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Sydney's Mardi Gras Parade:
Monica & Kenny are Icons

Compiled By GayToday

mardigras99a.jpg - 12.32 K Sydney, Australia--Imagine 48 Shirley Bassey impersonators performing a "Hey Big Spender" routine in gold evening dresses and competing with endless numbers of beret-wearing Monica Lewinsky look-a-likes in stained blue, atop blue convertibles, some brandishing cigars.

Sydney's Mardi Gras went into full swing last Saturday and brought out, even under a light drizzle, over 725,000 spectators. Participants from home and abroad were awash in body glitter – in silver, fuchsia and blue – and stick-on fake jewels adorning muscular physiques and faces. Fireworks lit the skies as two-hundred floats winding up Oxford Street turned downtown into a fantasy land.

Three-hundred and fifty police effected controls over the parade route and the massive crowds.

Last year during Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras the city's entrepreneurs collected over $41 million. This year's revenues are expected to rival 1998's figures.

A lead Monica look-alike spoke, it seemed, to the business community: "I will have so much money after all this drama that I will be able to have any man I want, anyway."

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A second major Mardi Gras icon this year was South Park's Kenny—who has shown, some said, by his ability to keep coming back after being killed, a resilience both inspiring and remarkable. Such flippancy and light-hearted commentary on modern culture proudly mark an occasion when Australians, both heterosexuals and homosexuals, play host to a special inventiveness and fun without labels. This occasion began twenty-one years ago out of what was then a dead-serious civil rights march.

mardisgras2.jpg - 25.29 K And if it should be thought that all there was was glitz this year, Sydney's Mardi Gras had reminders galore that under outward laughter can be serious aims. This year's glamorous gay event gave focus to the realities of other minorities living in the nation such as Australia's indigenous peoples.

Acknowledging how he'd been appreciated for his visionary aims, gay Australians included in their parade a memorial to former South Australian premier Don Dunstan. Though happy costumes—bufferflies, fairies, and gargoyles—provided truly festive spectacles, fun-loving spectators were not allowed to forget HIV/AIDS nor the many loved ones already lost to the virus.

A few "Christian" protestors—known locally as 'the God Squad'-- showed up, but larger numbers were conspicuously absent. References by parade participants to misusing holy scriptures to gay bash, however, went rolling along in the person of a wheel-chaired woman who'd purportedly been "bible bashed' and whose head, thanks to the miracles of make-up, appeared to have been split open as a result.

Other forms of headgear were popular, said the proprietors of a Sydney store, Celebrity Wigs, especially over-the-top colored wigs which have been the dominant flavor in this year's parade with the most popular colors being cobalt blue, fire engine red and purple.

mardigras3.jpg - 6.28 K Dykes on Bikes—with rainbow headlights-- zoomed ahead in teams, energizing the crowds from one end of the parade route to the other and returning to start over again. Bikers calling themselves Hawaii Dyke O's also sped by.

George Michael fans in mirror shades and spandex bike pants marched to his music, calling their group the George Michael LAPD Incident.

Designer Jean Paul Gaultier and Xena's Lucy Lawless, joined the celebrating crowds.

The Mardi Gras' 'never say sleep'revelers danced until after dawn at the official party in 'the old showgrounds', with Marcia Hines, Jimmy Barnes and Dannii Minogue on stage.

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