Little straight boys had Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo to instruct them on how to be a man, but growing up as a little gay boy, I had a much more worldly, well-dressed, brand-conscious, and exceptionally virile patron: Mr. Bond, James Bond.
Not only did 007 show me how to fire a grenade launcher and fly a space shuttle, more importantly he taught this young homo how to order the proper vintage of wine and wear an Italian suit just so -- not to mention how to luxuriously gallivant around the globe and wind up in bed with beautifully exotic creatures.
Unlike your run-of-the-mill heterosexual tourist, my James boldly embraced the world and its differences, dangerous warts and all. I?m currently writing a Bond travel guidebook, Mission: The World, and the more I delve into 007, the more I realize he is the prototype of the modern gay traveler, despite his love of Pussy Galore! Author Ian Fleming (brother of celebrated travel writer Peter Fleming) mapped out a whole new Bondian philosophy of travel that goes something like this?
007?s Golden Rules of Travel
INVESTIGATE YOUR SUBJECT
James is the quintessential know-it-all (even in the still-wet-behind-the-ears Daniel Craig incarnation), and as a good spy he studies his destination before he hops aboard his private jet. How else would he know a perfect little restaurant in Karachi? (As Timothy Dalton did in The Living Daylights.)
Before Sean Connery's 007 squeezed into his hip-hugging Caribbean swimsuit in Thunderball, Bond made sure to visit an English health clinic to shape up. Although he nearly died in the process (a scenario many gay men can relate to), how else would he have been able to survive scuba diving with sharks and an underwater make out session with his Bond girl?
BE OPEN TO ANYTHING, AND GUARDED OF EVERYTHING
Roger Moore befriended poisonous snake charmers in India while seducing Octopussy, but then also scoured his five-star hotel room for bugs (not the cockroach kind) upon check in. The lesson to be learned? Never travel in fear, but be aware that as a recent arrival to a foreign land, you may be marked as a target by pranksters.
ALWAYS HAVE A LOCAL "MAN"
Bond never showed up to an exotic locale without a resident contact to show him the ropes, so to speak. How would 007 have ever found Dr. No?s evil island without the help of his trusted Caribbean friend Quarrel? Whether it?s a new friend on a social networking site or an official tour guide, connect with a local to reveal your destination?s secrets.
Sean Connery donned kimonos and eye make-up to pose as Kissy Suzuki?s Japanese husband in You Only Live Twice, but unless you're Madame Butterfly, you may not need to go to such lengths to fit in. But making a nod to a place?s customs of dress, speaking, eating, and culture will go far in enduring you to the locals -- maybe even garnering you a marriage proposal.
The very act of traveling to the far-flung reaches of the globe is romantic. Bond obviously never shied away from an opportunity to get to know the locals more intimately, "delving deep into Egypt?s treasures" as a sheik-robed Roger Moore so aptly put it in The Spy Who Loved Me.
After Daniel Craig's 007 took a beating to his, uh, bottom line in Casino Royale, he convalesced at a stunning clinic on the shores of Italy's Lake Cuomo. So don?t forget to take it easy after a long journey -- after all, you?ll need all your mojo for the next death-defying adventure.
For more, pick up Mission: The World, a Bond Travel Guidebook out mid-2009.
Certain global hot spots have popped up time and again in the 007 novels and movies -- particularly Italy, Switzerland, the Caribbean, Istanbul, Hong Kong, and of course, London. A slew of new locales will be added to Bond's dossier when the latest cinematic adventure, Quantum of Solace (Sony Pictures).
• Siena, Italy and its Palio di Siena horse race around the ancient Tuscan town's Piazza del Campo, as well as the Italian villages of Malcesine, Limone sul Garda, and Talamone.
• Bregenz, Austria and its opera stage floating over Lake Constance is where 007 (aka Daniel Craig) stalks his prey at a performance of Tosca.
• Panama Cityand Panama?s Col?n province double as Bolivia, utilizing Panama?s dramatic colonial architecture.
• The Atacama Desert in Chile will be the site of the film's vengeful climax, including shots of the Paranal Observatory and the Chilean towns of Cobija, Baquedano, and Michilla.