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.
Liza also popped up in Jane Krakowski‘s act at Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency, when the 30 Rock co-star segued from remarks about celebs at Studio 54 into “Wacky Dust,” a coke song that kept getting more frenetically giddy until the audience was floating with her. A human Hirschfeld drawing, Krakowski was scampy and delightful—a modern-day Lorelei Lee, whether singing about bounty hunting for millionaires or lusting for handy men who trim the rough edges off her front lawn. A highlight was a new version of the name-dropping song “Zip,” with Twitter-related lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. For example, “Tweet: Kristin Chenoweth‘s back on Broadway, how sweet/Tweet: Someone sit her down and force her to eat.” There were also rhymes about Ricky Martin‘s admission that he’s gay (“You could hear the yawn in space—so they say”) and any boy who watches Glee with mom (“Chances are he’ll take a boy to the prom”).
And finally, like a good gay, let me segue from a Tony winner to talking about the upcoming Tony Awards, a/k/a the Gay Super Bowl for those who unashamedly wear briefs. After many years of dissing gigantic movie and TV stars as useless slummers and wannabes, the nominators finally decided to honor them big time, showering Denzel, Kelsey, Sean, Catherine Zeta, and ScarJo with nominations they might have been deprived of in the past. This is basically because: (a) They were good; and (b) The economy is so shot to hell that the theater community is wildly grateful to anyone who sells lots of tickets.
Between that dazzle factor and the elimination of a huge batch of objective voters (writers like myself), the voting might be more mercenary than usual this time around. And that will be critical when it comes to Best Musical, which is boiling down to a race between Fela! and Memphis. The former is a bio-musical about the real roots of black music and the other is a feel-good show about an incredibly noble fictionalized white guy who gives black music a break in America. Not surprisingly, most people are betting on Memphis to win. I guess it’s for real men.