AS I write this, all of my gay male friends, of which I am fortunate to possess quite the gaggle, are insanely jealous of me. Why is that, you ask? Well today I board a flight to Austria to cover their version of the Olympics. That’s right, I’m off on assignment to report on Eurovision. And if that’s not enough to ensure my name is scrapped from every gay wedding invitation for the next decade (who am I kidding, Australia doesn’t believe in gay marriage), I am following my time in Vienna with a trip down to Salzburg to cover the 50th anniversary of Sound of Music. Yes, the gay boys are so jealous, anyone would think I’m sleeping with Captain Von Trapp himself.
From my perspective, I suspect I’ll be spending the next two weeks explaining that I’m from Australia NOT Austria, to a group of baffled Europeans who can’t quite fathom why we remain a nation obsessed with ABBA. Now, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, aside from writing copious words for various media outlets about Eurovision and Sound of Music, I intend to spend the next two weeks finding myself a European husband. Aside from the fact I am prepared to offer the very attractive proposal of their very own Australian passport if they marry me, I have always had a hankering for an EU passport, which in my opinion, is travelling gold.
And I’m not looking for any old Euro trash to marry me, I’ve decided they must be royalty. And before you scoff at this suggestion, I have two words for you. Princess Mary. Yes, if it’s good enough for the former real estate agent from Tassie, it’s good enough for a travel writer from Brisbane. And while his Royal Hotness Prince Harry has been in Australia lately, for some inexplicable reason he left Brisbane off his itinerary.
But, the good news is my friends at Cheapflights.com.au have come up with the perfect selection of possible suitors for me. And so, let me present the following five prospects, and how you too, can meet them (once I’ve selected the one for me).
1. Denmark – Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark
This one is a bit tricky as apparently the youngest son of King Constantine of Greece and Queen Anne-Marie of Denmark has a double title, despite Greece being declared a republic since 1973. He may also be a bit hard to meet on this European trip, as not only is he media shy, but he’s based in New York where he works on Wall Street. I could live in New York. Not sure about the economy of Greece right now, however.
(To meet him, Cheapflights.com.au has return flights between New York and Sydney from less than $1200)
2. Liechtenstein – Prince Wenzeslaus
Despite his name being practically unpronounceable, this fella is looking good. Not only is he age appropriate at 41, he’s just down the road from Austria, to use Aussie parlance. For those who don’t know, Liechenstein is nestled between the mountain ranges of Switzerland and Austria (where I will be, remember). And get this…his family is considered the richest monarchy in Europe. Vince the Prince, or Vincent, as he prefers to be called, has never married, but has been known to date the odd Victoria Secret supermodel. I feel we are the perfect match and will be sending him a copy of this blog as soon as it’s published. Call me, Vince.
(To attend our wedding, Cheapflights.com.au has return flights from Australia to Switzerland for less than $1500)
3. Dubai – Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
If you like hot, dry countries, you could do a lot worse than this bloke. Sheikh Hamdan is apparently a poet, accomplished equestrian rider and amateur skydiver. He uses the pen-name Fazza and writes poems about romance, patriotism and family themes. He may only be 33 but we can probably overlook that minor detail. He’s also a graduate of Sandhurst military college and the London School of Economics. Someone call me a camel. If it doesn’t work out with Vince, I’ll be making a stopover on the way home in Dubai.
(Cheapflights.com.au has return flights to Dubai from Australia from less than $1200)
4. Luxembourg – Prince Sebastien Henri Marie Guillaume
And I thought Vince had a tricky name. This is a boy for the younger girls. At just 23, he loves to travel and is a keen sportsman and apparently adept at climbing, skiing, swimming and rugby union. I’m only really good at swimming, so there could be some long winters waiting by the fire on a bear skin rug for a man whose name is too long to pronounce. If you’re still keen, he’s fifth in line to the throne and is the youngest son of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria. Go for your life. I’ll attend the wedding…with Vince.
(Cheapflights.com.au has flights to Luxembourg from less than $1400)
5. Brunei – Prince Azim
Closer to home, Prince Azim is a bit of a party prince who is renowned for throwing lavish celebrity-studded soirees. At 33, he’s also third in line to the throne. The UK paparazzi likes him for obvious reasons, but he attempts to temper his wild child image with philanthropic work with charities benefitting women and children. But in a country which rejects homosexuality, Prince Azim holds little appeal to me. I mean, no point getting married if none of my gay boys can come. Again, go for your life if he appeals, just don’t expect Vince and me to attend your wedding.
(Cheapflights.com.au has flights to Brunei for less than $900)
For other great deals around the world, go to http://www.cheapflights.com.au; And if anyone is looking for me over the next two weeks, I’ll be in Austria with Austria Tourism http://www.austria.info/au I may or may not return…
Behind The Seams
THERE were men with mops, half a dozen flaming hot firemen, a flirtatious French Canadian and even a couple of monkey masks. No, I am not talking about my latest sexual fantasy, but my “behind the seams” tour of the newest Cirque du Soleil show which opened in Brisbane on Friday night. Presented with the opportunity to witness what it takes to pull together a performance such as Totem, I leapt at the chance after all, I am a woman and a journalist, which makes me the nosiest person on the planet. And I was not disappointed with my detective work.
I arrived early, at the wrong gate, but that was just fine, as I stumbled across a couple of men with mops where it occurred to me for the first time in my circus-going history that not only could men use mops, but even the tents need to be washed. This was confirmed when I finally made it to the correct gate and saw another cleaner, abseiling down the side of the Grand Chapiteau like a Cirque du Soleil performer himself, with a hose. And I thought only elephants got washed at circuses. (Note: there are no elephants at this circus). There are also, thankfully, few clowns, as The Global Goddess has a clown phobia. I don’t like seeing them at the circus and I certainly don’t like dating them.
Fortunately, I’m met by handsome French Canadian Publicist Francis Jalbert with whom I am to spend the next hour sneaking and peeking around the tents. Unfortunately there are half a dozen other journalists also on this tour, but for this one hour I pretend it’s just me and Francis with his ooh-la-la accent, as he explains the production behind the production.
It takes 85 giant containers to move the show from one city to another, with Brisbane being the 30th destination for Totem, which has been on the road for an incredible 15 years. But there are plenty of techniques to ensure the show, and the performers, don’t go stale. The show is recorded each and every evening and watched by the performers, who hail from 16 different countries, in a bid to perfect and correct any moves. In addition 250 locals are hired to assist in the set up for a show like Totem, which takes three years in the making – two simply to bring the ideas together and the last in which the artists are trained in their acts.
“We try to keep the show young and fresh for us and also for the audience,” Francis says.
“There is a lot of technique involved even though it is a tent. We have a grey set video screen at the centre to emulate effects such as water. It is like you are travelling with us for 2.5 hours.
“It is a live performance and anything can happen, especially with a show like this. Most of the performers will tell you they like to make mistakes as it is challenge as to how they recover from it. And the audience loves that too.”
Francis tells me (I’m pretty sure he’s looking at me) that the artists are all international athletes, many with gymnastics careers, who are selected only after their competitive career is finished. “We really have to know that it’s over for them and they don’t dream about the Olympics any more,” he says.
“When you come to Cirque you have to learn how to compete in a team with gymnasts you’ve competed against before. You have to re-learn all your skills.”
In Totem, which traces the journey of the human species from its amphibian origins to flight, there are 750 costumes. The make-up of the performers takes anything from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to complete. And in a coup for the Queensland capital, the costumes for this show have been designed by Brisbane-born Kym Barrett. It’s almost impossible to believe Cirque du Soleil has grown from 20 street performers in Quebec back in 1984 to a company of 4000 employees worldwide.
So, now that I’ve given you the low down on what happens back stage, what can you expect when the lights go up in the Big Top? I’ve been fortunate to see a number of Cirque du Soleil shows around the world, and this is one of the best yet. The first half is the most captivating in my opinion with the 45 acrobats, actors, musicians and singers, taking you on a journey of creativity and colour through ancient civilisations. Sure, there are moments when you realise you’ve seen a particular acrobatic move before in another Cirque show, but that’s when you have to remind yourself that what these performers are doing with their bodies is truly incredible. There’s plenty of heart and humour in these performances, which will have you cartwheeling through the rest of your week, and dreaming of life under the Grand Chapiteau. With a French Canadian, a few men with mops, half a dozen firemen and a couple of monkey masks.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Cirque du Soleil. For a complete performance schedule and ticket information go to http://www.ciquedusoleil.com/totem