A friend of mine works downtown in the financial district of Honolulu. We had planned on going out after she got off from work. My brother and one of my cousins all drove down to pick her up. The financial district is made up of a collection of various banks and firms and investment giants that handle worldwide assets and effect powerful change on the economies of the countries that border the Pacific Rim. Empires of the rich are forged and challenged daily in these grand, high rise buildings that make up the Honolulu skyline.
We arrived early as my brother wanted to take me on a tour of downtown Honolulu. It was an amazingly clean city! I was surprised at the number of surfers walking down the streets with surfboards; some of them were riding bikes with straps for their surfboards. My brother told me that the beach was just a few blocks away from here. Only in Hawaii will you see surfers and businessmen mingle on the streets. Speaking of business men, the majority of business people were dressed in aloha shirts! The very few I spotted wearing suits and ties were either off island business people or missionaries. The women on the streets were dressed up in mu'umu'us just as colorful as the men's aloha shirts. Those that weren't business people wore shirts and shorts and sandals. Some on their way to the beach wore just board shorts, the ladies in bikini tops and swim shorts.
Right in the heart of downtown Honolulu is Iolani Palace. The only palace in the United States, it is the former home of Hawaiian monarchy.
While there are a number of palaces in Hawaii, Iolani Palace is the official home of Hawaiian Royalty. It was also one of the first places to have indoor plumbing, telephones, and electricity, years before the White House.
I luv the style of the architecture, American Florentine, the only such structure built in such a design in all the world. It is an example of the Hawaiian Renaissance, which included a revival of native culture and arts and the evolution of new ideas and designs inspired from the ancient Hawaiian creations.
I luv Keli'iponi, the Coronation Pavilion. Moved from its original site, this was the coronation site of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi`olani on 12 Feb, 1883.
On January 17, 1893, in an effort to avoid needless bloodshed and civil war, Queen Lili'uokalani abdicated her throne. The effort to overthrow the monarchy was orchestrated by American businessmen who wanted more control over native Hawaiian lands. In 1993, President Clinton issued a formal apology to the natives of Hawaii for the overthrow of their government and the forced annexation of the islands.
Across the street from Iolani Palace is the statue of King Kamehameha.
The warrior king, King Kamehameha was the first to unite all of Hawaii under one ruling chief. He also protected the people from harsh punishments meted out by the local chiefs he supplanted. Born during the passing of Haley's comet, he was destined to be a strong ruler. A rare eruption of Mt Kilauea wiped out his enemies during a civil war, signifying his divine right to rule.
A strong ruler, King Kamehameha was able to fend off European advances and keep Hawaii independent long after other Pacific islands became prey to imperialist forces.
During our little walking tour of downtown, I spotted a queen, not the royal kind, but the dress up kind*. There were actually a lot of queens in Hawaii. I was going to take some fotos of them, but my brother had this horrified look on his face and stopped me from taking the fotos. "What are you doing!? You can't just take a foto of those people!"
"Why?", I asked, somewhat concerned that I had broken some law of decorum, possibly offending someone unintentionally.
"Because, you just can't take one! They'll want more! Then their friends will show up! These people can hear a camera clicking a mile away, and they'll come swarming like sharks sensing blood in the water. Next thing you know, it'll be gay pride parade while these queens prance around thinking they're on America's Next Top Model and we'll never make it to happy hour!!!"
Well, I certainly didn't want to miss happy hour, so I put the camera back in my pocket. We picked up our friend and spent the night at a bar and grill that offered various games (video and carnival style) and enjoyed an awesome dinner after happy hour.
Later, when we left at closing time, there was some commotion and a lively crowd had formed near the street corner. I spotted some queens, dressed in heels and shiny, sleek dresses. My brother was right; they were posing for pictures, exhibiting various postures, sometimes strutting while tourists took their pictures and the small crowd cheered for them. My friend said there was nightclub near that corner that featured drag queens performing on various nights. Hawaii may not have it's royal line anymore, but a new line of queens now strut along it's streets with a different kind of glamor, but drawing attention all the same.
* When a straight man puts on a dress and goes on a sexual kick he is a transvestite. When a man is a woman trapped in a man's body and has a little operation he is a Transsexual. When a gay man has way too much fashion sense for one gender he is a drag queen. And when a tired little Latin boy puts on a dress, he is simply a boy in a dress!
~Noxema Jackson, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.