Gentle readers, welcome to a very special edition of Bellini at Large. Why? Because this issue marks the 10th anniversary of my writing for fab
. Ten years, four editors, two different publishers, and I’m still here. The only person who challenges my longevity is Rolyn Chambers. Since April 25, 2002, the Deep Dish columnist has been, like myself, going to events, interviewing people and writing about his adventures, all very tongue-in-cheek. “Dish is never deep,” he reminds me.
Like me, Rolyn was handpicked by then-editor Mitchel Raphael, who was aware of Rolyn’s little xeroxed club scene zine Yummy
was wacky, even attracting the ire of former fab
editor John Kennedy (police were involved). Within months of starting Deep Dish, Rolyn got his picture in the Toronto Star
for attending Fashion Cares in a suit made out of a shower curtain. A star was born, and for the next decade he was the one face you could always count on seeing at any event.
It wasn’t always easy. “Mitchel was the best editor, but we did have a lot of fights,” Rolyn says. “One night, my article was overdue and Mitchel kept calling me. I told him he would get it in the morning. I was at a coat check and he was really digging in to me, and I started yelling and literally blacked out. The next thing I remember, I’m outside. They said that security literally had to push me out the door because I was yelling so much.”
Aside from fab
, Rolyn also worked at mega-nightclub Circa, but an altercation with one of the other promoters resulted in his undignified dismissal. Circa didn’t last much longer. “Ultimately, it was trying to be Limelight, but this isn’t New York and it isn’t the ’80s.” From there he was offered a job as promotions manager for the newly renovated St Marc Spa. Though he brought big-name pornstars and an artistic touch to the spa, it never took off.
After St Marc closed, Rolyn decided to take some time off to care for his best friend Dean, who was dying of prostate cancer, a year-long trauma that wrung Rolyn out emotionally. Since then, he’s bounced back with a hilarious Tumblr blog, Mean Gayz, which utilizes his art school training and his savage wit. An utterly forthcoming person, the only thing he will not tell me is his age. “That’s confidential information. Just a few years ago, my own brother finally found out my real age.”
Rolyn and I have so much in common. We both take our ridiculous jobs very seriously. We both think of our fab
literary endeavours as social columns, not gossip columns. We’ve both attracted the ire of community groups (he, gaysians, due to a SARS joke; me, bears, due to uncharitable fat jokes). We both enjoy all the perks that come with the job (free booze, free admission to big events, meeting celebs and flirting with guys). And we’re both very proud of our staying power. But then he drops the bombshell.
“I would like to retire my column this year,” he announces. “I hope the editors replace me with somebody who has an unusual fashion sense, someone who’s well-rounded, who knows art, fashion and culture, not just clubs. Basically, I want a younger version of me.”
Well! As much as I will miss my dear colleague, I am secretly thrilled, because this means that I will be the longest-running fab
columnist ever! But just how much longer can an aging bon vivant keep going? Aside from honouring Rolyn Chambers, I also want to take this opportunity to announce the birth of The fab Columns
, an honest-to-God book, available soon on Amazon. It’s a hefty 90,000-word compilation of my favourite pieces from over the years. Scan it to see if your name is in it. And if not, well, there’s still time. At least another few years, anyway.