My Gay Toronto - Bellini's 8 1/2

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Amanda Booth!"

For my first column, I’d like to reflect back on the past few days of non-stop partying at World Pride in Toronto. I started off my festivities with the annual Queer Comedy Show at Spirits. What a line-up, featuring many of my favorite gay stand-ups like Richard Ryder, Andrew Johnston, and Ted Morris. I’d love to quote some of my favorite lines, but there is no point in doing that, as jokes that make a roomful of people laugh often look weird on paper and the next thing you know the language police will come out and start up Facebook campaigns demanding apologies and expressing umbrage, like what happened to Ru Paul and Dan Savage. Suffice to say that the stand-up stage is maybe the last honest place on earth, and our gay stand-ups should be revered. Where was their float in that endless Pride parade?

On Friday, I skipped the divided Trans March but I did attend the unifying Trans Concert at Dundas Square. My buddies Crackpuppy rocked out, and then The Cliks nailed it. An observation – the two hardest rockin’ bands in our community are both fronted by transpeople. Lesbians have their acoustic guitars, and gay boys have their ‘boots in a dryer’ dance music, but it’s transpeople who are making the music I really like.

I spent Saturday morning manning a booth for Spectra, the queer singing competition. Full disclosure, I am the Chair of Spectra, and I am very proud of the group for releasing their second recording, a ballad called Without Words. (Don’t listen for it on Proud FM – apparently, it doesn’t fit their format.) It’s about losing a pet, and it’s a fundraiser for the Humane Society. It irked me that Spectra was not given a slot on any of the World Pride stages, despite having performed several times in the past few years. At least Spectra was allowed to march in that endless parade on Sunday, and sang Without Words the entire time.

On Saturday night, it was my buddy Brad Fraser’s birthday, so a bunch of us gathered at his place to get plastered. We had so much fun. Someone asked me what I did all day, and I said “I manned a booth.” Scott Thompson looked at me and asked “Amanda Booth? Is that your new drag name?” Of course it stuck and all night long they called me Amanda, even though I recently had decided to change my drag name to Lanterra, in honour of all those stupid condos going up everywhere. Later on, Scott and Gavin Crawford discovered that much like myself, they love slow cookers, the laziest way to prepare a meal. We all traded recipes, and eventually Gavin came up with the idea for a crock pot cooking show called Crockin’. Can’t wait to see the first episode.

Finally, on Sunday, I watched the parade from the comfort of my friend Paul Pogue’s apartment, which overlooks Yonge Street. At first we hung out the window waving at the crowds on the sidewalk, which was strangely thinner than in previous years. As for the parade, how many Rob Ford impersonators were there? And when did public nudity become so blasé? And who knew there were so many – so, so many – queer-positive service unions? But the biggest crime is that nothing dazzled. It’s clear that next year’s parade is going to need a major infusion of Amanda Booth!

"Paul Bellini is a writer for The Kids in the Hall. He was also a producer for This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and a long-time columnist at Fab Magazine. He currently teaches Sketch Comedy at both Second City and George Brown."