I went on a fantastic spontaneous roadtrip to Washington D.C. with my friend, GAYLETTER contributor and groundbreaking artist Renee Cox. She had a couple of appointments with important curators there and I went along for the ride. I packed a black Juicy Couture corduroy blazer (cuz I know those queens love a lapel) a couple of french tailored pressed shirts, a nice bottle of red for the car, some tomme de savoie (that’s cheese), pistachio nuts and a cock ring. The drive down went by in a flash, we had so much catching up to do. We arrived at our host Shawanda‘s cute house dropped our bags, had a cocktail and pressed on to the spot that was hosting Renee’s cocktail party the next night for a boozy dinner, then straight to bed.
We woke in bright sunshine, Renee made a breakfast of fresh squeezed orange juice and steel cut oatmeal with maple syrup. While she went on to her meeting I investigated the National Portrait Gallery for the very first time. WOW, spent hours in that place. The exhibition of all the president’s portraits from Washington on was intense. Props to Bill Clinton for choosing Chuck Close to do his portrait. Apparently each sitting president chooses the painter they want to do their portrait-who knew? While deep in thought at the photo contest installation adjacent to the presidents, Renee texted me she was done. We met around the corner at OYA, a fabulous Japanese restaurant where we had sashimi, beers and a photo shoot in their black and white over-designed lounge. Then Renee split for appointment #2 and I went to the Corcoran Gallery for a brief visit. After it was time to head to the cocktail party.
I stayed in the background as Renee circulated effortlessly among the collectors and art patrons at the party. We went to a nearby french bistro for dinner where fortunately the waiter accidentally dumped a glass of red wine on Shawanda’s assistant and after some heated discussion, gave us the whole meal for free. Right to bed, no gay bars as promised, no need for the cock ring.
We woke early because Shawanda had to go to work and drove around for awhile waiting for The National Gallery to open at 10. We passed the Navy Yard where the shooting occurred which was sad. We parked right in front of the Capitol on the mall and had to run around chasing quarters for the meter…can you imagine? Begging for change from the cashier in the National Gallery gift shop while we are at the geographical epicenter of our government, how pedestrian! Once the car was sorted we went back into the National Gallery and saw an amazing tightly edited show of Kerry James Marshall as well as an enticing show of Ellsworth Kelley prints. But the true standout, for me at least, was the extensive exhibition about the Ballet Russes. We then tried to go back to Oya but they were having a private lunch for Trayvon Martin so we went to their sister restaurant whose name escapes me.
After lunch we hit the highway home with a stopover at the University of Delaware to visit Renee’s buff son and buy a computer at the local Apple Store and have some mall pizza. I then took the wheel to bring it on home back to our very own shiny apple. Happy to have gone, happy to be home.
Images from Church Dublin a monthly party in Ireland
Once a month, there is a service unlike any other in Catholic Ireland — one fuelled by a hedonistic celebration of sin. Church Dublin is one of the city’s hottest new gay-friendly club nights, and those that answer the High Priests’ (Dave Byrne, Kyle Barnett and James Kavanagh) call to worship offer glimpses of a very progressive, very eclectic, and very attractive future.
To date, each event has been held at The Pint down Eden Quay, a fitting venue spanning multiple floors connected by winding stairs and even offering a large open-air smoking deck. However, it is the central dance-floor where sinners gather and, in the shadow of looming crucifixes, a gorgeous array of Irishmen and women stumble and sway at the foot of the altar.
Biblical themes so far have included the Immaculate, Baptism, the Garden of Eden, and a special night of Halloween Necromancy. The range of local DJ’s passing through Church also means that various voices have joined together in the creation of an intoxicating repertoire of Hymns, which has included the likes of Azelia Banks, Cyril Hahn, Disclosure, M83, Eurythmics and M.I.A.
Church Dublin takes its inspiration seriously: it’s an event that not only welcomes all types of people, but thrives off the diversity of its congregation. It is this rejection of stigma that draws such a vibrant group each month — by celebrating those typically castigated as sinners, Church shows the inclusiveness that should characterise a house of worship. The truth of these debauched papal parties resonates, penetrating even the daze induced by remarkably well-priced ‘Holy Water’.
Typically occurring on the third or fourth Saturday of the month, at the unbeatable cover of €5, Church is an absolute must for anyone visiting the Emerald Isle. What’s more, for those with flexibility it is something to keep in mind when planning an Irish get-away. I first stepped up to the pews while on a visit to friends from my home in Scotland. Four days later, I’d already booked tickets back to coincide with the next event.
So if any of you are in Dublin on November 23rd, come to Church — follow the lead of Dublin’s finest and fall to your knees in fervent worship of His word.
A hotel for people with good taste and fat wallets.
The Spanish city of Barcelona, with a population of 1.6 million, is super gay friendly. In fact, behind Germany, Spain is the most fag friendly country in the world. You certainly get the sense, not just from their love of Almodovar movies, that it’s a very laid back, friendly place. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be featuring a few of the places we visited on our trip.
First up is the El Palauet in the suburb of Gràcia. This place really blew our minds. It quite honestly was the most luxurious place we’d ever been. The hotel manager wouldn’t tell me what celebrities had stayed there, but I’m sure I’ve seen an Instagram of Rihanna smoking a blunt in a double-denim-midriff-baring outfit on one of the same couches we had in our suite. And when I say “suite” I’m not exaggerating. Honestly they should be called apartments, cos they’re that big. Ours had an entry way, full kitchen, dining room, living room, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with walk-in closets. Then there was the chromo showers, Japanese toilets (they came with a menu of options) and full balcony overlooking the Passeig de Gràcia.
There’s no need to dial ’0′ to reach the front desk when you need something at the El Palauet. Every guest is given access to a personal assistant who’s available to assist you 24 hours a day. Whenever we called our assistant Christian his response would always be the same: “I’ll be up in 5 minutes.” Didn’t matter if all we needed was a suggestion for a restaurant, or to ask how to turn on the TV, every time he’d appear at our door in 5 minutes as promised.
While we’re totally away not everyone can afford to stay at the El Palauet (rooms start at around $700 a night) if ever there was a place to splurge on (even for a night) this is it. We chatted with Lorna from the hotel to give us a little more info about the place.
How long has the El Palauet been open? El Palauet opened its suites to the public at the end of December 2009.
Can you tell me about the history of the building? The Bonaventura Ferrer family commissioned the architect Pere Falqués to build their family home which we use today as El Palauet. On the Tinell floor (lower ground) was the kitchen, the cellars and the servant’s living quarters. The rooms on the ground and first floor were the main rooms of the house where the family received their guests and enjoyed family time. Where the suites are now, were the family’s bedrooms. After being a family home the building was separated into private homes and offices. Finally, since 2007 the former living rooms were converted into spaces for private events and from the end of December 2009 the suites were opened.
You use the word “tolerant” a lot on your website when talking about the place. What does that mean to you guys? It’s our motto and it’s our way of describing the city.
“THE FAMOUS TOLERANT AND VIBRANT SPIRIT OF BARCELONA IS WAITING FOR YOU!”
Is Barcelona a tolerant city towards gays? Barcelona is a very cool and very gay friendly city, in fact Barcelona Pride week took place just last week!
Do you consider the place a hotel, it seems a lot more than that? We like our clients to feel completely at home when they stay at El Palauet and so we pride ourselves on a personalized experience. We enjoy going the extra mile for all our guests and that is one of the things that keeps them coming back again and again.
Who designed the place? The El Palauet Living Barcelona team.
I loved the chromo shower, Can you tell me about one of your favorite features of the hotel? For our Director, Jana Santamaria, one of her favorite things is how Modernist design is integrated in the building, like the carved wooden stairs, the chandelier which has 17000 Bohemian crystals combined with the up to date technology and the more modern materials. In the suites she loves the small details such as the peephole which is on the suite doors, made by artisan designers of the 21st Century is a replica of the original peephole in the access doors on the staircase. She also loves the terrace in the Principal Paseo de Gracia suite, having breakfast, first thing in the morning overlooking Passeig de Gràcia on that terrace is just bliss. In the Tibidabo suites she is head over heels about the original stained glass windows in the living room which give the suite a special quality.
Welcome to the chromo shower. Chromotherapy is a “complementary medicine“ method. Trained chromotherapists claim to be able to use light in the form of color to “balance energy wherever a person’s body be lacking, whether it be on physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental levels.” I didn’t know chromo showers existed before my visit to the El Palauet, and while it didn’t make me want to rush out and install one in my apartment, it was very relaxing. Above is me in my green phase.
Every room gets a personal assistant, what are some of the strangest requests they have been asked to do? The personal assistants have had many difficult, sometimes almost impossible requests but there haven’t been any really strange ones.
Can you tell me about the neighborhood the hotel is in? The hotel is located on Passeig de Gràcia, originally built to connect the old town with the village of Gràcia it is now one of the main shopping streets in Barcelona and the perfect street for luxury shops. Passeig de Gràcia is also home to La Pedrera and Casa Batlló, two of Gaudí’s most famous works and the ornate lampposts were designed by the same architect who designed El Palauet, Pere Falqués. To the north of the hotel is the Gràcia neighborhood. Once an independent village it’s now part of the city but still with its own distinct feel. Gràcia is perfect to explore as there aren’t many tourists or many crowds and in our, slightly biased, opinion, it is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Barcelona.
We were invited to spend a weekend in Barryville (Upstate New York) about a month ago from the owners of the Stickett Inn (hehe get it? stick-it-in). Barryville is a tiny town where everyone knows everyone. There’s a diner and a general store, plus a cute antique store and a German style restaurant. That’s about it. However the surrounding forests, and the Delaware River, make it the perfect place to spend a lazy summer weekend.
The Stickett Inn was founded by Johnny Pizzolato (entertainer and co-owner of the International Playground shop and showroom) and Roswell Hamrick (Production Designer for TV and Film, Interior Designer) at the start of 2013. The owners are a cute couple who clearly have excellent taste. We were so impressed by the interiors we decided to take a few photos to share with you. The boys told us that their vision for the inn was for it to be a “Sexy Boyscout camp for gays — a modern enclave in the woods with all the conveniences of the city, but away from it all… girl.” Cute.
What follows is a diary of our weekend at the Inn. We were joined by two of the GAYLETTER family: William and Mossy.
This is the living room of the Steam suite (the rooms are named after their major feature — the Steam Room has a steam machine in the bathroom and the Eat room, where Mossy and Tom stayed, included a full kitchen).
The rooms are filled with art by Trey Speegle. The boys seem to really like his work cos it’s in all over the damn place.
Cute stationary very reminiscent of the Ace Hotel.
We had a hot tub on the first night after the drive from the city nearly killed us (google maps screwed up and took us 2 hours in the wrong direction — two bottles of wine probably didn’t help either). We were drunk and starved by the time we arrived, so a warm soak was just what we needed.
Before we started our day we headed to the Woodloch Pines Spa for a much needed treatment. This spa definetly needed some homosexuals, we got a lot of looks from the visitors there, but you know, living in the woods it’s hard to find handsome progressive men like us… but we had a great time — we all had massages by nice middle aged men, we used their facilities and drank their nice tea. We felt like ladies after and headed back to the hotel…It was pretty sunny, which is why Tom looks Korean.
Our vintage shopping looks which involved boxers worn as shorts and our Riudavets sandals.
Then we met the owner of the vintage shop, she was lovely we had a nice long conversation with her about the art market in NYC, her time as a model, how much stuff she sells each season (all of it)…Mossy and her got on like a house on fire.
On the Delaware side of the river their was this amazing bar wit an original 20′s 4-lane bowling alley on the 2nd floor. It was really beautiful. Tom is run-waying along it. Moments later, once we headed back downstairs to the bar, we nearly got in a fight with some wasted local girl and her closeted boyfriend (he was hot). Luckily we left before things turned ugly (there was 2 of them and 6 of us, so clearly they didn’t stand a chance against all us butch queens) but still, our clothes are too nice to get bloody.
A hotel that feels like home
If we were visiting New York, Ace Hotel on 29th St. is where we’d stay. It’s in a quiet part of town, not really near anything in particular (well besides a few wig stores and Madison Square Park), but it’s still one of the most interesting hotels in the city. Rooms are designed to look like apartments, and start at only $249. With an Opening Ceremony store on the ground floor, three amazing restaurants, and a Stumptown coffee shop, you really have no reason to leave the building. It’s also owned by really cool fags, so the staff won’t bat an eyelid when you enter the lobby at 4AM with three German backpackers, and that nervous Puerto Rican thug you met outside The Cock on your way home.
The first Ace Hotel opened in Seattle in 1999. Since then they have expanded to Portland, Palm Springs, NYC and this year they’re set to open in London and Los Angeles. We spent a night at the NYC hotel recently. We had an amazing time in the beautiful old building with its wildly decorated interiors designed by the in-demand design firm Roman and Williams. Cos we asked nicely, they put us in one of their most interesting rooms. It was filled with an eclectic mix of furniture, and of course their trademark record player, and a collection of indie records. What we liked most about the hotel is their attention to detail. There is NO part of the hotel experience they have not thought about. From the cute bags holding the hairdryers to the board games you can borrow from the front desk. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference, and every little thing is so well thought out throughout the property. Check out some picks of our stay below.
We went downstairs to one of our favorite stores Opening Ceremony — the entrance has this art overlaid with lots of different messages. Plus they have stickers with similar messages you can take away.
Before it got dark we took a walk to Eataly on the west side of Madison Square Park.
We went up to La Birreria on the roof of Eatly. This is Abi trying one of the restaurant’s home brewed beers.
We headed downstairs the next morning for brunch at the Breslin. The food is pretty rich, but after a night drinking, it really hits the spot.
Ace Hotel, 20 West 29th Street New York, NY. Visit the website.
I understand that David Lynch has been referenced in each post. It’s unintentional — trust me. Maybe I haven’t gone traveling through the USA — maybe I’ve actually crawled into the head of David Lynch… our hotel room in Albuquerque looks extremely Lynchian.
After enjoying the Lynchian installation we walked across town to the liquor store so we could get smiley before arriving at the “best gay bar in Albuquerque,” Sidewinders. The guy behind the counter at the liquor store was wearing a Jack Daniels t-shirt but the Jack Daniels had been replaced with the word Redneck — he said “ya’ll be safe now” — what a cliché, brilliant.
After going back to the Lynchian room and getting perfectly floppy armed we called a cab — one and a half hours later the cab came. (Since Alice wasn’t happy with the photo I posted last time I thought I’d make it up to her with this divine Casually Waiting For Cab shot — mine too)
Sidewinders — what a horrible place to be, cool drag queens but depraved patrons. While there I was thinking about what to refer to these folks as. I’ve decided to go with “derelict sleazes.” I understand that this is a generalization but I honestly wasn’t presented with any other kind of person, other than the employees and the performers. One 40-year-old guy offered me to join him in a drug fueled orgy with his homeless looking friends, I turned his offer down and he snapped his fingers at me. At first I was annoyed and thought he was a bastard but then I realized that he’s 40 years old and still hasn’t learned how to be a human, I no longer resent him, I pity him. One consistent attribute of all these gay bars we’ve visited on the road is that everyone is in costume. Either you’re in drag or you’re in another kind of drag, a bro drag — a disguise so that the people in town won’t beat you up. I don’t dress particularly flamboyantly but I always feel like the biggest diva in the room — other than the drag queens of course. The one good thing to come out of our night at Sidewinders was that Alice got to see her very first drag show — she was so happy. I told her that it really wasn’t a particularly great show, but she didn’t believe me — I’ll have to show her some Manhattan shows, she may explode.
It’s quite a shame because I did really enjoy Albuquerque as a city but these fiends that go Sidewinders really ruined the perception. Back to highway in the early morning hours — we were picked up after about four hours, I will refer to this guy as “the man who knows everything” or TMWKE. This wasn’t a two and a half hour drive from Albuquerque to Gallup — this was a two and half hour lecture on Navajo culture, gang activity, secret underground military bases, hang gliding, weather, highway repair, Australian cuisine, Korean cuisine, health care and other things. TMWKE also told me that the world heroin supply goes through Singapore and that you can find drugs easily on the street there — easier than most countries…he has never been there and I lived there for 13 years but he declared that I was wrong and he was right. This ride gave me time to consider the function of knowledge. Yes, TMWKE is a smart guy but the way he used his knowledge made me want to loose all of mine — I’ve decided that speaking opinions and sharing knowledge makes you seem really stupid.
We arrived in Gallup and decided to grab some “Chinese food“ — TMWKE told us it was some of the best Chinese food he’d ever had (he’s been all around the world, except Singapore) — the food was horrendous, maybe he’s not so smart after all. We had won. I know I sound terribly petty at this point but if you met TMWKE — you’d understand.
After our education in Chinese cuisine we walked under the highway bridge to hitch a ride to Holbrook. My boyfriend Noah and the lovely Monica were waiting for us in a concrete teepee there — the iconic Wigwam Motel — they are our final ride to Los Angeles. Under the bridge Alice was approached by yet another meth-head who wanted to sell her some earrings or maybe even a hat — she wasn’t interested. I never really knew how common meth was until this trip, each city and each ride was somewhat related to meth. Most of the time it was people who didn’t do it saying it was all over the place, others were on it and others had friends who were on it. I guess it comes out of severe boredom because most, if not all, of the cities we visited had very little to offer in terms of recreation. It really was quite depressing. We also passed a sign while driving through a Native American reservation that had a picture of a tribe and the words “Don’t meth with us” slapped over there faces – weird sign I thought. We also passed another sign in the same area that had a photograph of a Native American baby with the words “Abortion is not the Indian way” written on it. The integration of Native American culture within the desert area is really odd — many dolls for sale, many rugs, lots of jewelry…it’s a combination of exploitation and guilt tripping…
We hitched our last ride — it was yet another pickup truck which is perfect. We’ve found a new love for pickup trucks — I want one. One hour later we arrived at the concrete teepee with Noah and Monica — wunderbar.
Meet our friends.
Meet our Wigwam — our new favorite place on earth.
Surprisingly there isn’t much to do in Holbrook outside of our Wigwam, certainty no queer bars to report on. This left us with one option — walk across the street and buy some tequila, margarita mix, salt, lemons and really cool plastic cups. This was definitely the perfect way to reconnect with reality — drinking in Wigwam with friends. No more strangers, no more thumbs, no more signs, no more bars, no more meth — just seeing familiar faces and listening to our own music (most drivers played despicable tunes and most bars followed suit). Monica got a little bit restless so we decided to wander to a nearby desert rock and discuss truckers.
Waking up in a Wigwam with your boyfriend, who you haven’t seen in awhile, is a pretty interesting experience — you should try it. Another morning spent rushing to get back on the road, this is our last time. The ride was long but lots of fun. After approximately 4 hours we had made it to California.
Here’s the list of places we hit up on the trip:
Manhattan (NY) to Pittsburg (PA) to Zanesville (OH) to Columbus (OH) to Dayton (OH) to Indianapolis (IN) to St. Louis (MO) to Springfield (MO) to Mt. Vernon (MO) to Joplin (MO) to Big Cabin (OK) to Sallisaw (OK) to Shawnee (OK) to Oklahoma City (OK) to El Reno (OK) to Amarillo (TX) to Moriarty (NM) to Albuquerque (NM) to Gallup (NM) to Holbrook (AZ) to Los Angeles (CA).
Here’s the list of transportation:
Train from Manhattan to Pittsburg. Recently divorced man in van with carving of an elk. Police officer with nothing better to do. Guy who recently moved to town. Daniel Johnston look-alike. Man with dead eyes and strange topics of conversation in military pickup. Man who spent three years in prison and beat up fags. Friends of Frank Booth. Bus from Indianapolis to St. Louis. Bus from St. Louis to Springfield. Wunderbar teenage couple with child. Amazing old psychedelic woman. Hunter S. Thompson minus the genius. Hank Hill and Bobby Hill. Old guy with booming voice. Doctor who loved jazz. Christian family with foster child. The teenage millionaire. Young mother with loud children leaving her crack head husband. Woman and children with unsettling hair style. The glorious Ezekiel. The terrible Tony. The starvation comment guy. The glorious Michelle. The college students from Flagstaff who drove really fast. The man who knew everything. The final couple with the pickup truck.
After seeing a large chunk of America I have come to the conclusion that America is weird and unbelievably diverse — each city felt almost like a different country. Alice and I decided that this trip was particularly weird because most of the time was spent either on the side of the road covered in grime with our thumbs out or sitting in a car with someone you have nothing in common with trying your best to converse. This sounds painfully dull and utterly repetitive but the interesting thing was that there was not a dull moment. We spent a week and two days observing and contemplating. In regards to gay culture in middle America — it seems rather challenging but also more communal, what we have in Manhattan they lack but what they have we lack. There isn’t any need for pretension in these places because none of it really matters — there is oddly a stronger sense of equality in the Bible Belt. This trip was grueling and surprising. I now encourage some sympathy for the devil.
Now I get to stay in Los Angeles until the 28th of June — no more road life.
The act of hitchhiking with my fag-hag, the lovely Alice, from NY to LA is a novel experience above all else. Trains, buses and strangers cars will serve as our main modes of transportation — fortunately/unfortunately. This plan is foolishly romantic but clichés exist for a reason — because they’re wonderful!
Mount Vernon — hell…this town is surely cursed. Alice and I were stuck in an obscene thunderstorm and couldn’t get a ride for an entire day and night, we were offered crack by a guy with a knife and forced to eat along side truckers from all over America. Fuck you Mount Vernon — fuck you. Then a lovely doctor came to our rescue — he loved jazz music and we loved him — he dropped us off in Joplin and our journey continued.
In Joplin Alice and I encountered our first hitchhikers — we shared an intersection and tensions were high. There was an instant feeling of competitiveness and suspicion — we were no longer hitchhikers, we had instantly been turned into racers. You’d expect other hitchhikers to enjoy our presence but apparently that’s not how this world works. We’re all fighting each other for automobiles and experiences. Then a cop pulled up and told us that hitchhiking is illegal in Joplin and he told us to leave…he didn’t tell the others to leave though, are they regulars? Have we been beat? We have. So we walked down the street and luckily got a ride from a Christian family and their foster child, they took us to Big Cabin after forcing us to join them in prayer.
Big Cabin is an absurdly tiny town. Interstate-40 passes through Big Cabin and some other highway does too, there is also a gas station and an oversized Native American statue that didn’t look very happy… very Twin Peaks. Alice and I were waiting for a ride for about 3 hours and begun to get very frustrated. Alice then came up with an idea that could potentially revolutionize the concept of travelling. “Go on Grindr and ask for rides” she said, “Wow” I said — I was at the App Store in less than 10 seconds. I most likely said “wunderbar” too — for some reason I begun saying wunderbar a lot, not sure why it happened…but it did. Wunderbar.
Our plan was to drive from Big Cabin to Tulsa but this was the day of the Oklahoma tornados and no one wanted to go to Tulsa — thankful they didn’t because I could’ve become Dorothea instantly, Alice would be the Lion. A young guy named Zack then drove up in his wunderbar pickup truck and offered to take us to Sallisaw — we were desperate and knew Tulsa was not going to happen. We were bummed though — Tulsa has gay bars, Sallisaw has none. Zack was a lovely driver — funny, charming and friendly – he also told us how much money he makes, he’s 19 years old and earns more than my family and most other families for that matter. It was an intimidating number that I will not publish. Zack asked me what I do – I tell him an artist, he says “there’s not a lot money in art is there?”…no Zack — there is not. Unfortunately Alice and I couldn’t experience Sallisaw very well — we were locked in our room with Dr. Pepper, Wild Turkey and one of the best movies of all time High Fidelity. Sallisaw was in the “danger zone” for the tornado according to the plumb shaped weatherman.
I left a note on the side table of the hotel next to the tip for the maid. “Although the masters make the rules for the wise men and the fools I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.” — I wonder what they thought of that.
In the morning we got a ride with a woman who had just left her crack head husband and taken her two (very loud and very active) children — it was ride we appreciated but did not enjoy. We were dropped off about two and a half hours out of Sallisaw. Then we got a ride in the back of a pickup truck, finally! Now we’re true kountry kidz right? The woman who owned this divine automobile had her 4 kids in the car. Her hair was equally divided into two colors, dark purple and cream…it was very unsettling. (Alice is not happy that I am using this picture)
After this wunderbar ride we were dropped off in Oklahoma City — this is where we met Ezekiel. Thank god for Ezekiel — finally someone that we could communicate with. Before Ezekiel each and every person we had met had been so far out of our head-space — we shared absolutely no common ground with any of them — which is undeniably fascinating and enlightening but now we could just chill and talk about Alejandro Jodorowsky and Teenage Jesus & The Jerks. Funnily enough Ezekiel was the first person since Manhattan to recognize homosexuality in a positive light. Thank you Ezekiel — you proved that middle America isn’t totally full of freaks with fucked up politics and surrealist mannerisms. We were dropped of in El Rino — we had our thumbs out for three and a half hours — I got bored and made some roadside art work. Don’t ask me who Phil is because I don’t know — delusion has taken over — the highway puts your brain in states of aberration.
Then we got a ride…Being forced to communicate with the dullest man in the world for 6 hours straight is brutal — thankfully Alice did most of the talking. His name was Tony and he really enjoys Christian music and building churches, he also has an interest in introversion and extroversion. Maintaining a conversation with such a man is extremely difficult especially when they speak in short phrases and painfully monotone expressions. We did however make wonderful progress and ended up in Amarillo, which we weren’t too sure we’d make it to.
It’s the morning after our one and only Amarillo evening — hazy memories and a rotten headache have taken hold of me. What kind of debauchery did I get up to last night?
I remember being groped by a gay cowboy (Alice’s favourite kind of man). I remember visiting two bars. I also remember picking up a very large can of Budweiser at a drive thru liquor store — though I don’t remember having a car. I remember being unnecessarily excited about being allowed to smoke indoors at this bar/club. I remember a fuck load of people with a fuck load of energy and one guy who couldn’t have been older than 15 with a fuck load of interest in me, regardless of my floppy armed state of being. I remember that there were no drugs at the place — there couldn’t have been — everyone was way too clean-cut and smiley for any humble drug activity. I remember saying to Alice “I’m so drunk” in a high-pitched flamboyant and slurred groan. I remember saying to Alice “I’m so drunk” again, now that I look back on it I think I may have said it at least 12 times. I remember Alice saying — “I know you’re drunk, you told me already.” I also remember the names of venues — Kicked Back and Sassy’s — I’m just realizing the funny combination of those names.
“You really look like you need something to eat” said the urban cowboy in the Amarillo morning along the highway — what a great compliment I thought. Little did he know that I just ate a mighty big waffle breakfast at Denny’s — “I’m alright, thanks though.” The urban cowboy dropped us off at the edge of town so we could get to Albuquerque, New Mexico, which surprisingly we did. We’ve been very successful the past few days — I’m beginning to worry that our luck will run out soon. We couldn’t have done it without the lovely Edward Sharpe fan with the hippy mother or the two college students from Dubai who love Lady Gaga and fast cars.
For the first time we made it to our destination relatively early in the evening, which meant more time for drinking and socializing with the locals, I thought. Bars and clubs in Albuquerque close at 12:30…fuck.
Early in the morning we were attempting to catch a ride — after about an hour an off-duty cop pulled up and told us we needed to leave (even though what we were doing is legal). This off-duty cop then passed me $5 and recommended a homeless shelter downtown. I got the impression that he would drive by later to see we had left so decided to catch a Greyhound to Springfield, Missouri (much to satisfaction of Tom & Abi).
This turned out to be the weirdest bus ride to the weirdest city.
Thus far our theme song has been the expected Route 66 by Nat King Cole, then something happened. On the fourth day there was a shift — our consciousness has been infiltrated by the, what I like to call, Road People. Now all I hear is the reflective freak show song People Are Strange by The Doors.
The next 8 hours were spent listening in on conversations of the Road People — there was lots of swapping stories and bonding, meanwhile Alice discovered her love for The Rolling Stones — the beautiful Mick Jagger in particular.
Allow me to take a moment to try and explain exactly what I mean by the term Road People — I’m not sure that I even have a complete understanding of this term. Road People are people who have some connection to travelling or travellers (within middle America) — though they aren’t always travellers themselves. Half are travellers and the other half are people who live in towns or neighborhoods that seem to serve only travellers — whether that be truckers or adventurous and stupid kids such as ourselves. Road People always appear to be under the influence of some kind of drug, though they typically aren’t. Road People really do seem to be high on something toxic all the time, the difference being that the “fun” of drugs isn’t present. The “fun” either never existed or ran out. These folks stagger, they don’t walk. These folks will come up to you and go on some angry rant about a broken lighter — not because they think you had anything to do with it; they aren’t being aggressive toward you — they vent to strangers typically in a hot-headed manner. The drug induced colour and insightful perceptions of Hunter S. Thompson don’t exist with these Road People — there is however fear & loathing…enough for everyone — enough for us. These people are on a constant and, most likely, eternal comedown. They’re tired and weak, unenthused and finished. Road people say “fuck” and “shit” a lot — but they also say “hi” and “where you folks off too” — they are friendly and mean at the same time, they are just peculiar. I feel as if I just described your typically junkie. These people aren’t junkies, they aren’t in this situation because of something they did to themselves — they are in this situation because they never left the situation they were handed. The only food on offer in places like this is McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell, truck stop hotdogs and microwavable burritos — I’m sure this has something to do with the assumed depression.
I recently made a friend back home, a new muse and quite possibly a new obsession. Her name is Grace Sparapani and she is from Springfield, Missouri — we had to visit this town to see where my divine grew up. It’s the morning after and I am so god damn confused. I do not understand, and will never understand, how someone like Grace could’ve been created in somewhere such as Springfield. This is a town where the function of Grindr is sincere — this is no town for my Grace.
Martha’s Vineyard is, to quote one of their patrons “The hottest gay club in the shittiest town”. The place was absolutely huge and absolutely empty. We thought people may have been in the smoking yard…nope.
There could not have been more than 20 people there, I suppose it was a Wednesday night but still…I can’t imagine many people from Springfield coming here. I also can’t imagine begin gay in Springfield and not coming here every night. I thought it was odd in St. Louis that most people knew each other — at Martha’s everyone knows each other and everyone is a friend with one another. It was almost like having a clubhouse as a kid; where you gather all your closest friends to hangout in an out-of-home location. A regular took us under his wing to explain Springfield (after he reassured me numerous times that he’s from Seattle and only came here because his sister has 9 babies — he also wanted to make it clear that he’s Bi, most likely out of fear), he said “Springfield is a place where drag queens have their tires slashed and windows smashed”. All of a sudden I looked over and saw 3 girls (the kind of straight girls that think a gay man is the perfect accessory) climb up on stage and start performing a “sexy dance” – holy Jesus! What are these god damn animals! I’m sorry to reference David Lynch again but I can’t resist — have you ever seen Inland Empire? Remember the locomotion scene? That’s exactly what it was like and exactly how it felt.
The one good thing about Martha’s Vineyard was the fact that we got two shots of whiskey and two beers for $10 and happy hour had passed many hours ago. Although I don’t think I’ll return to Martha’s, I can definitely see why it exists and certainly applaud it and it’s undeniable importance. These boys simply have nothing else — Martha’s Vineyard didn’t feel like a nightclub to me, it felt like a safe haven, a closet of sorts.
The next morning we were offered a lift to Mount Vernon, we didn’t even stick our thumbs out. This 2-hour trip was the most peaceful experience thus far. The drivers were a couple — between the ages of 18 and 20 most likely. In the back seat, next to us, was their 9-month-old daughter who made us very happy travellers. Oddly enough these lovely folks were the most normal we’ve come across. At first we were talking about life in Springfield versus life in L.A (Alice’s home town) and then the drive became a smooth cruise with great tunes. I centered myself and I am wildly grateful. I needed this.
Then in Mount Vernon we were stranded in an intense thunderstorm — we ran over to a truck stop and go thrown out — then we ran to a nearby gas station absurdly named Kum and Go. We were there for a few hours waiting for the rain to stop so we could head to Tulsa. After a few hours we gave up and rented a room at a funnily terrible motel. After we paid the rain stopped. This was definitely our most unsuccessful day so far — we made it a mere 33 miles. I was frustrated so I tried to take a cool picture. This is the result.
Our intern Thomas decided to spend the the next few weeks hitchhiking across the country. When he first told us, we couldn’t help but turn into nervous moms and try to convince him to take a Greyhound. He wasn’t interested (kids these days!). So instead, we’ve asked him to write a road diary of his experiences along the way. Here’s part 1. —T&A
The act of hitchhiking with my fag-hag, the lovely Alice, from NY to LA is a novel experience above all else. Trains, buses and strangers cars will serve as our main modes of transportation — fortunately/unfortunately. This plan is foolishly romantic but clichés exist for a reason — because they’re wonderful! Did I mention that my boyfriend is waiting for me in LA? (I’ve unintentionally stepped into a starry-eyed piece of Queer-Beat cinema).
“Make sure you take some mace and only ride with girls and gays!” —Tom John Jackson
It’s day 3 and we’ve already seen too much to document here.
We’ve sat next to an Amish family for 5 hours. The urge to ask them if they’ve ever tasted citrus covered shoelaces and bees wax simultaneously came over me. I have no idea what that means. Have I ever tasted citrus covered shoelaces and bees’ wax simultaneously? Am I missing out? Are they?
We’ve ridden in a car with some generous folks who could’ve been friends of Frank Booth from David Lynch’s twisted masterpiece Blue Velvet. After about 10 minutes their potential darkness subsided. I think it was their choice of music — Lil Wayne isn’t as spine chilling as Roy Orbison.
We’ve walked through towns where every single passerby has thrown a stern glare at me. The overall sense of animosity coming from these townies can be intense. I experienced subtle but strong paranoia. My trusty GAYLETTER tote bag hasn’t served me any favors in these situations.
We’ve met a bizarrely homophobic man who spent 3 years in prison for assault and burglary — who also admitted to breaking noses of fags…charming. Other than that though he truly was quite a nice guy.
We’ve spoken with a very Christian man who claims god gave him the van he was driving back to his wife’s house after being kicked out 3 days before. In the back seat sat his entire wardrobe — next to a wood carving of an elk. Rural North America is a place of mystery but above all delusion.
Day 3 was certainly the most exciting day and also the most fascinating. Alice and I visited the local St. Louis gay bar Just Johns for their Tuesday night karaoke. The bar was small, quite and most interestingly discreet. It was clear everyone in there knew each other as they sat casually around the bar. I couldn’t wrap my head around the ever-present sense of optimism — optimism within a campy queer bar where everyone dresses like straight men.
At Just Johns people were more talkative, and in an odd way more comfortable. It appears that in less liberal cities — conversation trumps cruising. Alice and I were approached by a woman who was definitely on our level of intoxication — she asked us if we’d seen “an uber gay named Kevin walk down here”, we said no, but ended up following her across the street to another bar, Rehab, and then back to Just Johns. From what I could gather she’s a resident fag-hag, as she seemed to know 80% of the folks in each bar. Her roommate was very impressed that Alice and I were from New York — I’m now starting to believe what Lena Dunham once said in GIRLS, “You are from New York, therefore you are just naturally more interesting.” We also met a very “cute” boy who had some kind of a sugar daddy, though when asked he claimed “we’re just friends, but the lines do blur.” A bit later he was told by his daddy (Landmark Bob) that he could have “absolutely anything you want” — jealous.
Apparently Just Johns is “where the high school jocks come before they realize they aren’t jocks anymore”. Unfortunately I was too overwhelmed by the bar that I forgot to take any decent photographs — I’ll make sure Alice reminds me next time.
Road tripping is queer. Never would I have guessed that I would love St. Louis. I will admit that I am ignorant about most American cities but St. Louis is not at all what I was expecting. Thank you St. Louis — the obscurities of your gay scene suggest insecurities, but your characters suggests happiness and your dirt-cheap drinks suggest honestly and an overall respect for one another. This, unfortunately, does not really exist in Manhattan.
Next stop — Springfield, Missouri.
MIA in MIA
Recently, in between jobs, I took a 4 day trip to Miami — I needed some warmth before I jumped back into the ever-demanding New York work world. Miami is one of my favorite places to visit during the winter. I know that some people find the city a bit tacky—the perfect destination for those who like DJ Tiësto, Redbull and spinning class—but I’ve always been a proponent of the real Miami. The Cuban café-design-district-Herzog-&-de-Meuron’s-1111-Yardbird-C.Madeleine side of the city.
The Roman and Williams designed Freehand Miami most definitely belongs in the “beloved by locals” category. It opened during Art Basel 2012, and Abi and I were among its first guests. It’s technically a hostel, and it does have shared dorm rooms, but if you’re older than 22 I’d recommend you stay in a private room. The private rooms feature all the necessary amenities you’d find in a hotel (maid service, cable TV, iPhone dock) without the services that’ll leave you with a giant bill at the end of your stay. Which means there’s no mini bar to raid when you get thirsty, or room service to call at 4am when you’re coming down from whatever you took at Twist earlier in the night. But honestly, you don’t miss them.
The Freehand is constantly having events by the hotel’s pool, so there’s plenty of chances to meet interesting peeps from all over the world. Their Broken Shaker bar is also a favorite with Miami residents looking for somewhere more casual to have a drink than the generally garish hotel bars found along Collins.
Below are a couple pics from my stay at the hotel. Click here to visit the Freehand’s website.
The hotel lobby is full of interesting shit— looking like it was designed by Mark Friedberg (Wes Anderson’s Production Designer).
There’s a few seating areas, and a bunch of National Geographics (sure, why not?)
Some coral and pretty flowers.
When I was there they actually had a band play one night around this piano. Very communal.
When I arrived in my room I was greeted with this lovely note, and a bottle of red wine. It’s a generous touch for a hostel. Shame I don’t drink red.
I love lamp.
Look at that bed, it’s a king! Perfect for a threesome, or for drinking beer, alone in your underwear while watching Iron Man. I did one of those things…I’m not saying which one.
It’s a shiny stool!
The place is filled with plenty of Roman and William design touches. This is the same team that designed the Ace Hotel and the Standard lobby, Grill and Boom Boom Room. You certainly get that vibe throughout the hostel.
The ONLY beach bag I’ll be using this summer.
Behind those red doors on the right is the Broken Shaker bar. It opens from 6pm to 2am and has the most wicked range of artsy, craftsy, super creative drinks on offer. My favorite was the Night In Oaxaca which consists of mezcal, campari, and cocchi americano topped with grapefruit bitters. They also do a different punch bowl each day for $70 (they’re massive).
This tree is everything.
In the garden by the pool they grow all these herbs that the Broken Shaker uses to garnish it’s cocktails. There’s tables and chairs, two ping-pong tables, and a bocce court. It’s a very pleasant place to sit on a warm night, far from the fucked up mid-western girls trying not to get date raped along the bustling Collins road to your south.
The most refreshing pool in town ie. it’s freezing, but nice once you’re in.
Ping Pong is fun at 3pm or 3am.
On most weekend’s they do a BBQ by the pool. The food is pretty good value; this delicious Neiman Ranch hot dog with Kimchee and spicy mayonnaise was $7. I had two.
Tranquility resides within you.