This was the gay place to be for the big night! A wristband, for a mere $20, gave you all-access to all the different offerings of entertainment The Parliament House (PH), at 410 North Orange Blossom Trail—or OBT as it’s called by natives—from the great drag show at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. in the theatre, to the disco dancing ’til 3 in Le Club, on through the Hall of Mirrors, to the Bear’s Den. The Parliament House says it has more bars in more places and it is true! There is something for everyone, from the video bar, with go-go boys, to a piano bar. The entire courtyard was decorated for the holidays, with over 50 Christmas trees and plenty of artificial snow and millions of twinkling lights. An additional stage was set up at the far end of the pool, and at midnight, show emcee Darcel Stevens introduced many of the performers we had met at the 10 p.m. Show. There was even a sit-down three-course dinner, in The Rainbow Café, for just $24.95, which ended by 11 p.m. and snacks were available throughout the rest of the night. My favorite was the hot dog vendor … he was cute and offered dogs and sausages with the works. We could smell the heavenly aroma as we walked around, and complemented the tasty treat with a drink from the outdoor bar. To top it off, we visited the chocolate-dipping bar, where you could choose from among marshmallows, big juicy strawberries, pretzel rods and pound cake, and then drag them through chocolate or white chocolate. I was in my glory with my face smeared with chocolate, and a beautiful lady to wipe it off, as we giggled our way towards midnight!
For Fire Islanders, imagine the Ice Palace combined with Cherry’s and the Community House Theatre, plus maybe the Cozy Bar just for Bears, all combined, with all the outdoor space in between decorated in theme. Note that if you stay at the hotel, there is room service! Now you don’t get that on Fire Island! The motel rooms that surround the pool and courtyard were full, with the classic Parliament House all-glass front wall, perfect for cruising. Okay … throw in the Meatrack too! And all this in a rather industrial area of Orlando, so no one complains of noise!
Some guys had decorated the rooms for the holidays, and awards should have been given for creativity. And maybe they were … in private! The dress for the evening was festive. There were lots of bears in kilts, and when asked, they said it was just a coincidence! I love a man in a skirt! And there were plenty in the shows: some drag queens to really give the Fire Island divas a run for their money! And when the audience wanted to tip the performers, they lined up, with dollars in hand, very politely, at both sides of the stage. A dollar often got a hug, maybe even a kiss from the entertainer.
My favorite outfit on a reveler was an older man I called Santa’s elf, wearing an off-white leather sleeveless vest with a white fur collar and a white g-string with black cowboy boots. Oh … and a huge diamond stud in one ear. Festive!
The performers included Darcel Stevens—Miss Continental At Large!—as the lead of the Footlight Players, which included both men and drag girls; and Vee and Armani– the Polynesian Princess—who offered solos; along with the rest of the Footlight Players.
We were greeted, when we arrived, by one of the managers, Tim, in the hotel lobby. He made sure everything went smoothly and reminded me about The Gardens Orlando (TheGardensOrlando.com), a new South Beach-style 164-room condo on a 10-acre lake adjacent to the Parliament House property. The units are for sale and can be rented out. The project has attracted the support of Resort Condominiums International, LLC, (RCI), the nation’s largest timeshare exchange, which allows timeshare owners to stay at more than 3,700 affiliated resorts around the world. RCI has signed a six-year agreement with The Gardens and, based on its plans, awarded it “Gold Crown” status, the equivalent of a first-class hotel. RCI is a subsidiary of Cendant Corporation, which also owns Avis and Orbitz, companies that have reached out to gay consumers.
The PH ball fell at midnight and everyone kissed and hugged. The 2011 sign was bright with rainbow colors and fireworks filled the sky behind it.
The night reminded me that GAY comes in every flavor … every shape, and size, every ethnicity, some beautiful, some less so: rich and poor, femininity interchangeable with masculinity and not at all determined by biological sexes, and mingling of straight and gay couples and singles. We truly are the rainbow. And we are ready for 2011! Check out the Parliament House’s year-round entertainment and hotel offerings at www.parliamenthouse.com and come enjoy Orlando!