The World's Don't-Miss Car Shows

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com May 22 2008 12:00 AM ET

1. FRANKFURT MOTOR SHOW The mother of all auto shows
This show (a.k.a. Internationale
Automobil-Ausstellung) is the world’s
preeminent auto extravaganza, a must-do-before-you-die event
for gays with gasoline in their veins. European car
companies time their most important product intros to
coincide with this biennial show, which is so massive
that it spans no fewer than nine convention halls. Wear
comfy shoes and go easy on the beer!

When: Every other September (next: September
17–27, 2009)
Starring: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi
Best attribute: Seeing cars we don’t -- and
won’t -- ever get in the United States
Worst attribute: Takes two days to get through
Attendance: 1 million

2. NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW
(Detroit) America’s best car show

America’s best-by-far auto show may not
be in its most desirable or gayest city, and deep
January is far from the most welcoming moment of the
year. But the splashy domestic and import rollouts here make
it the car party of the hemisphere. The rivalry
between GM and Ford is apparent by the size of their
elaborate displays, and the whole show -- some 14
football fields in size -- is neatly contained in one space
so you never need venture out into the Arctic blasts.

When: January, annually (next: January 11–25, 2009)
Starring: All the familiar “faces” of
the U.S. automotive scene
Best attribute: Getting up close and personal
with Motor City’s movers and shakers
Worst attribute: Motown is not really a gay mecca
Attendance: 750,000

3. NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW When
Detroit in January won’t do
Ironically, America’s most car-unfriendly city
hosts one of the country’s best -- and most
well- attended -- auto shows. Most of the concepts
rolled out a few months earlier in Detroit make an
appearance here in the massive halls of the Javitz
Convention Center, a short taxi ride from the gay
enclaves of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.

When: Early spring, annually (March 21–30,
2008; 2009 dates TBA)
Starring: Most everything seen in Detroit plus
a few surprises
Best attribute: Gay nightlife within striking
distance of the show
Worst attribute: Costly local accommodations
Attendance: 1.2 million

4. GENEVA MOTOR SHOW Exotic locale, exotic cars
Two things make Geneva’s Salon International de
l’Auto show one of the best in the world: (1)
It’s full of eye candy -- this is the show in
which many of the world’s six-figure exotic cars see
first light; (2) It’s manageably sized, which
means less time trolling the halls and more time
skiing the nearby Swiss Alps.

When: Mid March, annually (March 6–16, 2008;
2009 dates TBA)
Starring: Ferrari, Lamborghini, boutique coach
makers such as Pininfarina, Bertone, and Sbarro
Best attribute: Flashy Euro cars in a small but
international and gay-friendly city
Worst attribute: Geneva usually hasn’t thawed
out by mid March
Attendance: 700,000

5. PARIS MOTOR SHOW French flair, fabulous cars
Paris’s biennial, Eurocentric auto show
(a.k.a. Mondial de l’Automobile) hosts some
massively significant rollouts—at least for European
consumption. And lure the pretty people this show does, to
the tune of nearly 1.4 million per year, making it one
of the busiest -- and sexiest -- auto shows in the world.

When: Every other October (next: October
10–19, 2008)
Starring: Peugeot, Citroën, Renault
Best attribute: Shopping, eating, shopping,
drinking, and shopping
Worst attribute: The wallet-crunching euro
Attendance: 1.4 million

6. TOKYO MOTOR SHOW Transport’s crystal ball
Some 1.5 million people flock to the world’s most
modern metropolis to peer into the future -- and not
only for cars but for motorcycles, tractor trailers,
parts, and other machinery as well. With such a diverse
array of sheet metal, Tokyo’s biennial show is the
ultimate destination for the queer gearhead or
technophile. But you don’t have to be a car
geek to enjoy the Tokyo show, as it also boasts the most
whimsical, cartoonish concepts of any show in the
world -- concepts packed with high-level technology
that would make a NASA engineer writhe in envy.

When: Every other autumn (2009 dates TBA)
Starring: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki
Best attribute: The bizarrely comical concept cars
Worst attribute: Pint-size hotel rooms,
supersize hotel bills
Attendance: 1.5 million

7. LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW Boys
and toys
In car-choked SoCal, your wheels are your very identity.
Thus, at the Los Angeles International Auto Show
you’ll find everything, including exotics,
luxury, economy, pickups, and of course anything remotely
“green.” A bit less glitzy than
Detroit’s show, it’s far more crowded,
not just with straights but with many thousands of queers
(WeHo is just 10 miles from downtown L.A.’s
convention center, where it’s held). Indeed,
there may be no better show to get your cruise on while
searching for something stylish to cruise in.

When: November, annually (next: November
21–30, 2008)
Starring: All things that drive “green”
and require a lot of green
Best attribute: Boys everywhere
Worst attribute: Kids everywhere
Attendance: 1.7 million