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Sandra Bernhard's Guide To NYC

Sandra Bernhard's Guide To NYC

The stage performer and gay icon chats about a few of her favorite places, events and things in The City That Never Sleeps.


Originally published on

Name: Sandra Bernhard Age: 53
Profession: Performer
City: New York
Relationship Status: 10 fabulous years
Sexuality: In my imagination everything

What are some great NYC restaurants for a night out with gay friends there?
Well I go to the same restaurants with my gay and straight friends. We don't usually break everyone down into groupings -- "Oh no, we can't bring George to Cookshop, he's much too flamboyant for that setting!" or "Elizabeth is such a man eater, BLT Fish will simply be too shocked by her behavior!" So we mix it up, isn't that kooky! That said, we go to Matsuri for Japanese, Bar Pitti, gemma, Il Buco, Orso, for Italian, Snack Taverna for Greek, Taboon for Middle Eastern, Bombay Talkie, Tamarind, for Indian, BLT Fish for seafood. Cookshop for local produce (super fresh and farm raised).

What are some of the things you love most about NYC?
New York is awake 24 hours a day. Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night and watch the traffic flow up Tenth Avenue so I never feel alone.

What are some of your least favorite things about it?
Not always being able to look up and see the wide open skies like you can on the west coast - so that feels claustrophobic. The doorman situation can wear you out, too. Always having to be upbeat the minute you walk out of your apartment, but these are insignificant issues. I basically love it here most of the time.

What gym do you like most when you work out in New York?
I go back and forth to Crunch fitness where I work out with my trainer Butch Sands, who kicks my butt - and Equinox, which is a great all-around gym when I am on the move around the country.

What about great restaurants for a romantic date?
Waverly Inn is sexy and the new Minetta Tavern.

What is the best time you ever had while traveling?
Swimming at Buckingham Palace late one night with Princess Di. We just laughed our asses off.

Probably a ridiculous question, but Is there a particular best place to "people watch" in NYC?
Pastis is the best place for out-of-towners. It is always packed with interesting people and a very frenetic atmosphere, which is really fun.

Are there lots of famous people always walking around?
New York? I should say so -- but I am from Flint, Michigan originally, which is where Michael Moore is from as well.


What are your favorite gay bars and/or dance clubs? What do you like about them?
The club scene is New York is not what it once was. We go to Sway (downtown), which has a Morrocan vibe, but just to dance? I should open a new place up, maybe. I'll do that after the recession winds down.

What are your favorite gay parties or events?
I guess at friends' homes - more intimate and personal. I like to talk and catch up with people and eat good food, so we have a lot of people over for small dinners, so we can include our daughter.

Where is the best public place for gays to make out in New York.
On a stage where they are getting paid for it.

What is the gay community like in New York? Do you consider yourself to be part of any particular "scene"?
Me? I am the scene. I try to create it with my performances, where everyone is included and a star in their own right.

Do gay men and lesbians hang out in the same places, or is that still just a ridiculous notion?!
This is New York. Of course everyone hangs out together, unless you are trying to find someone to date.

Are you involved with any LGBT community organizations?
I try and support organizations that help young kids who are in conflict, like the Ali Forney House for transgender kids who need a safe haven. It's a great place that provides medical and emotional help.

Do you have a particular fashion style? Where do you shop for clothes?
I feel like my style depends on what I am doing day to day. Jeans, cute t-shirts, work out clothes - sexy but comfortable. For the stage - hot, edgy, upscale and that includes a myriad of designers.

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 love my classics: Heart, Stevie Nicks, Chrissie Hynde, Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone. I just saw a great play with Sarah Paulson, who is so talented, called the Ginger Bread House. I love Cherry Jones in everything she does. Pink, Grey Gardens (the documentary), Friday Night Lights the best show on TV. Madmen, In Treatment, Mary Tyler Moore, The Godfathers one and two, August Osage County, Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne, Paul Mooney, Jack E Jett, Lily Tomlin, all novels by Stefan Zweig, Belinda Carlilse, a little film called Two Lovers with Joaquin Phoenix, Ravel, Debussy, all things Morroccan.

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?
Go to the Met, walk through Central Park, have a falafel at Taim, go bric-a-brack shopping at Authentique Past and Present on West 18th street, which transforms into Christmas in Chelsea from Labor Day on. Ride on the Circle Line. See a Yankees game at the new stadium. Get a fresh juice by Mel at Lifethyme Health Foods on 6th Ave, shop at Bigelow Pharmacy, next door.

What city (or cities) do you like to visit the most?
I love Chicago. The people, the lake, the food, the vibe and I love to perform there at Steppenwolf Theatre, and hang out with old friends Bill Zehme and Patty Beaudet from Playboy.

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