Saturday, May 19, 2007

Meeting Marija

Marija on the bus, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

After coming home from Nijmegen (see post above), I was picked up by Walter and Marcel, who drove me to Almere, a place I know very well having worked there for ten years. Marija Serifovic, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest for Serbia was due to make an appearance, to sing and 'meet and greet' the fans. Fans like us! Ha ha!

Marija had been in Amsterdam in the morning where she was interviewed by the press and had made it over to the unlikely setting of Almere (think of Basingstoke or Milton Keynes for some idea of what it is like) in order to guest on Paul de Leeuw's show. Paul de Leeuw is Holland's most famous and controversial gay comedian/chat how host (a real original, like Graham Norton, but around much earlier, and even ruder!). He is the torchbearer of Eurovision in Holland and records his show in Almere every Saturday and was due to have Marija on the show this Saturday.

We were a bit early and the sun was shining so we took a walk around Almere and, my goodness!, how it had changed in the three years I had had my back turned to the place. They had built a hill, going up to the lake and had built a shopping centre on top of it! Quite good looking shops, with a large bookshop too! Amazing, almost worth a return visit one day when it is completed.

We waited for the girls, sitting on the terrace in the sun, drinking a couple of cooling beers while a local band played old Eurovision hits! Strange that a band wpuld have all Eurovision songs in its repertoire. I must remind Fred of this if and when we ever organise a big party and need a band! ha ha!

On time, the girls appeared, first Edsilia with the English version of her Eurovision song 'On Top of the World' (which is great but not quite as good as the Dutch version) and then Marija with the Serbian version of Molitva. Both women did their best and gave great performances, on an empty stage, with backing tapes. Soon after, we were told we could meet and greet them and a couple of tables were brought round, creating a big crush for all the fans who had appeared at the last minute to see their heroes.

To be honest, it was a bit of a let-down as Marija just sat there for a few minutes signing some cards one after the other before getting up to go, pointing to the now quite large pile of signed tour cards. Oh well, I managed to get to her beore she disappeared and Walter took a couple of photos, while I put my arm around her and thanked her for winning Eurovision, without telling her I had won 600 euros on my bets!

In the meantime, Marcel managed to accost Edsilia and we managed to get a couple of photos of them together, Edsilia making sure that she looked directly at MY camera for the photo! Mission accomplished for the both of us!

I though that maybe Marija could have spent a bit more time with her fans, but she had had a busy schedule and maybe she was a bit miffed not to see the thousands of fans here in Holland which she had seen in Sweden the previous day. Still, it would not have been all that hard for her to stay a bit longer signing those cards and please the fans who HAD bothered to turn up.

After posting some photos of the event, I received an e-mail from someone from Serbia, who I do not know who rather scolded me for suggesting that Marija might be lesbian, on account of her less than feminine looks. She wrote:

Maria...IS NOT GAY...
She has had several boyfriends,Serbia is a small country
and everybody knows everything about everybody else.
Some boyfriends were all over the press and I myself know
one guy she was with personally...
It is just that she was advised by her team that
homosexualism is a sensitive issue in the West and that she
shouldn`t say anything against gay people..
The Serbs are still very traditional about it,being gay is
well,not,socially acceptable.
And Maria said several times she wanted kids and family in
the future.
You can`t tag someone as gay just because they wear jackets
and are not very feminine like Maria...she is so natural to
me and I believe that she is very much hurt when people say
she is gay...cause she simply isn`t...

So, in a way, I apologise for suggesting that Marija had 'lesbianed up' her Eurovision performance. It was only meant tongue-in-cheek and whether or not she is, I felt that she had done a great job in confronting the established order in Serbia and going on to win.


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