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September/October 2005 | Best of Gay New York

September/October 2005 | Best of Gay New York

58 sensational secrets, from insider Manhattan hot spots to awesome outer borough outings. Start spreading the news!

Broadway! Times Square! Christopher Street! The East Village! Stonewall! Is New York the gayest city that ever lived? Like a bright diamond magnet, this ever-evolving megametropolis has always drawn gay and lesbian travelers to its pulsating streets and dark cement valleys in search of their identities and destinies. Sure, same-sex marriage may not have passed here (it came close earlier this year), but few cities on earth boast such a lip-smacking smorgasbord of gay-owned establishments and queer treats. According to the visitors bureau, 39.6 million visitors flocked to NYC in 2004—which means (as long as the 10% rule holds) that as many as 4 million fruit-lovers took a bite out of the Big Apple’s queer side. What in the world did so many gay travelers do without the following hush-hush hot list of Gotham’s undiscovered gay delights? We shudder to think! Now on your next visit you can sleep in a boutique bunk bed, power through breakfast with the city’s sassy queer set, and catch a full contact smack-down female roller derby match with Bronx lesbians. We scoured all five boroughs (yes, even Queens) to uncover the hottest secrets New York City has to offer. It’s a helluva town!


Meatpacking Must
The Meatpacking District has come a long way since its leather bar and tranny hooker phase. The embodiment of the neighborhood’s new coolness is the impressive and überhip14-story Hotel Gansevoort (18 Ninth Ave., 212-206-6700, $435 and up). The rooftop pool has striking views, and the after-work roof drinks scene is elbow-to-elbow with the city’s most beautiful people. The spa is a revelation, and the light rooms are spacious and quiet.

Lesbian Boutique B&B
Tucked away in an apartment building on a serene residential block is this gem of a find: East Village B&B (244 E. Seventh St., Number 6, 212-260-1865, $100 and up), a boutique hotel–style, lesbian-owned inn with three rooms. Expect exposed brick walls, colorful bedding, wood floors, and superb artwork.

Artists in Residence
The Hotel Chelsea (222 W. 23rd St., 212-243-3700, $150 and up) was born in 1884, when 23rd Street was a glittering theater district. Its ultrawide walls (the better to write, compose, and party in) are thick with the hidden histories of past homo habitués: William Burroughs, Tennessee Williams, and Quentin Crisp as well as the unofficial overflow from Andy Warhol’s fabled and very queer Factory.

Good Point
Although at first it may not sound like the most glamorous place to slumber in New York City, the new, award-winning Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan Chelsea (160 W. 25th St., 212-627-1888, $209 and up) is actually the swankiest one in the country, feeling like a W Hotel but for a nicer price. The ultramodern rooms are richly furnished in masculine tones, and the views are to die for.

Chic Peep Shack
The cool cat is already out of the bag on hotelier André Balazs’s latest creation, QT, as in “on the QT” (125 W. 45th St., 212-354-2323, $165 and up with 25% off for anyone under 25), his follow-up to SoHo’s Mercer and Los Angeles’s Chateau Marmont and the Standard. Voyeurism is a key design motif at this low-priced jewel (bleachers abut the swimming pool, located in the lobby!). It’s decorated with ’60s gossip rags (headlines include “Lesbian Suitcase Girls of Greenwich Village” and “The Plot to Make Lesbianism ‘smart’ ”). Bunk beds available on request.

Camping Out
Chelsea has other great gay B&Bs—the Chelsea Mews Guest House on 15th Street and the Colonial House Inn on 22nd Street—but how can you say no to sleeping under tawdry posters from cheesy ’50s films in the Susan Hayward or Rock Hudson rooms at the Chelsea Pines Inn (317 W. 14th St., 212-929-1023, $129 a night and up)? There’s a cozy back patio, and the staff is obliging.

Luxe Life
Make like Ginger Rogers in the movie Weekend at the Waldorf and check into the art deco Waldorf Astoria, which was the world’s largest hotel when it opened in 1931. Old World elegance slaps you lovingly in the face, and even Eisenhower lived here. (301 Park Ave., 212-355-3000, $249 and up).


Krash the Party
Krash (16 W. 22nd St., 212-229-0585) remains New York’s hottest homo hip-hop night—even after hopping boroughs from Astoria, Queens, to the heart of Manhattan. A multiethnic mix of boys collides on the sweat-stained dance floor every Friday night—a Vinnie Barbarino fantasy.

Underground Singers
Marie’s Crisis (59 Grove St., 212-243-9323) is a subterranean show-tune sing-along dive bar that possesses the charms of Paris and the moxie of New York. Everyone sings ensemble, which is why it attracts the likes of Hamish Bowles, Parker Posey, Molly Shannon, and other slumming celebs. It also happens to be on the site where Thomas Paine wrote his rabble-rousing essays “The Crisis” and “Common Sense.”

Room for Girls
In a city where dyke bars are not as plentiful as one would think—or hope—the hot new hangout is Girls Room (210 Rivington St., 212-995-8684) in the East Village, with funky gals and great music. And yes, it’s lesbian seven days a week!

Latino Orthodoxy
On Wednesdays hang out at the Noche Caliente Party with sexy and thuggy merengue-loving Dominicans and a smattering of yarmulke-wearing gay Orthodox Jews too! Nothing is more Washington Heights (at the northern tip of Manhattan) than this party at the Monkey Room (589 Fort Washington Ave., at 187th Street, 212-543-9888).

Stevie Wonders
The most famous Stevie Nicks event in the world, Night of a Thousand Stevies (dubbed “a riot of shawls, lace, baby’s breath, twirling, and tambourines”), moved to the famous Knitting Factory (74 Leonard St., 212-219-3132) in May with girls and guys decked out in Stevie glamour and belting every Nicks song imaginable. Stand back!

Latina Queens
Latin American–themed gay club nights are the latest rage, but for dykes who want to salsa the night away—minus the omnipresent “uncut go-go boys”—Chueca Bar (69-04 Woodside Ave., Woodside, 718-424-1171) is the answer. It’s the only hottie-filled, full-time Latina lesbian club in New York City.

Irish Queens
An Beal Bocht(445 W. 238th St., 718-884-7127), New York’s only dyke-popular Irish pub, shelters expats, queer ladies, and students on a dastardly incline in the posh north Bronx. Live music, art exhibits, Guinness, and hearty Irish breakfasts.

Queens in Queens
Albatross Bar (36-19 24th Ave., Astoria, 718-204-9045) is a tiny, friendly hangout where you can feed your jones for drag karaoke, pool, darts, drink specials, and cute bartenders of both sexes. It’s also the frequent hangout of the New York Gay Pool League (as in billiards).

Basement Boys
Ignore the mainstream straight crowd that downs Bud at the dark Westside Tavern and head straight to the basement. That’s where you’ll find Chelsea’s biggest word-of-mouth success, which crams in gobs of the gayborhood’s hottest boys, thanks to the upbeat lounge sounds of DJs Gustavo Motta and Rich King, on alternating Fridays at Snaxx (360 W. 23rd St., 212-366-3738).

On Wednesday nights hot Alphabet City chickens and their cute straight friends head for the opium den–like basement of No. 1 Chinese Restaurant (50 Avenue B, 212-375-0665) for the Bang! party at the Coral Room, hosted by 20-something hipsters. Free vodka in the early hours fuels this mixed gay-straight scene.

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