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INSIGHT

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Talk it up

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may 2010

hardcore gossiptimist — there’s no other who works as hard or knows as well the unspeakable veracity of his tribe and the solace in their hearts. Now it’s our turn to snoop…. To the uninitiated, how do you describe what it is you do? I’m in the eating-off-cocktail-napkins business. Part Capote-esque social chronicler, part party prowler, court jester, and boldface-generator. I’ve covered everything from swishy art types at the Venice Biennale to the undergarment brigade at the Victoria’s Secret show, the couture crowd at a Chanel show in Paris and all the high-low action in our backyard here in Toronto. It’s been said I’d go to the opening of a Beck taxi. Share an anecdote from your adolescent days that would surprise your friends. I was much taller then, believe it or not. It wasn’t until an evil gay sorcerer put a curse on me, and I shrank. Also — dead serious now — when I was little I had a speech impediment that disallowed me from pronouncing the “sh” sound. I couldn’t say my own name until a therapist got busy with me. I think that explains everything about me in some vaguely Jungian manner. I couldn’t say my own name! Now I make a living off other people’s names. Define how your strategy has evolved over the years when it comes to TIFF. This coming September will be another year where my station as a journo merges with my man-about-town-ness as I’m co-chairing the big Cinema Against AIDS Gala. It’s the first time I’m helming a gala in town, as opposed to merely meandering at one. Last year was a weird year at TIFF in that not only was I going to 40 parties in a week, and writing everyday and sounding off on TV and radio, as I do a lot, but I launched my first novel, Boldface Names, right in the smack of it. So I was being covered as well as covering. Holt Renfrew threw me a big party, and it was one of my more out-of-body experiences, seeing that I was the kid who’d come here as a refugee

Photo by Iva

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h, to the snoop go the spoils. Anyone who’s ever picked up the National Post knows that Shinan nist is one of the most-invited and sought-after guests in the nation. From the Time Top 100 Gala in Lincoln Center to Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy night party. His circulation gives him the clout to attend every cocktail party, hotel opening and dinner with Bill Clinton and Oprah that can fit into his supersonic schedule. A notorious and viable cultural export, his true occupation is living large on his quick wit, steely nerve and celeb access granted by his myriad network of PR fluffers. With Govani validating the scene, Toronto emerges as an unlikely, fledgling pleasure capital with a ripe pantheon of homegrown A-listers. Govani is a distinct product of metro Toronto — there’s no other multiculti ecosystem that could have incubated such a brainy and boundless man sporting such a fearless agenda. Govani’s repertoire gives us a supine twist on the acerbic drollery of Oscar Wilde, the iconoclasm of Martin Amis, the feel-good repartee of David Sedaris. For most “civilians” who grew up alongside Toronto’s resident snoop, Govani’s glitter-filled grown-up world may as well be, well, Narnia. Over the years his readers have learned all about his quirks. How he loves putting on a tux and strutting into the Gillers. How Siren Communications president Ann Layton is his primary “lifestyle enabler” when it comes to gluttony, binge drinking and fully subsidized five-star hotel stays. Whether tackling pop-culture trends or society prenups, his lusty columns read a lot like Deuteronomy for the upwardly mobile. They demand he walk the line — be impenetrable, obliging, ostensibly sincere, always pretending to know less than he does. We love him for refraining from the more predatory techniques of his trade — skewering the usual suspects, attacking novices or the emotionally exposed. He’s the

n Otis

Inside the charmed life of Shinan Govani by Si Si Penaloza

May 2010- In Toronto Magazine  

gay city living

May 2010- In Toronto Magazine  

gay city living