Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall Back Disposition

New York City has several recurring themes, most built around notions of high highs and low lows. The city has never been lovelier than it is right now. A perfect summer fading into a truly luscious autumn. More trees and green space than have been seen in centuries, harking back to early industrial times when the city was mostly farmland. A recent panicky shark sighting off Long Island turned out to be a huge pod of dolphins, and whales are so numerous in the harbors that a marine biologist has hailed this "the new Cape Cod." But then my friend Adam Jay, minding his business on his way to our friend Terry's party on Friday night spotted some man making business on the sidewalk.

"I wanted to post about it on Facebook," he told me later, "But had to look up the spelling of defecate to make sure I got it right."

That's New York City for you. The more things change in this city that never stops changing, the more it can't completely shake the vestiges of the past. There is something about this place. You are forced by circumstances to always be moving forward and yet the city makes it so difficult to let go of everything that has come before. Naturally I mean this both in the sense that memories made here can be hard to shake and that you could literally be stuck with the same couch for decades solely because it is impossible (read: too expensive) to get rid of.

Lounging on a chaise lounge in 2001 that, for some reason, I still have. 
I have been writing about New York City since before I arrived and my love of the city hasn't changed (even if I don't write about it as much as I used to). This place is magical. Period. But it is a cruel dark magic, like Ariel trading her voice for legs. You give up so much just to have the most basic necessities. No wonder people who live everywhere else think we are insane. But loving New York City is a form of Stockholm Syndrome. You're a prisoner but where else can you get a bagel like this?

Adam lives in Los Angeles now and while it has many fine qualities (eternal sunshine, air you can see and taste), it's no Manhattan. LA too often can feel like those commercials for depression medication where a sad lady is standing alone in the middle of a party filled with happy, laughing people. "I can't feel my life." Carrie Fisher wrote in Postcards From The Edge and that is LA. You can definitely feel your life in New York City but mostly because it has cut you and you're bleeding.

I realized at Terry's party that it has literally been forever (March) since I wrote about the city. It isn't that I haven't gone out, it is just that my desire to write has. Jimmy made some remark about his long absence from my blog, but it is the blog itself that is long absent. "I think it might be over," I declared, saying out loud what I had been thinking for a long, long time. But here I am again.

Cub and Chris got married this weekend and it reminded me that it has been a long time since I saw them. A quick dash through my blog and I relived quite probably every single interaction we have ever had. A brief, sporadic friendship was writ large, no moment lost to the ravages of time. In that moment, I realized that even as my writing has annoyed and exasperated those closest to me for years, the truth is also that it has documented all of those small moments, good and bad, that make us New Yorkers.

Meeting Cub and Chris at Ben Harvey's birthday brunch in 2009, as New Yorkers do.
We can lose institutions, from Joan Rivers to Roseland, that we thought would stand forever.  Memories can dim and pictures can fade but words are eternal. And if the man relieving himself against the wall of a Broadway theater on my way home after the party is any indication, so is public urination.

Only in New York, kids. Only in New York.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Club Step

Providence is not only humanity's cruel scorekeeper but also a dark chalet on West 57th Street filled with a complex labyrinth of stairs and levels. It's like a Hamburger Hamlet designed by M.C. Escher. Not the kind of dimly lit establishment where drunk and clumsy people can find peace of mind.

If you get lost inside Providence, here's a handy map.
I turned to Donny, still recovering from a broken hip, and issued a dark warning:

"One of us is going to fall down and the other one is going to die from laughter."

Since Donny fell last time, undone by an icy pathway outside his apartment as 2014 began, I decided to tread carefully through the club. Karma, being what it is, I was more than past due for a hard tumble of my own.

We came to Providence for their new Friday night party Berlin. On line for coat check, I met a nice young man visiting from Germany, who sensed providence in the name and came based solely on that.

"Is this one of the big clubs in New York City?" he asked in flawless if heavily accented English.

I just shrugged. This was my first time too. But I was drawn by Brian Gianelli's suggestion and the prompt 11pm show by local drag pathogen Bianca del Rio. I should have known before we arrived that everything would fall apart, this being the endless winter of our discontent and all, but I tried to ignore the warning signs and instead enjoy a night on the town during one of the first moderately decent nights of the year.

This winter has been unrelenting, like trying repeatedly to squeeze a size 14 into a tuna can. Back in December, I mocked my friend Terry Goldman when he wore a short-sleeved shirt to dinner on the single day that month where the temperature threatened to touch sixty. In retrospect, if I had known about the three months of polar vortex ahead I would have appeared in little more than a bathing suit.

So since it was only just in the thirties tonight, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to pull myself out of hibernation and drag Donny out on the town for the first time since we skied through the Aspen Social Club as winter began. Ryan Hahn was organizing a mini-reunion from his holiday party with Griffin Parsons and Jennifer Cheng in tow, but for one reason or another, they all dropped out at the last minute, almost literally as Brian’s plane was making its final descent into madness.

How bad could it be? Bianca. Bunny. No cover charge!
In addition to the chance to spend some time with Brian, I was lured to Providence by a flyer Bianca del Rio posted on Facebook promising both no cover charge and Lady Bunny. The evening had neither. But Bianca, a giant black cotton ball perched on her wig, made the most of it with her usual warm blend of racism and anti-Semitism. The crowd ate it up. After the show, the crowd swarmed, temporarily overwhelming Bianca with photo requests. I was only half-joking when I suggested to Donny that I should organize them into a line and charge five dollars. Between the $30 in cover at the door and $12 at the coat check, recouping our losses was high on my list.

"That'll be five dollars, please. Insults cost extra."
The club was filled with lots of young men and some of them weren't bad looking either. While waiting for the coat check, however, we landed behind a man in a striped jumpsuit (Donny kept calling it a "onesie") that had a glittery owl on the back.

Stop staring at me! It's freaking me out!
It was so quaint when Donny expressed shock that anyone would buy such a thing. “You know he rolled out an old McCall’s pattern and made that himself down at F.I.T.!” I screeched before suggesting a variety of potential Tim Gunn critiques. Later when we were upstairs, Donny spotted him again and yelled, "Ugh. It's back!"

"The front sucks too." I offered.

Look, if you are going to be a man in a skin tight jumpsuit, you better have the body of death not a dead body. I don't know anything about fashion but even I know that’s the truth.

Unfortunately in the midst of all of our gay shenanigans, we lost Brian and his cute friend Andrew in the crowd. It was the second time tonight that it happened and with the drunk train pending, I did not have time for the third time to be a charm. I texted him one last time and headed for the exits.

On our way down to the coat check, I bumped into a collection of cute guys on their way in and one of them was a Grant Goodeve-looking mother fucker. All sorts of hipsters were floating around in plaid tonight but he was the only one that made it work.

In this case, eight would be enough for anyone.
I suppose the hipster thing is like any movement in fashion. Many will try it but most will fail. In his case, the red plaid tucked into his jeans effectively transported me back to my adolescence. Others just looked like sloppy messes for whom an unkempt beard and ill-fitting tank top was statement enough.

Life is full of potential pitfalls. If it isn't bad fashion, it’s a treacherous staircase. One minute you're a nice Asian woman looking for the ladies room and the next Bianca del Rio is dragging you on stage and forcing you to play the role of manicurist. I think monsters lead such interesting lives, don’t you? Even in party palaces where the stairs climb on forever to nowhere. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Vast Haze Of Disco

To every generation a dance floor is born.

Matty pointed up at the spray of antlers (painted white and tangled together) that hung overhead. "Remember when they used to have disco balls up there?" I died a little inside. "They don’t have discos anymore." Matty is too young to have studied at Studio 54 or dined out of Danceteria. His baited questions were less about the subtle changes in nightclub decor over the decades and more a naked bid for blog attention. "I haven’t been on a dance floor since before mobile phones had cameras," he lied after a group photo flashed by an iPhone.  But I indulged. "No one calls them mobile phones, either."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Model Home

"Why are you here so early?" Ryan Hahn's voice rang out across his empty apartment as I dodged three eager waiters desperate to put a drink in my hand before I even had a chance to dispatch my coat. This is what happens when you show up at 9:05 for a very fancy holiday party that started at nine. Apparently, Ryan and our mutual friend Brian Gianelli (aka the only other person I would know at the party) had already decided Brian should come closer to eleven, when the party was in full swing. Information that would have been important to know.

As it was, I happily unloaded my junk at the coat check and grabbed a hot apple cider from the hot tasty bartender. I discovered the big-armed bartender with the heterosexual hair (see below) and equally hot waiters were no mere coincidence, but had been hired from Marc Levine, the owner of Model Bartenders. I came by this juicy secret from Marc himself who had come early to make sure everything was going well, which might explain the aggressive lords-a-leaping as I walked in the door. 

"Would you like to try on that Santa suit? It needs a bottom." - My Best Line of the Night