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The 10 Best Gay Things About NYC You Don't Already Know

by Matt Bell


Next time you find yourself in the Big Apple, make sure to check out these tourist worthy gems that even the locals can’t stay away from.


Christopher Street Pier at Hudson River Park in the Summer

• Few places have gay neighborhoods that were themselves gentrified by gays, but that’s exactly what happened to the Christopher Street Pier. In the '60s and '70s, this was the seedy section of west side of Manhattan and home to some of the city’s most notorious gay sex cruising grounds [see Gay Sex in the ‘70s and you’ll see what we mean].


Today, the pier is all cleaned up and is pretty much the closest thing to a gay beach on the island of Manhattan. Jutting out from the Hudson River Park, the pier is a grassy knoll sprawling with shirtless gay guys soaking up the summer sun [much like on the beach, except on the Hudson River]. The breeze takes the edge off of the Manhattan humidity and there are stunning views of New Jersey [seriously] and downtown. If you’re tired of all the sight seeing and just want to relax, head here. Besides, it’s a great place for meeting guys outside of a bar. Tip: Bring sunglasses, it’s bright.


Broadway Bares []

• Much as the name hints, Broadway Bares is a scantily clad, expertly produced Broadway performance to raise money for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Tony Award-winning Choreographer and director Jerry Mitchell began the event in a bar in Chelsea back in 1992 and it has since generated such attention that it’s moved into the Roseland Ballroom and in 2008 raised close to $1,000,000.


Each year the show is built around a new theme [2008’s being Alice in Wonderland] and stars many from Broadway’s own big names and even film stars like Nathan Lane. It’s a brilliant enough of a production to warrant a full run, but with all that star power and so few garments, it’s something we happily settle for catching during it’s once a year performance.


PS 1 []

• You won’t find rainbows or go-go boys at this Queens summer dance party, but you sure will find a lot of cute gay boys and well-dressed straights. PS1  is a museum that closes on Saturday to host outdoor afternoon party, which draws a diverse set of DJ’s from around the world.


At just $10 bucks for cover [or free if you’re a member of the museum], New Yorkers from all walks of life flock here for their Saturday afternoon kicks. Our favorite thing about the people at this party is that they really do come for the music and as such, it’s a melting pot that the gay seem to rule. It’s a quick hike on the subway or a moderately priced cab ride, but worth it as it’s the closest thing to a European dance festival on this side of the Atlantic as you can get. Tip: Getting back to the city via cab is easy, there’s a depot just across the street.


Here Productions []

• We recently sat down at the off-off-off Broadway, Here Theater and watched Arias with a Twist, a psychedelic-gay-cabaret-puppet-musical and we were absolutely blown away. In fact, so was the devil who received a blow job on stage. Don’t worry—it was just a life-sized puppet! Shows at Here are thematically progressive, expertly concocted symphonies of often exploring unexpected visual media and sound. Here is easily New York’s most creative and innovative theater production company, having given birth [so to speak] to Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues and Hazelle Goodman’s On Edge and consistently receives accolades from The New York Times. Forget Broadway, come here. [Starring Joey Arias, New York’s ground breaking downtown drag star who last was scene starring in Cirque du Soleil in Vegas, and world renown and genre pushing puppeteer Basil Twist, Arias with a Twist runs until December 30th, 2008]. Tip: There’s a bar and you can drink inside the theater.


Gay Art []

• Sure the art museums in New York are among the best in the world, but it’s in the smaller galleries where you will really catch the buzz of the city. There’s no shortage of homoerotic or gay themed shows, but it can be a daunting task to map them all out on your own. New York Gallery Tours offer gay themed tours, led by Rafael Risemberg, Ph.D gay studies professor and art critic for the NY Blade for only $20 bucks. The tours change each month to ensure that you get a full serving of up to date gay art. Surrounded by like-minded gay-art lovers on a tour of gay art in Manhattan? You’ll be hard pressed to find something gayer in New York. Tip: Get a $5 coupon if you email your reservation at



• Every other Friday, the Westside Tavern plays a trick on its normally heterosexual patrons, when muscle daddies and other hirsute type gay guys flood the bar’s basement for this much loved New York nightlife institution. Most tourists never get past the frat-like upstairs but if they so dare, they’re never disappointed in the scene downstairs nor do they hardly leave alone. Tip: Get there just before 11pm.

Film Forum []


• With so much going on all over the place, it seems almost noir to come to New York and go to the movies... that is, unless, you’re heading to the Film Forum in the West Village. This small theater has been the city’s leading movie house for independent premiers and repertory programming since 1970, carrying films that won’t make it to most small town theaters or will barely run in other good-sized cities. The selection curves intellectual and has a strong gay streak as well as a heavily gay audience. Tip: Buy tickets early, the theaters aren’t large and often sell out.


Brunch at Elmo

• Brunch anywhere below Central Park is already very gay, but brunch at Chelsea’s Elmo manages to be very gay with a side of fruit. There’s no scientific study on this, but we’re pretty sure the restaurant’s bar and reputation for hosting one-off parties have something to do with it.


If you want to start your day off in much the same way you started the night before, then get dressed, throw on some shades and head to Elmo.  Tip: Let Martinis be your friend.


Susanne Bartsch’s Halloween Party []

• It’s been years since any gay actually had fun at the Greenwich Village Holiday parade, which has become tacky and embarrassing, even according to Halloween standards. Instead, the boys have been going to iconic New York City party maven Susanne Bartsch’s Halloween bashes.


Actually, pretty much anytime you see Susanne’s name attached to something, it’s going to be special. Susanne, wife of gym honcho David Barton [yes, he’s straight] ruled the gay night in the'80s and'90s, but has come back as of late to throw monstrous Hallows Eve affairs, injecting the anything-goes flair of club-kid New York with the sex driven hyper masculinity of today’s scene. It’s curious concoction but just like the Monster Mash, it’s exactly what you want on Halloween. Tip: Dress fabulous but forgiving.


Patricia Field Boutique []

• Skip the Sex and the City tours and head right to the source. Patricia Field is the New York icon responsible for giving the girls their look and is the owner a boutique that is as colorful as it is gay. The men’s section carries sassy T-shirts, underwear and other rockin’ accessories, some of which are made by underground New York designers. The staff is as friendly as they are fiercely dressed [don’t be afraid, they don’t bite] and always know the best parties going on in the city. Tip: Patricia lives next door and can frequently be sighted in and around the store.


With all this excitement going on, having a centrally located, comfortable hotel with a helpful staff can be the glue that holds everything together. We suggest looking no further than the Chelsea Pines Inn [] , which has been going strong right in the heart of gay Chelsea for more than twenty years… long before the area was even fashionable. If you want character, this is definitely the choice for you.


Nestled conveniently on the edge of the Meatpacking district, between Chelsea and the West Village and just across town from the East Village, the Chelsea Pines’ rooms are lined with framed classic movie posters, are full of personality, pet friendly and offer good respite from the city below. Chelsea Pines is also a great value for the dollar offering some of the lowest room rates in the city in a part of town where hotel accommodations are increasingly becoming among the priciest in already pricey NYC. It’s no wonder, that the New York Times Sunday Travel Section, recently said of thos charming B&B, “In terms of novelty, coziness and price, it’s hard to beat.” Tip: Ask for the Sheree North room. You may not know her now but you just might fall in love with her after a stay in the spacious room with the most amazing blackout curtains ever.



© 2008; All Rights Reserved.


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