Color me cynical, but when Pride season rolls around every June, I can’t help but feel like that gay rainbow blends into a few predictable shades. God knows I love my Chelsea boys, with their physical perfection and enduring love of Erasure remixes. But Pride involves more than shirtless wonders tearing up the dance floor.
The gay “community” (ironic word in this context, no?) is way more diverse than that—and so are our parties. Where are the club freaks? The rock ‘n’ roll fags? The bears, daddies, and leathermen? Where are the homies and banji boys? And where are those elusive post-gays? They’re celebrating Gay Pride, too. (OK, maybe not the post-gays.)
No one gets turned away from a Pride party because of the color of his (or her) skin. But don’t some of those big mega-parties seem, well, white? Way uptown, Pride looks a whole lot different—mostly because Bronx Pride [June 21, Barretto Point Park, Tiffany Street and Viele Avenue, 12 to 7 p.m., free] provides its own dance events. The borough boys and girls will be turning it out with flava. Uptown queens Lorena St. Cartier and Tyra Allure-Ross host a full day of live performances, featuring freestyle music legend Cynthia, Jiggley Caliente, vogue Evolution Dance Co., and the Step Team for Social Justice, among many others.
Back in Manhattan, Escuelita—the midtown casa for flava hunks and hot papis—is throwing an old-school ball. At the NYC Rumble Ball 15: Proud and Serving [June 22, Escuelita, 301 West 39th Street, 212-631-0588, 10 p.m., 18+], future legends and up-and-coming children will serve up fierceness in categories like “Realness Thug,” “Vogue Fem Dramatic” and “Female Figure Face,” all in the colors of the Pride flag. Netflix Paris Is Burning and learn a thing or two, ’cause this shit is gonna be majah.
If you really want to work, hightail it further downtown to Club Ultra, where KissMyBlackAss [June 26, 37 West 26th Street, 212-725-3860, 10 p.m., $10] makes its triumphant return after a several-month hiatus. Brothas and their lovahs will be dancing the night away to the sounds of KMBA resident DJ Quentin Harris, with an opening set by James Andersen. Like the name says, if you’re lookin’ for black ass, come by and pucker up.
Since Giuliani’s reign of terror, ass-kissing (of the non-political kind) has been harder and harder to find in our town. New York’s fetish scene has gone underground—but isn’t that part of the fun? Homos and hets take to the streets in broad daylight for Folsom Street East [June 22, West 28th Street between Tenth and Eleventh avenues, folsomstreeteast.org, 2 to 8 p.m., $10]. This all-day leather extravaganza is like the illegitimate child of a street fair and fetish party, with 50 community groups and vendors. The queen of raunch, porn director Chi Chi LaRue, emcees the wickedness, with performances by porn stud turned pop star Fredrick Ford, our own Trai La Trash, and many more talented pervs.
NYC’s 21st-century gay-fetish scene continues to find new venues. Mike Peyton, a party promoter who caters to the “Levis/leather/fetish” crowd, says that as the fetish scene has waned, gay leathermen have transformed themselves into what he and others call a “guy scene.” (Think men in their thirties and forties in jeans, T-shirts, and facial hair drinking beer instead of cosmos.) “I won’t go so far as saying ‘straight- acting,’ ” says Peyton, “but that’s certainly the posture and personality most take.”
Call it post-fetish, post-bear, post-daddy, or post-post: Where do these dudes hoist their brewskis during Pride? The first stop on your city-wide burly-boy tour has to be SPIT [June 25, Uncle Ming’s, 225 Avenue A, second floor, 212-979-8506, 10 p.m., $5]. Host Paul Short and DJ Mike Grimes bring you a night of sexy, sleazy fun for queer skinheads, butch boys, and everyone in between: “It’s not a glamour crowd by any stretch,” laughs Short.
On Saturday, June 28, butches and bears gather at the Highline Ballroom for Bob Mould and Richard Morel’s popular DC import, Blowoff [431 West 16th Street, 212-414-5994, blowoff.us, 11 p.m., $20]. It’s a huge daddy crowd, all bald heads and facial hair, so bring your Oedipal issues and take your problems to the dance floor.
Don’t miss the march down Fifth Avenue, but catch a disco nap before Sunday night’s Supersnaxx [June 29, Cielo, 18 Little West 12th Street, 212-645-5700, 10 p.m., $25], with daddy-darling DJs Rich King and Gustavo and fuzzy Chelsea fave Josh Wood. Then crawl your way over to XXL NYC’s Pride Masked Ball [June 29, Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street, 212-353-1600, xxl-nyc.com, 11 p.m., $40–$60], where DJs Hector Fonseca, Tony Ruiz, and Corey Craig will be spinning for the big boys, bears, cubs, and chubs, with Heloise and the Savoir Faire performing.
On the other end of the masculinity spectrum, the post-gay, sexually ambiguous hipster boys will be headed downtown on June 21, when bi’s, real girls, trannies, and rock ‘n’ roll faggots shake at Theo Kogen and Michael T’s monthly Rated X/the Panty Party’s Fifth Annual Gay Prom [Don Hill’s, 511 Greenwich Street, 212-219-2850, 10 p.m., $7–$15]. Sweaty, sleazy pop and glam rock lead up to Peppermint Gummybear’s infamous hot-body contest.
“There’s a strong subculture of unbridled you that finds the notion of choosing one sexual preference over another both damning and a chore,” says DJ Jess of TRASH!, a weekly pansexual new wave/glam rock party at 40C. On June 27, TRASH! celebrates Pride with its first annual Pretty Gay Masquerade [40 Avenue C, 212-466-0800, 10 p.m., $5–$10], with an open bar courtesy of Zygo Energy Vodka till 11 p.m. and giveaways from Kill Shop Kill. Enjoy a night of riotous sexuality sans prefix where, as Jess says, “we care less about who’s in your bed and more about who’s on your iPod.”
We’re such a big tent, there’s even room for those who get up every morning and go to a real job. Meet your future ex-husband on the Human Rights Campaign Greater New York Steering Committee’s annual Pride Cruise [June 25, $86, check greaterny.hrc.org for location].
So who have we left out? Oh, right, the hot muscle crowd. There’s plenty for them to do, starting with circuit stars Peter Rauhofer and Offer Nissim’s Work Pride Special Friday [myspace.com/worknyc], or jungle master Victor Calderone’s Evolve: Pride 2008 on Saturday [Pacha, 618 West 46th Street, 212-209-7500, 10 p.m., $30].
Men from around the world will be rubbing muscle at Ric Sena’s Alegria [June 28, Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street, alegriaevents.com, 11 p.m., $90] and the Saint at Large’s Champions [June 29, Pacha, 618 West 46th Street, saintatlarge.com, 10 p.m., $50–$60].
But the one party that brings everyone together is the capstone of the Pride March, Heritage of Pride’s Dance on the Pier [June 29, Pier 54 in Hudson River Park, 13th Street and West Side Highway, 4 p.m., $55–$125]. It’s the main event, with a secret superstar (we’re talking Whitney, Mariah, J. Lo, Janet) and fireworks over the Hudson. Because, in the end, we’re all here together, and we’re all beautiful.