Cruising on the High Seas

Traditionally afraid of gay cruises, one man takes his chances with a gay cruise company aboard an otherwise straight ship and lives to tell about it.




We dressed for dinner, which was to be formal. For someone with my punk roots, this means wearing something without missing buttons. Luckily, my boyfriend has better fashion sense, and like something out of an episode of Project Runway , he quickly transformed my look into something more (forgive the pun) suitable.

We arrived at the doorway to the restaurant, but there was some confusion: Staffers were explaining to members of our group that we would have to enter from the (otherwise identical) entrance on the other side of the restaurant; that "this entrance" was off-limits to us. Because the Italian staff spoke only broken English (in some cases not even broken but disintegrated), this bizarre request was not immediately believed, but we begrudgingly acquiesced.

Once seated, Tom Baker explained that half the restaurant was reserved for Aquafest, but, as fate would have it, the rest of the dining room was booked for a huge group of, wait for it…French Orthodox Jews -- not exactly known for their support of homosexualité -- and it was they who sanctified the entrance we were barred from.

It was a screwball comedy waiting to happen, and I wasn't sure if I was nervous or elated by the idea of starring in it. Before I could react, in burst Hedda Lettuce, the green-hued drag queen who was our MC for the cruise.

The somber and formal group on the opposite side wore shocked, almost terrified expressions, as wide eyes witnessed this sequined, glittering, seductively curvy 6-foot-1 giant of a woman, with her hugely coiffed kelly green hair. Oblivious to the presence and politics of the other half of the restaurant, she shouted, "Welcome, everybody! Welcome to the Lirica ! How's everyone this evening?" Her answer was a stunned silence. Well, and one stifled laugh -- that came from me.

Tags: Travel