Yehonathan's Gay Guide to Tel Aviv
Originally published on Gay.com/travel
Age: A Timeless 31
City: Tel Aviv
Relationship Status: Single
What are some of the things you love most about Tel Aviv?
I grew up in Tel Aviv, so for me it?s about my family and my friends, growing up there and all the great times that I had during my childhood years. But it?s the freedom to do whatever you?d like that I love too. I truly think it is one of the best cities in the world ? small, but yet you can find anything here: crazy night life, awesome beaches, cute sidewalk cafes, great restaurants, history, and beautiful people, and there?s a feeling in the air that I couldn?t even begin to explain. The city is open 24/7, and there is always some exciting adventure waiting around any corner for those who want to find it.
What are some of your least favorite things about it?
The heat! Oh god, the heat! It?s really crazy hot here from May until October to the point where it affects everyone?s tempers! The heat makes everyone crazy. Israelis are not the most patient people in the world to begin with, but add the heat and you have a lot of pissed off, but horny people on your hands. Ha!
What is the best date you ever had in this town?
The best date that comes to mind was actually when I was really young and just coming out. My date and I decided to skip the usual route of coffee/ movie/bed, so we met at the beach at night. Tel Aviv has this amazing gay beach near the Hilton Hotel, and we just spent the entire night under the stars and made out throughout the evening. We were both still deeply in the closet, so we were always looking left and right to make sure nobody was around. It was cute, romantic, and very exciting all at the same time! Thinking about it brings back a lot of warm memories.
What gym do you like most?
I work out in a gym called Holmes Place, which is located right in the center of Tel Aviv in a shopping mall called Dizengoff Center. It is one of the largest and most popular gyms in Tel Aviv -- especially among gay men. The place is packed with cute guys, and at times it feels more like a party than a gym. I can?t work out there late-afternoons or evenings because you have to wait forever for each machine, and it becomes too much of a show off place, where all people do is come and cruise one another. So you can find me there in the mornings or early part of the day when I can still enjoy the gay vibe AND get a good workout in.
What are some great restaurants for a night out with gay friends there?
Well ? the nice thing about good food is that it?s something gays and straights can relate to, so I?d hate to dub a restaurant ?gay? when it should be about the food, right? I?ve been a devoted vegetarian for 15 years, so I can only recommend restaurants that i can actually eat in! For Italian lovers (the food -- not the men), there is a great place called Pasta Mia on Linkolen Street, which I love. I?d also highly recommend Thai House on Ben Yehuda Street. I love food, but I can?t cook, so it?s good that Tel Aviv is packed with great places to eat with all sorts of cuisines.
What are some great restaurants for a romantic gay date? What about these restaurants appeals to you?
Wow, it?s been a long time since I?ve been on a romantic date! Ha! Thai House and Pasta Mia are both very suitable for a romantic evening out ? both very intimate.
Is there a particular best place to "people watch" that most people not familiar with?
Any of the beaches, and Tel Aviv has a lot of them being on the Mediterannean! Otherwise, Dizengoff Center (which is the main shopping mall in Tel Aviv) on Rothschild Avenue, Sheinkin Street, a trendy spot with boutiques and cafes, historical Yafo, and of course that gay beach in front of the Hilton Hotel. Wink! All great places when you?re in ?people watch mode.?
Who's famous from Tel Aviv?
Besides me? Ha! Believe it or not, Tel Aviv is home to a lot of international celebrities, like Dana International, model Bar Rafaeli (when she's visiting and taking a day off from her boy, Leo), and actress Natalie Portman, who visits Israel often.
What are your favorite gay bars and/or dance clubs? What do you like about them?
There is only one gay club in Tel Aviv (that's crazy i know, but remember we?re a big small city) called Evita, and it is very popular and doing very well. It?s open every day of the week, they play nice music, and the crowd is very cool. Every once in a while, I perform there.
What are your favorite gay parties or events, if any? What is the crowd or scene like at those places?
There are some really great gay parties in Tel Aviv. Two of my personal favorites are Shirazi's at the biggest dance club in the city called Ahoman 17, which is located on Abarbanel Street and is held once every two weeks. Another favorite are the gay parties at TLV (another big dance club in town) with resident DJ Offir Nissim ? very popular event held once a month with great music! In general, the TLV gay events are much more exciting than the straight ones held there ? but wait, isn?t that the case everywhere else too? Ha!
Where is the best public place for a gay person to make out?
Almost everywhere in Tel Aviv is a good place to make out, or have reason to! It's crazy how this town has become the ?gay capital of Israel,? but everywhere you turn, you see cute gay couples holding hands on the streets, kissing on a bus, the beach, or a park bench -- you name it!
What is the gay community like in Tel Aviv? Do you consider yourself to be part of any particular "scene"?
I think the Israeli "gay community" has come a long way and now I feel like there?s some kind of community that exists here. I lived in West Hollywood for few years, and certainly Tel Aviv still has a lot to learn from them when it comes to better ways to connect to one another, but we are off to a very good start.
Do gay men and lesbians hang out in the same places, or is that just a ridiculous notion?
I really wish we did, but honestly, no. Gay guys and lesbians are two very separate communities in Tel Aviv, which is a real shame. I think this is true in most places, but the gay pride event in Los Angeles is very much about the boys and the girls. Maybe finding ways to unite the two would make us a better community?
Are you involved with any LGBT community organizations there?
One of my personal goals this year is to get more involved with an organization in Tel Aviv called IGY, which helps gay teens with acceptance issues.
Tell us about the LGBT pride celebration. Do you usually attend? What are the highlights for you?
I can?t wait for Tel Aviv?s gay pride weekend, which usually happens every year the first weekend in June; it?s my favorite gay event of the year hands down! In fact, I wish every month was gay pride weekend. It brings out the most amazing crowd of people, and since summer is here, very tan and beautiful people!
Do you have a particular fashion style? Where do you shop for clothes?
I always say that when it comes to fashion, I did not get the gay gene! I'm awfully straight in that aspect. I?ve never been good at knowing the designers or brands and what goes well with what. Thank god for my friends because whenever I have a show, I'm at their mercy. They help me pick out outfits (okay, did I just say ?outfits??) that will work for me. I'm really so clueless about that! I don't shop; my aunt does this for me! lol So you can see where my problem starts? Ha! Otherwise, I?m a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy.
Where do you go for other forms of entertainment -- live theater, concerts, movies, art exhibits? Are there any local gay performance groups, bands, or artists that you're a fan of?
I'm a huge movie buff, so I usually go out to movies a lot, and since most of my friends are actors, they?re usually dragging me to see a play from time to time. Tel Aviv has a lot to offer those who seek out "cultural" venues, like The Habima Theater.
If you had gay friends visiting from out of town for the first time, what are some "musts" that you'd recommend they see or do while in Tel Aviv?
Definitely Yafo, which is the historical part of Tel Aviv. It?s just an interesting place to visit because you could see something new every time you go. Next up would be spending lots of time at any one of the amazing beaches, but we?d probably sleep a lot during the day because we?d be out all night partying and taking in Tel Aviv?s amazing nightlife.
For more on Yehonathan, visit his official site.