People & Places

  • Nick Catucci

    Back on the Chain Gang

    Nick Catucci

    Then: the dawn. The day, with ur-crucial assist from L.A., something national happened to send my N'Yorkcentricness down the drain; to force me to behold, once and for all, neither askance nor askew, the Not New York; to convince me that, except possibly emeritus, New York wasn't the capital anything of dick. —Richard Meltzer, L.A. Is the Capital of… More >>
  • Laura Conaway

    Absolute Nowhere

    Laura Conaway

    Josephine Hagan wants you to know that she's not lost, and she's not lonely—not even atop her secret neighborhood of Marble Hill, a Caribbean-spiced but largely white haven that belongs to Manhattan by the map, to the Bronx by area code, and to another planet by virtue of its alien calm. "It's like they took a small New England town… More >>
  • Erik Baard

    Stalking the Wild Terrapin

    Erik Baard

    Paddling southward, we muscled the bows of our kayaks through whitecap chop as a cold December wind from the southwest froze sea spray thickly on our right arms and shoulders. Eventually two islands came into view before a wide expanse of ocean under an immutable pewter sky. After another hard half-hour we eased up. Our five kayaks slid silently through… More >>
  • Toni Schlesinger

    Welcome to Ohio

    Toni Schlesinger

    Ma-aaaaaaaa, I'm goin' to the store," said the man in the Napolitano Pharmacy, with the So-Dri Towels on sale. Come up the Graham Street L stop stairs in East Williamsburg and all you can see is a big, blank, blue sky, American flags in the breeze. Down the block is the Surgical Supplies store, the Pain Management Clinic, and frankly,… More >>
  • Carla Spartos

    Revenge of the 'Burbs

    Carla Spartos

    Attention New York culture snobs. Your town looks like the Short Hills mall. You drive cars named Rav. You take the train to Brooklyn on Friday nights to hang out with a bunch of half-wits from Kansas. And you have the nerve to call us bridge-and-tunnel? Take your tinted toenails. Soaking those tootsies… More >>
  • Chris Mooney

    Don't Play B-17

    Chris Mooney

    Not many jukeboxes in Manhattan are dedicated to country music, and some bars just don't live up to their names—the Dakota Roadhouse (43 Park Place) supplies mostly metal, while Madonna in a Stetson is as c&w as Boots and Saddle (76 Christopher Street) gets. And the bar named Country Bluegrass and Blues, a/k/a CBGB (315 Bowery), has long since changed… More >>
  • James Hannaham

    Pretty Vacant

    James Hannaham

    Shopping malls are the temples of capitalism. Their effectiveness as "safe spaces" for commerce relies on their luxury and comfort. The "sad mall," however, fails to glamorize the buying experience. It cannot mask the spiritual emptiness and despair that materialism often inspires. Instead, it clumsily tells you the truth at point-of-purchase: Possessions will not bring you happiness. Aficionados of urban… More >>
  • Hillary Chute

    Trolling for Penis Bones

    Hillary Chute

    The only troll museum in the world ("except maybe in Norway," surmises proprietor Reverend Jen, a rubber-elf-ear-wearing artist-author) is housed on the sixth floor of an Orchard Street walkup. "It's a reaction against museums that are like mausoleums," explains Jen of her cozy, interactive Lower East Side Troll Museum (122 Orchard Street, 560-7235; by appointment only; sliding scale of donations… More >>
  • Irin Carmon

    No L.I.E.

    Irin Carmon

    Today, I am unashamed. I say it defiantly: LawnGuyLand. I embrace Jewish American Princess dismissals, assumptions of sheltered gaucheness, appallingly weak accent approximations. I make spiritual alliances with Amy Fisher, Mariah Carey, Dee Snider, West Egg, and John Tesh. And then I get on the LIRR and go home. No more sophistication by… More >>
  • Best Unknown God Walking Among Us


    Living in an undisclosed location in Queens, LI HONGZHI is possibly the most influential, best-hidden dissident in the world. In 1992, Li started Falun Gong, the exercise component of Falun Dafa, a political movement that has been vigorously and often violently suppressed by the Chinese government. With enough followers to overthrow most countries, Li, referred to as Master, lives quietly… More >>
  • Best Fortune Teller


    You can't find a job, you're penniless, enemies surround you, you're an illegal alien, you're impotent, and nobody loves you? TRIBURTY MIRACHURA CHINDOY MUTUBANJOY wants to help. For $40, the soother, psychic, and possessor of valuable millennial secrets—or one of his trusty spiritual assistants—will read your palm and offer advice. Don't be intimidated by the clairvoyant's elaborate getup (feathers, elephant… More >>
  • Best Ghosts


    What do you expect from the tiny island that housed the legendary Octagon Tower "asylum for the insane," Blackwell Penitentiary, and the nation's first smallpox hospital? Ghost stories abound on ROOSEVELT ISLAND, the oddly institutional small town within Manhattan. The island was converted in the 1970s to a living community, and since then the restless souls purportedly have little else… More >>
  • Best Man to Wish the Summer Goodbye


    Mingus, he may not be. But the PORTLY MAN OFTEN FOUND ON 6 TRAIN PLATFORMS is far superior to other underground transit musicians because his method is simple. He plays only one string—attached to a plastic bucket—and he plays only one song, Bryan Hyland's "Sealed With a Kiss." Big belly extended for posterity, he offers the platform crowd his best… More >>
  • Best Bait-and-Switcher


    "Here, want this 'Mean People Suck' sticker? I'm handing them out because I'm a crazy 'MEAN PEOPLE SUCK' STICKER GUY." Once you take it: "Please pay me money for that sticker which I am actually peddling, not passing out like a flyer as it appeared when I encouraged you to grab it as you were walking quickly past. Or give… More >>
  • Best Fundraising Letter


    LIZ KRUEGER, first-term Democratic state senator from the Upper East Side, sent supporters a list of the "Top Ten Things I Did Not Know or Want to Know About the State Senate." Item: Speaker Joe Bruno and his upstate Republican cronies regularly ram through legislation without telling members what they're voting on or even what bills they've supposedly "sponsored." And… More >>
  • Best Post-9-11 Advocacy Group


    Despite the promises of aid from Bullhorn Bush, the normally free-spending FEMA instituted an unprecedented tightening of the rules for rental and mortgage assistance for people who lost income as a result of the terror attacks (apparently only Americans foolish enough to live in flood plains and fire zones are worthy of immediate help). The NEW YORK IMMIGRATION COALITION led… More >>
  • Best Conceptual Artist


    If there's a dominant ideology the avant-garde needs to question, it's certainly capitalism. But many artists have become so dependent on institutions, patrons, and marketing that to do so would be to bite the hand that feeds. So why not be like artist-photographer ELIZABETH FELICELLA and create work so ephemeral that it's nearly impossible to sell or document—even its owners… More >>
  • Best Monkey


    My friend BENJAMIN gets all the chicks. When girls see him in the street, he stuffs his face right into their breasts. They love it! Then—get this—he grabs their tatters with his little hands. The nerve. It makes me so jealous. "Don't worry, he's only a monkey," Benjamin's father says. (I can't tell you his name because Benjamin, like many… More >>
  • Best Rodent to Have at a Party


    The family reunion wasn't going too well. Grandpa and Aunt Eileen were arguing about gun control, Grandma was complaining that nobody was eating her turkey casserole, and Cousin Lucille's new baby wouldn't stop crying. Then, in walked long-lost Uncle Charlie with his "date," an eight-foot-tall (high heels and ears included) overweight gay man in a skintight blue bunny suit. That… More >>
  • Best D.I.Y. Go-Girl, Under 21


    Last November, YM magazine declared SHIRLEY BRAHA (a/k/a Shirley Beans) one of the 21 coolest girls in America, and for once in my life, I actually agree with YM magazine. At the ripe old age of 19, this Jersey girl is a well-known figure on the indie-pop scene, running her own record label, organizing concerts and parties, hosting radio shows,… More >>
  • Best D.I.Y. Go-Girl, Over 21


    I am so in awe of SAINT REVEREND JEN MILLER. Her whole life is a work of art. She writes, she acts, she directs, she paints, she makes music, she organizes happenings, she does stand-up comedy, she leads her own religion—all while wearing a pair of elf ears. Reverend Jen may call herself the Patron Saint of the Uncool, but… More >>
  • Best Tits


    Jenna Jameson's got nothing on *BOB*, but it's really no contest. The self-described "female-female impersonator" has the most gigantic tatas in the city. But it's not just the size that matters; it's what the bodacious babe does with them. Her most famous routine is the "boob aerobics"—which finds the Marilyn Monroe-esque diva topless and jumping up and down, flinging, swinging,… More >>
  • Best Celebrity Groupie


    Although BEBE BUELL recently protested that "to tag me with that kind of outdated, misused term is offensive to me as a woman. Maybe in 1968 I would have proudly called myself that. In 2001? No relevance," I use "groupie" with sincere admiration. 1974 Playmate, NYC fixture, and Liv Tyler's mother, Bebe—formerly involved with Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop,… More >>
  • Best Friend of Jazz


    You can usually recognize MARGARET DAVIS, a denizen of Tonic, the Knitting Factory, and anywhere else the luminaries of "downtown" jazz play, by her titanic, bouffant hair and perpetually blissed-out expression. She wears her own unmistakable creations: The sparkly, plastic disks frame pictures of saxophonist Joe McPhee, pianist Andrew Hill, and any number of other musicians. "Images have special powers… More >>
  • Best Promoter of Lady-Friendly Downtown Lounge Parties


    Although you can't major in "Party Diva" at an Ivy League school, once SORAYA graduated, she hit the ground running as a Manhattan club promoter. Before forming Wild & Peaceful Productions with her partner Sauce, she became an innovator within several multi-culti, multi-generational underground party crews, including the Pro Deuce team behind the now legendary Bang the Party events. Soraya… More >>
  • Best Intimidating Club Impresaria


    Like a Catholic school nun who can impose order with a stern look (because you know she'd rap you across the knuckles with a ruler if it were still legal), LORRAINE GORDON is old school. In her club, the legendary Village Vanguard, there is no talking, no dancing, no eating—in short, no distractions. A Hollywood starlet who shall remain nameless… More >>
  • Best Ploy Pulled by Club Owners


    When Crobar's Callin Fortis and Ken Barilich testified in front of the community board last spring, they gave a lot of the same demonstrations that any business owner would give. They talked about how the area would be affected by increased traffic and how they would assist the community in keeping the area clean. But toward the end of the… More >>
  • Best Dance Partner


    He has such a way with her: how he holds her by the waist, commanding her tight, moving her against his body. She just sways to his beat, surrendering. She has no choice. He turns on the salsa music and waits for onlookers to gather—he likes it when they pay to watch. It's Times Square (42nd Street and Broadway); they're… More >>
  • Best Super-Hot Dancing Trio


    The PONTANI SISTERS are an update on '50s pinups, when ladies were curvy with long legs, and greeted everyone with a dazzling smile. Of course, they have ample tattoos covering their arms and legs, and sometimes sport dyed black hair, but the spirit of old school burlesque is revived in their kitschy performances. Wearing matching outfits that range from Carmen… More >>
  • Best Incentive to Keep Running


    "My boss told me I was an embarrassment," confesses ALBERTO ARROYO, a youthful 87-year-old with a broad white moustache and Saucony sneakers. "I used to work at Bethlehem Steel, near Battery Park, and I'd run through the crowds up to 34th Street and back on my lunch break. Everyone else drank coffee, smoked, and played cards." With a smile, he… More >>
  • Best Downtown Hair Braid Hustler


    If you have walked St. Marks you have seen PRINCESS, THE LADY IN FRONT OF SEARCH AND DESTROY. Homegirl has cornered the downtown hair braid market and has it cowering, shaking in tears. The savvy entrepreneur snags punks, wiggas, neighborhood boys, hippies, and hipsters off the strip with her brash, ambiguously accented ("I come from: my mothaahr!") braiding call: "Hey… More >>
  • Best Barber That Will Make You Look Like a Damn Fool


    The tonsorial artist is a vanishing species. Electric razors and the AIDS epidemic have made the straight-razor shave a relic. Still, the practice has caught the fancy of those itching for yesteryear, reinventing the market for two kinds of customer: old farts, and young, stubbly urban bon vivants. The most pampering parlor, I'd heard, was PAUL MOLE. But once in… More >>
  • Best Waxer


    Excuse me, that's "esthetician"—no joke. The salon is called "Flourish" and it's an adorable loft space featuring hairdressers and whatnot, but CARMEN COVACI is the reason to go. She's a hair follicle genius, and uses sugar instead of regular wax so it doesn't hurt so much, but your legs will be hairless for weeks and you'll no longer look like… More >>
  • Best Person to Know Only Through the Monument to Him


    DR. RONALD ERWIN MCNAIR, African American astronaut, physicist, teacher, and musician, died in the 1986 Challenger explosion. A nine-foot-tall, three-sided red granite obelisk—adorned with his bronze, space-suited bust on one side, karate-kicking profile on another, and an earth-orbiting shuttle on the third—sits, as if prepared for launch, in the center of the shady Prospect Heights mini-park named for him, down… More >>
  • Best Resident Social Director


    Marty Haber, the Brooklyn Cyclones' raucous jester who everybody knows as PARTY MARTY, knows how to get the party started. Running around the stadium with a microphone and yelling himself hoarse, Marty oversees such between-innings activities as the water balloon toss, the Two Boots pizza delivery promotion, and the hot dog race—in which three life-sized hot dogs named Mustard, Ketchup,… More >>
  • Best Babe in WNBA


    Sex sells, though it's a little tacky to apply this to the marketing of women's sports. The WNBA seems to have gotten over it, though, and rolled out a new "Basketball is Beautiful" slogan in a television commercial that showcases some foxy ladies who play mean hoops. And nobody is foxier in this league than the Liberty's own BECKY HAMMON.… More >>
  • Best Bar Heckler


    Wordsmith and blind man STEVE CANNON can't see, but he sure can hear—especially when it's gibberish. Every Friday night he sits at the end of the wooden bar at the Nuyorican Poet's Café. Between sips of white wine, he heckles the poets to read the "damn" poem. "A couple of young ladies broke out in tears and there was a… More >>
  • Best Bar Madam


    She's best seen at night reading by the window, using her bright neon beer signs as light. LUCY, the owner of Lucy's, is like a grandmother serving cough medicine. Her bar has two pool tables, breathing room, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan together on the juke box, and her soft, Polish charm (coupled with her Marilyn Monroe-like mole and her… More >>
  • Best Nocturnal Milkshaker


    There's isn't too much wiggle room at Ray's Candy Shop, something you realize at around 3 a.m., as a steady stream of insouciant hipsters, ruffneck wannabes, nerderati, and friendly local middle-aged gadflies are squeezing into the hyper-brightly lit convenience store's narrow customer well. Wielding a masterly baton in his orchestration of the after-hours proceedings is RAY, a shaggy-haired sixtysomething Turkish… More >>
  • Best 'Mom and Pop' at a Mom-and-Pop Diner


    With its kitschy decor of plastic flowers, flags, and decorative plates, says my friend, Tom's Restaurant feels like Christmas and Fourth of July at the same time. For me, it's more like walking onto the set of a '50s TV show for breakfast. Maybe it's the moist towelette the busboy hands you when you first sit down. Or 64-year-old GUS… More >>
  • Best Salvation Army Employee


    As New York Salvation Army stores become more and more picked over by hipsters looking for bargains, it's not surprising that most employees respond to the demands of their would-be-fashionable customers with surly lethargy. SAMMY,of the Greenpoint Salvation Army, is a beautiful exception to this rule. Friendly and funny, he has an appropriately charitable attitude toward his varied clientele and… More >>
  • Best Record Shop Owner's Sidekick


    Holy Cow Records proprietor Steve Spain is the quintessential music-store bright guy, an encyclopedia of recorded arcana—he'll have the key connection Down Under for that one extant copy of The DreamTime Scream: Albert Ayler With Aborigines. But all heroes need seconds, and Steve has KENNY. Kenny hunches over in the corner behind the cash register like an R. Crumb character… More >>
  • Best Midnight Sidewalk Seller


    It's Saturday night in the posh part of Park Slope, and everyone but you is doing something highbrow. As you walk past the dignified brownstones, look for FRANKIE's sidewalk sale, across the street from the Pavilion movie theater. On a good night after 8:30, Frankie will be seated outside among stacks of unknown new wave records and other debris. Pick… More >>
  • Best Public Displayer of an Obsession


    The tragic sinking of the Titanic marked the end of JOSEPH COLLETTI's favorite era, but its graciousness lives again in his Long Island City yard. Although the outside of his home is also florid with cupids, hummingbirds, Christmas lights, and American flags, the doomed ship dominates. Both windows are covered over with photographs of the vessel and her crew, and… More >>
  • Best Celebrator of Public Holidays


    In 1983, JOHN ZAMMIT, hospitalized with cancer, promised a shrine to God if He would let him live. Today, a 12-foot-tall assemblage of toy animals and Christian sculpture glorifies his Sunset Park yard. A statue of Mary observes the pair of blue plastic sailfish leaping outside her upended aquarium. Dozens of memorial cards nestle among the fake flowers at her… More >>
  • Best Bus Driver Since Ralph Kramden


    As many a long day toiling at The Village Voice closes, I board the express bus back home to Brooklyn. If I get to my stop on Broadway and 8th Street by six, I will be chauffeured by the city's finest and friendliest bus driver, GARY HOROWITZ. As I board the X27, he will greet me by name, as he… More >>
  • Best Place for a First Kiss


    Act I: Minerva McNamara and the imperial Darius Finkelstein approached the stairs winding upward to the apartment where she stayed, with its peeling maraschino paint and hula hoop tucked inside the doorjamb. "We should do this again soon," said Darius. "Yes, let's," Minerva lisped, for she was prim and bashful and fond of bonnets. Then Darius tugged her thumb, gently… More >>
  • Best Place To French Kiss


    Oh, Gomez! Say it again! "Voulez-vous française, mon amour?" Oui! For I am studying your language of love—French 101-style—at the ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE. Now I can faux-read Flaubert and Camus in the FIAF library or faux-watch creepy, nonlinear films from the "Neo-Noir: Another Shade of Darkness" series (through December 17) in Florence Gould Hall. Come to think of it, our desperate,… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater To Make Out In


    The winning feature at UNITED ARTISTS UNION SQUARE STADIUM 14 is not highbrow independent films, but stadium seating and late show times—and, most importantly, the armrests go up. So you can really get comfortable here and cuddle and maybe, if the blockbuster is boring enough or you are a really really adorable couple, you can make cute kissy noises that… More >>
  • Best Spot for First Post-Sex Sunday Brunch


    Why, on a Sunday morning in Boerum Hill, Henrietta's bedroom should smell like lemon verbena and cough drops Oswald could not say. Still, when he awoke to the recollection of their torrid gropings from the night before, Oswald felt the fevered throbbing pangs of lust renewed. Henrietta, on the other hand, was ravenous only for espresso and her beloved New… More >>
  • Best Place To End a Relationship


    Please, don't do it in that little café where you've shared so much gnocchi. Drop the bomb underground over a dozen Pappasquash at GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER BAR. No one you know will be there, and the bustling atmosphere—red checked tablecloths, fat men with napkin bibs—will discourage hysterics. Best of all, you can be on the 4, 5, 6, 7 or… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy Parting Gifts


    Not every ex deserves a parting gift, only the ones who bring out your cruelty and creativity in equal measure (and who are likely candidates for ex sex). An Apollo Penis Pump Kit, $49.95 from the PLEASURE CHEST, trumpets "Be the Big Man You Always Wanted to Be!"—you know he's gonna try it just once. For girls, a bit more… More >>
  • Best Place To Get A Rapid Divorce


    Let's face it: It's over! But just because a divorce is your last chance for happiness doesn't mean you have to pay through the nose. The good folks at the multilingual RAPID DIVORCE—"Low Fee So U Don't Go to Court"—have the alternative to high-fee lawyers, who'll charge up to $2000 just to hear you complain that, even after marriage, you… More >>
  • Best Place To Commiserate With Your Friends Over a Breakup


    My Rude Girl Posse spirited me away: "Jilted Gal, come play!" they did say when that dashing architect Señor Laroo bid me adieu, and our huffy poodle, Fu Manchu, too. Before I could count "uno, dos, tres, Cuervo!" we'd taken our emancipation proclamations to the serene, breezy backyard patio of EL REY DEL SOL, strung with twinkling lights and consoling… More >>
  • Best Bookshop in Which To Sort of Find Kiddie Porn Accidentally


    Not porn, exactly: SEE HEAR carries the (legal) NAMBLA bulletin and this rag called Made in the USA, which—as of the last time I furtively flipped through it—brimmed with pics of naked boys riding water buffalo in some country that is definitely not the U.S.A., clothed boys in baseball stadium stands, boys posed with their dads, nudist colony boys, and… More >>
  • Best Place To View Both Peep Shows and Avant-Garde Theater


    Giuliani's campaign to end fun in the city, though painfully thorough in most respects, was not completely successful. A beacon of bawdy behavior in Times Square since the porn-riffic heyday of 1975, SHOW WORLD took a few punches from the 60-40 law but didn't get knocked out. Yes, the Live Nude Girls are gone, according to a stern handwritten sign… More >>
  • Best 24-Hour S/M Supply Store


    Attention insomniac perverts! Sick of waiting until normal business hours to hunt for the perfect nipple clamps? Fed up with kitschy faux-fur handcuffs that give out at 4 a.m.? Well, friends, look no further than HOME DEPOT, where even the most twisted pain fetishists may satisfy their equipment needs any hour of the day or night. Chains, restraints, acetylene torches—the… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy Cock-and-Ball Torture Devices


    Anyone can put a bunch of miniature yellow plastic clothespins on a willing penis and make the owner of said penis squeal. When you're in the mood for some creative cock-and-ball torture (a/k/a CBT), why not go for broke? Whether you want to spend $10 or $200, PURPLE PASSION has an incredible selection of devious gadgets—from a metal ball vice… More >>
  • Best Club To Have a Post-Whipping Banana Split


    Like most places where the leather-and-chain crowd hangs out, PADDLES offers a usual assortment of play space accoutrements: the St. Andrew's cross, wooden bondage chairs, and iron cages. There are spanking parties and special themes (like "Single Tail Saturday"). But what sets this den of iniquity apart from all others is something that no other dungeon or s/m club in… More >>
  • Best Inexplicable Window Display


    Undoubtedly, there's much strange shit paraded behind the beckoning panes of NYC, where even window dressing loves to get its freak on. Sometimes, though, simplicity reigns; have a gawk at the BLUE NEON "ANUS" SIGN ON 12TH STREET AT AVENUE A if you need proof. One word, four flights up, shining from what seems a private residence, its conceptual brilliance… More >>
  • Best Strip Show


    The show formerly known as the Blue Angel may have changed its name to LE SCANDAL, but it's still showing tits and ass in its own unique way. Each week, co-hosts Bonnie and Remy put together an always entertaining, usually bizarre combination of old-fashioned burlesque, campy striptease, and erotic performance art. The performers swallow swords, spin hula hoops, and fuck… More >>
  • Best Place for a Full-Service ' Table Dance'


    Don't let the name fool you. There is no irony here. This is the raunchiest, sleaziest, absolute best place to have a fallen angel gyrate into your khakis. Favored by traveling salesmen and off-duty cops, the WWW used to be home of the best deal in town—the $10 "table dance"—but has since doubled in price. Still a great deal, considering… More >>
  • Best Place To Get A One-Dollar Blowjob


    She actually touched it. Dead serious. Then the fake blond said, "Honey, I'll suck your dick for a dollar," rubbing her hands over my bulging jeans on 28TH STREET OFF LEXINGTON. It's a no-man's land between police districts, and the city's summertime cheap-hooker heaven. One dollar? The prospect—no matter how meritorious a man may be—seems appetizing. And don't forget you… More >>
  • Best Place To Suck Balls


    You may refuse to do it for your boyfriend, but at SAINT'S ALP TEAHOUSE, this Hong Kong specialty will have you begging for balls like a porn star. The tapioca is starchy stuff made from sweet potatoes, some crazy root, and brown sugar—and man, is it amazing. Location is prime for sneaking it into movie theaters. Balls come in the… More >>
  • Best Chinese Back Massage


    When lousy PC posture knots the muscle in my occipital lobe, or I've lifted one too many heavy objects and can barely dress myself, I turn to the hardworking masseuses and masseurs at QI GONG TUI-NA (which translates roughly as "life force exercise, stroking-lifting"). Their second-floor walkup is clean, bright, and soothing. The female bodyworkers are as physically powerful as… More >>
  • Best Place To Have Your Head Massaged


    When I finally decided to visit a salon, after many years of Nick the Barber, I realized why people spend the money—or, at least, why they spend the money at HAIR MATES. It's the ravishing, punkily dressed Japanese women and the penetrating magic they work on your soaking scalp. My God. I'd pay $30 for the wash alone; in fact,… More >>
  • Best Eavesdropping During a Pedicure


    The trendy and relaxing nail salon RESCUE features cozy little nooks in which two women can rest against pillows and gossip, so you can sit across from them pretending to read Entertainment Weekly and listen to their inane blather about being actresses or something. Women really like to psychoanalyze all their friends behind their backs, which is extremely entertaining because… More >>
  • Best Turn-of-the-Century Outdoor Public Shower


    There was a time, long ago, when the beaches of Rockaway were the cat's meow of all city vacation retreats: luxurious hotels, amusement parks, everything rich about urban escape and the age of wonderful nonsense. Little evidence still exists, but if you find yourself on the beach at JACOB RIIS PARK, down at the end of the boardwalk there are… More >>
  • Best Words You've Heard in a Long, Long Time


    Sunday afternoon, West 4th Street between Jones Street and Sixth Avenue: "SMOKE, SMOKE!" Dirty teen squatters aren't the only entrepreneurs hitting the Village these days! Calling all dumbass high school kids—after a catnip-and-roach-spray-free hiatus, your neighborhood pot dealer's back in town, and he's armed with schwag! (And there's yet another crew of city contractors working the late-morning shift, on Tenth… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy a Krusty the Clown Bong


    When it comes to "strictly for tobacco use" smoking accoutrements, upscale SHISHA INTERNATIONAL has the best variety, hands down, including this naked-lady pot pipe who blows smoke out of her ass, and, for the younger set, Simpsons-themed bongs ($45). Better prices are to be had at less respectable Greenwich Village head shops, though, so shop around and be prepared to… More >>
  • Best Place To Get Pinched In An NYPD Cigarette Sting


    Deep in Queens. The fat pig was just reading his tabloid, undercover, on the BEACH CHANNEL OUTDOOR PLATFORM. They dress undercovers like Abercrombie & Fitch boys out here—like tourists. Oblivious, I lit up a cigarette to kill time, and when the next train came, I put it out to get on. "You're not going anywhere," Robert Mallin, the young, hefty… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Hookah Bar


    In the tapestried outdoor garden behind the restaurant SAHARA EAST, couples try to have earnest conversations over distractingly enormous gilded hookahs. For 10 bucks you and your date can inhale yummy-smelling shisha in sweet melon, mango, apple, honey, and other exotic flavors. You could even make a night of it, ordering such Middle Eastern cuisine as foulemoudammas—a tahini and bean… More >>
  • Best Place To Inhale Deeply


    In truth, you could give this award to damn near any Indian grocery store in the city. But there's something especially likable about SPICE CORNER, a modest little shop in the middle of Lexington Avenue's East Twenties Indian-food epicenter. Walk in and take in a good whiff of the garlic powder, cinnamon sticks, cloves, whole nutmeg, peppercorns, curry mixes, tea,… More >>
  • Best Place To Take The Guy From Yoga Class


    Swanky but socially conscious, hip but healthy, TSAMPA is the ideal post-yoga destination. The brightly colored "Free Tibet" stickers stuck to the door belie the sleek, dimly red-lit interior. The walls are clad with handmade rugs, and Buddha overlooks your meal approvingly. Because the dishes are made "largely from organic produce," you feel like you can gorge on momos (steamed… More >>
  • Best Place To Meet That Internet Date


    With online dating, the key is preserving distance. This principle still holds when you're ready to meet in person, which is why the MIDDLE OF THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE is a stellar place to make a first date. It sounds mad romantic—the scenery, the pigeons, Hart Crane—yet has hidden scuzzball advantages. "I can see how good-looking she is from far away,"… More >>
  • Best Place To Birdwatch While Picking Up a Hustler


    By day, Central Park is the domain of dog-walkers, Shakespeare-watchers, and frisbee-throwers. By evening, among the leafy groves and fern-covered slopes of THE RAMBLE, hustlers and the men who chase them turn the park into Manhattan's most enduring pickup joint. But they're all joined by middle-aged men and women, wearing oversized vests with many pockets, and each with a pair… More >>
  • Best Place To Shoot a Porno


    Never mind that the place is already infamous for Debbie Does Dallas. There's a reason why any art student with a Super 8 pilgrimages to the green grassy land in the middle of Brooklyn, the mecca of cinematography called Pratt. Forget your basement, your pool table, and your lame hot tub. PRATT INSTITUTE LIBRARY has glass-tiled floors, rows of dark… More >>
  • Best Place To Pick Up Mrs. Robinson


    Snugly packed on the first floor's northeast corner in the New York Public Library's grand halls is the IRMA AND PAUL MILSTEIN DIVISION OF U.S. HISTORY, LOCAL HISTORY AND GENEALOGY—a haven for fine, aged, bookish beauties. Among the two-tiered stacks' Works Progress Administration records, World War accounts, and census records you might be so lucky to find an elder to… More >>
  • Best Antiquated Porn Selection


    Screw the Internet. Pick through the VHS stag-film comps and crusty 8mm porn loops on offer at the FOLDING TABLE OUTSIDE MOJO GUITAR SHOP instead, and glimpse the fading libido of yesteryear. You'll unearth lost treasures (sample find: Suburban Satanists, with John Holmes, on 16mm) and untold surprises (good god, that's Grandma!); also generally on hand are mondo flicks and… More >>
  • Best Excuse for Writing Best-Of Blurbs


    As the pile of XXX movies from the CORNER PORNO STAND NEAR THE VILLAGE VOICE OFFICES grows, I no longer have to explain my desire to lock the door and hold my own. "Look, Ma, I'm no pervert—I'm doing research!" Yea, that's the ticket. I gotta buy this stuff. I can tell my wife, "Leave those alone; they're for work,… More >>
  • Best Wonderful Whiting—Harlem


    There's invariably a line snaking out the door at SERVANTS OF GOD—A TASTE OF SEAFOOD, Harlem's best fried fish joint. Whiting is top of the line, fresh and flaky and fried in good oil, and additional fry baths make sure that the taste of fish doesn't mingle with that of the excellent fried chicken wings. Desserts especially good.… More >>
  • Best Small-Press Comics Nexus (Anywhere!)


    New York's got some great comics stores (three cheers for the back-issue selection at St. Mark's Comics), but it's often hard to track down small-press stuff and mini-comics anyway. So the MOCCA ART FESTIVAL, put together this summer by the new Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art, rocked like a velvet glove cast in iron—the Puck Building was packed to… More >>
  • Best Lime Rickey


    EISENBERG'S SANDWICH SHOP is one of the best places to have lunch ever, because it has a great old New York feeling. Its tuna salad is famous, as are its egg creams. But the lime rickey is nothing to scoff at, and nothing you would normally order, probably, but maybe what's missing from your life. The guy who serves the… More >>