Sassy Planet: A Queer Guide to 40 Cities: Stephen Vowles talks to the authors of a new gay travel guide

Sassy Planet: A Queer Guide to 40 Cities is a new gay travel guide. The authors Harish Bhandari, David Dodge and Nick Schiarizzi – plus illustrator Bráulio Amado – draw on their extensive travel experiences as well as the perspectives of local DJs, artists, activists, drag performers, DIY historians, and long-time residents to offer up the latest on what’s hot in 40 cities around the world including Honolulu, Buenos Aires, Lisbon, London, Cairo, Cape Town, Mumbai and Tokyo. We chatted to the authors to find out more about the book.

Who came with up the idea for the book?

The authors, David, Harish, and Nick, along with the book’s illustrator, Bráulio (Nick’s partner), are all good friends who enjoy traveling together. A few years ago we were talking about how there aren’t many good resources for all of the interesting queer scenes that are happening around the world. So we started a travel blog where we interviewed locals about what was happening in their own cities.

The illustrations by Bráulio Amado are very fresh and vibrant. Was it important to you that the finished book had a certain feel to it? 

Yes, we really wanted to merge the information with Bráulio’s illustrative style as much as possible. He brought a lot of ideas on how we could bring certain pieces to life; so many that we ran out of time for some of them! The book is playful and has a sense of humour and the illustrations match that tone really well we think.

You cover 40 cities across 6 continents – why in particular those?

We wanted to make sure the book was inclusive of large and small cities to showcase as much diversity as possible. As we were doing our research, the locations where we learned something surprising, were the first ones we wanted to include. And for some of the larger cities we wanted to go beyond what most queer media focuses on by showcasing the alternative scenes or a bit of history.

Did the period over lockdown prevent you travelling to the cities you featured in the book? Were there any that you had to research via means other than being there in person?

Most of the writing was produced in 2020 so we had to rely on some knowledge from our past travels, but a lot of it was gleaned through our network of friends, chats on social media and dating apps. From there we conducted interviews remotely. Most of the pertinent information in the book is coming straight from the locals themselves.

Is there a plan to bring out a second volume?

We have lots of ideas and cities we would love to include in a second book and we hope that we’ll be asked to start working on it soon! It really depends on how well this book does, and the feedback we’ve gotten so far is great, so fingers crossed!

Sassy Planet: A Queer Guide to 40 Cities by Harish Bhandari, David Dodge and Nick Schiarizzi, with illustrations by Bráulio Amado is published by Prestel Publishing, £18.99.

You can buy Sassy Planet: A Queer Guide to 40 Cities from Amazon here. 

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