By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The newest Chelsea gay bar, Boxers NYC, is strictly for real men, but they let me in anyway. Inside, large screens were showing a baseball game, guys in pullover shirts were drinking beer out of Mets mugs, and the overall mood was far less zany than at my usual Barnum & Bailey–type haunts.
But the bar's name isn't specifically sports-related, according to general manager Steven Wright. As he told me, "It's not called 'Boxers' because of fighters or the dogs—it's about the sexiness and machismo of boxers underwear." "Aha!" I replied, quickly wrapping my arms around my waist in a fetching pose so he couldn't see my briefs sticking out.
The bar's big weekly event is "Show Us Your Boxers" Saturdays, with free pants check and half-price drinks if you're wearing you-know-what. But no matter what the night, they're catering to gay sports leagues and, apparently, the basic locker-room thinking that goes with that. "This place is a drag-free zone because it's about men," Wright weirdly bragged. Really? But drag queens happen to be men—they just wear dresses (sometimes over boxers). Plus they usually liven up a party—a lot—and one of them, any of them, would have been welcome right at that moment. Would Boxers NYC actually turn away a drag queen at the door? "No," Wright conceded, "but we're not gonna have them hosting any of our shows." Welcome to the gay community, where you go to escape the oppression of the outside world.
Ah, well. Niche marketing always brings with it a tinge of bias. And I guess the drag bars would never feature a butch muscle queen putting on a show every week (though they'd certainly let them gogo dance). I just wish we could all realize how connected we are, instead of drawing up extra dividing lines. Interestingly, as I left Boxers NYC, a customer in a baseball cap was shrieking about the fact that he drops his phone so much, but though he had a high-pitched voice and a pronounced lisp, at least he wasn't in heels!
Meanwhile, bears and only bears went to the Urban Bear New York festival last week, but that wasn't too limiting because it turns out bears can be just about anything. As I learned at the fair's big barbecue on the roof of the Eagle, you don't even have to be fat and hairy to be a bear anymore. After all, "otters" happen to be hairy bears who are relatively lean and trim. And a Nair—not a Na'vi, a Nair—is a bear who's completely hairless, sort of a grizzly Chihuahua.
So if a bear isn't defined by weight or hair anymore, what is he defined by? "I don't know," admitted the fair's organizer, Robert Valin, laughing as we dove on the burger blast. OK, in that case I've decided that Matt Lauer, Taylor Swift, and the hamster who eats popcorn upside down on YouTube are all bears. Help me welcome them to the community.
Now bear with me for a moment—ba dum pum—as I return to the world of truly mixed crowds and take you to Bowlmor's Carnival floor, which is like a miniature Coney Island come to University Place, complete with all kinds of rejuvenating games and diversions. Thanks to this unexpected amusement center, the new de rigueur VIP clubbing objets are free game tickets, as opposed to boring old free drink tickets. Thanks to having nabbed a bunch at the Wednesday-night "Big Top" bash, I threw ping-pong balls in goldfish bowls and tossed rings on top of bottles and won three plush toys, a rainbow penis lollipop, and a butt plug! How fab am I!
Over at Beige—where the drink tickets are just fine, thank you—85 percent of the crowd is now foreign, with a guidebook in hand and a puzzled wrinkle on the forehead. All the more leeway to impress and educate them. And it's all the more exciting when you actually see familiar faces, so I tend to track them down and bring 'em together whenever humanly possible. One recent night there, I managed to hook up Jack Hazan from Logo's upcoming reality show The A-List: New York with surgeon-to-the-stars Dr. Marc Warfel for some abdominal lipo and pec implants, to be done on camera, of course. (I steered Hazan away from a nose job, advising him that he shouldn't spend so much of his debut season in facial bandages. Besides, his current shnozz is just fine.) "I'm gonna be Heidi Mon-fag," he laughed.
Lots of A-list gay stuff populates Sex and the City 2, I hear. (Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!) Toward the beginning of the sequel, Anthony and Stanford marry in Connecticut, and not only does Liza Minnelli officiate the wedding, but there's a male chorus singing "If Ever I Would Leave You." There's also some talk about states that don't allow gay marriage, plus a cute gay servant in Abu Dhabi and a fashionable appearance by Tim Gunn. "There's nothing in the film for straight guys," mock-complained a friend, who adored every frame.