Gay Club Nights, Dani Baum in The Seagull, and Matt DeMatt’s Birthday Party

Is it a game of musical chairs or a natural expansion of the market? Gay Pride has arrived and will put the question of whether NYC nightlife can devote so many club nights to the gay crowd as major promotional figures bounce from venue to venue. XL has recently stepped away from Brandon Voss, or did he step away first? John Blair, who stepped away from XL for Brandon, is now enjoying major success with Beto Sutter at Stage 48. Brandon has, of course, landed on his feet. His Cher thing at Marquee last night was the hottest ticket in town. It will be interesting to see how Brandon’s crew mixes with the incredible Susanne Bartsch’s Catwalk crowd. When Pride is passed, will there be casualties? Can the city support so many gay club nights? I think something will have to give.

I’m very proud of club fixture Dani Baum, who is starring in The Seagull, a play she produced. It opens tonight at THEATRELAB, 357 West 36th Street, with 5 performances tonight through Tuesday. Click here for tickets and info.

I was proud of Matt DeMatt, who is keeping himself together as he navigates the always murky waters of nightlife. His birthday party last night had me rubbing shoulders with Tom Green and Playboy playmate Cathy St. George and Randy Jones of the Village People and celebrity photog Patrick McMullan. An old school crowd of hot people had a blast. There are big things happening over at Gaslight/G2 where the bash was held. It is the best location in town, but has been catering to the foot traffic of the Meatpacking.

Matt is prepared to focus his energies on upgrading to an upscale crowd. Location, location, location, location … location. He has the best location, and without distractions from previous management I expect great things.

[BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for XL, Stage 48, Marquee, Gaslight, G2; Follow Steve Lewis on Twitter]

Hot Stuff at Hotel Chantelle, Surf’s Up, and Gay Pride

Help me, I’m melting! I actually need someone to pour water over me as I just don’t do well in the heat. In a heat-of-the-moment decision, I decided to DJ for free, something my manager Adam over at 4AM frowns upon. The occasion was the Surf’s Up soiree over at Aspen Social Club, which was converted to “Aspen Surf Club” to catch the wave. When I got settled and shook a bunch of hands and kissed the babes on the cheeks I went to the DJ booth where DJ Life was killing it. His offerings of hip-hop, pop, and R&B was just what they wanted so I opted out and headed to Hotel Chantelle where I really wanted to catch Luc Carl’s set.

The Aspen Surf Lodge event had a door proceeds benefactor in the Rockaway Beach Alliance. Every hipster I know is heading out to beaches in Fort Tilden and Rockaway these days. The night before at The Darby I dined with Marky Ramone and his wonderfully-made Marion and my gal Amanda. Marky felt strongly that a street in Rockaway should be named after Dee Dee Ramone, who penned the classic Ramones track “Rockaway Beach.”

That song has tourists from all over the globe flocking there. Marky pointed out that Joey Ramone Place is at 2nd Street and  Bowery, just a hop, skip, and jump from what is affectionately called the Ramone’s loft. It is actually the loft of artist, lighting designer, road guru and all-around genius Arturo Vega who I named my Chihuahua after. “Rockaway Beach” is one of the most recognized tracks from this seminal NY punk band, and a street for Dee Dee would indeed be sweet.
The air-conditioning failed to meet the test at Chantelle and, although we DJs did our best and the crowd tried to make a go of it, everybody ended up on the roof and partied under the stars. I had fun playing tracks that had some sort of heat reference including "Hot Stuff" by The Rolling Stones, "I’ll Melt with You" by Modern English, and eventually "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. They say the air will be fixed, but it was a bit too late for last night’s party. I’ve always been taught to "never let them see you sweat"…last night, I failed.

I would be remiss and subjugated to much emotional distress by my friends celebrating Gay Pride if I didn’t mention it. My fabulous friend and fiend Patrick Duffy has done it again. A fabulous event will mark my introduction to OUThouse within the THE OUT NYC resort complex. The space is behind a red unmarked door at 510 west 41st Street between 10th and 11th. This is a private affair with a $50 6pm-9pm champagne-and-curated- cocktail reception so if you want into OUThouse you better hustle.

The gift bags are a "must" with “a gorgeous equality candle, jewelry by Chris Habana, and a skin spa gift and much more. The gala has a name: “The Garden of Earthly Delights," a very special Pride benefit for the Courage Campaign and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Campaign. The shindig is hosted by the ever-fabulous Amy Sacco, Peter Davis, Christopher Valiante, Michael Warner, and of course Patrick Duffy. DJ Angola will set the tone, and my favorite Monday Night Bingo buddy Murray Hill will perform. I wouldn’t miss it for the world …unless their air conditioning is on the fritz.

How Was Your Gay Pride?

Yesterday was the 43rd annual Gay Pride Parade in New York City, with celebrities like Cyndi Lauper and politicans like Governor Andrew Cuomo and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn joining thousands of celebratory LGBT community members and their allies. Plenty of floats played Lady Gaga as they rolled down Christopher Street in the West Village (although the most popular parade float soundtrack hit was "Call Me Maybe," natch). But of course, the most important sights were those off the beaten path.

Upon my immediate arrival in the West Village, I was not surprised to see hundreds of proud onlookers trying, like confused hamsters, to navigate the barricaded sidewalks on Sixth Avenue. I made my own way through the maze, finally managing to cross the street so that I could walk over to the nexus of homosexuality: the corner of Christopher and Gay Streets (the gayest intersection on Earth, really). Before I made it through the throngs of tank-topped gays on Waverly, I spotted a skinny blonde girl squatting on the sidewalk, beads hanging from her wrists as she cried into her iPhone. "Happy Pride!" I thought.

Rather than watching the parade, I immediately headed into Pieces to meet my friends. There was a seven-dollar cover which included a free "entry shot," a novelty I by-passed for several full-priced gin and tonics. I suppose the real reason to pay a cover to get into a gay bar on Pride is to be able to use the bathroom, which I guess is worth the money as I am an adult and don’t really like peeing in streets. Also noteworthy: the two times I entered the bathroom, I saw a woman gleefully squatting backward onto a urinal, as there were no toilets in the facility. I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit in the bathrooms of gay bars, but that was probably my favorite sight.

After leaving Pieces and walking back out into the bright daylight, I caught a total of five minutes of the parade. I saw a group holding up signs saying, in all caps, "QUEERS FOR PALESTINE," and then a high-school step team. "I’ve seen everything I wanted!" I thought, as I tipsily wandered back toward Sixth Avenue, where I knew I could find some pizza and avoid being pelted with condoms and tiny rainbow flags. 

After scarfing down a pepperoni slice, I headed over to the Thompson LES, which was hosting a party thrown by the hipster gays Gumbo, the bi-weekly dance party that alternates between Brooklyn and Manhattan locations. They had required an RSVP for the event, and then emailed all RSVPers that such an RSVP did not guarantee admission, which makes me wonder why, exactly, parties such as this one request one in the first place. Never has the idea of waiting in line for an over-crowded bar filled with gay guys enticed me to head out at night. Having said that: we were already out, and figured we’d give it a shot.

We stood on Allen Street outside the entrance behind some silently confused twinks in tank tops and shorts, and finally we asked if they were actually waiting in line to get in. "I guessss?" one of them slurred. In response, two of the braver guys in our party just walked in, and then texted me, "Just say you’re going to the bathroom on the second floor and then you can just take the elevator to the third where the pool is." Seemed easy enough! We did just that, smirking as we walked by the party doorman who had floppy hair and a sleeveless denim jacket. (They run a tight ship over there!) Of course, the party was not as fun as the typical Gumbo event; rather, it was just a gathering of random strangers sitting on the sofas around the Andy Warhol filmstrip pool. In the pool were two people: a beefy dude in short blue trunks, and a very giddy topless woman. So proud! We did not stay long.

There was a time when the pride parade was a good excuse to drink all day in the heat and stay out all night. While I did imbibe quite a bit and stayed out until around midnight, it was still a tame affair compared to my years in Chicago, which always seems much more of a debaucherous parade than in New York. (The cops there turned a blind eye to our red solo cups filled with more whiskey than ginger ale, where as I watched as New York’s finest yelled up at parade watchers and instructed them not to stand on their fire escapes.) The New York parade is also soooo long, with most floats and marching organizations sponsored by corporate entities or political groups. It seems like every year there is a debate about the oversexual nature of the parade, and each year sees fewer assless chaps up on those truck beds. 

Is the parade getting too soft, too corporate, too family-friendly and lazily political? Are we missing out on the activist spirit behind the origins of the event, which was more of a march and less of a parade of the svelte, the muscular, and the beautiful? Have the years of treating the notion of "gay pride" as a party resulted in the blasé attitude that most (including myself) have of the weekend, which is now just an excuse for an entire community to collectively day-drink and shed layers of clothing? It’s an issue I struggle with at the end of every June, and will likely be reminded of next year. There are no immediate answers, obviously, and what I think most of us are pleased with today are the ability to celebrate so openly—and that our hangovers aren’t completely preventing us from accomplishing anything today.

Gay Actors Are Coming Out in a “New” Way

June is Gay Pride Month, so everybody’s talkin’ about gay people. Yesterday the New York Observer took a look at the business of outing celebrities (while slyly suggesting that Gossip Girl star Chase Crawford might indeed be in a glass closet himself). Today Entertainment Weekly shared a sneak peak at this week’s cover story, which focuses on "the new art" of coming out. On the cover are popular TV actors like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jane Lynch, Zachary Quinto, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jim Parsons, as well as comedian Wanda Sykes and Bravo’s Andy Cohen. But is this a rising trend or just a puffy trend piece?

It’s true that we’ve come a very long way from when Ellen DeGeneres came out fifteen years ago, which truly ushered in a new age in which LGBTQ actors (and, hell, normal people) were seen in a completely different light. For a community still struggling with the impact of HIV/AIDS and continued discrimination, DeGeneres and her show’s treatment of her sexuality was groundbreaking—displaying it matter-of-factly and as a normal thing rather than something to be terrified of or find revolting. While her show was cancelled soon after, she bounced right back and is today a much-loved TV personality. And her coming out certainly inspired others to do the same. As EW says on its site:

Even if it’s accomplished in a subordinate clause or a passing reference, coming out casually is, in its way, as activist as DeGeneres’ Time cover, although few of these actors would probably choose to label themselves as such. The current vibe for discussing one’s sexuality is almost defiantly mellow: This is part of who I am, I don’t consider it a big deal or a crisis, and if you do, that’s not my problem. It may sound like a shrug, but it shouldn’t be mistaken for indifference. By daring anyone to overreact, the newest generation of gay public figures is making a clear statement that there is a “new normal” — and it consists of being plainspoken, clear, and truthful about who you are.

But, are people being plainspoken, clear, and truthful? Jim Parsons made headlines when his sexuality was revealed in a New York Times profile last month, but it was buried in the end of piece. Is it not a big deal that someone on a high-rated show is gay and has kept it mostly hidden from his audience for years? EW also brings up T.R. Knight’s name, but you may remember that he was outed after gossipy rumors about his sexuality circulated online following a on-set fight in which his Grey’s Anatomy co-star Isaiah Washington called him a "faggot." 

And what can we say about the fact that there are still no major film actors who are open and out? Isn’t it still clear that an actor’s sexuality impacts his or her career? Of the eight celebrities on the magazine’s cover, only three have recently played or are currently playing gay characters on TV. (Neil Patrick Harris, for example, has been playing a womanizing sleazeball for years.) In an industry in which most gay characters are reserved for straight actors (actors who are then lauded with awards for bravely portraying those who are generally doomed), I ask this question: Should we reward a handful of people who treat their sexuality with a casual shrug, or should we ask for more? After all, there are still people who every day struggle with their sexuality, often keeping it hidden from friends and loved ones out of fear. Whether you want to admit it or not, coming out is still sort of a big deal.