SC, B, and I gather at Boxers in Chelsea for the season 8 finale of RuPaul's Drag Race. The evening was hosted by she of the towering hair and perfect hourglass figure, drag queen Alexis Michelle. We were supposed to meet at the delightfully grungy Boots & Saddle in the West Village, but it was sadly closed due to flooding after a rainstorm. The next best option was Boxers, which is always packed for Drag Race, and we knew it would be especially so tonight for the finale, perhaps even more than it would have been because people who were also going to Boots & Saddle may have also ended up in Chelsea that evening instead. The venue was swarming with people, but B managed to find us some real estate in the center of something like five different televisions. This, after all, was our playoffs, or World Cup, our Super Bowl of Drag. Not only that, but I had been in the house all day so it was nice to be out interacting with other humans. Our beloved Bob the Drag Queen was in the top three representing our city. Hashtag #TeamBob was everywhere, and Alexis told stories of performing with Bob around town. And at the end of the hour and a half finale, Bob won! The bar let out an enormous cheer followed by bursts of applause. We walked out into the night, pretending to "walk into the club purse first" as Bob had done on the show.
"I expected to be running into people and high-fiving them!" SC said as we made our way down a rather quiet 20th Street. "But I forget not everybody watches Drag Race." It's an insular world, maybe, but it's ours.
TuesdayI had the distinct pleasure of being asked to be a judge at The Prose Bowl, a monthly literary event at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn. Founded by writers John Hague and Christopher Green, the premise of the series is that four people, all of whom enter their names in a hat at the beginning of the evening, are picked at random read a work of fiction that's 900 words or about five minutes long. The story is then judged by a panel, and the top two writers enter a lightning round, where they tell a story that's about as along as a tweet. The winner is decided by audience applause and given a free drink and a "doo-dad of infinite impracticability."
On the judging panel with Green and another regular judge Jordan Zolan, I was worried I would be too mean, the Simon Cowell of the group, if you will. Listening to the stories, immensely creative for a few short minutes, I really enjoyed the challenge of coming up with a (somewhat? hopefully?) insightful critique to share at the end. I did at one point say "more fangirling, less sadgirling" in one of my critiques, which rather comically ended up on The Prose Bowl's Twitter later. The winning story was a hilarious tale about purchasing a couch from a Craigslist ad that ended up covered in cat pee. It included the wonderful line "She stays thin because she lies so much," in reference to the seller of the couch, who vehemently denied the cat urine incident. If you love free, interesting literary events, it's definitely one worth checking out. You can also read a recap of Tuesday's event on their blog here.
I actually did go to yoga.
SE knows I love surprises and though he doesn't, he managed to keep a secret our plans for Thursday night for a few weeks.
"Meet me on the corner of 45th and 8th at 6:30pm sharp!" he said.
We met on the southeast corner, and he pointed to a pizza joint across the street. "I thought we could go and check out some of this amazing Times Square pizza," he said, possibly joking but I wasn't sure. I raised my eyebrows and said okay, befuddled yet amused. "But first I thought we could go see American Psycho." Ohhhhhhhhh! We had discussed the musical previously, so it was fun to be surprised with tickets.
During the show, SE told me he had made reservations at a restaurant uptown, but apparently the kitchen closed at 10pm and if the show got out later than 9:30, he wasn't sure we'd make it. It didn't matter to me, I said, that I'd be happy with Papaya King, but I knew he wanted this evening to be special. Magically, as we were making our way up 8th Avenue after the show amongst throngs of other people, a cab stopped right in front of us to let two women out. We got in and made our way very quickly uptown, to 70th and Columbus. "Ye of little faith!" I said, patting his shoulder as we got in the cab. The restaurant, it turned out, was Parm, one of my new favorite spots that now had a location on the Upper West Side as well as in Nolita. We had walked past it one evening and I had told him about the amazing eggplant parmagiana sandwiches and he had remembered. We arrived at Parm with about 10 minutes to spare, maybe less, before the kitchen closed. Our waitress, perhaps eager to leave, came over and asked for our order quickly--two eggplant parmagiana heroes, please--and soon we were chowing down into the crispy, tomato-y goodness on perfect sesame-covered bread. It was heaven. And SE, who isn't really even an eggplant or tomato fan, loved it just as much as I did.
I am on deadline, as ever, and I am a little late to meet SJT and L at Le Poisson Rouge, where we will shortly see the goddess, the high priestess, the Divine Miss P, the one and only Patti Smith. I realize that this is the fourth time I have seen her royal radness in person, and I am just as excited as I have been every other time. The evening is a benefit for a retreat community upstate and Patti is the star act, with her daughter Jesse on piano and her son Jackson on guitar. She is a warm and funny presence onstage, and sometimes when she's speaking I feel like she's my mom, too. She covers Prince's "When Doves Cry," and it's incredible, as is everything else she does with her voice. The stage lights turn a slight purple and bounce off of her silver hair, making it look purple too. Afterward she simply says "Prince!" with a smile, raising her hands upward to the sky. I could listen to her sing, talk, recite poetry forever while she wears one of those black blazers she always wears and her custom boots made for her by Johnny Depp to look like those he wears as the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's films.
After the concert, we head to the Olive Tree Cafe for sandwiches, hummus, and a carafe of wine. We gossip and discuss theatre and SJT tells a story about when he accompanied a singer at a synagogue and really enjoyed the deli platters afterward.
Eyes heavy with wine, we part ways and I traipse into a cab and then, eventually, my bed.