisurely walk into Monaco can take around 30 minutes.

Monaco itself has an area of 2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi), or 208 ha (510 acres), making it easily accessible by foot, even with the street restrictions in place for the Grand Prix.

Friday, May 17, 2024

International Day Against Homophobia & LGBTQ+ Rights in Monaco

 

May 17th marks the International Day Against Homophobia yet for all, basic human rights are still not equal.

Surprisingly to many, given all the glitz and glam of the luxury lifestyle within the Principality of Monaco, same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples in Monaco are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples. In fact, Monaco is the least developed among Western European countries in terms of LGBTQ+ equality.

The Principality of Monaco ranks in the bottom 10% of 49 European and Central Asian countries monitored annually by an international civil rights association advocating for equal civil and economic rights for LGBTQ+ citizens. Only 5 countries are rated worse than Monaco: Belarus, Russia, Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.
In Monaco, numerous accounts exist detailing the stark absence of fundamental LGBTQ+ equality rights. Below are some instances of discrimination encountered by residents, non-Monegasque inhabitants, and foreign workers. The identities and nationalities of individuals involved have been altered.

Brigitte, a resident of France, has dedicated 35 years of her life to working in Monaco, diligently contributing to the Social Security and Retirement program throughout this period. At 72, she married her partner of 29 years in 2015. Despite this, Brigitte's spouse currently lacks any entitlement to spousal rights within the retirement system, meaning she will not receive any spousal "reversion" benefits upon Brigitte's passing. Brigitte's spouse, although younger, faces a medical condition that hampers her ability to work full-time, making the denial of her spousal "reversion" benefits particularly impactful.

Audrey is a Monegasque citizen and has an approved civil union PACS with her partner Sylvie. If Audrey dies before her partner, Sylvie will be forced to pay an inheritance tax on the apartment they share although a married heterosexual couple would pay no tax. In addition, the law prohibits two members of the same sex to live together in the same apartment unless they are related by birth.

Henry and James, legally wed in France, call Monaco home. But, if James were to suffer a car accident and be admitted to a Monaco hospital in a coma, Henry would face a distressing reality: he would have no legal authority to make any decisions regarding James's treatment, including critical matters such as resuscitation

Léa and Margot, Monegasques, had a child, the latter is enrolled in daycare. Margot was unable to pick up her child from daycare because she is not the biological mother. Léa had to sign an authorization so that her mother could collect it. However, the daycare charges this household on all of their income.

Maud and Louise work in the private sector in Monaco and have a child. The Medical Benefits Service in Monaco considers this household as such and takes all income into account. However, when it comes to family allowances, Maud is considered a single mother. In addition, Louise was unable to benefit from leave linked to the birth of their child.

The Rainbow Map, now in its 12th year, is published by the International Lesbian & Gay Association (ILGA) which is co-funded by the European Commission.

The Rainbow Map uses seven categories and 74 criteria to examine the LGBTQ+ laws and policies of each nation, including equality and non-discrimination in the workplace and at home.

Although Monaco’s historical ties to the Catholic Church are often cited for the poor performance, there are no other predominantly Catholic countries in the bottom 10%. In fact, the number-one rated country on the Rainbow Map is Malta whose population is 96% Catholic and whose Constitution establishes Catholicism as the state religion.

Nearly half of the 49 countries covered by the Rainbow Map recognize civil unions or marriages between same-sex couples, Monaco’s failure to recognize marriages legally binding in other countries results in a significant loss of civil and economic rights.

With this, we strive on, with a growing number of local individuals showcasing our strength.

This year for the first time in Monaco, the “MON’ARC EN CIEL” association was created to defend and promote the individual and collective rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ people in the Principality.

 For more details, contact: monarcenciel@monaco.mc