Call me hasty. Call me premature. But I’m already sniffing around to what apartments cost to rent in this glorious city. At first, I didn’t believe that the people here were being genuine when so instantly warm and gracious. I’m not suspicious by nature (I’m lying) but I was like, “Ok, this is not for real.”

But I quickly learned.

Paulistas are that way because they really ARE that way. They come and meet you somewhere. They walk or drive you all around town. They invite you into their homes and make you coffee and snacks and say things like “Oh, I’m leaving on a hot date that I planned days ago but just stay in my house and leave when you want. Watch TV. Use the phone. Do you want my car? Brazil really loves you. See you later!”

No joke.

So, yeah. I’m the city’s newest, biggest fan. Here’s a little backstory….

I had asked my friend Rigo (aka Rigoberto) to come with me on this trip, as I knew it would be fun to run around with him, especially after hours. Rigo and I were both super excited, buying armloads of travel guides, maps and Portugese dictionaries that have largely gone un-used. In nearly every guidebook, we read of muggings, robberies and knife slashings on the streets of many SP barrios. As I live in downtown Los Angeles, I thought, “Oh, it’s like my neighborhood without the ocean. Cool.” But you know…Keep aware, leave your jewelry at home, blend in, and don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable on the street. Easy.

Rigo, Diane and I arrived within about 30 hours of each other, all on separate planes. Rigo arrived first; me, nearly 400 hours later than expected and with luggage missing somewhere between LA and SP, as the airline I was booked on should be dusting crops with pesticides, not flying people around. I arrived, bleary-eyed but standing, and called Diane to come up to our room. Rigo and Diane bonded instantly. As we had an hour or so to kill before meeting our hosts, the super lovely producers of the Iguatemi Filmefashion Festival, we decided to go for a walk to the nearest pharmacy so I could buy stuff to replace what the dumb airline had lost.

We ask for directions and hit the street. A block from the hotel, Diane pops open her now-signature silver foil umbrella to block the sun. Rigo lets out a small gasp. If every pedestrian and passenger in a car hadn’t been clocking our every move before, they were now. Rigo leans in to me to say in a muffled scream that sent shockwaves through my eardrum: “Oh my god! We’re going to be killed!!!!!”

I kept walking and whispered back: “Oh, relax. As far as anyone knows, that thing is loaded… No one’s gonna fuck with us.” I think Rigo gave genuine thought to this and was especially at ease whenever she was around.

Sort of like Wonder Woman and her metallic bullet-reflecting wrist cuffs…

In the car, Rigo and I had been talking about exploring the bear scene of the city. For the uninitiated, “bears” tend to be large (Large, XL, XXL, XXXL, etc..) and hairy gay men who often like other large, hairy gay men. As much as I like to eat, I’m often not fat enough to be a bear or even be liked by bears. Even when I say stuff like, “But I ate 3 desserts today!” I often get the brush off. So, minus the gay part, bears look like my own father. And when I point this out to him, it just about drives him crazy.

This all stirrred Diane’s curiousity. “You mean, like Walter von Beirendonck?” she asked, quite keenly. Walter20071_2

“Exactly like Walter” I explained, thinking hard of another important, iconic fashion bear. Are there any?

So while I explained to Rigo who Walter was, Rigo outlined the variations of bear-ness and lingo to Diane, namely: “otter,” “cub,” “panda,” “bear chaser,” “chub chaser,” ad nauseum. She seemed a bit overwhelmed yet still intrigued by all this bear talk.

Ursound is a bear party that happens regularly in Sao Paolo, this time at The Picasso Cafe. When we arrived, the music was excellent which was a surprise, as bear bars typically play crap music. But bears, as far as my experience goes, appear happy to dance to anything, even crap gay bar music, as long as they can rub and jiggle their bellies against the bellies of their fellow bears.



The bar quickly filled up with a friendly crowd of big, hairy bears and their admirers….



Oh, here’s a really fun drag queen…standing next to a guy in thick white make-up and a green lettuce-shaped head-dress.
(Just kidding, Rigo…)


Julieta, a bartender…and KL’s favorite drinkage.


The projections were great. Someone had animated a human bear in Y-fronts and a T-shirt, coyly pulling up the front of his t-shirt to reveal the largess of his mid-section. In no time, the music went straight to hell in classic bear bar fashion. Cher, 70s disco, Janet Jackson, and the occasional early-’90s house track. Whaaaa. Rigo looked at me, knowing exactly what I was thinking. I escaped to a dark corner.

Word to the wise; when the going gets rough, don’t re-emerge as a phoenix. Re-emerge as a panda!






Sleepy bears in short shorts at the end of the night.


We spent all of our money on beer and taxis, so Rigo made me work the streets. Needless to say, it was a long walk back to the hotel.