Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Diana and Nice

“Where are my ruffles? I’m supposed to sit in my ruffles to… My designer, Bob Mackee told me… Do you all know Bob Mackee? Well, he told me I need to sit in my ruffles and sing a love song. Where are my ruffles?”

Call her a diva.
Call her an ex-con.
Call her Miss Ross.

Last Saturday night, I had third row seats. The third row from the top, that is. Fortunately, the venue is not so big, so the seats were not bad. Or, at least they should not have been. The problem with the seats is that they were in the wrong place. They were directly in front of the stage, right smack in the center. Normally, that is a great location. Normally, when seeing anyone other than Miss Ross, but I will come to that in a sec.

Contrary to gay stereotypes, I am not a big Diana fan. Nor do I drool over Barbra or pant over Cher, although I do have a potentially unhealthy adoration for the Divine Miss M. However, given the fact that Miss Ross is a legend and probably is not going to be doing tours for too much longer, I figured I should at least see her once. I have seen a lot of concerts, from Britney to Bette, Madonna to Eminem and Aretha to The B52s. I knew this was not going to be a show about dancers flexing fabulous abs or a parade of stoned rappers, but I believed it would be a memorable show.

Memorable it was. She made her entrance singing off key to some badly played music (It wasn’t until half way through that anybody knew what she was singing) wearing a headdress that made her look just like Sarabi from “The Lion King”. The show was divided into two “acts”.

Act 1 was all about the oldies. Lots of tunes from the Supremes. I guess that helps her ease her guilt of going single, sleeping her way to the top and leaving her sisters to drift aimlessly in the cruel sea that was 60’s Motown. All this was done wearing 1980’s gowns that looked like she just stepped out of Dynasty. I don’t know how many sequins were killed to make those clothes, but it shouldn’t have been legal. Of course, the sequins did get a bit of revenge when they got in her way half-way through the third song, causing her to trip. No worries, she recovered before she was in any real danger of breaking a hip and being sent off to retirement in Miami. Or worse, Monaco.

Baby, baby, where did her face go? That’s what all of us sitting in front of the stage wondered. Miss Ross performed 90% of the show facing her band, which were conveniently located behind the stage. The people that had the tickets behind the stage, traditionally the worst ones, actually got the best show. I’m not really sure I actually saw Miss Ross, just someone with her hair. And there was tons and tons of it, and as the night went on, it got bigger and bigger. It was the hair that ate Rotterdam.

Act 2 was all about the “newer” stuff, even though most of it was 20 years old. She may have been coming out, but she seemed to have no idea where she was going to. It was in this portion of the show that she removed the ruffle she had been wearing as a skirt and flung it across the floor. Her every present staff (almost more entertaining than she) made the mistake of carrying it off before she had finished “playing with it”. Once her ruffles were fetched, she laid them on the floor and rolled around in them like Nicole Kidman in “Moulin Rouge”. Maybe it’s just me, but seeing someone’s miniskirt-clad granny rolling around on a floor in a bunch of hot pink ruffles is not my idea of sexy. My stomach started singing “Upside down and round and round”. I retaliated with “Stop in the name of nausea, before I hurl my lunch”.

After the show, everyone was complaining about spending so much money to see someone’s ass. While there are a few asses I wouldn’t mind paying 65 Euro to see, hers was not one of them. All in all, it was one of the worst shows I have ever seen… In a couple of months, it will be time to say goodbye to Cher again, and I hope Miss Ross is there to see how a real diva does it!

Rewind to a couple of weeks ago.

La Côte d'Azur. The French Riviera. The Glitter. The Glamour. The Sun, yachts, movie stars and champagne. Yes, I was off to Nice, destined to spend a glamorous week sandwiched between Cannes and Monte Carlo. I even bought a pair of the new Prada Car Shoes to ensure that I would blend in with the locals while also adding a bit of my own style of glitz. Just the thought of strolling along Promenade des Anglais, sitting on a terrace overlooking the blue Mediterranean while nibbling on Foie Gras, sipping a bit of bubbly was the only thing that kept me sane through the long grey, rainy days that I was forced to endure here in Holland.

So imagine my delight when I landed in the rain. There had to be some sort of mistake, of course. Of all the times I had been to Nice and Cannes in February, it is almost always sunny and mild. Now, it was cold, it was raining and it was windy. Nothing to do but make the most of it. That meant checking into my hotel and having an emergency martini. The hotel check in went well, and after a short walk I found myself in the very center of Nice, Place de Messina, right in the middle of Carnival chaos. I was, however, inappropriately dressed for such festivities. I was not about to find out how hard it is to get silly sting and confetti out of cashmere, so I decided to head back to the hotel, change into something a bit more approprié and then head back. In the 30 or so minutes that took, the whole thing was over and the Place de Messina was all but deserted and I had missed the whole affair. I spent the next hour or so wandering around and ended up back at my hotel. The weather was clearing, so I decided I would go to Old Nice, which was about 20 minutes walk away. Old Nice is a very compact area of the city with very few cars and tiny little walking streets crammed with art galleries, pubs, shops and restaurants. I was about half way to Old Nice when it started to rain. I didn’t have an umbrella with me, but knew it wasn’t too far so decided to just go for it. Having been in Nice before, I was quite confident about my directions, and after making a few wrong turns, found myself completely lost in the maze of streets. Finally, soaked and lost and cold, I realized I had two choices: A) Backtrack to the point where I made the wrong turn and get my bearings; or, B) Wander around some more and try to figure this all out. Unfortunately for me sometimes, I am a guy. And being a guy, there was only one choice I could possibly make. I decided to wander around some more until I stumbled onto something that would point me in the right direction. It took 20 minutes to find the Quai des Etats-Unis, which runs along the coast. The punchline is that I was only about 100 meters from this boulevard the entire time I was lost. Yes, I managed to lose an entire sea. Well, after locating the Mediterranean, I was still in need of a pub. I had passed a few, but this being a Sunday Night in France, I could not find one that was open. By this time, the rain is bucketing down and even my socks are taking on water. I duck under an archway, which connects the beach with Old Nice, only to accidentally wander too close to the previously unseen homeless man sleeping there. That would not have been so bad had it not been for his well trained and highly aggressive guard dog. I saw my life flash before my eyes, and was surprised to see the whole montage in black and white… I had expected full color. For that split second that seems to last an eternity, I thought I was not going to get out of there unscathed. So, there I was, scared, cold and lost in one of the most glamorous places in the world. Could my life get any better?

And just when I thought the answer to this question was no, there it was. The Jean Paul Gaultier store in Cannes. Normally, I tend to get caught in the gravitational pull of Dolce and Gabbana, but as there was not one in the area, JPG would have to do. And, to top it all off, there was a huge sale with things being marked down by over 50%, plus the sales woman gave me an extra discount since we bonded over the sweater. I tried on all sorts of funky little numbers that made all sorts of statements, and finally settled on a simple (for Gaultier, in any case) sweater of Alpaca and what can best be described as a plain charcoal grey, with wrap-around neckline laced up with leather… I didn’t want to try the darn thing on at first, but once I did, I didn’t want to take it off… Ever. It oozes sex from every stitch. Showing enough skin to arouse the senses but stopping just shy of tramp.

Now that I was on a role, there was only one logical destination. Chanel. Yes, Chanel is famous for Number 5 and all sorts of chains, glasses and handbags that make most women drool, but they also make some quite fabulous neckties, which I happen to have a bit of a weakness for. So, there I was walking around Cannes with bags from Chanel and Gaultier.

Cannes, meanwhile was playing host to the annual 3GSM Congress (mobile telecom trade show) and the city was buzzing, not with the normal “in-the know” glamour pusses, but rather unfashionable men and some pretty darn savvy women. Now, when you are a man and you carry around bags from places like Chanel, Tiffany’s, Gaultier, you get a number of reactions from people, and can almost read their minds… Men, if they recognize it (mostly only gay men do), think one of two thoughts… “He’s gonna get laid” or “He really screwed up and has some major ass-kissing to do”. The women, on the other hand think “How sweet and thoughtful, what a lucky girl she is… Even if she is mad at him, she is a fool if she let’s that one go”. The smaller the Tiffany’s bag, the bigger those thoughts are… While going through security at Nice airport, my hand luggage was searched by a woman who magnetically found the Chanel gift box and immediately said “oooh la la… what a lucky girl she is”… Then she gave me that “You’re in for a great night, tonight” look.

This trip, I saved myself the misery of an afternoon in Monaco. I know, Joan Collins loves it, and spent the latter part of the 70s and most of the 80s doing the talk show circuit throwing around words like glamour, champagne, yachts, Monte Carlo. I knew I had to go. I wanted to be part of the glitter set. I knew I was destined to be hanging out in the casino, playing roulette, winning every spin… Rubbing elbows with my movie star friends and basically just being glamorous. “I’m glamorous, therefore I live” was to be my slogan. Then I went there and the only explanation I can give for all the hoopla Joan created, was that she had a great pharmacist who indulged in some dodgy dealings. 18 year old girls/women with puffed up lips and inflated tits wearing Chanel and Manolos, riding around in rare Ferrari’s driven my 80 year old men with comb-overs and personalized oxygen tanks just about sums it up. Monaco is basically the Boca Raton of Europe minus the broken hips.

Well, that wraps it up for now… I am leaving soon for Barcelona, Milano, Bologna, Florence and Pisa… A little sun, a little sea, some mozzarella and lots of shopping.

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