In such a vast and varying city, it’s hard to sift through all the bullshit and have a where-to-go guide that is reliable enough where it isn’t “white washed” or just “plain Jane.” I’ve been going out in New York since I was 17 so naturally I decided (last night) to finally throw together my honest, off-the-cuff thoughts on the gay bars and clubs I’ve attended over the years that still keep going strong for better or worse.
The name kind of says it all even if the public displays of debauchery have toned down the past two years. The go-to joint for a quick b.j., heavy handed drinks, and games of “who grabbed my ass?” The “No Sexual Activity Allowed” signs thrown at you upon entry are laughable. Why else do you think there’s a cover to a dark hole in the wall that smells of chlorine, Mary?
Ugh! No, thank you. Not since the original Urge (next door in the old funeral home) closed down has this bar been any good. They now occupy the space that housed the ultimate cocaine den for go-go boys and drag queens known then as Woody’s. I miss when Urge was literally raunchy and the patrons were cute.
“One Gay At A Time?” Oh, please. I doubt I’ll be dishing out any form of sex in those bathrooms soon (give me smelling salts) but nonetheless, Eastern Bloc boasts a retro Soviet-styled interior with little air conditioning which gives it an aura of roughness that plays well with the regulars and those attending specific party nights. Currently, the best night is Thursday when Paisley Dalton, Leo Gugu, and Geraldine Visco take over and expose their brand of drunken insanity that has drawn everyone from the Brooklyn hipster types to nightlife’s elite.
Another empty watering hole that can’t seem to find its niche audience, aka “you guys haven’t closed yet?” A cute sized bar but little more gives this place personality. Think you’re gonna find Mr. Right Now here? Think again.
What’s in a name other than making friends who don’t know this place laugh via text message. A favorite of mine whose regulars are the more bear-ish type who welcome all with open arms. The bartenders are very personable, too.
Gay, straight, male, female. It doesn’t really matter when you step through the door of Boiler Room. Face it. Your ass is here to get smashed with $3.75 well drinks. No DJ, no hosts, no fuss. Let it all out and find someone to administer the Advil to you tomorrow afternoon.
“Where It All Began” so to speak. I’ve barely stayed more than two cocktails at this historical playhouse which has two floors with the upstairs being a theater… or something. This piece of history makes you feel less guilty as you start to get that funny tingle in your face. Start here and then take the shit show on the road.
A local greasy spoon which also… serves greasy food to ward off that soon to be headache once you’ve downed their bathtub gin. This one is also historically significant because the bar itself has changed little since the speakeasy days. Best nights are the third Thursday of each month for John Cameron Mitchell’s Mattachine party.
A tight squeeze both upstairs and down. Think of Stonewall just less dark inside, little space, and a tad bit more modern. Another weekend night starting point.
Lesbians normally hate me but the Cubby Hole is completely fine with those with male anatomy walking in, popping a squat, and downing a few classy ass martinis. Will definitely step in again soon to say ‘Hi,’ ladies.
Boots & Saddle
What’s most hilarious about Boots & Saddle is its completely serious attitude of overcharging for horrible drinks and lack of eye candy even with the go-go boys and drag queens. The box of tissues and lotion never looked so sexy even after eight martinis.
Another night starter. The patrons are a mixed, friendly bag of all kinds. Stop by on Sunday Funday with cheap Long Island Iced Teas and such that will surely make you forget you just dropped $50 on brunch somewhere.
Where am I? The Duplex? No? That’s down the street or something? Ok, thanks.
Hmmm. What to say about this. Well, for starters it’s a youngin’s hot spot to find that “daddy” to pay your rent. Don’t dress too “out there” as you’ll scare off everyone. Drinks are pricey but snuggle up to someone and have them buy you one, broke bitch.
The big boy on the block before XL Nightclub opened its doors. Now? Struggling to pay the rent? Maybe. I haven’t been back since January. I did enjoy myself when I first started going out to clubs but it eventually became tiresome.
Depending on what your type is, G Lounge kind of has it all. Throughout the night you could literally show up, find Chelsea boys, leave, then come back to find a totally different crowd which only adds to the fun. Everyone is usually nice and chatty.
Can we say messy happy hour? 2-for-1’s have the sports loving queens coming back each night even if the only games being played are water sports. Kidding!
Nothing too special. Just your usual gayborhood hangout with a middle aged crowd. Fun to stop in for one or two then hit the hay.
Jesus. Is this place still there? Last I heard, Mr. Black’s Rasputin party went belly up and the lights went dark.
The bastard bar that nobody brags about yet is so chic with its decorations and revolving paintings on stage. Give this little hot spot a try next time if you’re in the area. If you’re a drag queen fanatic; start here.
Another happy hour spot with patrons who just got off from work. Toss that tie off, loosen the collar and settle into a barstool. Let’s fuck shit up, baby!
Looking for a piss pig party, you mess? Look no further to this “anything goes” play pen with random sexual acts performed for all to see. Cruise the bathroom and you may also realize it’s not just the toilet you can relieve yourself in. Scary for the younger crowd not used to this kind of scene, but as long as no faces are made or comments condemning people, you’re good to go, sister.
Hell’s Kitchen/Theater District
Latin clubs aren’t just for Jackson Heights. Have an itch to get some Latin flavor? Fuck Taco Bell. Fuck Jorge instead. Besides, he’s so drunk he just spilled your drink on the floor but worry not. He will humbly apologize, see you to the bar, and order you a new one. No joke.
The monstrosity of all that is homosexual. Hotel, bar, club, cabaret. The only thing this venue doesn’t sport is a poppers bar. A bit white-washed with the gay world but still large enough to house a great crowd who is entirely boozed up and enthusiastic about the night’s antics. A great weekend party palace if it’s your scene.
The only good thing to come of Bar-Tini was me being able to bitch out some homophobic Jersey trash who pushed me randomly. “Can we say hate crime if you physically assault me? Yes, please.”
Fact: Does anyone ever remember actually being at this bar/club/lounge thing? It gets quite the rowdy crowd later on and even has regular art shows even if the lights are so low.
If you have a shit ton of money (cash) to piss away on drinks, then it’s all you. This gin joint is nicely decorated subtly and reels in drag queens, Chelsea boys, and the like. A very fashionable crowd.
Multiple floors of insanity. Depending on the night, you won’t be able to move within a few feet of your home base inside. Typical hangout of homosexuality where one must be a slight tipsy to enjoy or else you may just open your purse and throw wine at the bouncers only to be blacklisted. (You know who you are.)
Polite bartenders who are more than helpful in getting your order correct and being heavy handed about it to boot. No cash? No problem. They take cards. Woo hoo. Suck it, ATM fees.
Seemingly small from the outside, Vlada is actually two floors yet we still don’t know if anyone has ever been up those stairs. I only wish someone could start a weekly or even monthly that is able to pack the crowd in.
And there you have it. Whether you’re a lifetime New Yorker or a kid visiting from Europe, get your behind out there and have a little fun. Where do you want to meet for round one?