As Michael Musto is to New York City, Richard Burnett is to Montréal.
Equal parts cuddle-icious cartoon character and fierce, loudmouth bitch, Richard Burnett is undeniably a Montréal gay icon. His nationally syndicated column, Three Dollar Bill, has been keeping queers in Montréal and across the nation au courant for 15 years. Burnett knows this city like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.
This makes him a perfect choice for this edition of MEET A MONTRÉALER.
Who are you?
Depending on the day, I’m a teacher, a father and a wise old man. Other days I’m a barfly, provocateur and loudmouth bitch.
What do you do?
I’m Canada’s first and only syndicated gay columnist (Three Dollar Bill). The job has literally taken me around the world, but it’s always nice to come home to Montreal. The city ranks in my Top Five, alongside New York, London, Sydney and Istanbul.
Why do you choose Montreal?
Like they say, good boys and girls go to heaven, bad boys and girls go to Montreal. You should’ve seen Montréal during her jazz heyday, a wide-open scene fuelled by Prohibition stateside. Quebec was the only jurisdiction in Canada and America where alcohol was legal. So the thirsty came to Montreal from all over the continent: gamblers, racketeers and the world’s most famous entertainers, everybody from Louis Armstrong to Frank Sinatra, who held court at the Chez Paree nightclub. Montreal is still one of the coolest and most fun cities on the planet.
Restaurant: I love Portugese restaurants, especially Chez Doval and Brazeiro, which I think is the best Mom-and-Pop-run restaurant in the city. Brazeiro’s garlic shrimp entrée is to die for. But I also love my smoked meat and the best of the best is still Schwartz’s. I’ve had meals there with many famous people over the years, including Joan Rivers, author Felice Picano and poet John Giorno, first superstar of the Warhol Factory.
Bar/Lounge: My favourite local watering hole is The Copacabana, a fabulous dive on The Main called The Copa by its regulars, which invariably are local musicians, writers, filmmakers, dancers, journalists and celebs: The Wailers, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, The Snitches, The Stills and Paul Cargnello.
Another bar I like is actually one of Montreal’s bawdy strip joints, which Montreal is rightly famous the world over for: Campus in the Gay Village. And the boys here take everything off. Some of them even have hard-ons! Campus is also a favourite of Jean Paul Gaultier, Calvin Klein, former NFLer David Kopay, Armistead Maupin, Nathan Lane and David Hyde Pierce. Porn director Chi Chi LaRue – dressed in full drag – was kicked out of there once, but Campus later apologized. It’s a great place for a couple of cold beers and hot cocks!
Neighborhood: I’m basically a Plateau boy, but I enjoy many different streets in the city, like The Main (Blvd St-Laurent), Crescent and Monkland streets.
Park: I love Parc Jean-Drapeau on Ile-Ste-Helene, which was originally home to Expo 67 and which hosts the annual NASCAR and Formula One races each summer. But I love Parc Jean-Drapeau mostly for its summertime outdoor rock festivals – this year Lilith Fair, Heavy MTL, Osheaga and Vans Warped.
Festival: The Montreal International Jazz Festival is the greatest music festival in the world. Period. Great music, tons of free outdoor concerts, lots of booze and hot guys and girls all over the place.
And the city’s most colourful and exciting parade is still Carifiesta, which this summer will be held on July 3. I’ve gone to the parade every year for almost 25 years and my crew always drinks a lot of rum!
Museum: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. They co-curated the awesome Yves St-Laurent and Andy Warhol exhibitions, and they’ve got a Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition slated for 2011. Also, do NOT miss their incredible Napoleon permanent collection.
What Montréal musician provides the soundtrack to your life?
No single Montréaler dominates the soundtrack to my life. I prefer certain songs by certain Montréalers, like Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, One Man Guy by Rufus Wainwright, Bad Side of the Moon by April Wine, Luba’s Every Time I See Your Picture and Hymn To Freedom by Oscar Peterson. As for Celine, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
I know you have certain fantasies about Ashton Kutcher. Where in Montréal would you take him?
What are some important elements of a weekend getaway for you?
Good food, good drink, good conversation and a really big bed, preferably with high-thread-count Egyptian cotton bed sheets.
If you were to make love with Montréal, what position would you end up in?
On the bottom, because Montréal always gets her way!
Photo courtesy of www.rogeraziz.com