Mardi Gras 2016: Photo Essay


Post by Portia


Hi there APJ Crew,

Last night we had the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. It’s a hugely popular event down here and with perfect weather conditions the streets of Sydney were chockablock. It’s estimated that 2016 could be the second best attended Mardi Gras in the history of the parade going all the way back to 1978. Police are saying 300,000+ people lined the parade route. There were 103 floats that ranged from the Australian Police & Armed Forces, Politicians (it was the first time ever for a Federal Opposition Leader to march in the parade and our Prime Minister was in the VIP section watching), various businesses (ANZ, Twitter, Google, Facebook, AirBnB, QANTAS + many more), out Health workers (from nurses and doctors to dentists and mental health workers) and the myriad social groups that have grown around Australia across the many different tribes and subcultures of the LGBTIQ community.

Mardi Gras 2016 #17

This year I was invited to host the Sideshow Glam Stands with Australia’s current Mr Movies Andrew Macardo, with whom I was at MTV many moons ago, though we had different shows. Over the years I have done it at least ten times but last night felt extra special. Why? Well firstly I had organised a bus to bring in 47 people from my Trivia nights and for many of them it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus I grabbed some others of my mates tickets too so there ended up being nearly 70 of my buddies in the crowd, I felt like I was having a chat with my mates and explaining some things that they probably didn’t know about the LGBTIQ community. It created a real sense of family for me on the night, and hopefully for the rest of the crowd.

Secondly, the Dykes On Bikes invited me to become part of their parade entry. Doesn’t sound incredible but let me put that in perspective for you. Sydney’s GLBTIQ community is notoriously clique driven. People will find their tribe and stick fairly close to them. The one time in our history when that changed was during the 1980s & 90s when HIV/AIDS hit and suddenly we were all galvanised into a single entity fighting to help our crews who were dying. There were fundraisers, marches, charity events, dance parties and the ever present funerals of the young, beautiful, talented and wonderful friends that we lost too soon to the illness or suicide. Since the diagnosis of HIV is not a guaranteed death sentence and is now a life sentence of drug regime (like diabetes, liver malfunction or any number of chronic diseases) the community has splintered.

So, to be invited to be the first ever non dyke to ride with the Dykes On Bikes was an astounding and momentous occasion. Pillion passenger on the last bike of hundreds and riding in the wake of a mass of womanity and feeling the love and hearing the roar of the crowd was a highlight of my life, a life that has been filled with wonderful. The women could not have been friendlier or more welcoming and I was so nervous and excited that my teeth were buzzing. My only sadness is that most of you will never know how it feels to be a part of that moment, that incredible overflowing magic that I felt (completely drug and alcohol free).

Oh and for those of you who care about fragrance I was wearing Truth or Dare by Madonna. There was a rumour that she was going to close the afterparty so I thought it would be cool to open the weekend with her too.

TruthOrDare Madonna rollingstone

So thank you Mardi Gras 2016. You were amazing.
Portia xxx

Mardi Gras 2016: Photo Essay

Some of the pictures are mine, some stolen from my friends on facebook and my BFF Kath gave me the video and some pics too. I hope you enjoy a fleeting look at the 6 hours that made up my night.

Yes, that’s me waving like a lunatic in the flesh dress on the back of a bike. WOO HOO!

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I know it’s hard to get a sense of the fun and excitement through these static photos. You need to come to Sydney for Mardi Gras Parade. First Saturday in March. Come, we’ll look after you.

Happy Mardi Gras.

Portia xxx

18 thoughts on “Mardi Gras 2016: Photo Essay

    • Thanks Bernadette Winfield-Gray,
      You know it’s good to get this stuff into the blog. I find myself much better able to define what happened when I put words to my emotions. It’s like living it all again as I write.
      So really it’s selfishness but I’m glad you enjoy it too.
      Portia xx


    • Hey Poodle,
      My legs are the last thing to go, Ha Ha Ha! I figure I have to flaunt them while I still have them.
      Thank you. I’m really glad you enjoy them, me too.
      Portia xx


  1. Portia,
    You look fabulous in the baby doll flesh dress, especially on that bike! And the sparkly wig/hat/crown thing tops it all off so well. What is that thing? Thanks again for all the smiles!
    Is this your best photo essay ever?
    Azar xx


    • Heya Azar,
      Thank you. It’s a wig made of glitter fabrics and foam. One of the queens I used to work with in the 1990s & 2000s invented them and as they are so easy once finished to pop on & off, never need to be set and always look sensational I still make & wear them.
      Every photo essay has a little part of my life’s joy, they are all the best. Seriously, my life is pretty jam packed with amazing moments that I love sharing.
      Portia xx


  2. Wow Portia! You look amazing and the pictures are wonderful. Thank you for sharing your night of fun and joy. Sandra xoxo


  3. What an amazing night!! Fantastic – really big congratulations for both the Dykes on Bikes milestone and for the hosting gig.
    I know those sounds well, the crowds, the bike roar and how it gets blood pumping, and the sheer joy of inclusive celebration. Yay for Sydney.

    Happy Mardi Gras!

    xx Tina


    • TinaG,
      Yes, you know it. This year was like the parades of old, or maybe it was my own excitement that made it feel so.
      Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I’m so lucky.
      Portia xz


  4. This is too amazing! So glad we got to see a clip of you on the bike. Great pics too. I really did get a sense of the excitement and your eyes look super purdy!

    Plus I just looked up what the I and Q stand for in LGBTIQ so I’ve learnt something too.


    • Hey Tara,
      Thank you. It was huge.
      It’s a mouthful to say but everyone feels included, that’s the most important thing.
      Portia xx


  5. Cool pics and amazing experience Portia! Love the dress. I’ve been to a few parades back in the day in Sydney – always great fun (and the parties were crazy from what I remember of them)! x


    • Wow meganinsaintemaxime,
      Yes, the parties used to be mind blowing. I haven’t been to one in years. Almost went this year but after the huge day I decided bed was more important. He He he
      Portia xx


  6. Your makeup is fantastic Portia!
    And don’t worry, one can see the happiness and excitement on everyones’ faces even on the photos but the video of your ride is the best part 🙂


  7. Wonderful photos Portia. It was great to see them. You guys sure go all out with your partying. As others have commented, my favourite photo was the one with you on the bike – loved it. Great outfit too.


    • Thanks pats133,
      Yes, Sydney does a great party year round but Mardi Gras is special.
      Portia xx


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