Geneva’s Missing a Gay Gene
Confessions of a Gay Road Tripper Pt.5
More from Jack Cullen
The giant Jet D’eau fountain that shoots up into the sky above Geneva is a symbol of sorrow, a magnificent lamenting tribute to the city’s lack of ejaculation, and if the pretension of that statement doesn’t make it obvious to you how bored I was in this grey city then nothing will. But you know me: where there’s no will, there’s still a gay…
So I’m in the van speeding towards Switzerland. Kylie’s on the stereo singing Beautiful* to me, the sun is shining and the clean roads (that make one ashamed to be British) are wonderfully empty. Life is good. Last night’s sex dungeon in Lyon no longer feels like the most recent instalment in my sex life, the memories seem more like a dream sequence, like a passage from a short story collection stuffed into the sticky glove-box library of an Eddie Stobart lorry. It never happened. Right?
This floral motorway breeze that is gushing with innocence convinces me to turn a new leaf. I’m done with promiscuity. Today is the first today of a new, cleaner, holier Jack**. When I get to Geneva this afternoon I’m going do healthy things, like normal people do, like family-orientated people do. I’m going to see, um, the sights, take photos of street signs and enjoy a cup of tea by the river. I might even write thoughtful postcards to all of my favourite teachers from the 1990s?
I peel back the nicotine-stained net curtains of Hotel Nashville and have one comment to make: Geneva is full of prostitutes. Either that or it’s the global resting place for retired Scary Spice impersonators.
Geneva’s gay scene is slight. Half of the bars listed online are from old websites, or seem to have disappeared without explanation overnight. According to the GT database Marco Fritsche is Switzerland’s Number 1 gay celebrity but (according to a local kid with a pink fringe who I chat to in McDonalds) Marco spends most of his time partying in remote ski lodges. I try to get myself invited to one, being a famous gay commentator and all, but he doesn’t reply my call. His phone’s probably in his salopettes, which are probably around his ankles. So swish, and so Swiss.
I find one pleasant gay bar. It’s called Le Phare (Rue Lissignol 3) and has a fun café vibe. The bar boy wears those pretend geek-chic glasses and is quite proud of this. The walls are plastered in retromania magazine clippings and party photos. Madonna’s Immaculate Collection gets played and little Swiss men nod along cheerily. We sit on large cushions on a stage block. I like Le Phare and decide to spend the evening here until this American on business asks me if I’m for sale. He asks this in quite a subtle fashion, a bit like an American declaring war on an unsuspecting part of Asia. “Are you just relaxing right now or are you here to make some money or what?” And his rubber face says I’m going to invade you and my cherry-blossom face says Who does he think I am? Luke Worrall?? This final facial expression is my cue to go. ***
Geneva has a strange island in the middle of it and there’s a party going on with beer tents, quite good DJs and lots of trendy teenagers dancing. I walk around a bit but struggle to make any friends. Someone asks me for a lighter, but to my disappointment, unlike London, this question doesn’t develop into a half-arsed relationship. Disappointed, drunk and confused I take hold of a boy’s hand as consolation and say “Add me on Facebook”, then leave.
In desperate need of a political aide I leave my hotel to check out this bar called Le Boudoir de la Baronne (Rue Rossi 3). Sure enough it’s homo, but the staff look ill and are rude, the venue looks like an empty shop seized by terrorists, the drinks are extortionately expensive and the only vaguely attractive guys are rent.
I’m sure if you love disarmament conferences and catching Obama on your video phone then Geneva is great, but for gay tourism and partying it is a dreary ghost town that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone.
*The 5th track on Aphrodite and my favourite, written by (former GT cover star) Tom Chaplin. If Ben Elton ever wrote Cadbury’s Flake: The Musical I would want ‘Beautiful’ to be the big number before the end of Act I.
**The boy I met this morning at a motorway services after our hands both reached for a copy of Prèf magazine, and who took the above photo of me by the Millau viaduct, and who came to hang out in the van, and who looked just like Ryan Sheckler, is an exception. An exception that I will I recall on lonely family-orientated nights for the rest of my life.
***No offence Luke. Not that you read Gay Times anyway. Not that it’s a problem if you do, like, it doesn’t mean you’re gay if you do. Not that it’s a problem if you are gay. Not that I think you are, because you date Kelly Osborne. Not that I don’t think that you should be gay, or straight, or read Gay Times, or not read Gay Times. Okay, I’m done with this spade now, thanks.
Luckily Jack’s libido returns two days later on his Gay Times Roadtrip and he finds himself compelled to write an in-depth beginners guide to cruising in a gay forest, with real life examples. You’ll never look at a squirrel in the same way again. Check back soon...