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Wearing a red satin flamenco dress with a bodice made out of condoms, and with a head of blonde curls that would make Dolly Parton swoon, Miss Polly mapped out Melbourne according to queer sexual proclivities.

While the south has a greater reverence for the body beautiful, for designer accessories and i Phone addictions, the north is grittier, a hub for cross-dressers and more alternative types.

I’d picked up the flyer for the “sex-on-premises venues tour” in the Global Village area of AIDS2014.

The pamphlets adapted the conventions of pornography to eroticise safe sex, activist media strategies pioneered by AIDS activist groups in the United States during the 1980s.

Coffee is brewing and we perch on bar stools while the tour organisers, volunteers with the Sexually Adventurous Men Project and Victorian AIDS Council, brief us about their outreach programme at sex-on-site venues.

Together with the stack of pamphlets was the flyer advertising the “sex-on-premises venues tour”.

It is where the magic of the AIDS Conference happens, where you are confronted with innovations in health and human rights advocacy the world over (harm reduction programmes at trance parties in Mexico, how-to guides for promoting safe-sex in Thai brothels…) The happenings of the Village are evidence in action of the radical globalism and creativity of the largest, most inter-connected health movement in history.

At the bonanza of research-meets-industry infused with advocacy that is the biannual International AIDS Conference, the plenary venues are where findings are presented, the exhibition hall is where pharmaceuticals pitch their products, and the Global Village is where activists lay hold to loud speakers.

Our first stop on the tour was Sircuit, which combines an old-style Aussie pub with a nightclub and cruising spot.

Sircuit is where Melbourne’s gay rugby team, the Chargers, do their annual charity striptease for an event known as “Locker Room.” On the ground floor, pool tables are decorated with red ribbons in iconic reference to the AIDS conference, and the ceiling is adorned with hundreds of red lanterns, which the owner explains are symbolic of healthy blood cells in keeping with the conference theme.

Dispensers of anti-bacterial gel are affixed to the walls, much like at the shopping trolley area of your local supermarket.


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