Saturday, February 27, 2010

Legends to lead the parade..

        It's always a bit off a secret but we can reveal the lead float for tonight's Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras will feature famous gays and lesbians through the ages from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Oscar Wilde and so on. And later day icons will include the likes of Dusty Springfield which should please a regular Shuttle reader, the Thailand based pop mogul Simon Napier-Bell who co-authored her greatest hit "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" ( he titled his autobiography after the song and was Britain's Gay Personality Of The Year in 2005).
For the uninformed, the parade this year begins at Whitlam Square. At last year's beginning point a few hundred metres down the road there were reputedly 8 stabbings and about 40 fist fights. Why organisers think it will be any different this year is a mystery but there will be a 1000 police on hand ( including the contingent who march in the parade). No guesses that a fair number of them will be posted outside the party venue with a dozen sniffer dogs. Take your drugs early folks although this does bring the risk of peaking early and tears before bedtime-or party time. Not that we encourage that sort of thing.

Sir Elton & Ross Watson
Meanwhile at the Depot Gallery in Waterloo there is an exhibition of paintings by Ross Watson-who has a fan in Elton John. He has done a huge portrait of last year's lead from the Mardi Gras, the gold medalist diver Matthew Mitcham who thanked his male partner on the winning dais at Beijing in 2008 and has since become a gay pin-up. Mitcham is depicted in Caravaggio style paintings as seen here.

lovers: Johan van Vloten & Justice Michael Kirby
Watson has done a series of local gay icons including Justice Michael Kirby the recently retired High Court judge who quietly came out via his Who's Who entry 10 years ago when under his partner listing he included his lover, a Dutch news agent Johan van Vloten calling him "domestic partner". A political firestorm followed as his head was demanded with claims he was admitting to illegal gay sex previous to 1984.

  Says Sir Elton of Watson- "Having known Ross Watson for a long time, and been a collector of his art, I had the opportunity recently to visit his gallery, which reconfirmed my belief that he is a great talent. I never tire of his paintings - he is a leader in contemporary realism."