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Digital Subscriptions > DNA Magazine > #197 - Travel Special > MY HAVANA


From the crumbling architecture to romance and rent boys, British photojournalist Mario Rodriguez has a long and unfolding relationship with Cuba, an island he finds impossible to resist.

I THOUGHT THAT writing about Havana and its gay life would be easy. I’ve spent years travelling back and forth to Cuba. But there is nothing easy about describing Cuban life with its million contradictions. It’s like chopping an onion; you cannot cut through its many layers and reach the core without shedding some tears. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time writing and erasing thousands of thoughts because my words fall short.

Havana stole my heart, years ago, from the moment I first went through customs. Outside the airport, an electrifying wave of heat and in-your-face sexual energy hit me and swept me away. The Cubans excel in the art of chivalry and they are unapologetically direct in their approach. With a simple comment or a glance, they can make you feel desired, wanted, beautiful.

There is something naturally infectious and original about Havana and its inhabitants. You see it in the once-vivid colours of the decaying buildings in Habana vieja (Old Havana); in the confident way the Cubans carry themselves regardless of their shape or what they are wearing, and in their impeccable grooming, especially the men. You feel it in their tactile manners, the way they greet even a stranger with a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek. It’s in the musical way they speak, the way they move and the way they make love, as if listening to an ancient, personal rhythm running through their veins, dancing with passion and an almost desperate urgency. Above all, it’s in their pride for showing the gringos that surviving 54 years of a trade embargo is possible, and in the fact that Havana is relevant, now more than ever.

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About DNA Magazine

It’s our Travel issue and we take you to France, The White Party in Palm Springs, steamy Havana and romantic Budapest. We’ve got the hottest guys from our model search finals, sexy travel accessories, and we pay tribute to Prince. We have a great in-depth feature on the murder of screen legend Ramon Novarro, and we speak with the gay politicians who are shaking up “the House” Down Under. Adam Garcia is this month’s Straight Mate, and check out the amazing photos of cover star William alone in his hotel room. Plus you get 40 extra pages not included in the print edition. Go you!