Elton John, 29 Canadian sex workers, $75,000, a Toronto hotel, stag parties

Logs_FraserRiver_Vancouver

I have received another email from Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent.

She lives in a boat near Vancouver.

She says:


We are in the middle of a series of three huge storms; the next one is the tail end of a typhoon. Last night a tugboat ran aground off a remote section of the coast and it is leaking fifty thousand of litres of diesel, threatening the clam beds at Bella Bella.

We were promised last year that there would be a moratorium on tanker traffic by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (known locally as Donny Osmond), but the local Bella Bella  M.P. says he is still waiting for some legislation that is not filled with loopholes..

I am limbering up to visit Toronto on Tuesday with a delegation of eight hookers from the west coast. We are flying them in from the east coast also. I like saying ‘hookers’ but properly we are called ‘sex worker organizations’. It looks better than Elton John pays out thousands of dollars to 29 Canadian hookers.

Anna Smith with Andrew Sorflee, president of the Triple-X Workers’ Solidarity Association of British Columbia (Photo by William Pritchard)

Anna Smith with Andrew Sorfleet, president of the Triple-X Workers’ Solidarity Association of British Columbia (Photograph by William Pritchard)

An HIV researcher has been given a $75,000 grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation in support of his work to prevent HIV infection among Canadian sex workers.

The money is going to facilitate the consultation (and possibly record a pop video of it). We are getting our airfare and hotel paid but not receiving a salary.

We are going to stay in a regular downtown hotel on Yonge Street and having the consultation at the University of Toronto but, when I was there in the 1980s, I lived in the Selby Hotel, so I am the missing link between Ernest Hemingway and Elton John because Hemingway also lived in the Selby 60 years earlier.

I don’t know which room he was in. Maybe I shared the same bathtub as him. I did drink a lot while living there and ate mostly salad as there was no stove. I also learned how to cure ham, as there was no refrigerator either. The bathtub was fantastic though: a huge clawed thing in its own room. It was a great place to sleep, drink and bathe in.

Plus, if I wanted drugs, all I had to do was go to the basement, because it was a gay bar and you could easily buy any drug there. The bar was called BOOTS.

Also it was handy when I danced at Italian stag parties. The Italian stags (they travelled in groups) would eagerly drive me home from the suburbs in their comfortable new Cadillacs. I would instruct them to drive into the parking lot and they would say in surprise: “You live here?”

Outside the bar would be guys in leather, groping each other or passionately kissing.

I would say: “Yup! Thanks for driving me all the way home.” Then I would jump out of the car and go into the bar, quickly buy some hash and go upstairs to my room and make another salad.

The Fillmores Club in Toronto

The Filmores Club in Toronto – stag parties, art and poetry

When I was living at the Selby, I mostly was dancing at a club called Filmores. When I walked home at 3.00am, I sometimes found interesting things on the street.

Once I found a huge painting that I liked – an abstract patterned with zigzag lines and bright geometric shapes. It reminded me of a Rousseau – it had the feeling of a jungle with layers of bright yellow and green painted in vivid 80’s style. So I dragged it home to my room and kept it for ages. It felt like a stage scrim and made every room it was in seem larger.

Another time, I spotted a poem glinting from a rainy dark puddle in the street. It was in the handwriting of a young child and was addressed: TO DAD.

I picked up the poem, which was written on a rectangular piece of coloured paper, and carried it home like a treasure.

It was a very beautiful and lonely poem which gave me a sad feeling. I thought it might be a Father’s Day present that the child had tragically dropped on the way home.

TO DAD

All day I hear the noise of waters
Making moan,
Sad as the sea-bird is when, going
Forth alone,
He hears the winds cry to the water’s
Monotone.

What a great poem, I thought. It showed how brilliant children are before they get boxed in and made to conform. I’ve always loved the art that children make.

After having that poignant fragment in my mind for many years I then discovered that the poem had actually been written by James Joyce.

I have been sleeping a bit fitfully. Ferries are being cancelled due to storm. I will now try to wake up, make a coffee and look out to see if the river is flowing onto the road yet.

CONTINUED HERE

A slightly out-of-focus map of Toronto which Anna painted in around 1978.

A slightly out-of-focus map of Toronto which Anna painted in around 1978.

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