In just a couple of days, I had the chance to visit two fairs: the Puyallup one, and the Folsom Street one, in San Francisco. They were very different, but both were helpful when I had to decide which city is my favorite. The winner is Paris, of course, but if you read the following lines, you may be able to find out why I preferred San Francisco over Seattle. The City by the Bay is sunny. And warm. And this has a huge impact on somebody's mood. When you wake up and the sky is blue, you can't prevent yourself from having a lot of projects. But when you wake up and the sky is grey, you can't prevent yourself from staying in your bed.


Fortunately, Seattle has all these green trees everywhere, breaking the monotony of the grey horizon. It's just that the sky of Frisco made me happier. And I needed it, especially when my computer got out of order. Suddenly, I was unable to communicate with the rest of the world, but also to Google Map this city I barely knew. I had to discover it à l'ancienne, with traditional means, like walking and talking to people. (My laptop is still out of order, so if you are Bill Gates, please repair it or GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK BECAUSE I FEEL DEPRESSED WITHOUT MY COMPUTER.)

Because of this unability to use my computer properly, I was not able to find out why they had replaced the Rainbow Flag in Castro Street by another one, made of blue, black, red, and white. And what is that Folsom Street Fair? And why all those men naked in the street?...

[Probably NSFW photos after the jump—Ed.]


...Is the city a giant swimming-pool where bathsuit is not compulsory? How come people wander naked in the streets whereas you don't even have the right to walk with a bottle of beer? I asked a waiter in a restaurant if this was common, and he just gave me a look meaning: "Where are you from? Of course, it's common, it's San Francisco." I now assume all San Franciscan are nudists loving bondage (where are the Republicans?).

Having read the Tales of the City series many times, I wanted to find where Barbary Lane could have been if it had been real, I went to Grace Cathedral looking for canibalists, I wandered in the parks searching for hermits, and walked along Castro Street to find Michael Tolliver's shop. I didn't find it, but I stumbled upon a lot of French people in the streets and in my hostel. It was surprising, because usually French people just go to New York, and when they travel to the West Coast, it's all about LA or the Grand Canyon. I also looked for the Halliwell's manor, but I discovered later that it was not in San Francisco at all. And I suddenly understood why the city was very different from what the TV show diplayed of it: the Charmed ones never put a toe in San Francisco. Liars.

Anyway, the French guys I found in the street were not the usual kind of tourists. They work as stewards for Air France (the airline company) and they came especially for the Folsom Street Fair. I asked what it was about, and they laughed at me. So French. I love them. They wouldn't tell me, praising my ignorance, my virtue and my innocence. I was really perplexed, because I already attended the Puyallup Fair,

and it was not such a big deal. We have rides and animals in France, too. It's just that we don't mix them in a fair. And we don't have hand sanitizers at every single corner. And we don't have scones. But we have deaths: There is scarcely a year without at least one death in a fair. So ironic. And funny.

On Sunday morning, I prepared my camera and a bunch of bucks and walked to Folsom Street. I was expecting kids' screamings, but I was welcomed with drums. And those naked guys in Castro, they were all going to Folsom Street, too. In fact, the sidewalks were full with people going to Folsom Street. I once observed this phenomenon in Boston—people walking like a zombie flock in the same direction—but it was for a football game. There was no stadium in this district of San Francisco according to my map, so I just kept on walking and wondering. And the answers appeared.

On a stage were naked guys playing Twister. On a platform, two men wearing leather were on their knees while another stood behind them, his hands on their shoulders, enjoying with delectation the sufferings inflicted to him by a woman with a whip. HUGE. And the whole street was full with that sort of shows, besides naked men all around and guys sucking each other in corners. This was the biggest and most incredible freak gathering I had ever seen. Like a Gay Parade but in a spanking-and-leather version. However, I was disappointed to see no fisting, since it's a running joke between my best friend and I. And I am glad the Folsom Street Fair is unknown beyond your borders so I can bring my best friend there and see him beholding this display of debauchery and stupre.

Nudists and sun are not the only reasons why SF is better for a French Intern than Seattle. In France, I heard such good reviews of Wicked: the Musical that I desperately wanted to see it here. And it was not playing in Seattle but in San Francisco. Too bad for me, since the last performance was earlier this month and I didn't have the chance to see it. I guess I'll have to go to London to attend it, but I'm reluctant since I despise Britsh people much more than I despise American people. Charles de Gaulle used to see them as your little puppies, spying Europe internal affairs from the inside on your behalf. And that's how we perceived Tony Blair's decision to attack Iraq with you: a dog following the order of its master. And their accent is so British. I don't think that Wicked sounds the same in New York and in London.

I missed Wicked but I saw Dreamgirls instead. Maybe not as marvelous, but marvelous still. I've never seen such a performance in France. You definitely beat us when it comes to shows and performances. I was bewildered, and stunned, and amazed. Beyoncé sucked as Deenah Jones in the movie, but the Deenah Jones I saw on stage eventually succeeded to give this character a personality. It was highly rejoicing. On the next evening, I saw another wonderful show, entitled: "Killing My Lobster Holds the Mayo." It deals with your food obsession, and it is so true and accurate that every American citizen should see it.

I also enjoyed San Francisco because of the Pacific Ocean. Yeah, you have it here too, but the water is cold and the sand cannot be the same. I went to Baker beach, having a sunbath the way I would have done in some southern France villa. There, it really looked like holidays. In fact, that's how I see San Francisco: a city for the holidays. I wouldn't be able to live there since the dictatorship of the perfect gay is a heavy burden. Everybody is bodybuilded, has a dog, and waits in line to enter the trendiest places. Everyone wants to be the center of the attention and it looks like a perpetual competition. After a while, I felt a bit sad for them: This place is about welcoming people who are different. It is supposed to be a shelter, but in the end, it is but a mould.
They are different from the rest of America, sure, but they're all the same.

In fact, I was more than delighted to be back home. In Seattle.