Saturday, October 22, 2016

Beyond Frank

When EH visits, I like to construct an evening out for her of some kind. As I've mentioned before, she works hard at the hospital and barely gets a day off, so I'm always happy to help her blow off some steam when she comes into the city from New Jersey. One time she came in I was working weekend mornings, and had fallen asleep by midnight. I felt so bad that I couldn't give her her evening out that the next time she came in I promised we would go hard, and I delivered: we stayed out until 5:30am. I pissed off my roommate at the time, a light sleeper, when we came giggling in around 6am, the sun just beginning to peek through the windows.

The last time she came in, though, she wasn't in the mood for a "go hard" kind of evening, and frankly I don't know that I was either. But I would have rallied for her without a doubt! She wanted to "go medium," and we ended up going on a petite walking tour of the East Village, starting with a gallery opening. I asked her what she wanted to eat for dinner, and she decided Italian, so I took her to Frank. I went to Frank for the first time a year or two ago, but for whatever reason hadn't been back since. It's an unpretentious little Italian joint on 2nd Avenue, with tables outside, a bar, and a small dining room that wraps around the other side of a doorway. In true 'EH is Visiting' fashion, we end up being able to waltz right into Frank and sit at the bar on a Friday night around 8pm, prime New York eating hours in which it's often difficult to get a table anywhere, let alone someplace especially tasty. We order what ends up being the perfect amount of food while perched at the bar, first sharing a pear and gorgonzola salad. The sharp cheese is softened by the crisp, juicy fruit, and there's enough cheese left over for us to spread it across the warm bread previously served to us with olive oil. Next up is black linguini with calamari. It's in a tomato sauce that's just a little bit spicy, perfectly tangy, and it presses up gently against the inky pasta and the subtle chew of the calamari ringlets.

We head to Mayahuel a few short blocks away next in hopes of mezcal cocktails, but have to leave our name at the door with a man named Josh. Josh will call me when our table is ready, about 20 minutes. In the meantime, though, EH has the genius idea to get some dessert somewhere, and we trot over to Big Gay Ice Cream on 7th Street between 1st Street and Avenue A. It's a bit chilly out, so magically we don't have to wait in line for more than 2-5 minutes, an impossibility when the summer heat swallows the city. I hadn't been there all summer, waiting on line forever for their delectable soft-serve, and it feels like I beat the system.

We decide to share one of their massive cones, a special that day called the Violet Beauregard. Named for the Willy Wonka character whose greedy noshing inflates her into a blueberry balloon, the cone is dressed accordingly with blueberry sauce, pie crumble, and whipped cream atop vanilla ice cream. No sooner to we begin digging into the cone then Josh calls from Mayahuel--interestingly, his area code seems to be from Utah and I wonder what on Earth a Utahan thinks about New York when they first arrive here. We say we are on our way from Avenue A, when in reality we stand outside Big Gay and finish the cone, perhaps the walking equivalent of saying "I'm in a cab" when you've only just gotten out of the shower. Shortly, though, we click-clack over to Mayahuel and are escorted upstairs to a blue-and-white tiled table. We sip our mescal and the drinks are nice enough--but at $15 a pop, we decide our next venue will be a little different. Inside, there's a little old man with a cane, conservatively dressed, waiting for a sundae. EH and I smile--something like this (read: both an ice cream store called Big Gay Ice Cream and a little old man happily going to it for a cone) probably wouldn't have happened 20 years ago.

Our last stop of the evening is a place I pass the evening before, Huertas. This is the first place we go this evening that I actually haven't been to before, and I'm reminded to add some more new venues to my roster. Huertas is actually a Basque-inspired tapas restaurant, but they also make pitchers of cocktails they call refrescos. This actually means 'sodas' in Spanish, but the pitchers they say are more like Spanish wine coolers. We sit at the bar--magically, yet again, there are two seats waiting for us--and head for a pitcher of Agua de Valencia, made with prosecco and orange soda (but not Sunkist, more European in style--think Aranciata, a bubbly, orange-infused, only slightly-sweet construction). The bartender swirls out a neat twist of orange for each of our drinks and each time we pour a new drink (three times possible each with this particular pitcher…and at a cost of $30 total, practically a steal) a whisk of orange oil enters our noses. Soon, though, the bubbles invade our senses and we teeter ourselves into a cab. It was a night, we'll say, where we went hard enough. Are we getting old, I wonder? Or sometimes are a few good bubbles enough?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Get Your Shimmy's Worth

I can't help but love glittery things...

So here are a few sights from the 14th Annual New York Burlesque Festival, where performers shimmied and shook their sparkles for all they're worth. This event in particular is of their annual Premiere Party at Brooklyn Bowl. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

"Ladiez" Who Breakfast

Breakfast, I find, is underrated. Breakfast food is not, with its cult following for dinner and Ron Swanson's penchant for the stuff alongside pretty, dark-haired women. But getting up to go meet someone for breakfast, on a weekday, before 11am is hardly a social thing people do--at least in New York, where sleeping in often feels second only in luxury to cocktails at The Carlyle. This is mostly because people have these "job" things I keep hearing about where they have to go into "offices" at a "certain hour," whatever that means. But as full-time freelancers SJT and I do not have those, so Thursday morning we met for a meal that was solidly, decidedly breakfast: 9am at Buvette in the West Village (they do open at 7am Mondays through Fridays, now but my initial thought upon hearing that was, "Well, let's not get crazy.") Once we confirm our plans SJT texts me, "Ladiez who breakfast!" It does feel quite glamorous, doesn't it? Like we have membership in some exclusive club only a rich husband can buy.

I've written about Buvette briefly before, the petite small-plates French restaurant in the West Village, but neither of us had ever been for breakfast. The place is a madhouse for brunch on weekends with a mob of people waiting out front, and neither of us wanted to chance that. So we chose an early hour, early enough where we could have a leisurely breakfast and still have plenty of time for a work day afterward. I was happy to wake up at 7-ish to get there in time, too; excited even. It was a far cry from my forcible mattress detachment that happens when I'm in the midst of Fashion Week. Or, interestingly, what would also happen when I first moved to New York and had a 9-5 job; it was often punctuated with the whine "I DON'T WANT TO GO TO WORK!!!!" ripping itself almost involuntarily from my lips every morning. I want to hover above that girl groaning her way out of bed like the blue fairy in Pinocchio, wings a-twinkling, eyelashes a-batting: "Shhhh, my child. There is another way life can be lived! You can actually love what you do for a living!" And, magically, here we are now (I love shooting Fashion Week, it just makes me batty and tired, as it does everyone).

The morning commute, though I've done it of course since becoming a freelancer, still boggles me and my thought process is regularly How do people do this every day? May RuPaul bless and keep your hearts and souls on this train that is practically exploding with people.

I walk across Washington Square Park to Grove Street, and find SJT waiting in front for me. Even at 9am, the place is packed and we have to wait a few minutes for a table. It's enough to acknowledge that fall is finally upon us, a brisk chill of wind running through my clothes as if to say, "Nah girl, it's not summer anymore. Try a leather jacket over that asymmetrical cardigan tomorrow." It's invigorating nonetheless, and shortly we have our seats at a little marble-top bistro table in the corner. The lights are bright, the counter is bustling, and our little paper menus are stamped with today's date. I decide on a poached egg with lentils and kale. Fun fact: I am a slut for a poached egg. I find them to be the most glamorous of eggs, the way they sit neatly in a little cloud before you slice into their soft white flesh and shiny, runny yolk falls everywhere. I will order them whenever they are available, and sometimes when they're not. SJT chooses the Frits a la Americane, sunnyside eggs with bacon and sage.

Our selections arrive in the teeny manner I have come to adore from Buvette--a petite plate for he and bowl for me, but both brimming with food. My poached egg, in all its glamour, rests atop a stew of kale and lentils, all sprinkled with a light dusting of grated cheese, accompanied with two thin slices of grilled French bread gently glossed with olive oil. I slice into my egg with the corner of the spoon I have been given, scooping up yolk and kale and lentils and cheese all in one bite, and it is divine. A pop of salt from the cheese, a chewiness of kale, a softness of egg, and I am in love. I alternate between spoonfuls into my mouth and onto the magically crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside slices of French bread. There is salt and crunch and smoothness and I wish I had the words of a proper food writer to describe it all.

We linger over breakfast, taking our time and making our way through our small plates, chit-chatting about travel and work and travel again. It makes me realize that I don't know the last time I truly went to a place and ate capital-B Breakfast like this. I often can't force myself out of the house before noon on the weekends and a weekday breakfast is usually me huddled in front of a bowl of cottage cheese or oatmeal with my computer open, still in my pajamas, glasses perched on my face--it is a sight  significantly less glamorous than a poached egg, specifically the poached egg I had at Buvette. This one was an inspiring enough meal to make me want to do breakfast again, not just there but anywhere, this simple luxury for which it is without a doubt worth getting out of bed.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Backstage Beauty: New York Fashion Week, Spring/Summer 2017

Some of my favorite shots from behind the scenes at this past NYFW.

And this picture, which I really only love as
documentation of how fabulous this person is. Amen.

Monday, September 5, 2016


I wouldn't have said that I had little to no feelings about Dolly Parton, but I wouldn't have said she was at the top of my mind like the man standing next to me at Dollypalooza. This gentleman's head was adorned with a trucker hat airbrushed with the curvaceous country singer's figure and a swirl of her signature. He wore a western-style button down embroidered with flowers, and a big silver belt buckle held up his slim-cut jeans stuffed into a pair of black cowboy boots. Was I still in Manhattan?

I was, in fact, and I was in the basement of Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street for Dollypalooza, an annual fan tribute to the blonde bombshell singer/songwriter herself. Intrigued by the lineup that evening of burlesque performers and drag queens--featuring performance legends World Famous *BOB*, Darlinda Just Darlinda, and Sweetie--and the possibility of even more wigs, glitter, rhinestones, and camp than usual at one of these kinds of shows, I decided to go. SJT was my willing companion that evening, and we arrived at the venue tipsy on Georgian wine from Old Tblisi Garden next door. Neither SJT or myself have a particularly Dolly-infused background, but we do love glitter and kitsch, and I think that was the biggest draw for both of us. What would a celebration of the woman who once said with a smile "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap" actually look like?

Coming down the stairs of the venue, we were immediately greeted by an explosion of spangles and sequins on performers milling about in front of the silent auction. To say we figured we were in the right place was perhaps an understatement. But shortly we were hootin' and hollerin' along with a crowd of New Yorkers decked out in their favorite Dolly or Dolly-inspired gear. Wigs and cowboy boots peppered the crowd, as did concert t-shirts from her tour that recently passed through Forest Hills. We sang along and danced to the sounds of Doll Parts, a Dolly Parton tribute band fronted by burlesque performer Corvette Le Face, shimmying to classics like "9 to 5" and "Light of a Clear Blue Morning."

I expected to love the performers I knew, but for whatever reason I didn't expect to come away with a burning desire to listen to Ms. Parton...which I did, incidentally, end up doing for a decent chunk of the day today. As with many of the sparkly icons we celebrate today--be they Stevie Nicks, Cher, Patti LaBelle, or whoever else--Dolly inspires an entire subculture of people, people who would love her enough not just to go see her concert but to go to a fan tribute show where their queen herself would not even be present. It seems like a no-brainer, of course, but as a person whose country music background is light at best, it was both eye-opening and reaffirming. Well, of course, Dolly Parton would inspire a tribute band, would be beloved by burlesque performers and drag queens, would be celebrated in an epic fan evening like Dollypalooza. The woman has 46 Grammy nominations and eight wins, 110 singles that have charted, and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Not to mention she has her own theme park, for crying out loud. What's not bright, sparkly, and boob tassle-worthy about that?

Take a look below to see some of my shots from the evening.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

We All Scream for Drag Queens

New York is wonderful because on a random Tuesday in August you can get free ice cream from a drag queen.

B sent me a text yesterday morning, a screenshot of a news story saying that queens from RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars would be giving out ice cream on the corner of University Place and 14th Street by Union Square to promote the show's second season premier on Thursday night (okay, so it wasn't exactly "random"). I didn't really want the ice cream, but I'm always game for a fantastic queen.

I'm happy to say this was what I found there, snapping away with my camera at Alyssa Edwards, Katya, and Ginger Minj while they were standing inside an ice cream truck printed with the RuPaul's Drag Race logo, handing out ice cream from New York cult favorite Big Gay Ice Cream. Alaska 5000 and Roxxxy Andrews were also in sight, doing interviews with local New York news stations. I couldn't tell who was there to just get free ice cream, to see the queens, or both, but the corner was exploding with people, even a few in drag themselves, and the line snaked all the way down 14th Street. People held up their phones to take pictures with queens as they doled out the frozen treats, some lining up to take photos with Katya while she stepped aside to have a cigarette. I watched Roxxxy Andrews shamelessly flirt with one of the staffers, saying something like, "Give me your number, I want to run my fingers through your curls later," gesturing to the top of his head with a flick of her long peach fingernails. Alaska purred into a microphone offered to her by one of the news crews while Ginger Minj bubbled and batted her eyelashes inside of the truck.

It was hot as I ran around the tiny area bursting with bodies to get pictures, but it was a perfect way to spend an hour on a Tuesday. Take a look at some of the images below!