On Poynter this week, Kristen Hare had an interesting article about a team of Ball State journalism students who paid their own way via Amsterdam to Sochi to cover the Olympic Games. Embedded in her report was a link to an even more fascinating blog item by team member Matt Amaro, a photography major.
Titled “The Best Little Gay Bar in Sochi,” the item relates the experiences of Amaro, teacher Ryan Sparrow and fellow student/reporter Ryan Howe when the trio visited Cabaret Mayak, a place where drag queens perform. Howe is openly gay and, as Hare notes, wrote ahead of departure for The Advocate about his fears regarding visiting Sochi. From Amaro’s blog item:
After the first drag queen performed, she started talking with and reading people in Russian. “Because reading is what?! FUN-DE-MENTAL!” She walks over to where I am knelt on the side of the stage. She tells the bar that I am one of her friends.
I stand up and say hello and she asks how I am doing. I say “Fine.” She then puts a hand on my CROTCH! I was kind of in shock but just went along with it. That’s just something you do during a drag show. It just caught me off guard and plus, I don’t speak Russian, so I had no idea what she was saying.
As noted by my colleague Chris O’Shea, the Ball State gang is one of many foreign media contingents to have contacted or visited Cabaret Mayak while covering the Games. Who knows? Perhaps the interaction with Amaro was the performer’s attempt to try and help put an end to the media crush.
Update (5:30 p.m.):
Via Twitter, Amaro let us know he firmly disagrees with our final-sentence theory. He’s probably right.
[Image courtesy: clubmayak.com]