We met with Paola Revenioti for an afternoon cup of coffee right across her apartment in order to chat with her about the Paolo Project and many more other things.
Assisted by a cameraman and holding her microphone, Paola hits the streets and like an impromptu reporter asks people various things and then uploads the videos on YouTube, with subjects ranging from Ancient Greek to living in the sidewalk. Her videos are all about authentic, true journalism of the street, with fast paced editing and nice music, featuring common people that always have something interesting to say.
It’s five o’ clock in the afternoon in the park right across Athens central railroad station. Paola appears together with her dog, Lucy. “Hey guys, sorry I’m not dressed for the occasion, I just got off the bed.”
Photo: Irene Mitsakou
I brought you some cheese-pie that my mom made because I had shown her some recipes out of your Facebook and she gave me some for you to check out.
Oh, thank you very much. You should pay attention to the food kids, because love and food are two essential things in life, this is why I upload recipes on the Web. It started out completely unplanned, this thing with the recipes.
Like Paola Project?
Somehow like that.
I can’t just sit around doing nothing, I get crazy. This is how the “Kraximo” magazine started out. After my service in the Navy, I was still pretty young so I left home and moved to Exarchia. I met this anarchist hunk there, Michalis, that got to show around the area and after some conversations we had –and after reading the “Amphi” magazines, I decided I should also do a magazine much more focused on Greece, because “Amphi” was more outlandish. It was very hard doing a magazine these days, however. It’s not like nowadays. It took a lot of work and I was doing most things by myself. Now with the Paola Project things are much easier. You just shoot a video and upload it on YouTube.
Who’s behind the camera?
A friend of mine, Giorgos. He’s a very nice kid. We see eye to eye in many things and so we thought we should start shooting things for the fun of it. The first one was in Keramikos. Now we have reached a point where we have uploaded lots of videos and we have lots of people watching them.
Your videos concerning ancient Greece aren’t few. Do you prepare any of the things you’ll say on camera, or you just speak out of the top of your head?
I’m well informed about ancient Greece because I like reading about it, but I do my preparation prior to shooting the video. To be perfectly honest, it kinda bugs me that people are not very interested in the videos about ancient Greece but only watch the ones with the girls.
The one you shot on Acharnon str. is very good. How did you find the courage to get on with it?
It doesn’t take courage, you gotta have the nerve to do it. Picture this: a transvestite dressed up in her full glory going over to Acharnon str. to the Muslim ghetto, especially after hearing about all these things happening there, with a cameraman and a microphone and asking people things. That’s audacity. Good thing is that people stop and reply to my question, except for one lady that wouldn’t talk to me because she didn’t like me being a transvestite.
Any future plans about the project?
I have many ideas, like talking about the history of [gay] pride and the way it started out in Greece.
Wasn’t it you that had done the first ones in Athens?
Yes, we had done around seven or eight of them. We had even done a gig with Stereo Nova. The reason why I want to cover this subject is that many people think that pride started these recent years, but that’s not correct. We weren’t doing a parade or anything, we weren’t that much interested in that idea, but otherwise it was the same thing like nowadays. Imagine having 3,000 people in a gay pride festival in the mid-90’s in Greece. It was so nice back then, because there were trees all around and people were hiding behind to have sex.
Any other future plans?
I want also to do a video about fetishes. Because I’m intrigued by the fact that the more you climb the social ladder the more fetishes you have. I’ll get in touch with a person I know that he has a good understanding of such things and I’ll ask him questions about the subject. I think it’s gonna be pretty neat.
We continued in her apartment where she showed us various magazines and photos that she kept in a drawer.
“Don’t mind the mess, us transvestites are always messy. Take a seat, I have a lot of things to show you.”
How long have you been streetwalking?
For quite some time, and strange as it may sound, I still haven’t come to terms with it. This is why I never any huge success as a hooker.
Are you still on the streets?
Yes but don’t think anything big… The work is slow. People don’t have money for “experimentation”! To give you an idea, a friend of mine asks me from time to time to give her a lift because she doesn’t even have money to get a cab. And she’s not ugly or whatever, she’s pretty hot. Transvestites had a lot of work once upon a time, we had a very privileged place on the street.
And, besides work, you had any boyfriends?
(She takes a photo album of the closet and starts browsing through the pages). These were some of the men that I have had in my life. Some of them had major crushes on me, but I never gave in to them, I never wanted having strings attached. People were falling in love back then, not like nowadays that everybody’s locked up in their apartments.
We continued our chat at the balcony of her apartment, where there’s a view at the back of the offices of Golden Dawn.
I can’t figure out how such young people have gotten in this thing. And it’s not like they are not low-income or something, they have huge motorbikes and stuff.
Your house is next to the offices of Golden Dawn, aren't you afraid of them?
I’ve been through a lot of shit to be afraid of these guys. I have recently moved in the neighborhood and I’m on my own I have no neighbors. By this I mean that I’m all by myself if anything happens. The other day there was an incident with these guys and a Pakistani. I got down and made a scene on them and took some pictures so that I could upload it on Facebook. Nobody else gave a shit about it.
You said you moved recently in the neighborhood. How come you chose this particular one?
It was a financial issue. To give you an idea, I was this close to go in prison because of various debts, but fortunately some friends helped me out. This is why the house is in such a mess. How can you find the energy to take care of it and love it? Today you’re here, next day you’re someplace else.
Our time is up we have to go. Would you like to say something to conclude this chat?
Can’t think of anything else. Just keep falling in love, never mind if you get hurt later on. But wait a minute before you leave (she takes out of the album a photo of a sailor and gives it to the photographer) Take this as a gift, it’s one of the best pictures I’ve ever shot and I noticed you staring at it in the frame (it was also hanging magnified on a wall). Take these issues of “Kraximo” also and read them so that you can see what was happening back in the day. Good afternoon guys!
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