Flying High With Legendary Air Hostess Pam Ann
Caroline Reid, also known as her alter ego, Pam Ann, made an emergency landing in the “ultra-glamorous” deli shop below her Manhattan apartment in Hells Kitchen to chat about her love for the gays, air travel, and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, where she'll perform two shows in late February. She was surprisingly candid — and hilarious — with no regrets for anything she spit out of her mouth. I was able to woo her from the start by sporting my original Pan Am Airlines luggage tag on my super-gay man purse. I quickly confessed that I once was a flight attendant for American Airlines, and the jokes immediately began. Secretly I was hoping that her character, Valerie, an aged AA veteran airhostess with big hair and a big voice from Texas, would make an appearance, but alas, my dreams of seeing her would have to wait until later this month in Sydney.
OutTraveler: So let’s jump right into it. What’s Mardi Gras like?
Pam Ann: It’s such a different energy. All the gays come to town. Make sure you have some fun outfits for sure. You have to dress up. Take your drag bag. Bring your old AA uniform and dress it up. It’s just such a beautiful vibe and the best time for me to perform. It’s like a gay mecca and all my sistas are there.
I’ve been looking up at the photos of past parties and they are massive!
I’ve been going for years. Back in the day it use to be in a small field. Imagine all the gays on ecstasy in the late '90s, drag queens in heels, in a field. It’s all changed. It’s like the Grove in L.A. now, just put Mardi Gras in it. The parties are huge! They have surprise guests and performers, but the gays usually find out way in advance who they are. There are no secrets with you gays. They might drag a Minogue out this year, who knows. When in doubt, get a Minogue.
Do you remember much from the first celebrations?
In the '90s I had to get a letter from gay friends inviting me to Mardi Gras. I’m pretty sure that’s how it was. You had to be invited if you were straight. It was hard to get a ticket. Straight people by invite only. You all should do that again, it’s a good policy.
But now that anyone can go. Any tips for any possible straight readers that we many have? Or maybe some tips that we can tell our friends who are joining us?
Women, if you are going, make sure not to wear open toed shoes. They have that policy and are strict about it. Once, I was with this leather queen and was trying to get into a party in flip-flops, and was denied. My queen came to my rescue and saved me with these massive leather boots. Once I made it past security, I changed back to my flip-flops. My queens are always looking out for me.
Australian men are off the charts gorgeous, at least for us. Any thoughts?
I totally get exactly what you are saying about them. I say the same about black men in NYC. For me, the chocolate here is off the charts. For Mardi Gras, there are some really hot country boys that do come down…you will be in heaven. I’m just not into Australian men…I do discriminate. Maybe if a really hot Australian that could speak a full sentence approached me…I’m such a bitch.
I am sure you have a big homecoming waiting for you. When’s the last time you were home?
It’s been two years since I’ve been home to Australia. I honestly have no idea where years start and stop. I’ve been caught up with my European and American tours, and moving to New York. The Australian audience can only take one dose of me every two years. That’s enough. They are craving people though. Big acts always seem to cancel their Australian legs of their tours at the last minute. I think Selena Gomez just canceled on them. I’m pretty sure Pink is the only one that has actually made it out there recently, and she killed it.
I can’t image your hometown gays only want to see you once every couple of years. What about your other Australian fans? The non-gay kind.
I have no desire to reach a larger demographic. They all find out about me from the gays anyways. I speak gay. I tell the straights that they need to Google “felching." The straights are always the ones causing trouble at the shows. I just feel so comfortable with my gays.
For those attending the now mostly sold out shows down under on this new tour, what’s to be expected?
They can expect lots of new videos. I am so excited to be showing those. It feels a bit different with the energy of the videos. The shows are very tailored to each city. Oh, this is the first year with an interval. I never had those before because getting gays out and back within 15 minutes is impossible. But now, with Grindr, I figure they can look up guys during the first half, hook up during interval and break up by the end of the second act. Oh, the show has got cute boys for the boys when they are sick of seeing my fat ass. There are lots of costume changes and glitter cannons and dancing. What more could a gay want?
Ok, so I have to ask, what are some of your horror stories with US airline carriers?
My worst airline experience was on an AirTran flight from LaGuardia to Milwaukee, home of Jeffrey Dahmer. I was doing a show with Salt n' Pepa, as well as Monique for gay pride. Imagine me and Salt n' Pepa on an AirTran flight. I was on this flight and surrounded by bare feet and 300 pound women. Did you look in the mirror today, ma’am? I also hated being dragged out on the tarmac with no wheels. The screeching noise was awful.
I’m still trying to get the image of Milwaukee Pride out of my head.
And then there was this one time when I was in Cancun on a US Airways flight and something was wrong with the wing. I’m not racist, but you know how Mexicans are packed in the back of a truck sometimes? Well, one of those trucks came up to fix the wing and I was questioning why we weren’t being taken to the airplane hanger. We got off the plane and I never got back on that one.
What about the best airline in the US?
I love JetBlue. Good service, branding, and value. Gosh, you’d think I was a paid spokesperson. The crew is always so excited and happy to be on the PA. JetBlue is just good value for what you get… and all the seats with the televisions too. On the other hand, Delta still uses their museum pieces. When I get on and see an ashtray, I smoke. They need to update their fleet and crew. When you fly with them, one of the crew usually dies. “We lost one”, but that’s normal for them.
You are headed to L.A. next and then New Zealand to begin your tour. What airline are you flying?
I’m flying Virgin America to L.A. this week. It’s like arriving to a fuck club. It’s sunny outside and all dark and club like inside. Afterwards I have to fly Air New Zealand. That audience will have a lot to answer to regarding the Air New Zealand uniforms.
And what’s with the new app? I downloaded it, and it’s fun!
Oh, be sure to alert the gays that I have a new free app for your phone and iPad. If they are bored at the airport or Mardi Gras, they can whip the app out. There are videos and oh, there’s a chat on there so they can chat with each other during my shows.
I know you have to run off and get your hair done before taking off. Any last minute Mardi Gras tips?
I’ve done the floats and parade before. I crashed one once. This year I will just be watching, but here’s a tip if you want in: If you want to get in the parade, dress up like an airhostess and tell security you are with the gayviation float. That is a guaranteed entrance.