I’ve been writing on What About São Paulo for a number of years now, and I’ve definitely had a lot of fun with it. I’ve blogged about my life in this city, reviewed bars, parties, restaurants and I’ve also interviewed a number of interesting residents of São Paulo. As I approach the ‘half a million hit’ mark on this site, there is one thing I now want to do with this blog – start writing in a more personal way.
I guess I want to sound, I don’t know…a bit more (excuse the buzzword) authentic. This way you guys get a better idea of who I am, how I think, and how my experiences as a foreigner in South America’s largest city are being filtered.
So how do I plan on doing this? Well, a couple of months ago I read Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Me on one of my favourite blogs, Travels of Adam. I loved this idea, so I thought I’d do something similar with this post:
1) I’m Gay
It’s time I came out of the blogging closet and stopped hinting at this. I am gay. I should have told you guys a long time ago.
2) I Used to be a Party Reviewer in São Paulo
I had been in a relationship with a Brazilian for two years, and when it came to an end I found this pretty hard to deal with. But as luck would have it, around this time I was invited to write for a website for foreigners as a party reviewer. This wasn’t a paid job, but it really opened my eyes to what São Paulo’s nightlife scene was all about. Each week I’d find a few parties/clubs to review, get free entry into these places and then write about them. So instead of listening to my Adele break-up albums on repeat every weekend, I threw myself into exploring what this city’s nightlife had to offer.
3) I am a Tour Guide in São Paulo
I don’t think I have ever written about this on my blog, but I am a tour guide for visitors to this city. Recently I did a walking tour for the gay app Hornet and I sometimes guide high profile names in the world of cinema around the city. Working in this capacity has given me the opportunity to connect with São Paulo in a way I hadn’t considered before, and I really enjoy being able to share my passion for the city in this way.
4) Before Brazil, I Had A VERY Random Job
Being a tour guide is no means the most unusual job I’ve ever had. That honour goes to the part time job I had when I was seventeen, where I worked in a theme park. I’d dress up in a giant alligator costume (I am 6”4/193cm and this costume fit me) to perform daily shows for children in the theatre.
5) A School Trip to Glastonbury Inspired a Change in Me
When I was about seventeen I was involved in a (really geeky) school organisation called Millennium Volunteers. Students were invited to volunteer their time to benefit the local community in return for…a certificate. We were told that this certificate would impress future employers, and I totally bought this. Anyway, this organisation put out a call for people to showcase their talents and promote the Millennium Volunteer organisation at Glastonbury festival.
Up until this point I hadn’t written very much, but I decided to write a script that would give acting parts to myself and five of my good friends (I was also involved in the drama clubs at school – basically, I was a Glee character!). A few weeks later we were all surprised when my script was accepted and we were going on an all-expenses school trip to Glastonbury festival. A few months later we were at Worthy farm, performing my script on a stage next to the Pyramid Stage.
That festival was one of the best weeks of my teenage life, I laughed so hard all week – but it also it awoke something deep inside me. Up until this point I hadn’t had much of a desire to write, to see what else was going on in the world or even to leave my home town. But when I returned home I recognised that the way I saw things had changed, and so had I.
6) I Financed a College Program to the USA in the most Unlikely Way – Reality TV!
So I have absolutely NO idea why I thought that this would be a great idea AT ALL, but at the age of 19 I decided to audition for a singing show called Pop Idol (this show would later move to the US and become American Idol). For a laugh, I wore an Elvis suit on the day of the audition and sang a Prince song for the judges…because in my mind this was just a brilliant idea! It wasn’t, and as I reflect back on this I kind of wish I’d realised this sooner!
“Why are you here?” asked Simon Cowell when I ran into the audition room. Under the glare of the studio lights and the scrutiny of four judges, I wanted to say “I’m going to let my voice answer that question for you!” But the words that left my mouth were VERY different! (I’m actually cringing as I write them!)
“Why don’t you shut up and listen!?!”
This was back in the early stages of reality TV, a much more innocent time for the genre (when everyone was relatively friendly to each other). I expected that my part would be cut – since nobody had spoken to Simon like this before on one of those shows. Well, it wasn’t, instead it was broadcast to about nine million viewers.
On the back of this I did breakfast TV show and was even labelled ‘arrogant Andrew’ by Heat magazine. I was also put into a band made up of the worst singers from the competition, where we made an Internet advertisement and promoted McDonalds for a week in London.
The money I made allowed me to finance a three month college program at Disney in Florida. I had a great time working in The States, and vowed to travel some more after graduating from University.
7) I Spent Four Years in Japan
After University, I took an administrative job and saved as much as I could to travel the world. Whilst doing this, I had a conversation with my Dad that went something like this:
“Andrew, you want to travel and you have always wanted to be a teacher. So why don’t you combine the two and teach English abroad?”
A few hours later I went online, typed “Teach English in” into the Google search bar and “Japan” was the first option to appear. I clicked on it, applied for a job and had this teaching position a few weeks later. I ended up staying in Japan for four years.
8) I’m Getting Back into Running
During my time in Japan, I ran a full marathon in Tokyo (26 miles / 42 k), then in my first few months in Brazil I ran a half in Rio. After this….I did absolutely nothing! But earlier this year my friend came to visit and he encouraged me to sign up for a half marathon in Rio. Since doing this I’ve got back into running and have recently started training with a running club in São Paulo.
My personal best for the half marathon is 2 hours and 3 minutes. I REALLY want to get under two hours and hopefully I can do this in the next few months! I will keep you posted!
So now you know a little bit more about me!
I’ve been a little slack with this site recently, but you can expect more posts to follow in the coming weeks!