Ben Jamu is a well-known face on the East London scene, flinging his dreadlocks around, cracking open cans of Strongbow by the canal, and DJing everywhere from East Bloc and Dalston Superstore to someone’s bedroom in Hackney Wick.
Last year, he upped sticks and jetted over to Athens. He’s been dancing with sexy Grecian men, living it up on islands, and singing “I Should Be Souvlaki” ever since. Dylan Jones pulled him away from his busy schedule of boys, beaches and baklava to ask him all about it.
Hey Ben Jamu! What made you jet over to Athens?
I was here in 2012/2013 for my third year of uni. After I finished my degree I spent a year fucking around in London until it was time to do something more concrete. That was the aim anyway. The life here is pleasant and fairly easy. I know that’s counterintuitive, given everything we know about the various crises going on, but my rent is €200 a month and the sun shines constantly, what more can I say.
What are your fave things about it?
Being outside ALL THE TIME! I never have to worry about which clothes will be appropriate for whatever the weather will throw at you. In general the rule I go by (as a ‘Brit abroad’) is the less the better, which I’m perfectly happy with. I barely even wear pants these days. Besides that, the scenery and landscapes are amazing, especially if you have time to travel. One thing I love is that you don’t actually need money to leave the house as you do in London. If you really need something, you can find it, steal it or have it given to you and you won’t risk your life doing so.
Is there a gay scene?
There are gays EVERYWHERE, whether they say so or not and cruising parks a-plenty (not that I know anything about that). And then there’s the island element. Beyond Mykonos, which everyone knows about, in my experience the nature hippy islands are also SUPER GAY. I’ve heard people say Athens in the new Berlin, but I guess they’ve never been to Berlin. In any case the city’s in a state of such flux and chaos that there are Mariah moments of true creative madness emerging from the rubble.
Totes superficial question…what are the guys like?!
There is a LOT of eye candy here, but eye candy comes to nothing when they’re either married, in the closet or have deeply damaged macho-masculine psychologies. Still, with fascist neo-nazis on the prowl and the threat of mother cutting off your weekly supply of Pastichio and Moussaka, it’s in some way understandable that they generally want to be on the DL. I’ve met some nice ones though and they are generally hot. If you’re into casual conversationless sex, then it’s the place for you!
Talk us through your typical weekend in Athens. What’s your favourite venue there?
My favourite parties are the self organised free raves that make use of the city’s university spaces, parks, hills, mountains and beaches, which can be truly breathtaking locations to be dancing as the sun comes up. They’re less categorised than the parties in London. There’s a sense of controlled anarchy which just wouldn’t work in the UK. I’ve DJ’d a couple which was awesome. You can find your specialist bars too though, if you look and have accounts to the rights sex websites I guess haha. In answer to your question…I don’t have a favourite venue, because it all depends on the night.
Where’s best for a cheeky 4am snack?
They’re good at fast food and it’s super cheap so take your pick, the burgers are great and of course souvlakia (Greek kebab type things) are everywhere. I personally usually get a big fat slice of pizza from Platia Exarchia at these times of the morning.
Where’s best for a cheeky 4am man?
They’re app mad here. I guess for the discreet and emotionless element of it all…but you’re just as likely to randomly hook up at one of the queer friendly mixed bars or alternative parties. Like I said there are cruisey places, and if you have 10 euros spare you can pick up 20 year old Albanian and Middle Eastern immigrant boys at the bordellos around Victoria Square. It all depends what you’re into and how far you’re willing to stretch that moral compass, if you have one at all that is.
Do you live in a Grecian palace with houseboys?
Not even close.
What’s your house like?
I live in a top floor studio apartment with sea and mountain views from the balcony and terrace. It’s small but perfect for me and my dog and one or two more casual guests as and when I decide.
Tell us about the work you do there. Are you ever coming back to London? We miss you!
Right now I’m working with a local Human Rights organisation trying to improve the lives of LGBTQI+ immigrants and refugees as well as promoting better bonds between the various minority communities. It’s a dynamic and varied job which is quite extreme and we’re constantly adapting to the situation, which changes daily. I’ve also been DJing here and there, one of the best being a sunrise set in an ancient amphitheatre.
Wow amaze! Well come back and see us soon Ben. We’ll have a Strongbow by the canal. Not quite sunrise at an Athenian amphitheatre, but you can’t win ‘em all.