Last week, gays, lesbians, transsexuals, and everyone in between had the more visible, colorful celebration, but opponents of the cabaret law had another reason to do a happy dance. Thanks to NYU law professor PAUL CHEVIGNY and NORMAN SIEGEL, the former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, the cabaret law is finally getting its day in court. The two attorneys filed a suit last Thursday at the State Supreme Court on behalf of plaintiffs JOHN FESTA, BYRON COX, GOTHAM WEST COAST SWING CLUB, IAN DUTTON, and MEREDITH STEAD—a group that includes dance teachers and goth aficionados. “We are filing this case because the zoning and licensing restrictions have been a millstone around the neck of the arts of dance and music in New York City for decades,” says Chevigny. They are suing the Department of Consumer Affairs, the city agency in charge of cabaret licenses; the Department of Buildings; the City Planning Commission, responsible for enforcing zoning restrictions; and the City of New York.
The suit charges that the law “arbitrarily interferes with the right of plaintiffs . . . to engage in dancing . . . at eating and drinking establishments, a right which is protected as expression under the New York State Constitution.” (Emphasis added.) The suit also notes the dwindling number of legal dancing venues, down from 316 in 2002 to 212.
The ladies danced and kicked off Gay Pride with Murray Hill’s Cherry Bomb party at the Knitting Factory, where gay artists, including BITCH, JUSTIN TRANTER, the DAZZLE DANCERS, and my new favorite, DYNASTY HANDBAG, performed. She’s the reigning Miss Lower East Side (or L.E.S.) and is a cross between your neighborhood crazy and your neighborhood crackhead. I love her. She danced to a LED ZEPPELIN song with her own talking dubbed in, and then stood back and listened to the voices in her head. She wore a snakeskin-patterned top and bottom that didn’t really match, the tags still hanging off. She topped off the look off with a shiny, gold real Chanel handbag. After the show, she introduced herself. “Thanks for saying those nice things! My parents are so proud!” It was only later that I realized I had called her a “terribly disturbed individual” and a “crackpot genius.”
Afterward, I went to the first ever Miss Gay Jeopardy contest at the Slide/Marquee. Hosted by the diva herself, LINDA SIMPSON, the event’s contestants were the sort that really make you proud during Gay Week: ARTEMIS, DUCH, FISHCAKES LOUISE, MACHINE DAZZLE, SCOTTY THE BLUE BUNNY, and OTIS VON DARLING. They were helped along by the VANNA WHITE of Gay Jeopardy, SHANIA RENDEZVOUS, who refused, or perhaps just forgot, to move props, clean up, or do anything that required physical effort, but was really good at showing off the prizes and her really long legs. After the contest was over, she was still checking herself out.
During the actual Jeopardy portion, the deliberately slow-witted (I hope) contestants scored in the negative numbers, but the winner was really decided in the talent portion anyway. Scotty the Blue Bunny, who nabbed the crown, performed a fire-breathing routine in a sheer blue outfit and fanned himself with flames to a standing ovation—literally becoming a “flaming queen.” While I am forever spiritually connected to the Bunny for the beating he gave me on my 30th birthday (I can still feel his big, strong bunny hands and have the bruises to show for it), little Otis Von Darling—dressed as a hillbilly in daisy dukes—won my heart with his special song, sung in a halting, wee way. It went like this: “Hi, Sugar Cookie. Hi, Sugar Cookie. Peekaboo. I love you Sugar Cookie. I forget this part. Hi, Sugar Cookie.” By this point audience members were saying hi to their stomach muscles, which were strained from laughing so hard. “Hi, Sugar Cookie. Peekaboo, I love you.” I fucking love Gay Pride.