On Father's Day night, my work friends and I hit Neighbours to cheer for our pal, Zoe, who was a finalist in this year's Pride Idol. Qualifying rounds have been held there every Sunday since the last week of March, and each week focused on a different genre or theme. Zoe won "Latino" week.
I hadn't been in a gay bar since the time I sang solo at Changes two years ago, so I had some butterflies as we walked in, but the club was filled with such positive energy that it put me at ease immediately. The place was packed with men and women in full-on celebration mode with Pride Week upon them.
Dressed in a long, slender, golden gown, the emcee, Gaysha Starr, lip-synched "I Will Always Love You" and had the crowd in hysterics as she mimicked Whitney Houston snorting coke from a vial, then off a mirror. It was a riot, and I marveled at how Gaysha looked so much like the hot Whitney I had a crush on when I was a kid. Better yet, when she introduced the judges, I could tell by her accent he was Filipino. One of the judges, Aleksa Manila, was also a Filipino guy who looked like a gorgeous woman, which pretty much solidified my long-held opinion that Filipinos make the best cross-dressers.
There were 11 finalists, and they modeled the contest after American Idol. After every song, the judges critiqued each singer's performance. The first singer was a girl named Brandi, and she sang "Hush Hush" by the Pussycat Dolls. It was OK, but not in the same league vocally as Zoe. The second singer, Christina, sang a song that she wrote, and it felt like kind of a train wreck. I was hoping one of the judges would be the "Simon" and let her have it, but they were all nice. This guy Gregory--sporting a fedora, black leather pants, and multicolored argyle vest--was the first performer who made me hope Zoe had her A game going that night. Gregory had a super-soulful voice and absolutely nailed Michael Buble's version of "Feeling Good."
During intermission I hit the bar to re-up on Pacifico. The bartender asked what I was. When I told him "Filipino," he told me he knew some of my native tongue. The two phrases he told me translated to "Is your dick hard?" and "You have a sweet ass." I told him "Yep, that's how you say it," then scurried back to my table.
Zoe was the seventh singer and got a ton of applause even before her performance began. She sang "Sober" by Pink. I was confident about her chances, but the last singer of the night stole the show. He was a skinny Latino kid named Victor, and got everyone going with Enrique Iglesias' "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)." The judges gave him first place, and the night ended with an awesome Lady Gaga lip-synch.
Neighbours, 1509 Broadway, 324-5358