In the first two parts of this three-part series about Austrian Boylesque artist Jacques Patriaque, I talked about his international Boylesque career, and his philosophy behind the Vienna Boylesque Festival he founded, and the woman he will always choose as the festival’s host.
In this last of the series, I’m taking a look at Jacques Patriaque the man. The person I sat across from for four hours, and who talked about his family, his friends, his life, the things that are important to him, his cats, and why he thinks being gay and the things just about every gay man went through as a teenager aren’t any worse than what any teenager goes through. Most of the time.
And a man who understands the importance of being nice. Thanks to a mom who taught him.
‘When I grew up it was not cool being a nice person. It was like, you’re a pussy. And I think there’s a change in the generations in that they now recognize it’s good to be a nice person.
But I was raised by my Mom who always told me never treat people differently no matter who they are, and don’t judge a book by its cover. At the end everyone, even celebrities, are just human beings. So treat people like that. Be nice.”
Jacques Patriaque and his cats
As an animal lover and constant pet owner myself, the way people treat animals says a lot to me about what kind of person they are. The way people speak about the animals they have as pets tells me even more.
The way Jacques Patriaque talked about his two ginger cats — Helmut and Erik — said more to me about him than anything else he said that night. It told me he is kind and considerate, and a responsible person.
It told me he looks at his two cats as much of a part of his family as is his boyfriend of more than 13 years, Philippe.
And it told me he has the kind of morals I always admire in a person, as well as that he understands what things help create a happy life.
We started off our conversation about animals with his story about his now 11-year-old cat Erik falling out of the equivalent of a six storey window several years ago, and surviving the fall. A fall that gave poor Erik a broken leg among several other injuries.
And it wasn’t just the way he told the story about having to deal with twits at a youth hostel, and then climb over a wall to get to the injured cat that told me how much he loves him.
It was also how he talked about the bitch of a vet who insisted Erik would die and how, for a couple of days afterwards, he couldn’t sleep worrying about the cat when the vet didn’t even bother to call to tell him Erik was alright.
Because he was as protective of that cat as a parent would be of their child, even having his friends sign the cat’s leg cast with hearts and ‘get well soons’, once recuperating Erik had been picked up from the nasty vet.
And he admitted,“Because he was sick, I gave him everything he always wanted. And now he’s a bitch (and he chuckles delightedly). But I still love him”.
As for Helmut, the other ginger of the pair, and the shy one, he has his own funny little story.
“He thinks he’s a dog. You can throw things and he’ll bring them back, and he likes being hit quite hard. He’s into S&M (and he laughs).
My boyfriend tried hitting him hard after a friend of ours hit him and we said “What are you doing?” (and he imitates a shocked voice). She told us he liked it, and, yes, he loves it. So now, my boyfriend has to do it every evening as a ritual. Helmut lies between his legs, and then demands to get hit” (see cute photograph here).
And it’s the way he talks about both cats, like a proud parent who can’t quite believe how wonderful they are, that made me like Jacques Patriaque even more.
Jacques Patriaque the Renaissance Man
From everything I had seen and read about Jacques Patriaque, before I even met him I had an idea he was probably a Renaissance man. That thought was proven during my conversation with him when he talked about the past jobs he’s had.
He was a tutor in high school, a cook at a hotel belonging to the Hilton group (making consommé is one of his big passions), he worked at IKEA for 8 years, was a hair stylist, has extensive experience in public relations, event creation and management and social media, and most recently completed a Masters Degree in French Linguistics, graduating with Honors.
All this while also founding one of the world’s most popular Boylesque/Burlesque festivals, being a successful and internationally in demand Boylesque artist himself, and being deeply involved in the lives of family (he’s an only child with a much loved and much cared for mother), with his long-term and, again, hugely adored boyfriend and an enormous group of friends. And yep, of course, they are intensely loved as well.
Because that’s who Jacques Patriaque is.
Someone who likes to live life to the fullest. Who takes every good opportunity that comes his way, as you never know what might come out of it, who is fascinated in and intrigued by a myriad of things but who, as much as he has huge ambitions for himself and his career, still manages to find time to spend with and take care of the people he loves the most.
A photo posted by jacques_patriaque (@jacques_patriaque) on
Jacques Patriaque on why being gay as a teenager isn’t any more difficult than being straight — most of the time
Jacques Patriaque and I disagree on how difficult it is to be a teenager and be gay.
The subject came up when we talked about his close friend Conchita Wurst, and how my philosophy on her is, regardless that she always insists being bullied as a gay teen didn’t give her any more of a difficult teenage life than other teens had — gay or straight, I don’t buy it at all.
Because I think so many gay kids have it far worse than the average straight teen, to the point where four times more gay kids attempt suicide than do straight kids every year. And I think Conchita Wurst’s (aka Tom Neuwirth’s) teenage years were, for example, far far worse than mine. And mine weren’t always hunky-dory.
But, while Jacques agreed with what I said to some extent, he also has a different way of looking at it.
“I think what she (Conchita) means about it, and what I mean, is that some people in Austria over-exaggerate that thing – that typical gay story.
Some people act like “This only happened to me, and it was terrible”, but basically every gay man has quite the same story. But it drives me crazy when some gay men try to say theirs was worse. Because being a teenager is crap, and everyone is struggling with their sexuality to some extent, and with their body changing, So I don’t like it when some gay men want more sympathy.
Because that’s how they make being queer seem self-absorbed, as it’s all about being gay.”
And, as much as I do still disagree with both him and Conchita somewhat, I also admire why he feels that way and can see what he means.
Because he is one of those rare people who believes in taking responsibility for what happens to him in life, rather than blaming other people — even if, in some situations, they are to blame — and thinks there are better ways of dealing with it than feeling self-pity or being self-absorbed.
And it’s that which makes him a strong and very admirable person. To me.
Jacques Patriaque — a man I like very very much
If you haven’t actually met a person, it’s not always easy to see what another person who has met them sees in them, which is why I’d like to close this by attempting to explain why I liked Jacques Patriaque so very very much.
I tend to gravitate towards people who are kind and good natured, take responsibility for their own lives, treat other people well, care for the people they are close to and are generally decent human beings. If they happen to be interesting, intelligent, do unusual things with their lives and can hold my attention for the more-than-10-minutes most people can, even better.
With Jacques Patriaque, I knew 15 minutes into our conversation he was not only the type of person I admire, he is also one of those rare people I know I will only like more and more the more I meet him.
Because he is deceptively complicated and deceptively unique. In that, at first meeting, he comes off as being quite a simple man, with a quiet, polite way of talking and a manner that seems less self-confident than he really is.
Delve a little deeper, however, and his character is far stronger, far more steely and much more interestingly complex than you might first think.
Plus, there’s something wonderfully perfect about a man who isn’t afraid to talk about how much he loves his cats, his mother and his friends. To rave about the women he adores in the Burlesque community, or to naughtily comment about certain people that drive him nuts, while still being respectful and kind and admitting they are just struggling with coping with life just like everyone else.
Because his sense of self and his place in life are so highly developed and solidly secure, he doesn’t need yours, mine or anyone else’s approval. Nor does he need to put other people down in order to feel better about himself.
Finally, just to get a glimpse of one of the many fabulous things Jacques Patriaque the Renaissance Man is constantly involved with, do watch the latest video he has uploaded to his YouTube channel about the December 2015 Imperial Madness party.
Now that’s how you party!
I'm a former radio DJ, an ex non-profit Director of Development, and a left-wing human rights advocate with a 20 year background in gay rights and HIV/AIDS rights advocacy. I'm also an avid video game player. Minecraft is my obsession.