W42ST Issue 14 – I Heart Hell's Kitchen

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MY FUNNY VALENTINE Jaci is visited by the ghosts of lovers past …



ove is in the hair. No, you didn’t read that wrong. The hair. If there’s one thing I cannot abide about lovers, it’s the way they toss their hair in my face, dispersing their dandruff and nits into my freshly poured pinot grigio. They sit on bar stools, flirting with their lustrous curls while facing their beloved, oblivious to those of us sitting behind them choking on the follicle debris they inconsiderately throw our way. I feel about Valentine’s Day the same way Scrooge did about Christmas. I cry “Humbug!” when I see the exploitation in the cards, tacky gifts, and overpriced flowers. Humbug to the people who, apart from this one day of the year, argue like crazy. Humbug to false emotion fuelled by commercialism and sentimentality. But back to the hair tossers and their ilk. I’m all for people being in love and, who can deny it, the world is a better place when love dominates over hate, peace over violence. What I can’t bear are people who rub our noses in their alleged joy. Is it really necessary to prove your affection by shoving your tongue down someone’s throat while people are trying to eat (eat food, that is, as opposed to human flesh)? Is it appropriate to grope someone like a topiarist masterminding a hedge, when others are just trying to get to the ice bucket? Do you really have to metaphorically scream: “I’m getting it and you’re not!” Yes, I know. I’ve got the point.

who can still remember where his toolbox is and is still adept at using it? And so, to the Valentines Yet to Come. Who knows what horrors await, but I’m running out of continents trying to find out. I’m still vaguely hopeful, but in the meantime, keep your hair out of my wine.

The ones who got away


Simon Cowell. If only I’d been 12 inches taller. And 50lb thinner.

Above: Jaci’s still hopeful – but in the meantime, irritating lovers should stay out of her way and get a room.

Where Scrooge was visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, my “dreams” should also be teaching me lessons about how I might change my approach to this occasion that so many others seem to enjoy. It just doesn’t work for me, though. The Ghost of Valentines Past: that would be the men who never bought me anything, cleaned out my bank account, and left me for nurses. The Ghost of Valentines Present: that’s practically a romantic wasteland. They’re all too old, too gay or too uninterested. Surely one of you young lads has a straight, rich, widowed uncle,


Rudy’s pig. He wanted me. I knew it from the start.


George Clooney. If only I’d been 24 inches taller. And 100lb thinner.


Call me Psychic Jaci, these guys were never gonna work.


Maybe this is the bar for me in 2016.

I SIT THROUGH THE OSCAR CONTENDERS SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO It’s Oscars time again on February 28, and for those who can’t be bothered to sit through the movies (and you really don’t need to this year, trust me), here is my personal summary of the main contenders (and a couple of others just for the hell of it). CAROL Two chain-smoking lesbians in hats

fall in love over a train set in 1950s New York. THE REVENANT Leonardo di Caprio has fight with bear and spends what feels like the next six weeks grunting. INFINITELY POLAR BEAR Mark Ruffalo does not have a fight with a polar bear but still spends an


inordinate of time grunting. BRIDGE OF SPIES Two guys, who may or may not be spies, are swapped on a bridge. End of. LADY IN THE VAN Unwashed lady who lives in a van dies. Eventually. Take lots of popcorn.

BROOKLYN Girl in hat (not a lesbian) falls in love with two men, in Ireland and New York. Second favorite. STEVE JOBS Unwashed genius falls in love with a computer, has fights with hairy humans, but makes a ton of dough while grunting. Has the lot. Easily my favorite.



Sole MAN

He’s made shoes for everyone from Meryl Streep and Bette Midler to an entire company of Radio City Rockettes – Phil LaDuca is literally keeping Broadway on its toes 8



Know someone cool who’d make a great subject for My Hell’s Kitchen? Put us in touch, we’ll do the rest. Email news@w42st.com

How long have you lived in Hell’s Kitchen? 31 years. What brought you here? I came to New York to be a Broadway performer. I did three shows on Broadway in the 1980s: Brigadoon for Agnes de Mille, Pirates of Penzance with Keven Kline, and Singin’ in the Rain for Twyla Tharp, as well as toured with Camelot with Richard Harris. What has your experience of the neighborhood been? It became home. It became my all. I lived here. Struggled here. Cried, failed, loved, worked, and succeeded here; first on Broadway then as a shoe designer/ owner. It was my neighborhood. I walked everywhere and knew everyone. How has it changed? I wasn’t here when the Port Authority was built (in the 1960s), but that changed the complexion of the area. Originally it was the Italian section of Manhattan and was known for its food stores and restaurants. The Port Authority made it transient and most of the Italian families moved but they kept the shops open. When I first came to the area in the early 1980s, it was in another major transition. During the day, the great food shops were still there. I knew Sal and Joe, the butchers at Abruscato meat market; Dominick and Tony, the guys at Central Fish; Tommy, the cook and owner of Guido’s Supreme Macaroni; the guys over at Stiles fruits and vegetables. But at night, when the shops closed, people stayed in or away because of the crime and drugs. Thankfully, due to Giuliani, the area transcended into a vibrant, safe, bustling part of Times Square and is now a wonderful place to live, shop and dine out in (and see Broadway shows). How has your business changed? I started on 9th Avenue between 39th and 40th Streets and the area was still a bit sketchy. But I was the first new shoe store to open in the area in over 50 years and every day was an adventure, from having Meryl Streep to Bette Midler walking in alone, to 20 Radio City Rockettes in for fittings, to limousines pulling up with high society ladies who had heard about me. All set amid the backdrop of some very unsavory street people, many of whom I came to know

“It became home. I lived here. Struggled here. Cried, failed, loved, worked, and succeeded here; first on Broadway then as a shoe designer/ owner. It was my neighborhood.” and befriend as “the regulars”. It was a very colorful beginning for LaDuca shoes for sure! Our new location is on 47th Street between 8th and 9th as I could never leave the neighborhood. Where do you eat in the area? I really like Capizzi on 9th Avenue: great menu, good wine choices, and they are my paisanos from Sicily. It’s great to see Italian restaurants back in the neighborhood. Any bars or cafes you’d recommend? I really enjoy the eclectic menu and pairings at 9th Avenue Vintner. Where’s your favorite place in the neighborhood? Going up on the roof and looking up and down 9th Avenue and seeing the vibrancy of the street, especially during the 9th Avenue Food Festival.


What’s the best thing about living here? The ability to walk to everything: shows, shops, restaurants, cafes, and restaurants (Thai, Indian, Chinese, Pakistani, Italian, French, burgers, health foods … everything you can imagine). And the worst? That great old places like Guido’s, Giordano’s, Casa Bakery, D’iutto’s Cannoli, and Cafe Edison are gone. Who do you admire here? Every small business owner. It’s not an easy city to make it in, but as Frankie said: “If you can make it here ...” Do you have a HK secret? LaDuca shoes was and continues to be a hidden gem where the absolute beginner can rub elbows with movie stars while browsing photos, autographs, and memorabilia that remind us why there is only one Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Lastly, since this is the Valentine’s issue, what or who is the love of your life? The Broadway dancer. Having been a “Broadway baby” myself, still being able to mingle with them has been the greatest love affair of my life. Thank you, my lovely, inspiring family of dancers.

From left: Shania Twain in her LaDuca thighhigh biker boots; Phil with Michelle Williams; Katy Perry’s crystal booties, worn during her Super Bowl performance; Phil in Pirates of Penzance (photograph: Martha Swope). BIO

Phil LaDuca has worked as a dancer and choreographer for over 20 years. His off-the-shelf and custom dance shoes have been worn by everyone from Judi Dench and Brooke Shields, to Kristen Chenoweth, Sofia Loren, Nicole Kidman and stars too numerous to mention. www. laducashoes. com




If it’s happening in Hell’s Kitchen, we’ve got it covered NEW YORK TIMES TRAVEL SHOW


ust as the holidays began to feel like a distant memory and we all started to dream of summer vacations, wouldn’t you know it, but the New York Times Travel Show came to Javits. Destinations from South Africa to Taiwan, Latin America, Europe, and right here in the USA provided inspiration, along with cultural performances, a taste of the local cuisine, book signings, and expert advice. So, where are you going?


Clockwise from above: On safari – in a photo booth; the far east; South Africa; childsplay; Irish dancers provide entertainment.




heart From the

Lovers, siblings, singles...… love comes in many forms, as these Hell 's Kitcheners demonstrate 12



James & HK What do you love about living in Hell’s Kitchen? “Apart from the thousands of food choices along 9th Avenue, the mixture of almost every culture on this planet all combined into five avenues. And on a more social level, the abundance of friends I have within seconds’ walking distance, which is great because I’m never alone. The history of HK also fascinates me, from the ladies of the night on 42nd Street to the Irish and Latino gangs that have shaped its story.” What first attracted you to the neighborhood? “The bright lights of Times Square. Moving from Australia, I wanted to be in the heart of the Big, Bad City and in my eyes HK is the center of Manhattan. As well as the large LGBT community here, I can be as free as I want to be walking down the street confidently wearing just about anything I want.” How long have you lived here? “Originally moving to NYC in 2011, to the West Village, I jumped up the island in June 2013 and have never looked back. Now I’m a passionate local and don’t plan on moving anytime soon.”


What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since you arrived? “My friendship group with other local Hell’s Kitcheners has grown to the point where it is now hard to walk down 9th Avenue without being stopped every block, and I love it. I feel at home now. I call Gladice at my local Frank’s liquor store Mom (she even cooks me Christmas lunch every year) – she and my Russian barber/life coach make up my new family.” If they were to make a movie of your life here, what would it be? “A flamboyant musical with bright lights and a large dance chorus filled with amazing costumes – a sort of West Side Story meets Kinky Boots meets ‘The boy from Oz’. Comedy being a big part of my life, I wouldn’t be happy with my musical unless you were dancing and laughing at the same time.” What’s the secret to happy HK living? “Having a great family and sense of community to rely on in times of need. We are all orphans and it is the HK friends who have become family. Also, the sooner you accept the tourists and practice the art of human dodging on the sidewalk the better.” ❤



James Twigg arrived in NYC from Australia in 2011, but he truly came home in 2013, when he fell in love with the neighborhood.


Mo & Justin Mo Brady is video producer for Broadway Cares and co-creator of The Ensemblist podcast. His husband, Justin Huff, is a casting director. Last month they welcomed son Brady into their world. If you were introducing one another at a party, what would you say? Mo: “This is my handsome, talented husband who just arrived at this party 30 minutes later than he said he would.” Justin: “This is my husband, Mo. He may remind you of a Muppet, but I find it adorable.” Tell us something wonderful about the other person. Mo: “Justin cares deeply about everything he does.” Justin: “When Mo commits to something, he sees it through and I think that’s a trait you find less and less.” How did you two meet? Mo: “We met in Seattle early 2009. Justin came out west for a series of work trips, during which we met and started dating.” What first attracted you to each other? Mo: “Other than him being handsome as all get out? His passion. Justin is the kind of person who goes after what he wants and succeeds at it.” Justin: “Corny as it sounds, there was something about him that sparkled. And as Mo knows, I like shiny things. Once I got to know him, it was his ability to be a dork while also being ridiculously handsome. I mean come on, look at that face.”


Do you have a song? Mo: “Justin loves anything at the top of the pop charts and I love angsty, Scandinavian indiepop with hard-topronounce song titles. But if I had to choose one song we both love it’s probably Pompeii by Bastille. Justin: “Or the few songs made popular in our circle at our wedding: Down by Jay Sean, Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap, Without You by David Guetta. If your story was to be told in film, what would it be? Mo: “Oh, a musical, definitely. I mean, it could be a tragic, comedic, romantic musical, but it should definitely be a musical. If for no other reason than that Justin could cast it and he could hire all of our friends to work on it.” Justin: “If you know us, a musical. Artsy meets bubblegum pop. If that’s a thing.” What’s the secret? Mo: “I think that our marriage thrives when we are both happy, healthy, creative people who meet in the middle to become something even better.” Justin: “Communication. If you don’t talk to each other about the good AND the bad, you aren’t being yourself.” ❤ www.theensemblist.com



Sam & pottery

Sam Nichols moved into Hell's Kitchen three years ago, where she discovered pottery. They've been together since, through good pots and bad ... What do you love about pottery? “I love the freedom, and the time to myself. This city is a loud place, and I found a way to drown out all the background noise. Also, ending up with a lifetime supply of coffee mugs is a nice bonus.” When did you two “meet”? “Pottery and I crossed paths three years ago when I moved down the street from my would-be studio. I passed by daily, then one day gave in and walked through the door. I was smitten.” Was it love at first pot or a gradual thing? “It was definitely hot and heavy in the beginning, like any great fling. I put in a ton of hours and really hit the ground running that first year. It’s always been a hustle.” Is it ever a love/hate relationship, or are


you blissfully happy together? “If we break up, it’s always temporary. After a long week I might have some frustration bottled up, but walking back into the studio with a clear head helps. And, of course, there’s nothing like great make-up pots…” When you use something you’ve made with your own hands, how does it feel? “The first time I used a mug that I made myself, I was... less than impressed. First attempts are rough. It’s only gone uphill from there though, and now my apartment is home to a lot of my favorite ceramics.” What’s the soundtrack to your work? “The current soundtrack to my work is the noise on the city street after dark, drowned out by some Deftones on the stereo.” ❤ Instagram: @samnicholspottery




Monty & Frank

Pianist and proud Hell's Kitchen resident Monty Alexander has had a lifelong relationship with Frank Sinatra. He'll be performing a tribute to the great man on February 12 and 13, at Jazz at Lincoln Center. How long have you been playing Sinatra? “I first met Frank Sinatra in 1962 when he came into a club where I was playing in Miami Beach. Then I ended up playing at probably one of the most famous bistros in New York at the time called Jilly’s in 1963, where I was around him on many occasions – musically as well as socially. Jilly’s was owned by his closest friend/ confidante Jilly Rizzo. I was 19 years old, and that’s also how long I have been familiar with his great legacy.” What drew you to him as a person and as a performer? “His incredible musical artistry. He was


extremely generous and had a powerful, charismatic persona and the most astounding performing abilities of anyone I have ever seen. Riveting. He was also very kind to me personally, and encouraging.” Did you see him perform? “I saw him perform on many occasions and also accompanied him on the piano. There were memorable concerts at Forrest Hills stadium in 1965, in Vegas, and also outside of the USA, in Amsterdam at the Concertgebouw. And Mr Sinatra would occasionally come to see me with his friends where I was playing – I remember


the Carlyle hotel in 1979 and also Blues Alley in Washington DC in 1972.” What is it about him that makes him such a favorite for lovers? “The intimacy of his interpretations, especially his ballads. Miles Davis once told me that he would listen to Sinatra’s ballads for inspiration.” Tell us something about him we might not know … “I don’t want to spoil the surprise! Come to the show where I will tell those stories that never made it to any book – but I’ll share discreetly of course.” ❤ www.jazz.org


Kev & Andi If you were introducing one another at a party, what would you say? Kev: “‘This is Andi, my brother.’ I usually avoid saying identical twin brother as I find that a little strange. Plus, it’s pretty obvious that we’re twins.” Andi: “‘This is our Kev.’ The question that almost always follows is: ‘Are you twins?’” How can we tell you apart? Kev: “The clearest distinction is Andi has a tattoo on each wrist. They are the names and date of birth of his two children, Kamali and Kaysen.” Do you have like a sixth “twin” sense? Kev: “Not that we know of, although we do tend to sense each other’s feelings and emotions. This we put down to the fact that we’ve worked together for most of our adult lives. We’re pretty close.” Does the fact that you’re twins make you better at performing together? Andi: “We’ve often spoken about whether or not we could do what we do together with another partner. The truth is we could, but the performance wouldn’t be as unified in execution, emotion, and expression. In the world of circus arts, we’re known for our synchronicity. Being identical twins helps for sure.” Do you have “roles” in your relationship? Kev: “Andi is the more outgoing of the two of us. He jokes a lot and takes life’s complexities a little less seriously than I do. He’s also the more creative of the two of us. I’m more the thinker, with an old


soul. I tend to analyze and rationalize most situations. The act that we do together can be highly technical, requiring detailed precision. With the input of both, we’ve managed to create something unique, artistic, and seamless.” What do you fight about? Kev: “We’ve been working together for so long now that we learned a long time ago that fighting isn’t constructive at all. Yes, we have disagreements at times, but these are often resolved pretty quickly. These disagreements are almost always work related. We do have a great respect for one another, and we still have a lot to learn from each another too.” Do you socialize together as well as work and train together? Andi: “Our socializing is more based around family nowadays. It’s the children that bring us the most joy in our lives. Our partying days are behind us. We do hang out together when we can. We’re 40 years old now, and still get on like best friends.” You’re always there for each other when performing; does that go for your personal lives as well? Andi: “It certainly does. Life has dealt us both many challenges, in our professional and personal lives. If there’s one thing we we can rely on, one consistency that will never falter, it’s the knowing that we can count on one another. Always!” ❤ Paramour begins April 16 at the Lyric Theatre (www.cirquedusoleil.com)



Kev and Andi Atherton are identical twins and aerial straps artists with Cirque du Soleil. Both live in Hell's Kitchen.


Dan & Trace


Trace Fairbaugh and Dan Scannell have been dating for a year and a half. They're regulars at The Pony Bar, where Trace enjoys a dark beer, while Dan will try pretty much anything. If you were introducing one another at a party, what would you say? Dan: “‘I’d like you to meet Trace. She’s on her way to becoming a stellar ER nurse. She’s Baltimore bred, has an affinity for the Ravens that I may never understand, and is privy to having wonderful conversations over a nice glass of dark beer.” Trace: “This is Dan, he lives in Brooklyn and does psychology research. He also just got certified to be an EMT so that he can start working towards going to PA school (physician’s assistant).” Tell us something wonderful about the other person. Dan: “Besides the conversations and beer part? She’s tremendously compassionate. She’s got heart, and there’s not much that can trump that.” Trace: “Dan is amazing at putting up with me and all of my shit. I know most people say that about their partner, but anyone who knows me well knows that I can be pretty ridiculous sometimes. He just goes with it, and it’s awesome.” How did you two meet? Dan: “College, it was the first day of classes. She sat in the corner and avoided the professor; I wasn’t so lucky..” What first attracted you to each other? Dan: “Bedding. She had the most comfortable bed in school (I mean that in the least suggestive way possible).”


Trace: “Dan always laughs at this answer, but the first thing I noticed about him was his voice. The class we were in together required people to read aloud. He was so confident. Meanwhile I was hiding in the corner praying I wouldn’t get called on.” If your story was to be told in film, what would it be? Dan: “What I would want: A space opera in three parts. What it would actually be: A weekly sitcom too edgy for networks, but not too crass for cable.” Trace: “I think on the whole it would be a comedy, but not without its dramatic moments. It’s been a long journey, but there are so many things that we look back on and say: ‘I can’t believe that happened’ and you can’t help but laugh.” What’s the “secret”? Dan: “There is no secret. And you can trust me: I’m an ‘adult.’ Truthfully, I find that you just need to be honest with each other. Life’s a lot easier that way. Honesty, and drinking at bars together. The bars thing helps too.” Trace: “I guess it would be having similar goals and supporting one another in them. Sometimes I have to focus a lot on work or Dan needs to spend a lot of time doing schoolwork, but we know that we’re cheering each other on rather than being upset that we’re not spending that time together.” ❤



Alex & Ariel Alex Gruhin and Ariel Reid are the team behind Nightcap Riot: Mombucha, a concert, play, and mixology event. Guess what? They live in HK! If you were introducing one another at a party, what would you say? Alex: “This is Ariel – she’s my rock. Are they passing hors d’oeuvres?” Ariel: “This is Alex, my business partner, life partner, keeps-me-sane-while-drivingme-crazy partner. He likes to describe himself as a bon vivant renaissance man, and despite the fact I think it sounds mildly pretentious it does do a good job of describing him so we’ll go with it. He is a playwright, though he would never say so, and man about town. There is never a dull moment when Alex is in the room. But dear lord, if he is wearing a tie and a large group of people has gathered … well … watch at your own risk.” Tell me something wonderful about the other person Alex: “I’m going to pseudo-quote an old Ben Brantley review and write: ‘How do you discern highlights from a bonfire?’ Ariel is wonderful to her core. Something specific? I love that she says: ‘Dream sweet’ every night before bed and: ‘Good morning, Sunshine’ every morning when I get up. She is a wonderful bookend to my day.” Ariel: “His Golden Girls dance.”


How did you two meet? Alex: “We met at Cornell in a student-run theater company. We hated each other at first, then became friends, then became more than friends.” If your story was to be told in film what would it be? Alex: “A musical comedy with Jewish folk songs sung beautifully by Ariel while I chew scenery in the background.” Ariel: “We’re both artists, which means we both are emotional and every day is filled with its ups, downs, in betweens, and I’m a musical theater nerd so am always singing … thus a tragicomedy musical romance.” Working together and living together – a recipe for disaster? Discuss ... Alex: “Depends on the chefs in the kitchen.” What’s the “secret”? Alex: “Patience, tenderness, and communication. But most of all communication. We can tell each other literally anything and never go to bed upset. It doesn’t matter what life throws at us, we can always talk it out. As long as communication lines stay open, nothing can stop us taking over the world.” ❤ www.nightcapriot.com



DESIGNS and WONDERS A couple of Hell’s Kitchen fashion insiders want to pay it forward. And who are we to stop them?


oll up! Roll up! The fashion circus is heading to town. And anyone with even the most passing of interests in the industry has a ringside seat on their wish list. If you’re a young brand, on the other hand, the vision is for something much greater: a starring role in the greatest show on earth. A place in the New York Fashion Week schedule (February 11 through 18 this season) represents for many the pinnacle of achievement. Designers such as Alexander Wang, Ralph Lauren, Victoria Beckham will be presenting their autumn/winter collections as the world’s buyers and press look on. And, with an economic impact of approximately $865 million, it’s not to be sniffed at. It may be a circus, but the main players are no clowns. But, newsflash! Breaking into the market isn’t exactly a walk in Central Park. Getting – and keeping – the attention of those all-important buyers, bloggers, and fashion journalists has never been more tough; the competition never more fierce. AJ Majumdar knows that more than most. His 20+ years in the business have seen him working at Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, 7 for All Mankind, Isabella Fiore, Havaianas, and Polo Ralph Lauren. He’s had a role launching and growing brands at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Barney’s, Selfridge’s, and many more. He gave all that up to launch Scout


Taylor and Tessier makes jewellery from exotic leathers, coral, semi-precious gemstones, and crystals.


COMMUNITY “We recently met with a designer that needed to be told her product was neither unique nor priced competitively. It’s always so difficult to critique someone’s creative work.” HK from his kitchen table in 2009 and, in 2014, was joined by his equally well-connected partner Scott Sussman, an industry expert in accessories, handbags and footwear (think Miu Miu, Burberry, and Kate Spade). Together, they take emerging brands and launch them into the marketplace, helping them grow and reach key industry insiders. “Scout HK has a unique perspective into the highly competitive fashion marketplace,” explains AJ. “By leveraging our relationships in retail, wholesale, PR, logistics, and manufacturing, young brands gain instant and invaluable access to otherwise intangible opportunities. “We can open doors, both literally and figuratively, on a national and global scale at the e-commerce and brick and mortar levels, which enables a brand to convey its message and reach more consumers.” They currently represent nine brands (more on them later), hand-picked for the mutual chemistry and a genuine love of the product. But, adds AJ: “Having a point of difference cannot be stressed enough. And, bringing a unique aesthetic to RTW, handbags and accessories for men and women is at the top of our list.” Young, hopeful brands should be on their guard, however. Scout HK’s job doesn’t just mean telling you how fabulous you are: tough love comes as part of the package. “It’s part of our responsibility,” says AJ. “For example, we recently met with a designer that needed to be told her product was neither unique nor priced competitively. In the end,

Clockwise from top: Ettika; Elise M; Urban Originals; Jonesy Wood.

the designer appreciated our feedback, but it’s always so difficult to critique someone’s creative work.” Just seven years after launch, they’re now so in demand they’re lucky enough to have a wait list, and more than once they’ve had to turn away designers whose products they didn’t feel were compelling enough to make the cut. Those who survive the selection process, however, can expect


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“Having a point of difference cannot be stressed enough. And, bringing a unique aesthetic to RTW, handbags and accessories for men and women is at the top of our list.” introductions to retailers most young brands can only dream of. “We’ve helped labels grow by opening doors at such retailers as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, and Nordstrom,” says AJ. “But it is our day-to-day nurturing of their design talents that enables us to help these designers remain relevant and modern.” They continue to live and work in Hell’s Kitchen – “when looking to


Above (clockwise from top): AJ and Scott in their showroom; Turkish Delight; Day and Mood.


expand into our own showroom, the natural choice was to remain in the neighborhood” – and the neighborhood is even highlighted in their choice of name. “Hell’s Kitchen has a storied and colorful history, as do our designers and clients,” says AJ simply. And now they’re keen to give something back to help nurture NYborn baby brands taking their first,


THE BRANDS Urban Originals

Established in 2000, this Australian label makes handbags, wallets, overnight luggage, scarves, belts and other accessories in vegan leather and suede. Available: Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus Cusp, Free People, select boutiques, www.uo.com.au

Day & Mood

A Scandinavian label this time, founded in 2014, combining traditional methods with new techniques and innovative fabrics. Products are made from natural leather and suede, with a focus on detailing such as stitching and rivets. www.dayandmood.com

Turkish Delight

Bracelets wrapped with vintage sari fabric, tassel-covered necklaces, one-offs featuring coins and hand-painted beads, all sourced in India and the Middle East.

Elise M

A contemporary jewelry and belt collection based in Los Angeles and designed by Miryam Abitbol using semi-precious stones, leather, and vegan fabrics. Available: Free People, Saks Fifth Avenue, Amazon, www.elisemcollection.com

Taylor & Tessier

Launched in 2010 and first sold in Aspen, the jewelry brand is now available in more than 80 high-end retail locations. Each piece is hand made using hide and exotic leathers, bone beading, wire wrapping, coral, semi-precious gemstones, and crystals. www.taylorandtessier.com Above: Jaguarundi helps promote Latin American handicrafts and artisans.

“We’ve helped labels grow by opening doors at such retailers as Saks Fifth Avenue and Barney’s.” faltering gasps of industry air. “One of our most recent success stories has come from fostering designers with ‘made in USA’ or ‘made in NY’ products,” says AJ. “We would like to take this approach and create a division of Scout HK that is solely focused on acting as a fashion incubator, thus paying it forward on a regular basis.” Young creatives with products that fit the “made in NY” bill can get in touch for support and advice: email sales@scouthk.com or see www.scouthk.com.


Bohemian jewelry brand that has the laid-back LA lifestyle infused into each piece. It has been featured in the pages of Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, InStyle, Shape, Glamour, and Lucky, and has been worn by Eva Longoria, Bar Rafaeli, Halle Berry, Jessica Alba, and Gwen Stefani. Available: Nordstrom, Barneys, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Dillards, select boutiques, www.ettika.com

Jonesy Wood

Born and raised in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wood is inspired by her travels and family. Each delicate piece of jewelry is hand-crafted with precious metals and semi-precious gemstones. www.jonesywood.com

Lauren Olivia

A fashion-forward jewelry brand headed up by industry veteran Todd Rosen and his team of designers. Available: Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, select boutiques nationwide


This bags, jewelry, home – and soon clothing – brand helps promote Latin American handicrafts, while encouraging new generations of artisans and designers to combine traditional skills with innovative design. www.jaguar-undi.com





Robe: Vestment Clothing Tuxedo waist shorts: Garcia Velez Sandals: Cinzia Araia





When a creative director and model, both from Hell’s Kitchen, meet, they make menswear magic

Name: Mykel C. Smith Profession:

Creative director/ owner of a creative think tank, specializing in styling, show production, photo shoots, and events.

Muse: “My muse tends to be whatever

I’m working on at the moment, but there are a few standouts. Skip Marley, the singer and grandson of Bob Marley, is one. I work with his mom, Cedella, and have known him since he was a baby and it’s great to see him grow into an emerging star. I also love Laurence Basse, a successful former model now designing her own collection in LA. Eva Mueller, who shot these images, is one of the most talented photographers I’ve worked with. President Obama and his wonderful wife Michelle (we graduated together from Whitney Young High school in Chicago and she always told me how much of a star I would be – but look at her now!). Last but not least, Naomi Campbell. I hung with her a lot when she started modeling. I had never seen someone go so fast from being a young teenage girl to superstar. She worked like a real pro.”

Career turning point: “Not to sound

like a cliche, but working with W42ST is a career turning point for me. I always look at what’s in front of me. I’m also working with a young man named Jerrell West, mentoring for his first collection at Men’s Fashion Week F/W16.”

Name: Jeffrey Men Regrets along the way?

“I take Oprah’s advice: there are no mistakes or regrets, only lessons. Yes, if I knew what I know now at 18 when I first came to New York, I’d be a billionaire. But we can only go forward. I’ve traveled the world, loved and lost, worked with some of the most beautiful, intelligent, creative creatures on this planet, I’ve had much money, lost much money, had beautiful places to live and at one point was in a shelter, but I don’t regret one moment.”

Most proud of …? “This moment and the moments that are coming.”

Favorite collaborations: “The Cedella Marley fashion show in Jamaica, the fashion show I did for HIV and the homeless with a group called Praxis … these are just two of the standouts.”

Define your personal style: “I mix

things up but try to keep it simple and classy, because, darling, my personality is live and in living color!”

If life’s a runway, what’s the soundtrack? “Don’t Stop by Sylvester.” What’s to love about living in HK?

“It lifts my sprits, there are so may great people and restaurants. When I get bored I walk outside and look at the beautiful buildings and the landscape we live in and think how blessed I am to be a part of all this fabulousness.” www.mykelcsmithcreative.com



Actor, model, filmmaker.

Muse: “My two sisters, Emily and Joyce.” Career turning point: “Walking my first show during fashion week.”

Regrets along the way? “None, cause at one point it was exactly what I wanted.”

Most proud of ...? “Working every day and not giving up.”

Favorite collaborations: “I got to work with John Legend in one of his music videos.”

Define your personal style: “I always like to say my style is like a gentleman with a creative edge, modest but memorable.”

If life’s a runway, what’s the soundtrack? “Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia.”

What’s to love about living in HK? “Food! Need I say more?”


CREDITS Model: Jeffrey Men Creative direction/styling: Mykel C.Smith Creative Photographer: Eva Mueller Grooming: Rashida Bolden using Bumble & Bumble and Deborah Lippmann Photography assistant: Bryan Varner Production manager: Borjan Furlani




Sweatshirt: Soulland Underwear: Calvin Klein





Jacket: Mr. Turk White lace shirt: Kenneth Ning Pant: Kenneth Ning Shoes: St. Laurent Glasses: Theo Eyewear





Shorts: Kenneth Ning





SHOPPING GUIDE: www.vestmentnyc.com; www.internationalplayground.com; www.calvinklien.com; www.theo.be; www.ysl.com/us; www.garciavelez. com; www.cinziaaraia.com; www.mrturk.com; www.jlindebergusa. com; www.bumbleandbumble.com; www.deborahlippmann.com

Sweatshirt: Tourne De Transmission Underwear: Calvin Klein



what’s going on in


Every day’s a play day with our guide to the month’s events in and around Hell’s Kitchen.

Until February 13 Sojourners The Peter Jay Sharp Theater

World premiere in which NigerianAmerican Mfoniso Udofia tells of a woman forced to choose between her dreams. www.playwrightsrealm.org

Not Mondays On Your Feet! Not Mondays Our Mother’s Brief Affair

February 11 Taeko

Samuel J. Friedman Theatre




Take a peek at what parents are up to when they’re not busy being parents with Tony-winning Linda Lavin and Richard Greenberg.

Inspired by the Japanese music her father and grandfather played, Taeko has since grown to create a voice all her own.

Attention: All Single Guys and Girls Celebrate Valentine’s Day aka Vengeance Day with Us

Marquis Theatre This new Broadway musical celebrates the careers of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, winners of 26 Grammy Awards, and includes some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter-century. The star-power story is matched by a star-power production team and is sure to be a smash hit. www.onyourfeetmusical.com

February 12 Cécile McLorin Salvant Jazz at Lincoln Center

This 25-year-old Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition winner showcases her soulful Valentine’s-inspired performance.

Not Mondays The King and I Vivian Beaumont Theater

This revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is based on the true story of Anna Leonowens, played by Tony winner Kelli O’Hara.



February 13 Cupid’s Undie Run

February 13 Valentine’s Day macarons

HAPPY HOUR ALL DAY LONG $5 - Beer, Cocktails, Well Drinks and Wine plus $5 - Food Specials Call Karen or Sarah For More Details IMAGE: DAMIAN TWIGG

508 9th Ave, (Bet. 38th & 39th Street) (646) 490-4803 scallywagsnyc.com



Stage 48

Sur la Table



Strip down and run a “mile’ish” for the Children’s Tumor Foundation (disclaimer: they won’t actually make you take you clothes off!)

Surprise your sweetie with these sweets that are better than chocolate (yes, we said it!). Or reward yourself by eating them all at once. No judgment.

February 13 Operation Slumber

Not Mondays Old Hats

Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum

Pershing Square Signature Center

Spend the night aboard and let your little adventurer visit Space Shuttle, take a flashlight tour of the flight deck, and ride in a flight simulator. www.intrepidmuseum.org

Bill Irwin and David Shiner return after a sold-out run in 2013 to bring slapstick fun for all the family. Now extended through April 3. www.signaturetheatre.org

February 18 Best Coast & Wavves

Not Mondays Angel Reapers

Terminal 5

Pershing Square Signature Center

Bring back the summer vibes and get out of your mid-winter funk with these Californian rock bands. Don’t let East Coast pride keep you home. www.terminal5nyc.com

Martha Clarke returns with a collage of traditional Shaker songs, modern dance and authentic Shaker movements. www.signaturetheatre.org

February 15-16 Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show Piers 92/94

It’s no secret that we love dogs here at W42ST. See which are the best of breed at this two-day event. www.westminsterkennelclub.org

February 24 Shakespearean Jazz Show 54 Below

Blending Shakespearean sonnets, songs, and scenes with original New Orleans-style jazz.



Not Mondays Fiddler on the Roof The Broadway Theatre

Matchmaker, Matchmaker wants to hook you up with the muchanticipated revival of a Broadway classic.

Not Sundays, Mondays One Step Beyond!

February 24-28 The Man in Woman’s Shoes



The legendary rock band presents an acoustic set including timeless classics such as I Want to Know What Love Is and Cold as Ice.


An eclectic and unique artistic collection that includes works by Ariella Kadosh, Jonathan Glass, Martin Cohen, and many others.

The Theater at MAD As part of the museum’s Shirley and Wendy Clarke retrospective, it presents Wendy’s 90-minute video art, first released on PBS in the 1980s, which illustrates an array of reactions and stories all prompted by the word “love.”

Jazz at Lincoln Center


Fountain House Gallery

February 12 Love Tapes

February 17 Foreigner Unplugged

February 28 Next W42ST out All around Hell’s Kitchen

It’s St Patrick’s Day next month and we’re throwing one heck of a party. You’re all invited! If you’d like to be featured in the magazine, contact us on news@w42st.com.

Irish Arts Center

Written and performed by physical comedian Mikel Murfi, this show arrives in NY after a tour of Ireland. www.irishartscenter.org

February 27 Future Hammerstein Ballroom

After releasing not one, but two #1 Billboard Top 200 albums in 2015, Future is stopping in HK as part of his Purple Reign Tour. www.freebandz.com




Classics get a reworking while new works make a bold statement. Hello February – Carla Duval is on your case CYRANO DE BERGERAC/ BURNING

The Theatre at St Clement’s February 3 through 28 Catherine Curtin. We all know her as the gruff prison corrections officer on Orange is the New Black. This month, she’s taking time to acknowledge all the romance in the air as she mirrors Tony Award nominee Gabriel Barre’s role in the Resonance Ensemble’s 11th season, fittingly titled The Language of Love. We’re talking the classic Cyrano de Bergerac in repertory with the world premiere of its modern adaptation, Burning, and we’re super hyped about it. After directing Amazing Grace on Broadway, Barre makes the leap from 1743 to 1897 and sticks his nose into Cyrano de Bergerac as director as well as appearing in the title role. This play is arguably the most famous French play ever produced. It has inspired countless productions, films, and adaptations throughout the world – such as Burning (hello, segue), in which Curtin appears as Cy, a woman kicked out of the Army for being gay. Like her predecessor Cyrano, Cy suffers from an insecurity that keeps her from pursuing love. We’re looking at not only a fresh take on a classic story, but one that tackles some key contemporary issues. www.resonanceensemble.org


The Ailey Citigroup Theatre February 29 If you’ve seen Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway within the last 13 years (and counting), then you’ve seen Ray Mercer in action. If you haven’t, well, you probably should get on that. In


“Eclipsed makes its way to Broadway and is taking along its all-female cast, female director, and female playwright – something that has never before occurred.”


Above: Lupita Nyong’o reprises her role in Eclipsed to make her Broadway debut.

the meantime, Mercer (winner of the Joffrey Ballet’s Choreographers of Color Award) is showcasing his dynamic choreography with an evening of dance (two shows only, eek!). These performances are produced by and benefitting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Mercer brings forth some of New York’s most up-and-coming dancers in seven contemporary pieces, including a never-before-seen work created especially for the event. This is the first ever full evening of Mercer’s work, and is the perfect way to leap into Leap Day and support a worthy cause. www.broadwaycares.org


Ars Nova February 16 through March 19 Ars Nova has brought up Brooklynbased band Sky-Pony for the world premiere of its rock fairy tale. Sky-Pony is no stranger to the world of theatrics; the band is fronted by singer/actress Lauren Worsham, a Drama Desk Award winner and Tony nominee for her Broadway debut in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Worsham’s husband, Obie-winner Kyle Jarrow, composes the indie-pop tunes for this rockin’ burlesque-style group. Kicking off Ars Nova’s 2016 season, Sky-Pony collaborates with The Play Company, a troupe always on the lookout for “adventurous new works.” They’ve definitely found it this time. We expect corsets, wigs, hoop skirt boning, and truly unique experiences. www.arsnovanyc.com


Signature Theatre Previews February 2, opens February 17 through March 13 This Sam Shepard Pulitzer Prize-winning play returns 20 years after its last major New York production. Buried Child is both poignant and witty, and mercilessly tears apart the vision of the all-American family. There’s a lot of star-power in this production to be excited about, including Oscar nominees and real-life spouses Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. Nat Wolff also takes the stage as their grandson, Vince, after starring in the film Paper Towns this past year. Nickelodeon lovers will always remember Wolff as the older brother in The Naked Brothers Band, though he might not want the more sophisticated, theater-going crowd to know about all that (our bad). Buried Child is director Scott Elliot’s second production of The New Group’s 20152016 season, having recently finished Mercury Fur. For $25 a ticket, we can safely say you’re getting quite a bang for your buck. www.thenewgroup.org

and is taking along its all-female cast, female director, and female playwright – something that has never before occurred. If that isn’t enough to get you excited (though it should be), Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o will reprise her role for her Broadway debut along with the rest of the original cast as they tell the story of a group of women who unite during troubled times in Liberia. This is the only new play by a woman to appear on Broadway this season. www.EclipsedBroadway.com


From top: The Wildness; Cyrano de Bergerac; Sam Shepard (permit us a small swoon).


Golden Theatre Previews February 23, opens March 6 through June 19 History is in the making with this one, folks. Fresh from its sold-out engagement at The Public Theater, Eclipsed makes its way to Broadway


The Helen Hayes Theatre February 18 through July 24 Now that the whole “new year, new you” fuss of January is over, we ask you, can you really improve upon perfection? We don’t think so. If you missed out on seeing The Humans when it was part of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s season, we have good news. Stephen Karam’s latest play is making its way to Broadway. It’s directed by Joe Mantello (who, you may remember, won Tony Awards for his direction of Take Me Out and Assassins) and features the entire original cast from the Off-Broadway sensational run. Though Thanksgiving is a long ways gone (or a long ways away), the anxiety and humor of a family dinner is still relatable in this new American classic. www.thehumansonbroadway.com






Overalls, a tractor, and a 1991 Radio City recording … Seth Sikes was smitten! Interview Ruth Walker Photograph Nacho Guevara


he way he tells it (and he tells it well, musically, to a packed house), he was this cute farm kid growing in Paris, Texas, wondering what the future might hold, when a dark-haired, overall-wearing girl-next-door drove a tractor right into his heart. One burst of “Howdy neighbor, happy harvest” and he was hooked. Smitten. Summer Stock Judy Garland had won Seth Sikes’ heart and, in the process, changed his life forever. “I just have this memory of how amazing I thought it was to see her driving around singing this big, fabulous song. It just made me so happy, I don’t know why. “Then in one scene, she does this number Get Happy, which is such a great song and she’s dancing, and I guess it was really the first time I’d been exposed to old-fashioned showbiz like that.” The farm. The voice. The spark. And a slight similarity to his grandmother. “She was somebody you just wanted to hang around with,” he says. He was obsessed. Seth could sing too. Everyone knew it. But it wasn’t until he was in high school and someone told him about this business called musical theater that he connected the dots, moved to Manhattan, and signed up for musical theater school. Cue jazzhands. The rest should have been history. But he found the process of auditioning so excruciating – “and I was so bad at it” – that he slipped out of the spotlight and moved backstage instead, working as assistant director on shows such as The Nance, Tribes, and Pageant, avoiding the

“I was missing singing so much that I was filling the void by going to piano bars and singing around the piano with people all night long. And I mean, like, every night of the week.” pain of exposure in auditions. Life was simpler that way. He describes himself as a “poor Hell’s Kitchen boy” (he’s lived in the neighborhood for 12 years, though even when he lived in Astoria for his first couple of years in NY, he always came over for “fun or dinner”.) He hangs out at the Galaxy Diner “more often than I should – you see so many showbiz people there, having meetings, it’s sort of the staple”, Wine Escape (“I go there to read”), Kashkaval Garden, Vice Versa, Ariba Ariba, and works out at Planet Fitness. So far, so comfortable. But he was feeling burnt out by the rehearsal process, and the siren call of Judy still beckoned. For his was a love affair not just with the singer, but with the songs. So when his heart was broken, he’d be singing The Man That Got Away. Or if he need to get pumped up before a show, it’d be a fun, uptempo number. “I was missing singing so much,” he


says, “that I was filling the void by going to piano bars and singing around the piano with people all night long. And I mean, like, every night of the week.” More than that … people seemed to like what he did. They REALLY liked it. So, maybe he should do something about it? “I was shopping around for a full-time job in the industry (I still am by the way) and lightning sort of struck because, as I was talking to a producer about taking a job, he said: ‘You’re really conflicted. You need to think about what you want to do.’ “I happened to say this out loud in front of the right friend one day: ‘Before I make this change in my life and take a full-time job, there’s this thing I really want to do.’ He said: ‘What is it?’ and I said: ‘I really want to do a concert with a big band and do these Judy Garland songs, and write a show about it.’ “He said: ‘OK, I’ll back it.’” Within two months he not only had a backer, he had a venue – Feinstein’s 54 Below – a band, and a show. He told his story, singing the songs from his heart, not as an impersonator but in good, oldfashioned cabaret style. It was supposed to be one-night only. This crazy thing he did to get it out of his system. But it sold out. Word spread. He had fun. Word spread some more. And it became six shows. Last month he won a 2015 Broadway World New York Cabaret Award for Best Tribute Show. But by then he’d already pulled the plug just as the crowds and the critics were clamoring for more. Why, Seth, why? “Well,” he explains, “back at home, we had Summer Stock, and Wizard of

Opposite page: Seth is back in the spotlight after years avoiding it.

continued over


INTERVIEW Oz, and this other movie, For Me and My Gal. That was it – that was all the Judy stuff I knew. But we also had, weirdly, this VHS of Liza Minnelli at Radio City in 1991. So one time, I don’t know why – I was probably just bored – I watched

Quick fire round Backstage or spotlight? Spotlight.

“One time – I was probably just bored – I watched Liza at Radio City and it knocked me off my seat. I’d never seen a performance like that. So Liza became my obsession.” Liza at Radio City and it really knocked me off my seat. I’d never seen a live performance like that. So Liza became my new obsession for quite a number of years.” And so, after six sell-out Judy shows, it seemed timely to mark Liza’s 70th birthday – on March 12 – in style. “It’s going to be fun for my next show, which is going to be all Liza on March 12, to say: ‘OK, so you know how I said I loved Judy first? It was kind of a fib …’”

Cabaret or theater? Theater. Glam Judy or tomboy Judy? I’ll go glam. Cocktail or smoothie? Cocktail. NY summer or NY winter? Summer. Citibike or subway? Citibike. Love of your life? Judy. Pet peeve? Judy impersonators. Above: With Judy ... doesn’t Mama look proud? Below: Playing to another full house at 54 Below.

Happy place? Fire Island, on the beach; or singing songs on the piano with friends. Clubbing or cosy night in? Cosy night in. Guilty pleasure? Showgirls the movie.

Seth Sikes sings Liza Minnelli, March 12, 54 Below (www.54below.com)




‘ DAZZLE EM The wigs, the make-up, the gowns, the duct tape – Matt d’Silva gets the inside track on the not-always-glamorous life of the drag queen





oments, daaahhhllling … moments!” It’s Bianca Mann’s motto; the words she purrs before every performance. But this time it’s special – it’s her first appearance following nearly three years away from the stage. She checks her make-up in the mirror one last time … With a slight tilt of the head, a flash of some killer lashes and the twinkle of carefully applied rhinestones, Bianca Mann has returned, and is welcomed back on stage for the All That Glitters show at the 205 Club in Elmira, NY. Her persona is larger than life, a combination of Mariah (75%) and Kylie (25%) – and that’s Kylie Minogue in case you were wondering! All this personality is wrapped up in a pseudo Karen Walker (from Will & Grace, people, keep up!) lookalike package. The life of a drag queen can seem glamorous. But there’s a tough side to the industry. It requires hard word and a lot of loving dedication despite the now celebrated images created by the likes of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Kinky Boots. There’s no guarantee of an income, and many performers rely solely on tips. Makeshift dressing rooms can take the form of disused kitchens, storage closets, or even staff bathrooms. And consider the preparation that goes into each performance, from song selection and rehearsals to choreography. But they do it time and again, sometimes for as little as three or four minutes in the spotlight. “Drag is not something you go into to make a fortune,” says Bianca, “it’s an art form that develops with time and passion.” She should know. She’s been doing it for over 13 years. “I got into it so many years ago, before the success of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I remember my first performance: my bra wasn’t clasped properly and my boobs ended up near my belly, but that didn’t stop me putting on an amazing performance.” The prep is an artform in itself. The wigs, the make-up, the costume fittings … and let’s not forget the process of manipulating the male body into the illusion of a female one. “It’s all done with smoke and mirrors, a very good pair of Spanx, and, of course, carefully placed duct tape,” says Bianca. Preparation of the wigs takes a good two to three hours, make-up takes another

Above and opposite: Bianca Mann lays on the glamor on stage ... but the preparation might take anything up to seven hours.

“My bra wasn’t clasped properly and my boobs ended up near my belly, but that didn’t stop me putting on an amazing performance.” two or three hours, and it’s an hour more to get your body ‘on’ and dressed for your majestic entrance into the club. Then there’s the change of wig and outfit for each performance. “I remember now why I took a break,” says Bianca after her first Mariah number. “Living in Hell’s Kitchen and schlepping around two suitcases of outfits to a show is exhausting. But it is nice to be back after such a long break.” Elmira, NY is where Bianca was born and has a surprisingly large and supportive community with a long drag history. “Everyone in drag has performed in Elmira. Lady Bunny, Bianca Del Rio, Katya … basically most of the contestants before or after Drag Race have made it up for a show and they are adored and supported by the community up here,” says Bianca. Even outside of New York, the drag scene is thriving, in small, out-of-the-way


bars and clubs where the queens are paid only in tips. Bianca has performed up and down the east coast, from Jacksonville, Florida, all the way up to Toronto, Canada. She really made her mark when she first moved to New York and became resident diva of MiX Lounge in Astoria, where she held a weekly show called Obsession Saturday for two years. Moving to Manhattan poses a challenge for every successful drag queen. First, they have to get that allimportant break into the scene; then they have to find an apartment that can house all the outfits, make up, shoes, and wigs. “You almost need a two-bedroom apartment to be a drag queen in New York City. One room for you to live and rest of the apartment for your shoes, outfits, wigs, make-up, and boxes and boxes of jewelry. It’s like living with two people,” says Bianca. But, like every artist, sometimes you need to take a rest, to recharge, and after maintaining a full-time job during the week and performing in drag every weekend for 13 years, there was a need for a holiday. “I just needed to step away from it for a while and come back to it with a real appreciation. Well, that and I met someone and we got married, so that took up a lot of my time,” says Bianca. There was the occasional call to come back and perform, but each one was turned down because it didn’t feel right. Then late last year resident drag queen of Elmira (and close personal friend), Miss Viola, approached Bianca and asked if she would like to make her return and perform at her annual All That Glitters Christmas show. How could any self-respecting queen refuse? Putting her wig back on, she made the trip and was welcomed back with open arms. “It was great seeing everyone, so many people that I’ve known for years came to watch. It was amazing being welcomed back on stage with many queens that I helped support over the years. It was touching. And I’m glad to be back. I have a couple of bookings and might even throw my wig into the ring and try out for Miss Gay Elmira 2016. Who knows what’s on the cards for 2016?” says a happy Bianca Mann. You can find Bianca on Facebook (Bianca Mann) and Twitter (@BiancaMann)





UMI Ingredients 20ml mezcal 20ml tomato water 20ml Clamato tomato juice Garnish 1 oyster Uni sea urchin Ikura roe Dill Method Stir all liquid ingredients and strain into a shot glass. Prepare your oyster by adding uni, ikura, and a small piece of dill on top. Place on top of your glass. Serve with a side spoon or oyster fork.

SUSHI SEKI BAR & OYSTERS W46th St - 8th/9th Ave www.sushiseki.com




“I’ve been performing professionally since I was 10 years old. I credit the success of Pocket Bar to my love of performing, daddy issues, and money.” 42


Know anyone who works in Hell’s Kitchen who’d be great for the Staff Survey? Don’t keep them a secret, share the love with news@w42st.com


Suzy Darling reveals the secrets of her stellar barflies, the perfect party playlist, and whether her – ahem – most celebrated assets are real How long have you lived in the neighborhood? I moved to this neighborhood when I just turned 13. I was the first Caucasian to be crowned Miss Black Teenage Nevada (a scholarship program that is now Hal Jackson’s Talented Teens). Through this opportunity George Faison, choreographer of The Wiz, enabled me to have a private audition with Alvin Ailey. I then received a scholarship to study with him in his school which at that time was 44th and Broadway, now the Viacom building. My beloved husband/co-owner, Joseph Witham, and I met and were married at what was Le Madeleine on 43rd Street and 9th Avenue.


So you’re a performer – how come you ended up running the best little bar in HK? Yes, I am! I’ve been performing professionally since I was 10 years old. I credit the success of Pocket Bar to my love of performing, daddy issues, and money. Tell us a bit about the best of times (and the worst of times) of life on stage. Best of times: My eight years performing with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (and portraying the Virgin Mary – my Mom’s favorite role for me); being Elvis Costello’s only dancer on his Spinning Wheel tour; touring with Stevie Van Zandt and Maureen Van Zandt as a dancer; and being able to perform with Iggy Pop, New York Dolls, Cheap Trick, The Romantics, and (my favorite) Nancy Sinatra Jr. Worst of times: Working the camel races in Virginia City, Nevada. The warm up to that is ... the ostrich races. But running a bar is a bit of a performance too, right?

sangria that was created to coincide with the viewing we had of the cult classic movie Sharknado. They’ve been a hit ever since.

Oh yes! And I love it. Hopefully the Pocket Bar “performance” takes you away from your everyday life. Transports you. My inspiration for my bar is Brigadoon meets Pee-wee’s Playhouse. What songs make the best playlist? Whether you’re old or young, gay or straight, you will always love and sing to: Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know, and Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn. What’s the story behind your plastic playthings? I love this story. I was shopping with my Aunt Janis. We had mimosas. A lot of them. She put the Gumby and Pokey in my basket and said: “Get these for your bar” (which wasn’t even open yet). I said: “What am I going to do with these?” And she wisely responded: “You’ll figure it out.” And those figures have been one of the most fun, popular, photographed, Tweeted, Facebooked, Instagrammed parts of the bar. The sharks came from a signature


Left: Suzy presiding over her colorful customers, an infectious playlist, and the occasional impromptu karaoke. Above: Gumby and Pokey join the party.

Who are some of your most interesting customers? The man who owns the rights to Baby Jane (the movie, the musical, and the book) lives upstairs. We have everyone from the guys who run the federal reserve to the architects of the Times Square steps; Billy Joel’s production manager to John Mellencamp and Patti Smith’s guitarists. But my favorite everyday customer is the 91-year-old writer Ralph Tyler. You get some celebs too, right? Spill ... I do! Law and Order hangs out here. The Saturday Night Live cast likes us and comes after rehearsal. We have every star on Broadway from Hamilton to An American in Paris. (Some of my biggest celebrities I promised not to say anything or they won’t come back) What’s the question you’re most often asked by customers? Are your boobs real? Yes they are. I can’t say the same for my nose or teeth. If you could serve anyone ...? Kathie Lee and Hoda. Two strong women who like to drink great wine at 10am. Where in HK do you hang out on your nights off? You can find me eating at The Marshal or playing a country song at The Waylon.

THE POCKET BAR (646) 682 9062 www.pocketbarnyc.com 455 W48TH ST - 10TH AVE




OK, so you think your favorite bartender could be hitting on you? Don’t make a move until you’ve read Ciera Coyan’s advice



e’ve all been there: you’ve been drinking for a few hours, the bartender’s been making you laugh, listening intently to your stories, and maybe even bought you a round or two. You start to think to yourself: “Am I drunk, or is the bartender into me?” Nine times out of ten, you’re just drunk. Hitting on a bartender is almost always a bad idea. We’re flirts. We’re paid to be interested in anybody who tries to talk to us. Being hit on can be incredibly uncomfortable when you’re trapped behind the bar and you have to be nice. On the other hand, almost every bartender I know (myself included) ends up dating customers. It’s inevitable. Our reputation for being *ahem* amorously adventurous isn’t entirely unfounded. That puts customers in a tricky position. How do you know when, or if, you should make your move? If this Valentine’s Day finds you struck by Cupid over some cute young thing behind the bar, I’ve got you covered. Here’s what, and more importantly, what not to do. I can’t stress this enough: don’t be drunk. People often assume bartenders get hit on a lot, and it’s true, we do. But the overwhelming majority of the time it’s by someone who is past the point of tipsy and has moved to full-on sloppy. I’m stereotyping here, but female customers tend to sit at the bar and get over-sharingly drunk then come on to the bartender after they’ve relayed way too much information. Male customers tend to hit on everybody else in the bar then, once they’ve struck out a dozen times, they turn

Right: All bartenders, including Ciera, at some point or other start dating a customer.

“ I once had a customer loudly detail to me exactly which of my bodily fluids he wanted on specific parts of his body. Unbeknownst to him, he was sitting directly next to my mother.” DIGI-

their attention to the bartender. In neither case is it attractive or flattering. Being subtle also helps. Flirting is always fun, but keep it on the right side of vulgarity. I once had a customer loudly detail to me exactly which of my bodily fluids he wanted on specific parts of his body. Unbeknownst to him, he was sitting directly next to my mother, who had come to see where I worked. That wasn’t fun for anybody. Tipping well is very important. Not because you’re buying their affection, but because no selfrespecting bartender would ever knowingly date a bad tipper. Trust me on this one. That being said, money isn’t everything. A man once tried to woo me by tossing his American Express black card on the bar and saying: “This is who I am.” The message I got? “This is who he is: an arrogant prick.” If you’re not drunk, you haven’t been too sexually explicit, you tip well, and you’ve genuinely been having a good time with your bartender, my advice is to stick with the classic: leave your number on your credit card receipt. It saves the bartender from having to answer while they’re working and saves you the awkwardness of being rejected and then having to pay your tab. Even if the bartender isn’t into you, it’s still fun to get a number. And if they are into you, your bar tabs just got a whole lot cheaper!





Make ours


It can get you going just by smelling it! No wonder Jeremy Kaplan advises caution when toasting your loved one with wine this Valentine’s


s we get ready for Valentine’s Day – the most hated and beloved of holidays – one must consider the role wine will play on that day. There really is no more romantic beverage in the world when you think about it. Proposing marriage or toasting your beloved rarely happens with a shot of bourbon, or a can of beer. More likely candidates include a glass of champagne or other fine wine – perhaps one with the name “love” on them. Saint Amour from Beaujolais is made from the gamay grape, and Calon Segur from Bordeaux (a very fine claret) features a heart on the label. Want to take it up a notch? Any bottling from the famed Les Amoureuses vineyard will set you back $500 or more. Rosé champagne seems to embrace the mood as well. And, speaking of “mood”, does wine have any effect on our primal desires? Is wine an aphrodisiac? Certainly when pairing with fancy foods – caviar, oysters, foie gras – one would think yes, absolutely. But is there something specifically in wine that makes us want to make passionate love to our partners? Science says yes! SEX DRIVE Red wine has been linked with higher sexual drive in women as it increases blood flow to certain parts of the body – and this is especially so with older women (over 45 years of age). Ethanol, the alcohol you find in wine, specifically stimulates your hypothalamus gland – which controls your sex drive (among other things).

Women are aroused by the musky, earthy, and woody aromas you might find in pinot noir or older chardonnay. Men, on the other hand, are turned on by spices, vanilla, butter, and orange – which points to barrel-aged wines such as cabernet, port, and syrah.

Above: A glass of wine may not be the direct route to your loved one’s heart ... but it could help pave the way.

“New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, and Christmas rank among the top five holidays when the most wine is consumed, and guess when most babies are born in the US?” SEXY SMELLS Other studies have found that certain aromas in wine have a sexual stimulation effect – and it differs between men and women (take note).


AMINES MAKE YOU AMOROUS Amines – which are abundant in wine – also have an aphrodisiac effect. Wines with higher levels of amines include those made with natural yeasts, oakaged, and unfiltered, unfined wines (this information is often on the back label). But, for all the science, there are other things that help heighten our propensity to have sex after a couple glasses of wine. Read on … WINE AS A SOCIAL LUBRICANT When we drink we become more relaxed and open to our feelings. Wine is often consumed around happy occasions and festive holidays – where it flows freely – and not just Valentine’s Day. New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, and Christmas rank among the top five holidays when the most wine is consumed, and guess when most babies are born in the US? Nine months later – more or less – September. As always, moderation is endorsed and taking care with your sexual partner is advised. But do consider wine as part of your Valentine’s celebration – drinking, sharing, cooking with wine is always fun. And no matter what type, grape, region, it will certainly enhance the mood. Happy Valentine’s Day! Jeremy Kaplan, Veritas Studio Wines (www.facebook.com/veritasstudiowines)




A whopping 35-plus residential projects are planned for Hell’s Kitchen over the next five years. Isaac Halpern gets the low-down so you can decide whether you can afford to move.


ew development in Hell’s Kitchen is booming, with more than 35 residential projects coming our way in the next few years. Every week, it seems another gas station, diner, or former parking lot has a construction team demolishing and readying for a new purpose. Several old commercial buildings are also sheathed in scaffolding while they’re being converted to luxury loft housing. The sheer amount of activity can be confusing – even overwhelming. So my goal here is to break it down and investigate what’s going up in the hood, from rentals to condos, “affordable” to “super luxury”, and everything in between. First, let’s look at the mix, rental versus condo. Historically, midtown locations leaned decidedly towards rental as developers banked on the fact that, while people like to rent near work and entertainment, when it comes to purchasing, they want more traditionally residential neighborhoods away from the hustle and bustle. While new development in Hell’s Kitchen still tilts toward rentals, it’s not as pronounced as before and condos are on the rise. The combination of world-class theater, hip wine bars and restaurants, along with new design-forward green spaces like the Hudson River Park and the High Line, makes the neighborhood a top choice for both renters and buyers. So how should you prepare to enter this market? If you’re looking at renting in a new development, you certainly won’t need a mortgage broker, and unless it’s a particularly complicated or very expensive lease, hiring an attorney is probably overkill. You can work with a real estate agent to help find the


A rendering for the skyscraper at 3 Hudson Boulevard.


REAL ESTATE perfect rental or go it alone, that’s a personal preference. If, however, you’re interested in buying a condo in a new development, going it alone is not advised. Working with a team of experts: a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent, a trusted and skilled attorney, and a savvy mortgage broker will help you navigate the complicated process. While the condo market is still hot, the increase in supply means concessions to buyers from developers are common. There are, in fact, some great deals to be had, but you have to know what to ask for and how to structure the sale. The question is: can you afford to rent or buy in a new development in Hell’s Kitchen? Of course, that depends on your

“A common misconception is that affordable programs are only meant for the very poor. You may be surprised, in fact, at how much income you can have and still qualify.” situation, but there’s a mix of price points available including “affordable housing.” What’s that? In short, developers get tax breaks and sometimes sought-after zoning variances by agreeing to include a percentage of units that are priced below the market and are income-restricted. While there are many types of affordable housing programs, virtually all of them have two things in common: it must be your primary residence, and the larger the number of people who will occupy, the more income you are allowed. A common misconception is that affordable programs are only meant for the very poor. You may be surprised, in fact, at how much income you can have and still qualify. If you want to pursue affordable housing, being organized and diligent is a must as thousands often apply for just a few

elements of all the new developments. Please keep in mind that development plans often change over time, so the following list and graph may not remain accurate. HUDSON YARDS The Hudson Yards mega development will (if all goes according to plan) eventually contain 12,700,000 square feet of new office, residential, and retail space, including 16 skyscrapers. There will be about 10 new residential buildings by 2025. The following two are expected to be completed in the next couple years.

Above and left: The 70-story 15 Hudson Yards project will have killer views of the city.

1. 15 Hudson Yards, a Related project designed by Diller Scofidio Renfro, will top out at 70 stories with 385 units, a mix of both rental and condo. The skyscraper will be along the High Line and include an Equinox fitness club.

units. This is a helpful website for all things NYC affordable: http://bitly.com/ affordablehousingnyc. Now, on to the new developments. I’ll touch on just a few interesting ones here. I’ve segmented the neighborhood into three sections: Hudson Yards, West 40s and West 50s. All are from 8th Avenue west to the Hudson River. On the following page is a table showing key


2. 555 W34th Street, AKA 3 Hudson Boulevard, is a huge, 70-story Moinian Group project designed by FXFowle Architects. Half the building will be office space, the other half condos. Besides pools and a fitness center, the building will also feature restaurants and terraces. It will face the new park in front of the subway station and will twist as it rises, creating a very modern effect. WEST 40S 1. 605 W42nd Street, known as Sky, also developed by Moinian, is the newest tower to rise along the W42nd Street corridor. It’s a 60-story luxury rental with a 70,000

continued over


REAL ESTATE square foot club, which will also be open to the public for membership. Sky has lots of buzz because it has both an indoor and two outdoor infinity pools. As you might have guessed, Sky is all about the amenities. It will be interesting to see what goes into the equally large 70,000 square foot retail space. The rumor mill is excitedly suggesting it may include a Whole Foods Market. 2. 460 W42nd Street – MIMA. The top 12 floors of this super-luxury tower (floors 51-63) between Dyer Avenue and 10th Avenue with pool, playroom, and gym plus skyline views are converting from rental to condo. The condo floors are reached from a separate entrance and lobby. The end result is a boutique condo with foreverviews and killer amenities. 3. 520 W45th Street is the new Gotham West condo. Many know Gotham West at 550 W45th Street along 11th Avenue for the rental tower and high-end food court, which was a game-changer for the neighborhood. Down the block, the former Public School 51, is being converted to high-end condo lofts, just 18 units in all. The buyers will get to use the amenities from the rental building at 550, just like at MIMA. Hmm, a trend? 4. 555 10th Avenue - 41st Street. Extell Development obtained the air rights from St Raphael Church, the beautiful Croatian Church next to the Lincoln Tunnel entrance, to create a 52-story luxury rental. Interestingly, floors 2-7 will be a 300-bed dorm (this enabled the developers to satisfy the required Community Facility component). Of the remaining 600 units, 120 will be “affordable.” Amenities will include a bowling alley, two pools, and a dog run. For the record, the lucky (understatement?) dorm students will have a separate entrance and don’t get to use the amenities (if anyone’s checking that is)! 5. 572 11th Avenue - 43rd Street is yet another Moinian development. This is where the famous 24-hour Market Diner and Chelsea Garden Center were located. Both will be sorely missed. But, alas, out with the old and in with the new! A 13-story mixed use luxury condo is coming, including 10,800 square feet of ground floor retail. 6. 615 10th Avenue - 45th Street, the former Speedway gas station, which


Clockwise from top: Many units in the Sorting House will have roof decks; the pool at 555 10th Avenue; and the building’s exterior, next to the Croatian church.

was a Hess for many years before that, was recently bought by the Chinese investment firm Xinyuan Real Estate, which successfully developed The Oosten, a Williamsburg Brooklyn condo. The new development on 10th Avenue will also be a condo and total 100,000 square feet with about 10-12 stories. WEST 50S 1. 548 W53rd Street -10th/11th Avenue. Finally a totally “affordable” new development. Clinton Housing Development group is creating a 13-story building with 103 units below market prices. 2. 318 W52nd Street, known as the Sorting House, is a 30-unit condo conversion that takes part of an existing and functioning US post office where mail is still sorted (hence the name) and adds two new floors. The post office, with less square footage, will remain with a separate entrance. The result is a boutique condo


with trendy loft-spaces and high ceilings. Most of the units come with private roof decks. 3. VIA, 625 W57th Street - 11th/12th Avenue, the Durst Organization’s hotly anticipated massive new rental building was designed by Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels and features a very modern pyramid (tetrahedron) shape where most of the units will have terraces and many of those have views of the river. There will be 709 units in all, with a portion of those “affordable.” The amenities will include everything you would expect and some unusual features like a chef’s kitchen and a giant interior courtyard with river views. Isaac Halpern is a sales associate at Halstead Property with an MBA and Master in Urban Planning from Columbia University. He lives in Hell’s Kitchen and can be reached at ihalpern@halstead.com; (646) 641-0145.





Dolly Rios, CPA and Ray McGarrigle, CPA Whether you’re starting a business, organization, an individual tax client, a church or charter school — or growing a successful one — we’re your trusted partner in all things financial. We have decades of experience, and are not just number crunchers or the consultant you never see. When we work with a client, we become like extended staff. When you call our office, you get someone on staff.

www.riosandmcgarrigle.com Contact Dolly: rios@riosandmcgarrigle.com 917-626-5942 Contact Ray: mcgarrigle@riosandmcgarrigle.com 347-515-4789

100 Park Avenue, Suite 1600 New York, NY 10017


Five steps

TO INVESTMENT SUCCESS So, you fancy yourself as a landlord? Don’t start the property hunt until you’ve read Ian TD Smith’s pointers


here is something in the brisk winter air that catches you strolling down 9th Avenue on a cloudy February day. No, it’s not that deep, heartfelt love of someone on February 14, it’s the feeling smart investors all over the area are getting as they purchase the right place for their financial futures. In previous issues we’ve discussed buying apartments to live in but this month we’ll focus on some factors for purchasing an investment property. Other than the basics of getting the best price, the most central location in your budget, and factoring in the ownership type (condo or co-op) that fits you best, there are some other considerations to take into account as you become a landlord.

and even go so far as a make-under. Having high-end appliances and fixtures in your apartment simply means you’ll have to replace them with other highend ones when your tenant has a party and breaks off the fridge door during a Saturday night shindig.


DON’T DISMISS THE CO-OP OUT OF HAND The unwritten rule in NYC has always been if you are looking for an investment property you should only buy a condo. But things are changing. Many co-ops have relaxed their rental policies, and condoops are an interesting way of combining the benefits of both ownership types.



BREAKEVEN COST Just like a normal purchase, you need to factor in your mortgage, common charges, and any insurance you have to carry. Unlike a normal purchase, you must also have the correct information on the rental price for the unit. The more you put down, the lower the mortgage; the lower the maintenance/ common charges, the higher your return on investment.

you opt for a two or even three-bed, skip the apartment with the king-sized bedroom and look for one where you have equally sized ones. If you can’t afford a two-bed, find a one-bedroom that can be configured or flexed to make the extra space.



SIZE OF UNIT Know what you want out of the property in terms of performance before purchase. Studios rent quicker than other units and give you the benefit of having fewer tenants to damage the property. If

QUALITY OF RENOVATION When developers create new condominiums, they know the market demands nice amenities and fixtures. When you’re looking for that incomegenerating property, ditch the make-over


PROPERTY Watch RENTAL CHOICE Location: W35th St - 8th/9th Ave Price: $2,700 Ian says: “With almost 800 sq ft in a walk-up (a rarity for this price) you

Above: Ian’s advice: think through the finances thoroughly, size matters, and consider a make-under!

KNOW YOUR HOLDING PERIOD When purchasing a place to live, most people think about how long they want to own the property, but as an investor, it’s a make-or-break for you. Always look for any tax abatements, as they’ll help you on your carrying costs over the life of your investment. Follow these five tips when looking to invest and you’re sure to make a smart decision. As always, make sure you work with a dedicated, trustworthy and knowledgeable real estate agent. Happy hunting. Ian TD Smith is a licensed real estate broker. Contact him at ian@adomee.com

Ian’s pick of the rental and buying options in the neighborhood this month

have a great quality renovation and two bedrooms. You’re also about 30 steps from the subway, which makes a cold February day a lot more manageable.”


BUYING CHOICE Location: W47th St - 10th Ave Price: $1.4 million Co-op, three-bedroom duplex Ian says: “I hesitate to even tell

anyone about this as I’ve heavily considered buying it for myself. What a gem on a beautiful block with so much possiblity. Don’t wait, this baby is going to go quickly!”



s e v i l e v o l e r Whe nth we’re Turn the lights down low – this mo

all about the lovin’


When you and your loved one have to be apart, keep tabs on where they are with this “Where The Heart Is” pillow. Mark the place they proposed, or where your child was conceived. A threaded needle and two buttons let you to sew a heart and star over your chosen spot. $56, www.uncommongoods.com


Keep the lights on with this porcelain rabbit-shaped table lamp. We don’t have to tell you what to do next, do we? $20.15, www.jet.com




This heart bowl and matching ladle are part of the Animal series by Swedish designer Ylva Olsson, and make a cutesy addition to your Valentine’s table. $54.95, www.fjorn.com


The heart motif is a favorite of Vivienne Westwood, so it seems fitting that she’d create this deep red and pale pink heart rug. Hand-knotted in Tibetan wool, it feels lush between naked toes. Just saying. From $114 per sq ft, www.therugcompany.com


The Teddy Bear sofa by Kardiel is just big enough for two. Snuggle up with your other half and find out exactly why they call it a love seat … $1,195, www.houzz.com


This vintage-style marquee light spells out that all-important four-letter word, even when you can’t quite bring yourself to say it. $29.99, www.michaels.com


These hand sculpted hands spell out the word “love” in American Sign Language, using finger spelling to relay meaning. And they’re available in any color or pattern, so you can say it as loud as you like. $57, www.etsy.com


Who doesn’t blub at An Affair to Remember, that 1957 classic starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr? This poster will take you right back there, to that unforgettable scene at the top of the Empire State … sniff … now you’ve got us started again … $14.98, www.allposters.com



They say elephants mate for life. Sweet. So show your partner you’re in it for the long haul with this cute little family of elephant cups. They come in a cheeky threesome (small, medium, and large) and are available in black or white. $42, www.fancy.com

Is this too much? Is it? Oh, what the heck. When you’re cooking up a storm on Valentine’s night, this cheesy heartshaped pot from Le Creuset will get the right message across, even if your cooking doesn’t quite make the grade. $200, www.williams-sonoma.com




#W42ST Hashtag your Instagram pics and they could star in the mag!

Rainbows! Everyone loves a rainbow. Sunsets too. The skies above Hell’s Kitchen never fail to inspire our Instagram family, and we’ve had some belters of shots this month. Thanks to all of you who keep tagging. Remember, anyone can get involved -- just tag your pics #W42ST and you might be the one who ends up in the next issue of the magazine.







Shall we do


Don’t drink too fast, or slow, always offer to pay, and what NEVER to say on a first date. Yvonna Russell and Andrew Ginsburg deliver a dialogue on dateology. Read it and learn. Images Rick Stockwell

THE SCENE: Two friends meet for drinks at Yotel, 10th Avenue. Andrew is checking his phone. Enter Yvonna, late, tottering in heels. Yvonna: “I’m dying over here for a cocktail. Check out that guy staring at his tab. I bet you he’s waiting for her to offer to pay.” Andrew: “Yeah, or at least reach for her purse. If a guy accepts money on a first date, he’s an idiot, and if the woman doesn’t offer, she’s not looking great, either.” Yvonna: “When I reach for my purse I’m getting a lipstick to reapply. Whoever does the asking should pay. That’s why I like to keep it short and sweet, like a coffee, bike ride, slice of pizza and an exit plan. You can save the big dates for when it’s serious.” Andrew: “Bike ride on a first date is genius! If you don’t like the person, you can just ride away. And re-applying lipstick is beautiful. But what is it about women and always having to go to the bathroom when the check comes? Reach or don’t reach, but don’t leave.” Yvonna: “What if I really have to pee? Do I have to hold it till the waiter brings the check?” Andrew: “Yes. Stay and reach for the purse, then go.” Yvonna: “Mexican stand-off over a check. Romantic!” At this point Yvonna looks at her phone to read a text.


Above: Nothing has Yvonna knocking back the martinis quicker than the guy who tells all on the first date.


DATING Andrew: “I once went out with this woman who just texted through dinner. She said: ‘You don’t mind, I’m just going to text my friend. I’m still listening to you.’ I said: ‘No, go ahead.’ Then, later, she texted on my walk to the subway: ‘Had so much fun.’ I wrote back: ‘With me or your friend?’” Yvonna: “Guys text too, but it’s the business call they’ve just got to return! If you’re President Obama’s on-call heart surgeon that’s fine, otherwise turn it off.” Andrew: “Yes, put the phone away. And there’s no way in hell that Obama’s heart surgeon is single.” Yvonna: “My pet peeve is the sexter, when my iPhone chirps very late at night with a nasty proposal. Do you think I’m coming over? Really? At that hour I only leave my spot if someone I love needs to go to the hospital.” Andrew: “The late-night sexter is a loser. Leave the phone for flirting. Everything else should be done naked.” Yvonna: “And what’s with you guys and the really old pictures on Facebook? I insist before a meeting you take a photo of yourself and today’s newspaper on an iPhone 6.” Andrew: “It’s not just limited to guys. Everyone posts their best picture, even if it’s from years ago. But that triathlon shot with the number on your chest and medal around your neck – got to go.” Yvonna: “ … And the picture with your old girlfriend.” Andrew: “Love when they crop out their ex. It must feel so good to them. And when they say to you on a second date: ‘We’re not having sex tonight. You know that, right?’ Well, I do now. How about we look at the menus?” Yvonna: “Isn’t that better then getting hot and naked later and then she changes her mind? The real issue here is protocol. A woman can keep a respectable strip club six-inch buffer all evening and yet still he thinks there’s a chance. If she doesn’t feel you up at the end of the date be prepared for a quick exit.” Andrew: “Yes, but announcing the ‘no sex clause’ at the beginning of a date implies that we even want to have sex with you in the first place. After an enjoyable dinner and a long stare, the ‘no sex clause’ is applicable.” Yvonna: “I agree, so we can go to a second spot for a drink and keep one foot on the floor at all times. And, yes, you do want to have sex.”

Left: Yvonna and Andrew discuss the battle of the sexes. The jury is still out ...

Andrew: “Probably. The worst is a slow drinker! When you’re out on a date and she takes three hours to drink one glass of merlot – painful.” Yvonna: “Where’s the fire? In your pants. Let’s enjoy this. I don’t Google my dates beforehand; I prefer to peel the onion.” Andrew: “Like a movie, no drink should ever last more than two hours.” The guy at the start is paying his check. His date has already left. It’s still early.

“The late-night sexter is a loser. Leave the phone for flirting. Everything else should be done naked.”

Yvonna sips her drink slowly.


Andrew: “What? Is this the warm-up date? When you get her until 9pm then she has to leave for a friend’s birthday party? Translation: That friend is a guy and that birthday party is in his bed.” Yvonna: “Males don’t take rejection well. Sometimes it’s just you’re NBA, she’s NFL.” Andrew: “Nobody takes rejection well. If a woman sits down with a guy for a drink and doesn’t like him, she gets up and leaves. She cuts her losses.” Yvonna: “Then I’m pelted by flowers, text messages, and invitations to Paris. There’s nothing like rejection to get a guy really interested.” Andrew: “Ha!” Yvonna: “Even worse is the guy who tells all on the first date. Nothing has me knocking back the drinks faster.” Andrew: “If you polish off three martinis in under an hour on a first date, there will be no second date. That said, the night can continue …” Yvonna: “Honey, those dates with sad stories can be real romantic mood killers.” Andrew: “Leave the family suicides for later.” Yvonna: “At least until you’re married.” Andrew: “And if I ask her about her family and she cuts me off and says: ‘My dad’s an asshole,’ I’m calling for the check.” Yvonna: “What about the Momma’s Boy? ‘Do you cook?’ If this comes up on a first date, it’s a red flag. Say ‘no’ or you’ll never see the inside of a restaurant again.” Andrew: “Look at the drunk chick! She can’t walk ten steps in her heels so he’ll have to take a cab half a block. Next time you get drunk, wear flats.” Yvonna: “Don’t you love my Louboutin’s? The extra height makes my walk slow and sexy. Call the Uber – maybe I’ll fall off my heels and into bed with you.” Andrew: “Excellent point. On second thoughts, wear the heels. I’ll stop being so cheap.”



TALES FROM THE SHALLOW END The Manhattan dating pool giveth, and it taketh away. But sometimes the Match.com fairy gets it right


he eHarmony compatibility gods don’t always get it wrong. They also found the guy I call Alejandro, after the Lady Gaga song of the same name. If you’ve heard the song, you might suspect this is another rather bittersweet tale. It is. But I promise I’ll spare you the drunken, sobbing love poems I wrote to him after it all came to a tragic end. Ohhhhh, Alejandro. The compatibility meter got it right that time– he was the one guy I fell for head over heels after my divorce. In fact, I think maybe, possibly, I was in love with him. It was as though he put a spell on me: I was so incredibly emotionally and physically attracted to him, I couldn’t keep my mind (or my hands) off the guy. I got butterflies in my stomach every time I saw him. If I had a checklist, Alejandro was the one guy who ticked all the boxes. Of course, he was exotic – Argentinean this time. I can’t seem to get enough of those Latin lovers. He was an ambitious entrepreneur who owned a bunch of clothing boutiques. He was smart, funny, and charming. Oh yeah, and he had a motorcycle. My first-ever motorcycle ride was on the back of Alejandro’s bike, my arms wrapped around his waist. He literally swept me off my feet – I’ll never forget the exhilarating sense of freedom as we flew down the Brooklyn Queens Expressway … thinking I was going to die. But I didn’t. Then there was the time he booked a romantic weekend away in the Poconos. If you’re not from the east coast, you might not be aware of Pennsylvania’s cheesy honeymoon haven – a mountain town filled with little cabin motels that seem to be designed for the sole purpose of


“Before we even reached our destination, I guessed our room was going to have a floor-to-ceiling glass bathtub shaped like a champagne glass and a heart-shaped bed.”


hosting creative, crazy sexual encounters. Before we even reached our destination, I guessed our room was going to have a floor-to-ceiling glass bathtub shaped like a champagne glass and a heart-shaped bed (I’d seen enough corny Poconos commercials in the 1980s to have some idea of what to expect). And I was right! Our cabin had it all: the red velvet interior, the heart-shaped bed (plus a heart-shaped pool!), and, of course, the obligatory, sky-high champagne glass tub. When the room wasn’t booked, it was probably used as a set for porn videos. We certainly found the space … inspiring. After a few hours of indoor fun, we decided it was time to eat. Unfortunately, we showed up two hours after dinner service closed. The helpful kitchen lady threw some slimy green leftovers that resembled something I might step over on a New York street on to a plate. Oh well. It wasn’t really about the food anyway. As we crept closer to that crucial threemonth mark, though, things started getting weird. Then, like all good things, it came to an end. It wasn’t ugly or dramatic. We still talk occasionally. In fact, he recently shoved his tongue down my throat, which, I have to admit, helped with the healing process. Although it took a LOT of drunken sob poems to get there. He even talks about the possibility of giving it another shot. I still get those butterflies every time I hear his voice, so you never know. In the end, I learned a lot from dating Alejandro. I learned about myself, and not only what I want in a guy, but about life in general. I also learned that I am a really, really crappy poet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mary Geneva is a sales professional by day and semi-reformedhopelessromantic serial dater by night. Married at 21, divorced at 26, she and her rescued pets, pup Valentino and kitty Diva, were left to learn how to balance their checkbook. In her book Nicknames, Mary tiptoes back into the dating pool accumulating many late-night, drunken scraps of paper and text messages outlining unbelievable – yet totally true – events. Knowing she couldn’t make this shit up, she stored the memories away to finally share with you. Undaunted, Mary lives, works, and plays in New York City, and calls Hell’s Kitchen home. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @marygeneva nyc. You can buy Nicknames on www. nicknamesnyc. com. Stay tuned for Mary’s next adventure in the April issue of W42ST.


The greatest love

To survive trauma, infidelity or loss in our relationships, we must first consider ourselves worthy of love, says Dr Tama Lane



urandot, the spectacular opera, contains epic, overthe-top professions of love and the dramatic solution of a happy ending. In fact, many arias speak of newfound love, forbidden love, unrequited love, and love triangles, all more compelling than any celebrity affair or scandal. The characters experience a love so all-consuming, so overwhelming, it engulfs and often changes their life course – for better or worse. The portrayal of a mystical, sometimes supernatural love is often expressed in grand prose based on external and primal factors: beauty, sex, lust. It’s thrilling to witness on stage or even experience in real life. But love is not always perfect or infinite in a relationship. What happens when the hand of the olive-skinned maiden and half the kingdom are not enough for the prince? What happens when the queen falls in love with the king’s brother? Or when kingdoms are torn apart by jealousy, greed, and power? How do the unexpected pitfalls of life impact on the perception of love? After infidelity, trauma, loss, or other jolting life events, it is not uncommon to run away from love, to emotionally disconnect, feel unworthy of love, or seek external validation when we can’t provide it for ourselves. Many of us have heard this phrase ad nauseam: “Love yourself first.” Truthfully, I often roll my eyes when I hear or read these sometimes confusing words. Loving ourselves isn’t easy. The seeds must be planted and soil cultivated

so it can grow. Learning to fully love ourselves is a practice of nurturing self-value, self-acceptance, and forgiving our imperfections and flaws. We have to feel worthy of love before feeling equipped to receive and give love. Essentially, we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Loving yourself involves the act of

Above: Love is not always infinite, but accepting ourselves and our flaws can set us free.

“waking up to your life … waking up to yourself.” It means we have to bring it, to show up, and be visible to ourselves. Many seek meaning from external nouns: people, places, and things. Peering inside, analyzing our personal and emotional timeline, discovering what’s hidden and broken, and becoming aware of stone walls we have not seen before, is transformative. Particularly after betrayal or trauma, the dark parts don’t destroy the light or the ability to love and be loved. In life, we have a constellation of choices. When you are afraid of you, you are afraid of others. The fear monster persuasively whispers horrible things in our ear that keep us paralyzed and blocked from deriving love, nourishment, and strength from a healthy relationship with ourselves and others. When we cultivate worthiness, we no longer look outside for validation or confirmation. Rather, we find nuggets of worthiness and belonging to help nurture our mind, body, and spirit. Waking up to life means embracing our vulnerabilities and the life experiences that make us cringe. To relinquish shame and love thyself means having the courage to unconditionally accept and forever remain imperfect. When we decide to live with our whole worthy heart, we understand that our birthright of love (to self and others) frees us to emotionally live in the present, proudly own our story, discover joy in the most unexpected crevices, and become our greatest love.

Dr Tama Lane

is a clinical psychologist who has her private practice of the UWS (www.nypng.com) and is an activist for survivors of trauma and torture. You can email her at drtamalane@gmail.com, twitter @DrTamaLane, Facebook Dr Tama Lane.




Wagging CoCo

Humans’ names: Angel and Jaz. Breed: Puggle. Age: One year old. What makes me bark: Delivery guys and weird noises at the door. Three words that describe me best: Inquisitive, lovable, and emotional. My confession: I tear up the couch when my owner doesn’t let me go into the bathroom while he’s using it.


Jaxy Human’s name: Alina. Breed: Toy poodle. Age: Four. What makes me bark: The doorbell. Three words that describe me best: Lovable, spoiled, adorable. My confession: I like posing in front of the camera and love eating everything.


Blue Human’s name: Amy. Breed: Pomeranian. Age: One. What makes me bark: Running off my leash. Three words that describe me best: Sweet, sassy … and blue. My confession: I’d really love a pet squirrel. Instadog: @prettybluedog


PETS These camera-happy canines took a time out from the morning stroll for a quick Q&A with W42ST

Take a


S Cookie Dough Human’s name: Lili. Breed: Jack Russell, pomeranian and rat terrier mix. Age: Three and a half. What makes me bark: Trying to get other dogs to play with me. Three words that describe me best: Feisty, loyal, playful. My confession: I love dressing up for Halloween and pooping in the snow.

Penny and Tyson Human’s name: Melinda. Breed: Long-haired miniature and smooth tweenie dachshund. Age: We’re both about four (and we’re rescues). What makes us bark: Everything. We are the hall monitors of the dog park. Three words that describe us best?: Vertically challenged badasses. Our confessions: Tyson: I’m into not obeying the three-second rule. Penny: I’ll steal your boyfriend. Instadog: @pennyandtyson


o many of you have contacted us, asking how your own happy hound can be included in Wagging Tales. Well, we’ve heard your pleas, duly considered them, and thought, hey, what the heck, why not? (We must have been barking mad not to have thought of it sooner!) This all means, of course, that you can now send us the finest photograph you can find of your furry best friend, answer the questions below, then cross your paws you’ll be included in our monthly column of local canine celebrities. Your name: Dog’s name: Breed: How old? What makes your dog bark? Three words that describe them best: Naughty confessions (dish the dirt – not literally, of course!): And are you an Instadog? Send it to waggingtales@w42st.com and we’ll do the rest.



Dina the

r e k l a w dog

The strange love between Paulo, Brian, and a Frenchie called Christopher




t feels like someone hit the fast forward button and it’s already February! Of course, it’s the month of love, when couples get to celebrate their happily-ever-after relationships. Being the loner I am, you’d assume I sulk and feel bad for myself. OK, maybe I get a little jealous. But I will say this: ironic, considering its name, but Hell’s Kitchen is LOADED with love. My favorite couple I work with is Paulo and Brian. They were my second clients as a dog walker, and have been loyal and generous ever since. Both are big, bulky fitness buffs who work together as personal trainers with some of the top names in Broadway. Paulo is a melodramatic purebred Puerto Rican who I’ve caught crying at a Johnson & Johnson commercial. Brian is very masculine, a trainer by day, big-time Broadway dancer by night, and is originally a farm-bred Texas boy. I call them the “Sexy Swirl” because of Paulo’s dark brown fake tan and Brian’s light complexion. They look yummier than chocolate and vanilla ice-cream swirl. Surrogacy was a serious consideration in Paulo and Brian’s past but, ultimately, they decided to make Christopher instead. He’s a beautiful French bulldog, their surrogate child. I was lucky enough to have known him since the first week they picked him up. He was friendly, playful, cute, and cuddly. All amazing qualities. But one not so pleasant habit Christopher had was eating his own poop! Brian was a previous dog owner so was quick to train his new pooch on the wee-wee pads. Unfortunately, after every successful poop on the pad, Christopher would quickly gobble it up. He never even

Above: Melodramatic? Paulo? OK, maybe a little ...

“He was friendly, playful, cute, and cuddly. All amazing qualities. But one not so pleasant habit Christopher had, was eating his own poop!” gave anyone a chance to give him a treat as a reward: his poop was the prize. Man, did it take a while for us to break this habit. Brian used to try everything,


from cayenne pepper to Tabasco to horse radish. He’d sprinkle it on the poop, but nothing worked. In fact, it seemed as if Christopher kind of liked it when Brian spiced things up. The only solution was to grab it as quick as possible so he didn’t get a chance to indulge. The humorous part was when Paulo would come home and find out it had happened again. He’d run in as if someone had just been killed, let out a loud cry, and say: “Ay Brian! We don’t love him enough! We are worse parents ever!” This would then turn into a soap opera where Brian would console Paulo, Paulo would refuse to hear him, and eventually run to their bedroom in tears. This was my cue to slip out quietly while they sorted things out between them. Brian would train Christopher like a puppy. I think Paulo really thought he was a toddler, spoiling him with toys in the hope of him breaking the poop diet in exchange. I kid you not, this pup had some of the most bizarre toys: bedazzled foam doggie houses, elaborate colored, name-engraved beds, pillows and towels, circus toys, even an Arabian Nightsthemed tent and walkway! Finally, a few months later, Christopher beat his poop habit. Brian was relieved there would be no more trial and error with his spice cabinet. Paulo settled down a LITTLE, but is still constantly holding Christopher and telling him he’s sorry for something. Even though sometimes their relationship seems like a tele novella, Brian and Paulo are an amazing example of true love. They work so well as a team. They cry together, laugh together. When I see them, I’m not jealous. It simply makes me smile and realize love exists.



PHOTO FINISH Banksy – He Waits, Hustler Club, 2013



ritish street painter Banksy chose Hell’s Kitchen – and a venue synonymous with (ahem) romance – when he was inspired to capture the essence of lost love. Back in 2013, he was drawn to a rolldown security gate covering the main entrance to Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club during his month-long New York City residency. The work shows a lovelorn loner leaning in a doorway, clutching a fast-fading bouquet of flowers with their red petals fluttering to the ground. “Waiting in vain” and “at the door of the club,” say the captions under two pictures of the piece on Banksy’s website. Hundreds of fans flocked to the scene, just off the Westside Highway on W51st St, where the Hustler Club set up security guards to keep vandals from defacing the work. The club said it was locked up at 6:15am, but someone had come and hung a tarp over the gate two minutes later, then spent 43 minutes behind it. Banksy’s month-long “Better Out Than In” project created a business opportunity for one Hell’s Kitchen local. Dean Landry, of Certified Graphics, the club’s neighbors on W51st St, said he spotted the piece while walking to work around 8am. He grabbed a camera and snapped some photos, then started hawking magnets and prints of the spray-painted image the same morning. “We were printing by 8.30am,” Landry said. The rush products were offered at $5 for a magnet, $20 for a print, and they got snapped up by hundreds of Banksy fans. Did you buy one? At the time, Hustler Club marketing director Steve Karel said: “We’re honored that Banksy chose the Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club to share his art. While we’d love to leave the work in place, it’s required we lift the gate when we open for business. So after the public has the day to enjoy it, we


“The club locked up at 6:15am, but someone had hung a tarp over the gate two minutes later, then spent 43 minutes behind it.”


will remove the door to keep it safe from vandals until we determine where it can be displayed in the future – hopefully inside of the club.” Earlier in 2013, a Banksy mural removed from the side of a London building sold for $1.1 million. This picture shows the door being cut off and the work of art removed at 6pm, before the club opened for business. Where is it now? The Hustler Club didn’t respond to our calls.

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