Gay Williamsburg, Part Two:
Two Fags, A Hag, and One Incoming Lesbian
favorite "hag" Cindy with Michael
I know, I knowyou missed us. You were searching wildly
for the next queer scene and your fearless leaders left
you stranded. Relax, once again Michael, Carter, Amy and
I track some fine gay nightlife and offer up our livers
to the greater cause. Lest you get bored with us (snicker),
we even find some fresh meat to drag out on our quest. That
would be Stephen, and he's got a fine, saucy lipbut
you'll read all about that later. We go to great bounds
for you, we really do. Why, you ask? Because we care, dammit.
That, and we like to drink. So until they form some kind
of gay knitting group, we'll take on the job.
We heard that Blu Lounge (197 Driggs) has a Drag
Queen-hosted karaoke night on Tuesdays and decide it'll
be our first hit. We get there early, at 10, and track down
the DJ, Wicks, a gentle Sri Lankan man who runs the song
lists. He informs us that Barbie-Q (our hostess) won't be
getting there for at least another hour, but directs us
to a snug, velvety bench in the back room that'll allow
us a good view of the show. Good thing, toothe place
is already filling up with big groups drinking saki (saki!
good lord!). It's a handsome place, with cozy round-table
seating and watery candles. The crowd is unassuming and
We give it a once over and eye each other suspiciously.
"Ahem," Michael breaks the silence, "It doesn't
seem very gay." Uh-oh. I look to Carter hopefully,
but I get a slow affirmative "Yep." We chat up
the guys in front of us, a super-friendly group of Italian
fellas from Queens who hit Blu Lounge every Tuesday night.
I ask Joe, their entertaining front man, what brings them
over to this borough every week? "Everyone's down to
have fun at this bar. Not like Queens, where people are
looking to start a fight by the end of the night."
but Sunday night brings the boys out in droves. Grab
a cheap draft beer and hunker down in a beaten-down
booth with your buddies, or stick close to the bar for
the pick-up scene. Cozy, friendly, and positively packed
with hotties late-late night.
Time to get your geek on. Sunday nights nights boast
drag-queen karaoke, and it's freakish fun. Barbie-Q,
the Grand Madame, gets lazy hipsters off their brooding
stools and keeps the party moving all night long.
Not so gay a crowd, but-You can tell everybody this
is your song. It may be quite simple but
Thursday night's spanking new Dyke Party pays homage
to all the local girls that carted their asses to
the city for years. Finally, you can booze and cruise
in the hood. Killer music, purty girls, and ample
room to kick back.
Colorful, stylish lounge that hosts Williamsburg Homosexual
Learning Center on Sunday nights. Art-cuties and theyre
admirers frolic to crowd-thumping DJ mixes and campy
films. Make goo-goo eyes at David, the finest bartender
Luxx suxx. On Saturday nights, anyways. But don't
take it from me-pay the cover charge, slap down $4
to the coat-check punk, and get pushed around by the
super-sceney club brats. Or just go out in Manhattan,
where at least you'll get laid for your efforts.
Loud, seedy and humming with s-e-x on Sunday nights.
Hit the dance floor or get naked for a free shot at
the bareither way, youll have a killer
hangover in the morning. But then again, so will that
hot indie rock boy you took home with you.
You gotta eat sometime. Roll out of bed on Sunday
and get some fried chicken & eggs at the bar.
Say hi to Matthew, the bartender, and eyeball his
cute boyfriend, Jorge. It's unethical as hell, but
you can compensate with a fat tip.
Stay tuned for more bars soon.
Sure enough, when Barbie-Q sashays in at 11:20 (fabulously
late, but of course), Joe and the boys light up like firecrackers.
In fact, the whole laid back crowd goes wild. She's a sight
to beholdthigh high fishnets, jet-black bob, commando
tank topand toting a plastic machine gun just for
the hell of it. Gay night or nowe're staying, and
Michael's already pouring over the song list.
Barbie-Q grabs the microphone and gets the crowd going with
a belting rendition of Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel
Like a Woman!" She dedicates the country pop-tart song
to her Tanqueray gin.
We move up to the front (that's where all the action is)
and end up staying there all night. Okay, so it's not a
gay nighthell, even the drag queen is a straight guy
from Lincoln, Nebraska. But when we leave at three a.m.,
the party is still going full force, with a huge group dancing
wildly around Barbie-Q and some guy screeching out "Purple
Rain." In a neighborhood that is in danger of taking
itself too seriously, Karaoke Night is a wake-up call. Drunk,
singing hipsters are wonderfully silly and frivolous and
dare I say itgay as hell.
Paging Amy. You have a lesbian wake-up call at midnight
on Thursday. Please report to BQE Lounge (300 North
Sixth) for ladies galore. I repeat, ladies galore. Finally,
we find the girls-apparently, they've all been hiding out
at BQE's self-proclaimed Dyke Party on Thursday nights.
I rouse Amy and put in the phone call to Michael and Carter
(looks like they'll be the hags tonight).
BQE is a swank lounge, with soft banquette seating along
the walls and low-lit filmy lighting. It's almost languid
inside, and you can see why it's the perfect backdrop for
hosts Michelle and Kate's spanking new lesbian party. I
could go on at length about how down-to-earth and charming
this couple is, but I'll just give you an example. When
my tape recorder breaks (oh dear, is that battery acid or
vodka all over my Duracell?), Michelle actually drives home
to get me her tape recorder. As inleaves her own damn
party to cover for this deadbeat journalist. Classy, I say.
I ask Michelle how this two-month old party got started"Well,
I've lived in Williamsburg for eight years, and I love this
neighborhood and have seen it grow. But you see all these
queer people and no queer partiesso, the boys came
in and there are a few boy nights, but still nothing for
women. And everyone's trekking from Brooklyn to Manhattan,
and there should be something here. I mean-this is the coolest
I agree, and it takes some pluck to take on Thursday night's
Gloss party at Meow Mix. But they don't aim to competethey're
more than happy to provide the pre-party for neighborhood
girls seeking casual down time before hitting the city.
And lately, some locals are choosing to not cross the river
at all. They're thinkingwhy bother?
Kate and Michelle take turns spinning unique girl-rock bands,
the crowd is hip and young, and get thisyou can actually
sit down. They're even hard at work on a new Gamine Zine
for the neighborhood, which will feature music reviews,
art commentary, fictionthe whole nine yards. What
can I say? The lighting's good, the mood is set, and, lest
we forget, the requisite beautiful bartender is in the house.
Amy and I exchange glances, and agree, "It's always
about the bartender." Her name is Emily, you letches,
and she's sweet as pieeven when I snap her photo against
her wishes. She insists she's "all PMS'ey and gross",
but we'll let you be the judge of that. She tells me that
it gets busiest between 11 and 1, but the real gravy is
the buy-one-get-one free happy hour from 6 to 9.
Meanwhile, Carter and Michael have been lurking in the
upstairs loft, where they claim there's a secret enclave
of men gathering for drinks. "It's like they've all
been banished to the kitchen for tea while the girls watch
the ballgame," Carter giggles. I reprimand them to
come downstairs and be selfless for the causeto get
Amy laid. She sets her sights on a lanky brunette in the
corner who is, she claims, giving her the "fuck-me
eyes". I'm not so sure about that, given the brunette's
seating arrangementperched on the lap of her androgynous
would-be girlfriend. I smile feebly at Amy, not wanting
to discourage, "Maybe they're swingers."
The rest of the crowd is mixed. Amy remarks that they're
a bit butch, but I disagree. These girls are pure neighborhoodsoft
and feminine, but with a nice edge. I'll call them the Daphne's
(paying homage to a hot little friend of mine): studded
belts, peppered piercings, and short, styled hair framing
delicately pretty faces.
The atmosphere at BQE Lounge is so good that I even find
two straight guys sipping beers in the corner who aren't
here to be all creepy and voyeuristic.
"No, It's just nice here, that's all. It's warm and
inviting and there's good music" one of them tells
me, and then the other laughs, "Yea, fuck the dirty
old punk rock bars."
Hey... I like dirty old punk rock bars, but the BQE Lounge
will do jut fine too.
The next stop on our quest comes on Saturday night at the
supposedly grand gay party, Berliniamsburg at Luxx (256
Grand Street). It's a shame we didn't nail a visit to Luxx
before the Village
Voice laid out that fat spread on electroclash in
early April. It was probably fine before the hype machine
kicked in. How to put this oh-so delicatelyLuxx suxx.
At least the night we went, anyways. I hear the shows are
good. Ah, but I digress; let me start at the beginning.
Carter, that bastard, goes out of town for the weekend,
so we're forced to replace him with the indomitable Stephen,
who bravely takes on the challenge. We meet early in the
city, at the bar where Michael bartends, and proceed to
tie one onboth figuratively and literally. Stephen
gets his shoestring caught in the barstool. Why must you
know this? Because it's the last fleeting moment of joy
in the evening.
After much ado, we head into Brooklyn around 1 a.m. and
we're all in good spirits. Until we hit the door guy at
Luxx, who's well, basically a prick. I try to tell him that
we're doing a piece on them three times, and he cuts me
off mid-sentence three times with a crude, banal "Ten
dollars." Paying the cover doesn't bother me, in fact,
we contacted the club super late asking for guest passes.
I just thought he might let me finish my sentence, but we
all know uber-cool people don't have to be nice. To hell
with itI'm ready to have a good time and we head downstairs
to check our coats.
I check my coat and add a small bag to the same hanger (same
damn hanger!), and receive a curt, "That'll be $4 then,"
from the coat-check guy. And you thought Oznot's Dish was
price hiking? By the way, you have to check your coat, because
there isn't an open seat in sight.
When we get upstairs, we ask this guy who's standing near
a table if we can sit for a minute. "Nope," he
drawls, mean as hell. We grab the open one next to him.
"Not that one either," he snarls, staring dully
over our shoulders.
If you're imagining a really hot big-boy punk right now,
open your eyes. This fucker is five-foot five and wearing
a woven belt. It's an ugly scene and a really pretentious
crowd, but I check with the boys to make sure it's not my
imagination. Michael gives me a face; "Everyone here
thinks they're working at Moomba, for christsakes."
$4 poorer for checking his coat
Stephen chimes in, "But the music's good and Mike
Albo is cruising me." Perfectwe decide to send
the most optimistic one (Stephen, at this point) back to
check out the dance floor while we cruise a seat near the
bar. Michael heads wearily to the bar for a round of beers,
only to come back smiling. "I talked to the female
bartender for a minute. She was pretty nice." I send
Michael over to snap her photo because she's got killer
style, she reminds me of the chick from Mellencamp's "Hurt
So Good" video.
Stephen returns within five minutes, looking dour. He plops
down next to us and heaves a sigh, "Horrible. Just
horrible. I barely made it to the dance floorthere
were far too many sweaty, plain girls wearing feather boas
in my way."
Michael and I collectively cringe. We try to surmise what's
wrong with the placethe sex-driven New Wave music
is good, there's plenty of space, and it's dirty in all
the right places. Bottom line-it's the crowd. It's that
entire Manhattan sceney attitude without the salt or irony.
Stephen and Michael lament, "There's no sexual energy
whatsoever." If the artifice has to be there, the only
compensation is a little heat. And don't even get me started
on that asshole guarding the seats. He's still standing
next to those two empty tables almost an hour later.
Luxx bartenders. We like them.
We actually rock, paper, scissors it to see who has to
go downstairs and deal with the entrepreneurial coat check
guy, who I'm scared will shake my pockets for change. We
send the rookie, and then head for the Blu Lounge because
we know we'll find a seat and a laid back crowd. There's
no gay boys at Blu, but there's no attitude either, and
that's a step in the right direction.
Determined to end the weekend right, I call Michael to treat
him to brunch the next day at a new restaurant called Sweet
Mama's (559 Lorimer). We eat a damn good Southern meal
at the bar and chat up the barkeep, Matthew, and his really
hot boyfriend Jorge seated next to us. We end up wasting
away our Sunday afternoon with their friends dropping in
left and right, and I tell them I'm adding them to the crawl.
We drink way too much coffee and talk up the idea of revolutionizing
the Williamsburg Gay Brunch scenewith Matthew it's
golden muse. "How are you going to squeeze it in?"
Jorge laughs, donning his best fey accent, "Luxx sucked,
but we met the nicest two homos at a restaurant the next
So tasteless, I couldn't have put it better myself.
(email me at [email protected])
THE FIRST INSTALLMENT