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After each of Johnny's trips to Vienna in days gone by, he would always come back and say - I wish you had come with me, you would love that town..

Finally, thanks to the Life Ball, we got to go together and I must say yes, he was right. Vienna is tiny, not particularly alternative or advanced, yet there is such a "there there". I asked an Austrian friend where the Gothic clubs were, and she explained that there is no real Goth scene there - "basically, Gothic is how people feel all the time.."

Besides travelling to Wien with some of our oldest and dearest friends - Armen Ra, Danilo, Amanda Lepore, Paul, Jojo and Nashom (The Ones performed), Susanne Bartsch et al - the real highlight of the trip was our hotel - the dowager empress Hotel Imperial.

History buffs are quick to point out that the Imperial was Hitler's favorite hotel. This was true, but only a small piece of the story. In his impoverished youth as an artist in Vienna, Hitler had worked as a day laborer outside the hotel, and wasnt allowed in. So, quite naturally, on his first triumphant trip to Vienna, he had all of the guests kicked out, the owner arrested (he was anti-Nazi) and moved in to the emperor's suite where he delivered a famous speech from the balcony.

On our stay, Bill Clinton was staying in that suite. Because of the ball, other hotel guests included Amanda (a HUGE star in Vienna), Danilo, Armen Ra, Ivana Trump and Pamela Anderson. The hotel was GORGEOUS and the sight of Amanda coming down to breakfast amidst the whole Bill Clinton secret service detail was priceless!

Heres a few pics from the trip and more stories to come..
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The Grand Ballroom at the Life Ball - this was Johnny's dancefloor of several thousand.. The ball was at Vienna's neo-Gothic City Hall, and drew 4,000 guests plus early events in the town square brought 40,000 out. The Life Ball is Europe's biggest AIDS benefit, and was expected to raise a million euros this year.

This year's theme was water, and mermaids, jellyfish mermen and sea urchins abounded as did an alarming amount of blue body paint!


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Travel tip for the Amadeus-centric, Gothic, operatic or Vampyre visitor-

The best 5 euros spent in Vienna was the tour of the Opera House, given in five languages several times a day. Since opera performances are generally sold out weeks in advance, this is a way to make a pilgrimage anyway.

Independently, Armen Ra and I had both decided to take the 1 PM tour on show day, so we had a marvelous time together. We got to watch the set change to Das Rheingold, a gigantic forest, and get up close and personal with a few of the costumes on display.

Im still singing the "Queen of the Night" aria a week later.. A MUST!

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