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Travel

The Great Wall of Mexico

Mexico, be thankful for the gorgeous country that you have, and start building a big fence of your own. You may soon need it.
March 16, 2012, 1:55pm

I’ve been to Mexico to attend film festivals four times now, three times to Mexico City, and now once to Guadalajara, and the thing I can’t figure out is, why are Mexicans constantly trying to sneak into the USA and not the reverse? In the Hollywood liberal potboiler The Day After Tomorrow, global warming causes the United States to go into a deep freeze, so its citizens all start clamoring to get into Mexico, which erects a big fence to keep them out. This should be the natural order of things even without the threat of a new ice age, considering how beautiful the country of Mexico is, how warm and hospitable its people are, and how sunny and temperate the climate is. I suppose the phenomenon of Mexicans risking life and limb to cross over into America does have something to do with their troubled economy, the high incidence of violent crime, the nasty drug cartels (45,000 lives lost in the drug wars in the last five years), and the police and governmental corruption (Mexicans will often tell you they are as afraid of their criminalized police as they are of the criminals).

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But America increasingly doesn’t seem to be all that different in most of these regards. Besides, it’s the Yanks who are equally if not more responsible for the drug war and the resultant widespread system of corruption in Mexico in the first place. A journalist for the Guardian puts it this way:

“It's a war sustained by a merry-go-round. The cartels use the money paid by Americans for drugs to buy weapons at US guns stores, which are then shipped across the frontier, often using the same vehicles and routes used to smuggle more narcotics north. The weapons are used by the cartels to protect narcotics production in their battle with the Mexican police and army, and smuggle drugs north. Key to the cycle is the ease with which traffickers are able to obtain guns in the US, made possible in large part by the robust opposition of the powerful gun lobby – backed by much of the US Congress – to tighter laws against arms trafficking.”

So my suggestion to the Mexicans is to skip the whole American part of the equation altogether. Since the American Dream seems, by all accounts, to be dying a slow and painful death anyway (Canada, with its current ultraconservative government sharing military infrastructure with the US and developing similar corporate interests intent on destroying the environment, seems hell-bent on joining them), just be thankful for the gorgeous country that you have, and start building a big fence of your own. You may soon need it.

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Guadalajara, the second largest city in the country after Mexico City, has a reputation as a more conservative and religious metropolis, but you’d never know it judging by the extremely cosmopolitan and open-minded film festival (FICG), the vibrant gay scene, and the liberal University of Guadalajara, whose seven campuses are spread throughout the city. I was invited to attend FICG as a special guest of Premio Maguey, a brand new GLBTTI section of the festival, to receive the Cult Film Award. As the other main filmmaker honored was British legend Derek Jarman, awarded posthumously, I was quite humbled by the whole affair. Spending a week in a swank hotel all expenses paid in the ritzy Lafayette district didn’t hurt either. What follows is my photographic account of the experience in two parts, with a running commentary.

Pavel Cortes, director of Premio Maguey, myself, and Amber Dawn (her real name, not her porn name), director of programming at the Vancouver LBGTII film festival, get things started at one of the many FICG luncheon parties, all catered to the max, which is why I returned to Berlin looking like Guy Stockwell in Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s movie Santa Sangre (look it up).

I attended a great concert by the famous Spanish diva songstress Monica Naranjo, pictured with me here, and I presented her with her Premio Maguey award backstage in front of a throng of reporters and photographers.

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My “angel,” or guide, for the festival was an amiable young fellow of 26 named Fernando with a guttural laugh and hair down to his ass. He was also a proud father of two and a proud atheist. He explained the meaning of his tattoos to me thusly: “The big one has a passage from the Bible in Greek and reversed (to make it extra blasphemous!). It says: 'And he had two horns like the those of the lamb and he spake like the dragon,' referring to the false prophet. The smaller circle has the alchemic symbol for sulphur with the Greek phrase 'Diabolos Aneste, Alethos aneste': the devil has risen, truly he has risen. Originally it was to say 'cristos aneste.'" He isn’t a Satanist, just a rationalist (and historian).

 My angel (or devil).

A guest of the festival, Dorigen Hammond, producer of the film The British Guide To Showing Off.

Seeing as I was in a country with a national holiday called Day of the Dead, I couldn’t resist using my zombie app to zombify the people I met. Here’s Dorigen zombified.

Artist and living legend Andrew Logan, the subject of The British Guide to Showing Off. Andrew is the creator and host of the Alternative Miss World, an orgy of cosmic creativity that has been shocking London for the past four decades. Andrew told me many great stories, like how he had the first-ever Sex Pistols concert in his London studio!

Andrew zombified.

The uncanny Liza Minnelli impersonator who performed at Andrew’s party at the crazy gay bar Monica.

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Liza zombified.

A poster for my gorn movie L.A. Zombie between two urinals, where it belongs.

Guadalajara boasts some amazing public art. This butt-cheeky chair is by absurdist artist Alejandro Colunga.

The famous Los Arcos del Milenio (Millennium Arches), built to commemorate the new millennium. On my last day in Guadalajara, Fernando informed me that 23 dead bodies were found in three abandoned vehicles under the arches in November of 2011, presumably the victims of a drug cartel.

Posing with the hot Mexican zombie strippers enlisted to dance at my party at Le Circus bar.

Dancing zombie stripper at my party.

Fernando’s back tattoo, a quote in German from Nietzsche, which means, "If you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss will stare back into you."

Fernando’s long hair, which he told me he has to be careful not to display too boldly because criminals are known to cut off such long locks to sell on the black market. He told me his could go for us much as 15 thousand pesos (about a thousand bucks). I told him I would wait until we got to the airport for my departure to cut it off so I could sell it on my layover in Mexico City. He laughed nervously in response.

Mexican architect Luis Baragan built an amazing building in the Lafayette district; this is the beautiful, all-original art deco library. Everything tended to the epic scale in Guadalajara.

I love this painting, displayed in the same building.

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Beautiful tiled marble staircase in the same building.

Art deco sculpture with Louise Brooks haircut in the same building.

Building by the same architect in the Lafayette district.

Even the funeral homes are super design-y in the Lafayette district. This one is scarily called “Infinity.”

I snuck into the funeral home to snap this large-scale mural inside before somebody chased me out. I guess this is what infinity is supposed to look like.

Another building in the same neighborhood designed by architect Luis Barragan.

Throw a stone in Guadalajara and you will hit a representation of either Our Lady of Guadalupe or the Virgin Mary. But then you might get stoned yourself.

A serene overgrown garden path near my hotel.

Even the doors are design-y in Guadalajara.

Mujer (woman) and Hombre (man) washroom signs in a seafood restaurant.

Part Two is coming next week…

Previously - Is This Art or a Place to Sit Down?