Oh my. The phallic tower of the Pilgrim Monument announces Provincetown appropriately. Arriving there is like being launched into a gay pride march, only, thrill of thrills, the day we arrived happened to coincide with the Lambda Car Club rally. Not just any vintage car rally, a rally of the cars of my dreams. Since I was about eleven I have swooned over Elvis and I dreamed of owning a car with wings, preferably pink, but anything pastel would do. The closest I got was a series of Morris Minors (which are not really a car for a soggy country; I know of a man who wrote his thesis on the flora and fauna of a Morris Traveller, the half timbered variety) but they have a particular charm, a certain smell, and an unmistakeable voice of their own. This rally of 50s American cars made me almost weep with envy. Pink, sky blue, orange – winged, bedecked with rainbow flags, and fabulous guys dressed to match. If the drivers of the orange car with the blow up model in a headscarf in the backseat wish to replace her with flesh and blood, I’m your woman.
My only beef was the beef who kept getting in the way every time I tried to photograph these gorgeous hunks of metal.
I play a ‘which would I steal’ game in galleries and museums (though in truth I could no more actually do it than steal a paperclip). This sky blue one is a strong contender, closely followed by the pink winged.
These guys were having such fun. My friend says ‘every mother should have one’ (about her gay son) the pride is all hers. I can see why. Nowadays, since most straight people have grown up and got over themselves, gay men are having a blast. It was not always thus (I recommend Stephen Fry’s excellent documentary on the history) and Provincetown seems to be their mecca. The population statistics are telling: 3,562 residents in winter, 30,000 summer visitors. Not all of them are LGBT of course. We all want to have fun.
The accessory du jour In Procincetown is what I call ‘armpit warmers’. Little dogs that once upon a time would have snuggled into arm pits clothed in mink, downing cocktails with ‘mummy’. Pampered pooches have reached new heights of indulgence in the gay community. Cooed over, beribboned, collars a-sparkling, you wonder if some of their little paws ever reach the ground. I saw several being wheeled around in dog carts, some even had prams,
see the green one in this picture? It might contain a child, but that’s not what’s in there. All I can say is that I wish them walks. Mud. Waves to splash in, and bones as big as a fist.
Talking of fists, bend your arm and take it out to your side. Now make a fist and curve it right over. This is the shape of Cape Cod, sticking out of the East Coast of America somewhere between Boston and New York. Provincetown sits in the curve of the thumb where it joins the palm. Behind it are rolling dunes; pure Edward Hopper landscapes, with lone lighthouses, and windswept clapboard houses. (That is, Edward Hopper in his beach-time holiday mode, not his peeping-tom city mode
Now I haven’t cycled for quite a few years, though my last bike did have gears (rather inconveniently placed somewhere low on the frame). It rested in the shed, a promise of a fantastic arse and super-fitness, but really just a rusting guilt trip. However I was up for a bike ride on the dunes, as long as I could walk up all the hills (but probably best not to tell the surgeon who hoovered out my knee a few months back).
What better way to cool off after a long ride through cranberry beds (Nick: yes, they’re cranberries. Me: are you sure? I survived, so I suppose they were) than a dip in the ocean on the north side of the fist.
Then Jane saw this sign. But why would we let a silly little thing like a Great White Shark spoil a lovely dip – especially as I’d missed out on one off the boat in the middle of the atlantic. Besides, I didn’t think a Great White would mistake me for a seal considering my neon-bright costume. (Thank you Sandra Dee, it was a good exchange for the scrape on my new car. She does mail order lingerie by the way, and for all those trannies among you, she can accommodate all shapes and sizes).
Funnily enough, there were very few other swimmers. Do you hear the music?
Back in town, knees intact, butt intact, and relishing the thrill of once again defying death (Vee: I’m not coming on holiday with you, you court danger) We loaded up on pizza and chilled beer with a slice of lemon (bet that’s making a few englishmen cringe) and planned a fun night out. Would it be Lip Schtick ‘One Boys Journey to Fabulous and Back’ or Electra ‘Living the Legend’ at the Post Office Cabaret? It’s obvious now, but I hadn’t realised Bette Midler was a gay icon. Electra did a very fine job of impersonating her, though it would have been a lot more electrifying if I’d known some of Bette’s songs, been a little less straight, and the seats a little less hard for a saddle sore bum. However we particularly liked the bit at the very end when Bette morphed into Elton John. How clever, we thought, then remembered he was a man. Watch a drag artist long enough and you forget.