Again. Over here now
Hotel Street: home to de-facto legalised brothels and destination for thousands of horny sailors during World War Two. The brothels are gone; sex work criminalised and Chinatown has evolved into a whole new kind of entertainment locale. There’s the chic restaurants like Indigo; art galleries like Peggy Hopper’s; cafe-cum-nightclubs like Manifest and galleries-cum-nightclubs like Thirtyninehotel. High up on the red brick facade of the fancy clubs and bars, the darkened neon of the Hubba Hubba club’s sign still rests. Hubba Hubba closed in 1997 after 50 years of operation.
For only the 8th time in its 25 year history, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational–a prestigious, invite-only– contest took place. The waves at Waimea Bay were massive, traffic was gridlocked, half the island skipped work. How exciting to be there and a part of history.
Congrats to Greg Long for winning it.
By way of Thailand, I arrived in Sydney in November 1998. Being my first time travelling alone, I had everything booked, so I went straight to the Darlington hostel. Dropped my stuff, and went out into Sydney to look for Gilor.
He had told me to meet him at a train station and I stood there for two hours waiting. He never showed. I had the name of his hostel and looked it up in my guidebook. It was on Oxford Street so I went up there and found him.
I had been at the wrong side of the station, he told me. I’d just arrived, how was I to know. We shook it off and went out into the springtime Sydney and caught up.
We walked past the Opera House—my awe damped by Gilor’s conclusion that it was “dirty”—through the botanical gardens where we discussed the degree I was to return to London for after this trip; and as it started to get dark, we found ourselves in an Oxford Street bar. A drunk noticed I had an empty drink in front of me and started bullying Gilor for allowing his woman to sit without a drink. So we slipped out. I wasn’t his woman. He wasn’t responsible for buying my drinks.
Truth was Gilor probably wanted to buy my drinks but he was a broke traveler. I was supposed to be rich after hostessing in Japan. We didn’t go to any more bars, instead we settled down in a park for the rest of the night, and—true to cliché—he pointed out the Southern constellations for me.
I drifted in and out of fake sleep and nudged closer to him on the bench. Biding my time. Until we ran out of time. Morning came too soon and he was on a flight to New Zealand.
I never saw Gilor again—although his sister came to stay with me in Sydney for a few days. We kept in touch with decreasing frequency, until 2000 while I was in Peru when I opened an email from him and left it unanswered forever.