February 02, 2001 Features & Images » Feature Story

Beyond all politics and just for fun 

Page 3 of 6

"Lots of the gay guys run to the condos at 2 p.m. to shower and change, so when I go to apres ski at 4 I’m the only one still walking around in my boots and boarding gear," he laughs. "I’m not soft core."

Hirtle says contrary to its image, Altitude attracts more than just the gay community.

"Altitude has entered the mainstream over the past three years and there is something for everybody," he explained. "My 35-year-old straight brother is even thinking of going this year because the week is so fantastic with its lineup of parties, dinners and comedy acts etc."

He says the image of Altitude has also changed in Vancouver from being an "elusive hang-out for rich old fags to an, oh-my-god I must go ‘big fag out’ event for everyone from the jet set to the younger generation who work in Starbucks."

Vancouver-based antiques trader Mark Keister is coming back to Whistler for his third Altitude event. He says some events can be risqué but it’s mostly about being with like-minded people at the official parties or at the many impromptu private gatherings.

"It’s lots of fun, lots of good energy and good vibes, plus you get to meet people travelling from all over the world – plus the beach party is great with all the scantily-clad guys!"

While Gay Ski Week is officially for both sexes, anyone attending the parties could easily think the events were all for men. And not just because the person most likely to catch your eye is the six-foot-four muscle-man with the long blonde hair and tight powder-blue ski suit. Rather it’s because most of the Altitude crowd are male.

However, a significant number of estrogen-fuelled participants are increasingly making their presence felt.

The first "women only" dance was held at the Crab Shack during Altitude 98 and has since evolved into something far meatier. If the name of the dance – Thunderthrob 2001 – doesn’t grab your attention, then the lineup of activities for the evening surely will. The Wet Tank/T-shirt competition and Dare to Bare competition should get things going for a start, with the strict rule that "there is absolutely no need to behave yourself."

That said, there are no holds barred for what organizers refer to as "the ultimate sex machine." Apparently this saddle-like device which goes by the catchphrase, "Get Off in 45 seconds or Get Off," was supposed to be part of the inaugural Thunderthrob 2000 but sponsors backed out at the 11th hour. With a nightly rental price tag of $500, it wasn’t a treat that organizers had budgeted for and the idea was canned, much to the disappointment of a number of "older ladies" from Seattle.

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