SXSW Recap: Highlights, Lowlight and Gaylights of 10 Days in Austin
By Rae Votta
Best Free BBQ: I had BBQ on nachos, BBQ on a bacon infused waffle and BBQ in a taco, but the simple BBQ ribs from Salt Lick were the best of the bunch all week.'You can't go wrong with a classic.'And luckily a party brought it in as catering so I didn't have to take the hour-long drive to the middle of nowhere to enter BBQ heaven.
Coolest Branded Experience: Branding is out in full force for SXSW, sponsoring everything they can get their names on.'I tried out as many events as struck my fancy, and while the HP Mobile Park was a nice overall experience, a lot of the fun depended on the crowd of people you were with.'On the other hand, GE's Carosolar -- a solar powered carousel set up in the thick of the SXSW party district -- was fun even if you were alone.'They also had free artisan ice cream sandwiches from Coolhaus and phone recharge stations, making it the ideal place to stop by whenever you need to recharge (your phone or yourself).
Strangest Place I Found Myself: As a self-proclaimed karaoke aficionado in NYC, I knew I had to check out the premiere Karaoke experience at SXSW, the Karaoke RV.'What I found was a slightly dinky RV without any air conditioning, over-packed with revelers.'When I first got on the only place I could find to sit was a closet converted into a tiki bar, which was slightly isolating. Once more seats in the back opened up, however, I enjoyed the limitless free drinks and interesting conversation with random people who stumbled upon the RV.'The only real downside was it was hard to make it to the front where you could actually sing, and after sweating off at least three pounds in the virtual sauna we disembarked and took a leisurely pedicab across town to cool off and catch the end of Diplo's set at an abandoned Power Plant.
Saddest Queer Moment: I only made it to one film during SXSW, and I had high hopes.'Blacktino was billed as a coming of age tale about a half-black, half-Latino boy in Texas who finds his voice in the theater department of his school. Unfortunately the film suffered from terrible writing, terrible acting and terrible everything. When a film is about theater kids you always hope for a great gay character, but in Blacktino the out gay student was a cardboard cutout stereotype, and one of the biggest gags was that the lead character assumed his female best friend was a lesbian and that's why he didn't pay attention to her.'The film was filled with two hours of frustration on so many levels, but I was most annoyed to be robbed of even a tiny gay silver lining.
Completely New Experience: I was asked to work my first red carpet during SXSW, as a talent escort for mtvU's Woodie Awards, which made their inaugural appearance in Austin.'I learned the fine art of moving celebrities along the press lines, pronouncing names correctly, and keeping my walkie talkie from turning on during any inappropriate moments' -- plus I got to check out a fun awards show and see Foo Fighters, Sleigh Bells, Donald Glover and Odd Future all perform without waiting in terrifying lines. I am, however, dreading ever seeing any interviews with me awkwardly standing around in the background of the carpet.'If anyone finds one, don't tell me.