W42ST Issue 56 - We're Friendly AF!

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Visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum this summer to discover history and science through our exhibits and innovative programs. Be sure to visit the Museum’s Space Shuttle Pavilion for our new installation—Apollo 11: Media, the Moon and Beyond.

Photos: Rob Tannenbaum; Reist Photography; Christine Butler.

Visit IntrepidMuseum.org for a full schedule of events!

FREE FRIDAYS August 16, 5:00–9:00pm

Explore the Museum and enjoy a variety of free after-hours programming including a talk about the design and innovation of Concorde, telescopes for viewing the night sky and a movie night on the flight deck! There’s something for everyone during Free Fridays. Please visit us online for detailed program descriptions for age ranges and registration requirements. IntrepidMuseum.org/FreeFridays

ALSO ON DECK INTREPID ADVENTURES Saturdays & Sundays in August, Noon Join us for enrichment programs designed to provide children, their siblings and parents/caregivers an opportunity to have fun and learn together. Ages 5–12. Register in advance. HARD HAT TOUR: BELOW DECK AND BEHIND THE SCENES Get exclusive access to never-before-seen spaces as our expert guides share the hidden gems from 75 years of history. Saturdays, 9:00am. Tickets: $150 General/$125 Members. Space is limited.

EARLY MORNING TOURS Intrepid 101: In the Seas, In the Skies Pacific War: USS Intrepid in World War II Silent Service: The Story of USS Growler Our expert guides lead fascinating explorations of the Museum before it opens and provide greater insight into the artifacts on display. Tickets: $15 Adults; $12 Children and Seniors (General)/ $10 Adults; $7 Children and Seniors (Members).

CELEBRATE USS INTREPID ’S 76TH COMMISSIONING ANNIVERSARY! Join us as we celebrate the day Intrepid was officially welcomed to the Navy Fleet. Throughout the day, visitors will be able to meet Intrepid’s former crew members and engage with historic artifacts from the ship’s 31 years of service. DID YOU KNOW that a commissioning anniversary is like a ship’s birthday? While Intrepid was in service, the 3,000 person crew would gather to celebrate the special day with a giant cake, sometimes shaped like the aircraft carrier itself. Learn more this fall when we open our newest exhibition Navy Cakes: A Slice of History.

PIER 86, WEST 46TH ST & 12TH AVE intrepidmuseum.org

2019 © Intrepid Museum Foundation. All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under applicable law, this work may not be copied, published, disseminated, displayed, performed or played without permission of the copyright holder.





Nearly half of all Americans report feeling lonely. It is the #1 fear for millennials. So next time you mourn a lack of genuine human connection, know this – you are not alone. Most of us have bar friends ... work friends ... gym friends. People we hang with. But real, honest, vulnerable humans? That’s the sort of chosen family we’re talking about this month. That’s what can reduce the risk of premature death, speed recovery when we’re ill, and enrich our lives. They’re our safe space. Our

CONTENTS August Edition


happy place. Who’s your tribe?

Ruth Walker Editor Sign up to my newsletter at w42st.com THE TEAM THAT BROUGHT YOU W42ST





phil@w42st.com (646) 267-9028

ruth@w42st.com (646) 847-9645





drew@w42st.com (646) 896-9562





All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used without written permission of the publisher ©2019. Please note: Every effort has been made to avoid errors, misspellings, and omissions in this publication. However, if you spot one please accept our sincere apologies.






Broadway leading man Max von Essen on the very best of the west side.

Our pick of the big events you MUST see.

17 SOBER IN THE CITY Online dating is broken, people.

The New York orphans who are more than just friends.

Hashtag your Instagram photographs #W42ST to get involved.


Joey Tribbiani’s utimate act of friendship.


Our Intrepid Free Fridays event in the shadow of Concore ... were you there?


Jillian Richardson’s recipe for genuine human connection.

26 PHOTOGRAPHING HAPPY Finding joy, one picture at a time.


32 FAMILY FOOD FIGHT Two brothers and their mom compete in the kitchen. A recipe for disaster?


Welcome to Smalltown USA – otherwise known as Hell’s Kitchen.


Their commitment keeps W42ST free for everyone else to enjoy. Please support them with your love and your business 34th St Partnership

Body Factory Skin Care

Gavios Realty Group

Hell’s Creative

Mark Fisher


The Press Lounge


Daryl Roth Advertising

Gotham Mini Storage

Hell’s Kitchen Barbers



Times Square Alliance

AKC Canine Retreat

Ensemble Studio Theatre

Grand Central

Hibernia Bar

MCC Theater


The Marshal

Baire Hair Removal

Fine & Dandy


Intrepid Museum

Moinian Group

P.S. Kitchen

Title Boxing


Fountain House Gallery

Grand Cru Wine & Spirits

Jadite Picture Framing

New Victory Theater


Vitality Medaesthetics


Frank M Burke

Hafetz & Associates

Leanne Schanzer


TF Cornerstone

Wells Fargo

Best Friends Animal Society

Fresh From Hell

Heart of Chelsea

Manhattan Kayak + SUP

Odyssey Wine & Spirits

The Artist Co-op




A blogger’s go-to places to eat, drink, and play in the neighborhood.


A Frenchman in the city.



Where does Mean Girls’ Kate Rockwell go for a glass (or two)?


Just another expensive space for tourists, or is The Shed something more?


The backstage friendships that last long after the show has ended.


46 SMALL SPACE, BIG LIFE When living in 400 square feet is a positive life choice.




COVER ARTIST Chelsey Hill moved from Nebraska to New York City in 2014 to pursue a career in musical theater and

The things Matt D’Silva WON’T miss now he has the luxury of a bedroom.


An executive producer for NBC has just blown in from the windy city.


costume design,

Beautiful things for our favorite people.

but found her true


love, illustrating. She’s inspired by the eccentric New Yorkers she meets every day, the fashion on the



streets, performers and pigeons. chelseyhill. com


When spin class gets super competitive.


Guys – how about cleaning up?


Finding a lifeline after losing a love.



Two pages of Hell’s Kitchen’s most handsome pets. Get involved by emailing waggingtales@w42st.com.

Aug 16, Sept 27, Oct 25 10


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Max von Essen was nominated for a Tony for his role in An American in Paris in 2015, and most recently played Gleb Vaganov in Anastasia. He lives in Hell’s Kitchen with his partner Daniel and their sphinx cat called Pocket. He celebrates the release of his debut solo recording, Call Me Old Fashioned: The Broadway Standard at Birdand on Aug 19. birdlandjazz.com

MAX’S HK Nizza, 9th Ave 44th/45th Ave Bird and Branch, W45th St - 8th/9th Ave Joe Allen, W46th St - 8th/9th Ave Arriba Arriba, 9th Ave - 51st St Clinton Community Garden, W48th St 9th/10th Ave Birdland, W44th St - 8th/9th Ave Galaxy Diner, 9th Ave - 46th/47th St Schnipper’s, 8th Ave - 41st St CYC, 8th Ave 44th/45th St Schmackary’s, W45th St - 8th/9th Ave Therapy, W52nd St - 8th/9th Ave Hardware, 10th Ave - 47th/48th St 9th Avenue Vinter, 9th Ave - 46th/47th St





OLD FASHIONED Broadway leading man Max von Essen on his perfect block in Hell’s Kitchen, where he goes to work off his fried chicken indulgence, and why he loves the old seediness of the neighborhood Why I came here

One of my favorite things to do as a teenager was to explore this area, back when it was a lot more, shall we say, colorful? 42nd Street was nothing but porn theaters and drug dealers, Times Square was seedy and dangerous, I’d see a Broadway show then get propositioned by a prostitute on 8th Avenue, and I loved every minute of it! Cut to about 15 years ago when a friend was selling her place and I fell in love with it. The neighborhood isn’t quite as seedy, but I still adore it.

Why I stay

As wild as it can get and as close as it is to Times Square, the moment you turn down my tree-lined block with a park, a church, and the sweetest little street lamps, you feel like you’re in a real neighborhood. I love that dichotomy. The life, the energy ... and then suddenly you find some peace.


The best bit about living here

It’s a combination of the charm and the convenience. Walk two blocks west of Times Square and you’re in a real neighborhood with beautiful streets, fantastic restaurants, and coffee shops. Then to have the ability to walk to work when I’m in a Broadway show is amazing. I used to dream of that when I was a kid.

And the worst

Well, when a neighborhood has this kind of excitement and energy, it attracts a lot of people who often forget that people live here. That this is their home. When

someone has their hand on their car horn, I was just want to run up to the window and scream: “We live here, asshole! Show some respect!” Or people come to party on St Patrick’s Day or Halloween and vomit on the corner or ON MY FRONT STEPS and I think: “Could you imagine if I came to your street and did that?”

My career highlight so far

There have been a lot – but An American in Paris on Broadway is definitely a stand out. Everything just clicked. I’m a Gerswhin-loving kid from Queens and Long Island who always dreamed of making it on Broadway. So to be playing the Palace Theatre, singing the songs I taught myself as a kid and getting a Tony nomination for it all was just surreal.

The role I most identify with

Truly, playing Henri Baurel in An American in Paris felt like playing me on stage. Sure, the circumstances were different, sure it was in the 1940s, but it was me! I felt so connected to him and he’ll forever mean so much to me.

My HK go-to places

I could literally eat at Nizza every night. They have the most delicious gluten-free menu. I also LOVE Bird and Branch coffee. They are fairly new to the neighborhood, but the coffee and vibe are amazing. What else? Joe Allen for the perfect post-show meal, Arriba Arriba for Mexican, Hudson River Park or Clinton Community Garden (you’ll need a key for that one) to sit on


Opposite: Up on the roof – Max’s happy place.

some grass and relax, Birdland on Monday nights for Jim Caruso’s Cast Party, Galaxy for a diner moment, Schnipper’s when I’m indulging, CYC to sweat off the calories from Schnipper’s, Schmackary’s for the best cookies, Therapy or Hardware for a drink and to see Marti Cummings’ show, and 9th Avenue Vintner for my “needs.”

My happy place

Probably the roof of my building. Having a glass of wine up there with my partner, Daniel, or with friends at night is magical. The 360 views are so stunning.

What I miss when I’m touring

Daniel and my cat, Pocket. Other than them, I just miss the feeling of knowing I can step out of my apartment and everything is readily available to me. A meal, a museum, a shopping spree, you name it. I’ve been in some cities on tour where I’m literally like: “Where the hell can I find a salad in this town?” or “Why is everything closed at night?!”

My 60-second plug ...

The thrill I felt performing in An American in Paris is what inspired the album Call Me Old Fashioned. I knew that George and Ira Gerswhin’s music would be a highlight of the album and the rest just fell into place. It’s a love letter to another time; my romantic-leading-man take on some of the greatest songs of Broadway and the American Songbook, all meant to make you feel as if you’ve visited an era long past.


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What’s On Chris Byars Original Sextet

Flame Con

The world’s largest queer comic con is back for its fifth year. Flame Con 2019 will be held at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel August 17-18. And don’t forget about the 21+ after party Saturday night! flamecon.org


The Where Artists Rise Art “Wildstyle” art show will make its appearance on August 3 at the Gallery MC. The show will feature independent artists and their work, refreshments, and a live DJ. gallerymc.org


Come on down to The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theater for the one-act production of L.O.V.E.R., written and performed by Lois Robbins. This limited engagement begins August 21 for anyone who wants to see a comedy about the truths of life, love, and sex. signaturetheatre.org

The Kitchen

The hotly anticipated movie is released on August 9, starring Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss as three 1978 Hell’s Kitchen housewives whose mobster husbands have been sent to prison. That’s when they take on the Irish mafia.

Emerging Music Festival



Summer Streets 2019

Sea Wall/A Life

Tom Sturridge, Tony Award nominee, stars in Simon Stephens’ Sea Wall, and Jake Gyllenhaal, Academy Award nominee, stars in Nick Payne’s A Life for this Broadway transfer. The performance is a limited, nineweek engagement starting August

August 2019 Crosby is closing out this year’s Roots of American Music Weekend on August 11. The two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee will take a break from his nationwide tour to perform at Damrosch Park with his band. lincolncenter.org

Birdland Jazz will be hosting award-winning writer and bandleader Chris Byars and his sextet on August 1, performing new works with a four-horn, two-rhythm instrumentation. And if you miss it, don’t worry. They’re back twice a day until August 3. birdlandjazz.com

The annual Summer Streets is back! For the first three Saturdays of August, come out on nearly seven miles of open streets to play, walk, run, or bike. The event is between 7am and 1pm, stretching from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Park Ave. nyc.gov


Bat Out of Hell

Jim Steinman’s hit musical Bat Out of Hell is coming to heat up the city for six weeks starting August 1. Make your way to the New York City Center to watch the musical that takes you through Meat Loaf’s legendary anthems, including ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’. batoutofhellmusical.com 8 at the Hudson Theatre. seawallalife.com

Vera Paints a Scarf

The Museum of Arts and Design has a new exhibit coming. Beginning August 8, check out Vera Paints a Scarf, an exhibition


celebrating the work of artistturned-textile designer Vera Neumann and her contributions to the field of American design. madmuseum.org

Americanafest NYC

Fearless folk rock legend David

Head out to Bryant Park for an evening of indie rock, soul, and funk music. Some of the New York City’s best up-and-coming bands will be performing at the Emerging Music Festival on August 24. bryantpark.org

54 Sings Beyoncé

Join the Bey-hive and anyone else who loves Ms Sasha Fierce. Feinstein’s 54 Below is honoring Beyoncé on August 25 with a celebration of her greatest songs including ‘Single Ladies,’ ‘Love on Top,’ and ‘Halo.’ The event is directed and produced by Robert W Schneider. 54below.com

For a limited time, new patients receive a complimentary exam during their first visit! Heart of Chelsea Veterinary Group is now in Hell’s Kitchen! We are proud and excited to bring our standard of thorough, compassionate, concierge veterinary medicine to the residents of Hell’s Kitchen and surrounding neighborhoods.

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Let’s talk about apps


Online dating is officially broken. Can we just regroup? asks Kristen Jongen


heard a therapist on the radio say the other day: “As sex is becoming increasingly easier to get, love is harder to find.” Dear God – why can’t we have both? I suppose I am not surprised. If offered a buffet of hedonistic choices, isn’t it human nature to circumvent the salad and go straight for dessert? But, while searching for a love connection, have we gotten so distracted licking off the icing of lust we now have a green face and a belly ache? Way back in 2005 when I was newly divorced, Match.com was a viable place to meet legitimate singles. I was aghast to discover there was also a site called Adultfriendfinder.com aimed at coordinating sexual encounters. Back then, I couldn’t imagine such tawdry behavior. Oh, the innocent days of yore ... Fast forward to 2019 and internet dating has sped past monogamy and random sexcapades to the banal existence of virtual slot machines. Many people now go online to simply decompress. They flirt to unwind. They talk dirty to escape. They swipe right with no intentions of meeting anyone in person. Dating apps have stopped being about dating and have become hubs for lonely people to plug in for a hit. I dated a man

recently who, in six short weeks, managed to trigger all my digital traumas in one fell swoop. It made me realize how damaging the cyber years have been. Every day, reasons arose to make me wonder if he had: 1. A wife. 2. A rule about seeing me a maximum of three days a week. 3. A bet with himself about not spending any money. 4. An aversion to weekend dates. 5. Plans to keep me a secret from his family. 6. An initiative to slowly ghost me. 7. A secret life.

Below: Kristen’s calling for an end to the toxic cyber playground of online dating.

“Have we gotten so distracted licking off the icing of lust we now have a green face and a belly ache?”

Although he was a nice guy, his lack of clear communication tripped every faulty wire I have. Years ago, one guy I met had an agenda to not spend money on women. After our first date (where he made a point of saying he had already eaten to avoid ordering appetizers), he invited me over for dinner. The following week I arrived at his gorgeous Manhattan apartment, where he proceeded to make us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drink water.

A friend told me it was legitimately trending for ballers to try to get sex “for free.” This is not a joke. I am not paranoid. So when my new guy was quiet, he simultaneously culled a long list of hurts I had already encountered. He denied all of the aforementioned agendas, and I wondered why it was so hard to accept that he was genuinely into only me. Am I that insecure? Suspicious? Jaded? I asked my girlfriends, who are equally flustered. Is it because someone once told us we were loved and then proceeded to treat us like we weren’t? Have singles dehumanized each other to the point that nobody trusts anyone? I, too, have been guilty of being a dismissive dick. These days, however, when I do go online, I am committed to being truthful and decent. I engage with one person at a time. I see it through to the end. I do my best to be straight forward. Exhausted by the game playing, I do not want to contribute to the toxic stew. I have come full circle and am back to keeping it simple. This month, as we review our chosen communities, can we commit to cleaning up one dangerous neighborhood? Can we start with the toxic cyber playground we call online dating? Can we stop being cruel and start being kind? Maybe we start taking the activism New Yorkers are so known for into our bedrooms, and start treating each other as worthy.


An internationally recognized author, artist, and motivational speaker, Kristen has written and published two books. She is the voice behind Soul Soup Inc, inspirational books, prints, and greeting cards. Follow Kristen on Instagram @KristenJongen, If you’re having difficulty with drugs and alcohol, find support meetings at nyintergroup.org




OUT& ABOUT Above: Intrepid members and their family get snacked up in time for the movie. Left: Ian and Benjamin Thiele-Long fly the flag.




INTREPID FREE FRIDAY t takes more than a heatwave to stop a W42ST party! We found shade (thank you, Concorde), a warm breeze (hello, Hudson), and chilled beverages at our Free Friday event at the Intrepid Museum. Special guests came from neighborhood buildings – 180 Water, 21 West End, 525W52, 535W43, Gotham West, MiMa, Oskar, Riverbank, SKY, The Landon, and The Nicole – to explore the museum, watch the sunset, and settle down for a movie screening. Mark your calendars – the next Free Friday on August 16!




Clockwise from above: Myra Lapeyrolerie Marcus Lapeyrolerie, and Sydney Lapeyrolerie; Marijana Sarac and Robert Fullman; Alan Feldenkris, Raluca Bucur, Matt Sammond, Lisett Ovalle, Kim Gros, and Kevin Coquel; Ambika Devacaanth, Dee Patel, and Ginger Pennington; enjoying that breeze.




Clockwise, from left: Ian Llano (photograph courtesy of himself); Diana Wallwork, Ruth Walker, and a bevvy of beauties; Brian Hill and Neil Bartram; Anna Gossett, Katie Gossett, Johaan Simon, and Dominique Dumas



PEOPLE Right: Take the weight off, boys. Below: Time for a sunset selfie?

Above: Xxxxxxx




Friendships reduce the risk of death or developing certain diseases and can speed recovery when we fall ill.


JOY An epidemic of loneliness is literally killing us. But Jillian Richardson has an antidote … Interview Ruth Walker




hen did being lonely become such a source of shame? In a society where friends are currency and “likes” a measure of one’s success, the value of genuine human connection somehow got lost along the way. If you’re lonely, that must mean you’re unlovable, right? Yet the US is in the midst of a loneliness epidemic. Nearly half of all Americans say they always or sometimes feel alone or left out. More than half say they feel no one truly knows them. Loneliness is the number one fear for millennials. Worse than losing a job or a home. Forty two percent of millennial women are more afraid of loneliness than a cancer diagnosis. The result? Not just an upshot in psychiatric illnesses like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. But

researchers now recognize that social isolation triggers all kinds of cellular changes in the body that lead to chronic inflammation, making the lonely more prone to conditions including heart disease, stroke, metastatic cancer, and Alzheimer’s. One 2015 paper, which examined data from 70 studies involving 3.4 million people, found that lonely people were 26% more likely to die prematurely. When Jillian Richardson Above: Cuddle moved to New York just over three puddle, anyone? years ago, she was immersed in the improv scene. She had dreams of becoming a comedy writer, creating sketches for late-night TV. But, while she had friends – people she could go out drinking with and joke around with, “I didn't really feel like I had deep friendships,” she says. “I didn't have people I could talk to if I was sick, or if a family member was sick, or if something Loneliness and social difficult was happening isolation can be as in my life. I got to a point damaging to health as where I was like, 'I don't smoking 15 cigarettes feel comfortable talking a day. to any of these people about that.’” It triggered a search for her people. REAL people, who were self-aware and who could really listen. People who could be vulnerable – and allow her to be vulnerable – and who shared a deep emotional connection, not just a common interest in comedy or wine or tacos. “I didn't know what I was looking for,” she says. “I just knew that it felt like something was missing.” The turning point came when she signed up Camp Grounded, a digital detox summer camp for adults. “The people there were just so open, so playful. I'd never met adults like that before. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is possible! You can be a grown up and have fun and be filled with passion, and move your body and be silly and have connected conversations.’ It was like a type of adulthood I'd never seen growing up, so had no idea that was even a thing.” Back in the real world, she stayed in touch with camp friends, who brought

FRIENDLY AF are many of us still not there? “I think it's a fear of rejection,” she says. “In dating, people kind of take it for granted. Of course you're afraid of being rejected. And our culture really emphasizes romantic relationships and puts so much pressure on that. “The reality is that the same feelings can apply to friendship. And sometimes people feel even more vulnerable because, if this person doesn't want to go get casual tacos with me as friends, what does that say about me as a person? “Especially in New York City, there’s the feeling that everyone is busy. Everyone has plans except for me. Everyone has friends except for me. So we never reach out. But 75% of Americans are not satisfied with the friendships they have. And the average American only has one friend, and has not made a new friend in five years. “Most people are deeply lonely. And there's so much shame surrounding it, which is why I love talking about it.” And which is why she launched The Joy List, a weekly newsletter with some real talk, and events that are aimed at making New York less lonely. “I wanted some way to show New Yorkers that, if they were feeling alone, if they were feeling untrustful of people [this was post-election, remember], literally every day of the week in New York City there are places you can go, where you can feel like you belong and where you can feel cared for. “New York City is such a transitory place. It’s a place most people move her into their worlds, and she found to, so are super removed from their safe spaces in group meditations, sober support network. So it's crucial, even dance parties, dinners – anywhere just for the nervous system, to feel that conversations were calm. And to be able to say, ‘I facilitated and the dropping have people here, or if I'm in Poor social of defenses to connect danger, if I need support, relationships have actively encouraged. they're here.’ And that been blamed for a “That totally changed takes time and dedication 29% increase in risk of my perception of what and consistently reaching coronary heart disease was possible in friendship out to people, and being and a 32% rise in the and how vulnerable I could vulnerable, because risk of stroke. be. I didn't realize that most someone could say no.” of my life I hadn't been sharing, The events in any given week because I just didn't have the selfcould involve meditation, dark dance awareness to know.” parties, intimacy workshops, beach Why had it taken so long? And why games, and garden parties. “Every

“There’s the feeling that everyone is busy. Everyone has plans except for me. Everyone has friends except for me. So we never reach out. But … most people are deeply lonely. And there's so much shame surrounding it.”





event in the newsletter has a facilitated moment of connection,” she explains. “Meaning that the person who's the organizer is going to give people permission to talk to each In a study other. It could be as simple of Americans as, ‘Hey, we're going to aged 19 to 32, the top watch this movie, and 25% of social media we're going to have a users were twice as likely group conversation about to report feeling lonely it.’ Or, ‘We're going to as those using it have a yoga class. And then least. we're going to talk about how we felt in our bodies. And we're going to turn to a partner, and share our experience.’ Because it's so easy to just go to a movie, go to an art gallery, go to a class and experience that thing, and then leave. We all have social anxiety. I have this voice in my head. It's like, ‘Oh, people don't want to talk to me. They're here for the gallery. They're not here to talk to people.’ When, really, everyone is there to talk to people. Everyone.” And let’s not even get started on dating … OK, let’s. “I've had so many people say to me, ‘Jillian, you should do an event for singles.’ And sometimes I do. But I want to make a point that our culture is so obsessed with romantic love. It doesn't put enough of an emphasis on platonic relationships. “But also, I feel the best places to actually meet people are the places where it's not a dating event. For instance, I showed up at this monthly meditation club. Everyone was just ridiculously gorgeous. And I tell my friends, ‘If you want to meet cool, single people who are into mindfulness, this would be way better than a conscious singles event.'” Last month, her book, Unlonely Planet, was published. “It's about how to create spaces of belonging outside of organized Loneliness shortens a religion. Because there person's life by 15 years. is a correlation between attendance in organized religion going down and loneliness in America going up. I argue in the book that, really, it's all of our individual responsibility to create what I call a healthy congregation. Meaning a friend group that is so rich and so deep that it feels like this is your church; these are your people. And there's no one thing


Opposite: Finding that can solve that for us. It's up to us your people takes to create it.” time and consistency How do we do that? and vulnerability. Are “Just investing in friendships, and you ready? making them consistent,” she says. “And practicing being vulnerable in conversation, where you're present, the other person is present, and you're really authentically sharing with each other. And that takes skill.” Also, be a better listener. And find a source of platonic touch. “I’m trying to destigmatize that,” says Jillian. “We need touch. And for me, as a single person who doesn't have a partner, I like to organize cuddle puddles, to get me and my friends together and just massage and hold and Generation Zers aged laugh and talk. It's not 18 to 22 and Millennials sexual. It's just what we aged 23 to 37 score the need as human beings. highest for loneliness. “Some people say, ‘That's weird,’ or ‘That’s sad. Can't she get someone else to do that?’ No, it's not sad. There's this idea that we need one person to fulfill everything for us, and that's just not possible.


“Another – and this is probably an unexpectedly deep one – is looking at the trauma in your life. Everyone in their lives has some form of trauma. It could be really minor, or it could be really big. And when that's not Her number one hope, she says, resolved, when that's not looked is that people reading the at, it prevents us from deeply book will feel less shame connecting to other people. about being lonely, and We don't understand realize how common it 47% of Americans report ourselves. really is. often feeling alone or left “I've had an eating Second, she wants to out. disorder. I've engaged encourage people to be in really self-harming gatherers. “There's a lot of behavior. I've put myself in fear around inviting people romantic relationships where to things, around bringing I wasn't treated well, because people together. So I have some I had all of this stuff that I wasn't really simple ways you can get out looking at. It took me getting into of your comfort zone and meet new therapy, and going to group healing people. spaces and women's circles, that I “And – I save this chapter for last – started to understand why I felt like I you can step into leadership yourself. didn't deserve love. You can create the kind of spaces that “So that's a deep one. And it's one you want to see, because that's what that people don't want to hear. It's the world needs.” like, ‘Oh, yeah, I'm just afraid to ask Don’t be shy, people. You’re not people to hang out with me.’ OK, well, alone. why don’t you think you deserve deep joylist.nyc connection? Let's look at that.’” thatjillian.com

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FRIENDLY AF Below: Josh starts the sleep out early.



How do you find joy in this often harsh city? Carla Duval makes this her year of happiness, one photo at a time


s much as we all love living in “the City So Nice, They Named It Twice,” it’s no secret that this place can get even the toughest of the tough down at times. Though I’ve lived in this concrete jungle for five years, I still feel as though I’m constantly buffeted by mood swings as drastic as our weather



Above: A meal lovingly prepared by the BF brings more joy than a fancy dinner. Left: Friends are EVERYTHING!

patterns. When I’m publicly sobbing on the A train, it’s hard to keep in mind the times I’ve spent with my NYC friends hanging by a fountain on a hot summer day, or making homemade holiday jam, or analyzing horoscope charts over a tall glass of pinot. I’ve tried practicing gratitude by listing all I’m grateful for as I lie in bed, but as soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m scrambling for those six


hours of shut-eye, gratitude be damned. I need something more tangible, not only to express my gratitude, but to remember it. That’s when a roommate told me about the #100happydays challenge, where you take a picture of something that makes you happy for 100 days. Simple, right? Being the go-getter I am, I wanted to make my own version of the challenge. Could I prove to myself that I have something new to feel grateful for every day for a year? I decided not to post my joy-capturing journey on social media. This was a project for the development of my personal outlook on life, and I wanted to hold myself accountable without input from others. And so far, so good. About two months in, here’s what I’ve learned so far:


My NYC fam always makes my day Whether it’s my work friends, my tequila friends, my boyfriend, my

kickboxing crew, or my volunteer buddies, my family away from my family is all the motivation I need to get through the dayto-day drudgery. And while it’s sometimes hard when we all live an hour’s subway ride apart from each other (on a good MTA day), this also means that whenever I have a mundane errand to run, like purchasing a vacuum in Chelsea during those sweet summer sales, I always have a friend to call on to grab a cup of coffee and make the task of dragging a vacuum uptown worth the trip.

Above: Workmates, a fur baby ... it really is the little things that make you smile.

“Even in the suckiest of suckdom, you can still appreciate the sweet relief of taking your bra/ shoes/whathave-you off at the end of it.”

Small comforts bring more joy than extravagances This lesson surprised me, but I’ve noticed that the little moments of connection make me gladder for longer than the big gestures. I’ve taken way more photos of meals that my boyfriend sweetly made for me than I have of the times I’ve gone out and eaten something decadent. Getting a friendly sticky note from a colleague makes me smile for the rest of the workday, more than the bagel Fridays. Writing quietly in the same small space as a roommate, without needing to fill the silence, makes me feel more at home than a new ottoman (even if it totally ties the room together).


Nature is key I’m not the first person who has said this, and I certainly won’t be the last, but being around nature – whether it’s strolling through a park, watching a sunset, or tending to the plant babies in my apartment – is a huge mood booster. I feel so serene walking in unexplored areas of Riverside Park or seeing a little leaf sprout up from my Alocasia. When living in such a gray city, it helps to make space for a little green.


It’s OK if the best part of the day is the last part Some days just suck, and there’s very little you can do about it. But even in the suckiest of suckdom, you can still appreciate the sweet relief of taking your bra/shoes/what-have-you off at the end of it.


Recognizing my joy has led me to more joy When I realize that I have not yet taken a photo on a given day, I’m prompted to indulge in some self-care, like exploring the neighborhood, giving myself a foot rub, or running through a fire-hydrant sprinkler. My hope is that after a year of this project, the 365 days of putting effort into cultivating and recognizing joy and gratitude will be a solid habit I’ll carry with me for years to come. I’ll seek out joy for my own mind’s lens, and not the lens of my camera phone.









We call them our friends but, really, they’re family. Jamie Valentino introduces his tribe of New York “orphans”

very night in New York there are groups of friends going out, meeting for a drink or dinner, discussing work, lamenting failed relationships or crappy one-night-stands, maybe planning for the next holiday. Due to the limitations of the English language, they refer to each other as friends, but they treat one another like family. Our culture caught up, and the Urban Dictionary defined these groups as “chosen family,” the term originating within the LGBTQ community. What other choice did the 39% of LGBTQ adults, who reported experiencing rejection from their families, have but to create new ones? Even in 2019, 40% of homeless youth are queer. Not everyone is fortunate enough to find a support group beyond relatives. Familial rejection reaches beyond the gays, and the fears it feeds on are as inclusive as the chosen families created as a result of ignorance. When young women from religious families are shunned for having abortions, or kids who don’t fit the predetermined plans of their parents are rejected, the knowledge that it’s possible to replace these connections can save lives – though one doesn't need to lack family to find value in someone who volunteers to listen to you whine.

With his family split between Houston and China, Charles Reager found a way to make work feel like home. The owner of Rockstar Wigs, he formed kinships within the city’s creative and fashion community. “Coming from a business environment where selling fantasy is my main commodity, I always found myself attracted to creatives who live on the fringes of society, be it drag, art, or design. They relate to my struggles of

Opposite: Wig maker Charles Reager (with RuPaul's Drag Race star Monet X Change). Above: Tijana Ibrahimovic.

not fitting in, and we embrace each other for all our eccentricities. I thrive and feel more at home in their presence than I do with my own family.” The city’s celebration of diversity has empowered every New Yorker’s ability to relate to one another without looking like each other. After all, New York is one of the first cities where trans women of color were heard. Locals understand that not every housekeeper looks like Family Guy’s Consuela. Most know that it’s possible to appear white and have a parent of color. The culture of inclusiveness makes it easier to consider a motley group of people like family because that is what the “traditional” families living here look like. New Yorkers are often single at an older age, some choosing not to marry at all. The ones that do wed, more often than not, decide not to have kids, whether it be to prioritize work or to enjoy the freedom. Some just opt for a nicer apartment. None of this is unique to the Big Apple, but it’s one of the few places where a traditional lifestyle is undefined by our milieu. Diversity is not only encouraged, it thrives. Manhattan is undeniably a cultural amalgamation; people travel across lakes and oceans, sacrificing closure with relatives, to live here. Strangers inevitably meet, and the rest happens on its own.

Aug 16, Sept 27, Oct 25 DIGITAL EDITION


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“Having a chosen family was an absolute necessity for an immigrant like myself,” says Serbian media personality Tijana Ibrahimovic. “As much as my parents always wanted to be there for me and understand what I go through, it was not always possible since I’m miles away in a completely different cultural surrounding.” Like many migrants, with her family thousands of miles away, close friendships make situations that require filling an emergency contact less awkward. It makes the holidays less lonely. “I’ve been lucky to have friends who became my family and have cried with me, celebrated with me, and provided security and strength for me to overcome all obstacles. They simply knew when I

needed to feel their love, and that’s what family does.” This special love transcends friendship and family, capable of meeting even the needs unfulfilled from a lackadaisical romantic life. A survey by online listing service Apartment List reported only 27% of singles said they were happy with the dating scene in New York. The insistence that there are so many fish in the sea has left most New Yorkers searching for the shark that doesn’t exist. Friends often end up filling emotional space left from no one bringing us flowers. Not helping the problem is the surplus of women. Men find trouble settling because of all the options, and there are simply not enough dudes to put a ring on every lady. Shows like Sex and the City and Friends weren’t too far off with their emphasis on friendship and the likelihood of still “dating” in your 30s and 40s. Since friends can literally end up

Above: Ali Modica.

being the only ones willing to sacrifice a Friday night out to save your life, it was applauded when Bill de Blasio legitimized this reality in March of 2018 with the Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law. It allowed New Yorkers to use their sick days to take care of someone who is like family but not necessarily a blood relation. Workers didn’t receive extra sick days but an additional way to use the ones they currently have. Wellness expert Ali Modica, an executive community liaison at Gilead Sciences, believes creating a chosen family is as much a health necessity as a social one. “When considering ‘chosen family,’ I believe that choosing individuals that share our interests, values, and vibrations is an act of wellness and kindness for ourselves. The bonds we form with those who we connect with based on these factors enrich our lives at such a deep level and enhance our health and wellbeing.” I find comfort in the man working the deli that serves my coffee and bagel every morning. The bartenders who always know when I had a stressful day. My doorman. My wax lady. My trainer. The community that has shown me the importance of being surrounded by people (yes, even the ones that cost money) who not only recognize my existence but will notice my absence. I’ve found family in all the sources who gave insight for this article, their only commonality being their unconditional support. Ali, who I met at a NYFW party at the ex-Playboy Club mansion. Tijana, the founder of the website I write for, POP Style TV. Charles, who I met through mutual friends, at one of our local Hell’s Kitchen gay bars. It comes as no surprise that, as long as the subway is running on time, and it’s not raining, New Yorkers are friendly AF.


Jamie Valentino is a Colombian-born writer based in New York City. His work has been featured in POP Style TV, Google Art & Culture, VULKAN, the Queer Review, STATOREC, and more. Additionally, Jamie plans engagement proposals nationwide for Shark Tank’s Paparazzi Proposals, despite accomplishing to remain single himself. IG: @jamie_valentino








RECIPE What happens when a family – where cooking is in the blood – puts their skills (and their relationship) to the ultimate test? Vanessa Etienne finds out


undreds of flyers went out that read: “Ayesha Curry’s looking for America’s next food family!” The entreaty – to compete in ABC’s new series Family Food Fight – was eventually passed along by a friend to Johnny and Enrico Livanos. The brothers, owners of Ousia, a Mediterranean restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, didn’t like the sound of being on TV with cameras glued to their faces. And the possibility of screwing up and getting eliminated early on just seemed embarrassing. But, despite their reservations, they decided to audition. Without much information and few expectations, they brought four other family members to the studios. “Even our two little cousins came to watch,” says Johnny. “We just tried to make a fun day out of it. And then, within 20 minutes of leaving, they called us back for the next audition.” The Livanos family dynamic is what impressed the producers and ultimately

landed them a spot in the competition, narrowing down from six family members to just three: Johnny, Enrico, and their mother, Lorena. Describing it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, they went for the chance to win $100,000. They have a special bond, they say, that results in a natural ease in the kitchen. All it takes is a facial expression and they know what each other is thinking (while Enrico says their mom’s fiery personality brings an element of passion to everything they do). “Gathering around, eating together, cooking together, is just in our DNA, it’s who we are,” he says. “Ultimately, we just wanted to have a new experience. There’s no growth without a little challenge, and we’re never going to have another opportunity like that again.” Despite the pressures of the competition – and under the scrutiny of the camera – they tried to maintain the same kind of energy they’re used to in the family kitchen. “When we’re

Opposite: Johnny, Enrico, and their mother Lorena create a little burger magic.

cooking together it’s not just about food,” says Johnny, “it’s about spending time together. So we usually have some wine, put the music on, and just have a little fun.” Being their “normal goofy selves” also meant they found themselves singing during some of the challenges to compensate for a lack of music. “Pass me the breadcrumbs, gonna make a meatball,” the boys would sing, creating little improv melodies to stay calm. This “party mentality” is what they grew up with, gathering around the kitchen island making Sicilian cookies, cracking jokes, and singing together. “Some people whistle while they work, and we just like to sing and rap while we work,” says Johnny. In one particular episode, they were given 45 minutes to create a burger, fries, and milkshake from scratch. And, although they’d gone into the competition planning to stick to what they know, Johnny and Enrico had a new idea … but Lorena wasn’t so sure. “When they made the milkshake and infused the milk with cereal … I can’t believe they thought of that! That was a high for me, to see the boys pull through and create a beautiful masterpiece,” she says. “The whole experience was really a mom’s dream come true, because when am I going to do this again with my adult sons?” And while Lorena, Johnny, and Enrico were filming, the rest of the family came together to run the restaurant, cheering them on from home. Their advice for other families who want to start cooking together? “Go for it,” says Enrico. “Figure out what gets you excited to eat and go through the steps of it together and watch what comes alive.” And, most important? “Have fun.”

Family Food Fight is on Thursday nights at 9|8c on ABC (abc.go.com)

Aug 16, Sept 27, Oct 25 DIGITAL EDITION






Welcome to

SMALLTOWN, NY From the butcher who knows how you like your meat, to the liquor store that stocks up on your favorite wine, New Yorkers are friendly AF, says Michael Muñoz


ew Yorkers get a bad rap for being rude, pushy, loud – and then some. But the reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Take it from a Brooklyn-born, Times Square-living New Yorker! You are probably living in the friendliest city in the world. I often think of New York like the town Seahaven, from the movie The Truman Show. Everything is picture perfect, all the houses are in a row, all the dogs are well groomed, the neighbors all say good morning. New York is just like that – but on a grander scale. Live here long enough, and even the local homeless person will start to say good morning. I have my local grocery store, Big Apple Meat Market (9th Ave - 39th/40th St), where all the cashiers know me. The butcher knows what cuts of meat I like, and they’ve even stocked the shelves with some new items I requested. Friendly? They definitely get a 10 out of 10 (and they have the best rotisserie chicken in the city). At my liquor store, Manhattan Plaza

Winery (9th Ave - 42nd/43rd St), the guys also know me a little too well. They know what I drink, have kept some wine in stock that I love … and they deliver! Say what?! Friendly for sure! Hint: there also do wine tastings. What’s better than free wine and friendly people? From the baristas at St Kilda (W44th St - 8th/9th Ave) or Frisson (W47th St 8th/9th Ave), to Jay who runs/owns the cleaner (9th Ave - 43rd/44th St), to waiters throughout the neighborhood – even the bouncers at the bars – these 25 blocks are my own little Seahaven. But what if you’re visiting or have just moved here? How do you fearlessly navigate the vast unknown? Want to meet new people? Why not take a walk over to Rudy’s (9th Ave 44th/45th St), have a pint, a free hot dog, and great conversation with locals and foreigners. Whether you’re with family, moved here to get away from family, or if, like me, your family is here, the great thing about this city is that you can get absorbed into each neighborhood almost as part of a larger family. My favorite part of living here is that

“From the baristas at St Kilda or Frisson, to Jay who runs/owns the cleaner – even the bouncers at the bars – these 25 blocks are my own little Seahaven.”


Left: Say what? A beer with a free hot dog at Rudy’s? The conversation is an added bonus.



A home-trained cook and university trained performer, Michael makes food fun and accessible through his blog,

The Kitchen Gaily. And things get downright saucy in his podcast In Yo

Mouth, with longtime friend, Marie Cecile Anderson.

I can sit outside on a beautiful summer day having a massive margarita at Arriba Arriba (9th Ave - 51st St) and see so many people I’ve come to know from my time living here. Or, better yet, I can stand outside and keep Gio, the bouncer at Hardware (10th Ave - 47th/48th St), company and end up meeting new people who are out to have a good time. I often equate living here to being in one of the craziest relationships you’ve ever been in. You ultimately love it, sometimes it annoys you, you get really angry at it, but more often than not you are reminded why you love it. Summer is also the perfect time to get the best out of the city.. I mean, it’s no Amalfi Coast, but if you can move past the sweltering heat and the smell of garbage, you can really enjoy what this city has to offer. From Summer Streets (on the first three Saturdays of August) to street festivals, free concerts, free movies in the park, dancing at Lincoln Center, and so much more, there’s a never-ending cavalcade of things to do, people to meet, and a city to fall in love with. After all my years living here, I’ve learned that you get what you give. If you arrive with open arms, it will love you back. If you come with some negative, preconceived notion about New York, it will swallow you up and spit you out. It’s just like being in a relationship. You are a living, breathing, active part of the family. So if you’re new to my neighborhood, or just find yourself passing through and feel a bit lonely, stop in and say hello to my neighbors. They’ll be happy to welcome you.


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A blogger’s


Playlist ViVi Bubble Tea

9th Ave - 43rd/44th St Confession: I tried bubble tea later in life, and am now fully addicted. ViVi is not only delicious and close by, but they have a huge selection of teas. Most importantly, I don’t drink milk, and they have dairy-free options, which keep me coming back.


W43rd St - 9th/10th Ave My fiancé and I love coming to Bea for date night, or any time guests are in town. The atmosphere has an upbeat, nostalgic appeal, and the food is delicious. With black and white movies projected on the brick walls, to the fairy lights in the trees outside, to the full bar, it’s one of our favorite dinner spots.

Mama Mia

9th Ave - 44th St The very first restaurant that my fiancé and I ate at when we moved to NYC from California. The staff are warm and friendly, there is never a wait, and their pastas and sangria are affordable and to-die-for.

Pier 84 dog run

12th Ave - 44th St I have two little rescue dogs (Marcel and Lola) that are used to California living. I was so excited when I discovered this enclosed dog park in our neighborhood. It’s always perfectly windy as it’s located on the water, and incredibly scenic with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in the background.


W42nd St - 9th/10th Ave This gourmet marketplace has become my go-to lately. I love fresh produce (which can be hard to find in NYC) and their prices are reasonable. I recently decided to go gluten-free leading up to my wedding, and am always discovering new healthy snacks and treats.




I And Love And You - The Avett Brothers Dreams - The Cranberries Dancin’ On My Own - Robyn Empire Of The Sun - Alive (Zedd Remix) Otis feat. Otis Redding - Jay-Z & Kanye West Jordan Landes-Brenman is a public relations pro-turned fashion/beauty blogger, who has worked with brands like Chanel, Dove, and Google. She lives in Hell’s Kitchen with professional photographer (and soon to be husband), Scott White (hautehouseflower.com)


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A Frenchman’s

Daylist 10am

Pier 84, 12th Ave - 44th St If I had time to start every day with a walk on Pier 84, I definitely would. Not only does the pier offer great views of the Intrepid, Manhattan skyline, and New Jersey, it also has an enclosed dog park and plenty of green space to lay on.


Tim Ho Wan, 9th Ave - 43rd/44th St Having lived in Hong Kong for two years before moving to the US in 2016, I find Tim Ho Wan to be very authentic. Like in Hong Kong, you have to order your dim sums by ticking what you want on a menu sheet. My favorite dishes include the baked BBQ pork buns and the pan-fried chicken dumplings. Just so good!


November 19, 49th St - 9th/10th Ave I like to refer to November 19 as the cutest store on the block. I personally love independently owned concept stores that offer a selection of well-curated products. If you’re looking for a gift to give or to get for yourself, make sure to stop by this little gem. From French scented candles, to unique home decor and fashion articles, you will find something awesome!


Hudson Market Place, 51st St - 9th Ave Their ‘2 dozen roses for $10’ deal is probably the reason why I love this place so much. They don’t always have this great offer, but when they do, I always make sure to stop by and get a bouquet of roses for my living room.


V{iv} Thai NYC, 9th Ave - 48th/49th St No questions asked, V{iv} is my all-time favorite place to have drinks and dinner. First, I love the decor: especially the huge dragon hanging from the front to the back of the venue. They have a great happy hour (generously poured cocktails for $6) and the Thai food is to die for. As far as the service is concerned, it’s attentive and friendly, which makes V{iv} my favorite restaurant in the neighborhood, and one of my favorites in New York. During the week, Francois-Yves Auger-Takada works as a trade advisor helping French lifestyle companies develop business activities in the US. After work and on the weekends, he likes to explore the neighborhood and the city, and spend time creating content for the two Instagram accounts he manages: @hello_francois and @hellskitchen_newyork. “Living in the Big Apple has always been a dream of mine, and being able to live it with my husband Ken and our two fur babies is a true blessing.”



You can sip


Where does “the dumbest person you’ll ever meet” wine down after eight shows a week in Mean Girls? Kate Rockwell gets adventurous 40



have the best job in the world. Living in Karen Smith’s skin eight times a week in Mean Girls brings me so much joy and, frankly, that’s all I’ve ever needed out of my job. But dancing in stilettos for three hours every night deserves a reward and, for me, there’s no better one than a really good glass of wine. After getting my WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) degree a few years ago, my tastes have changed a bit and “whatever’s open” just doesn’t do it for me anymore. So I go looking for something REALLY good … but there’s no way I’m trekking down to the East Village after doing my show every night. Now, Midtown isn’t exactly famous for its wine scene (read: don’t have high expectations of the wine list at the Times Square Olive Garden). But for people like me who have basically tried EVERYTHING on “campus,” there are some real gems that deserve two thumbs up for their wine game, and they’re probably where you’ll find me once our show gets out (I’m the one drinking beaujolais with neon blue eyeliner still on).



W52nd St - 10th/11th Ave I like to call this my nightclub of wine bars because, in my experience, you just never know where the night is going to lead – from an impromptu dance party, to the bartender’s passionate singalong performance of ‘Roxanne’ from Moulin Rouge. Every time I go to Ardesia, I have a way more exciting night than I anticipated. And the wine list is full of safe but non-boring choices: nothing too funky but nothing too Sideways. There are a few skin-contact whites and some really cool Hungarian choices, if you want to go risqué. The food is small bites for the most part, but I highly recommend the pretzels (just a helpful FYI, that mustard sauce is NO JOKE – go light unless you want your sinuses cleaned out). This is also open late (hence Moulin Rouge), so it’s a great choice once the rest of Hell’s Kitchen starts closing down. Wine of choice: Austrian Zweigelt/ Blaufrankisch blend (a light and fruity red).

OUT Casellula

W52nd St - 9th/10th Ave My #1 go-to for a great glass of wine, a great bite to eat, and great atmosphere. This is our girls’ night spot, our “outof-town family who wants to catch up” spot, and our casual date night spot. The by-the-glass list is awesome, but if you have a couple of people who are willing to share, the bottle list is where it’s at. If you’re getting a glass, you can totally trust the staff to recommend something fun. I personally suggest the Sancerre rouge. And if you’re going to have a glass or two (or three), you should DEFINITELY get the pig’s ass sandwich (I actually love it in its gluten-free quesadilla version). And do NOT miss the truffles that change periodically. I also love to get the cheese plate that the staff creates based on what’s in the kitchen – I’ve never been disappointed (although, truth be told, it’s really hard to disappoint me with wine and cheese). I also love that they stay open past midnight, so you can really sit and enjoy your nightcap without feeling like you’re keeping the staff there way past their bedtime. Wine of choice: Hungarian Royal Tokaji “The Oddity” Furmint (think crisp white with a slightly richer body).


9th Ave - 55th/56th St Hands down the best place for an adventurous drinker. The wine list is a little more like a “suggestion” list, because the best way to get a good glass is just to ask your bartender what he or she loves today. The inventory is constantly changing as new and exciting stuff that has barely touched ground in NYC comes in, and I trust their palates implicitly. Their taste runs a little more avant guard than your run-of-the-mill Sauvy B, so if you’re overwhelmed by the number of wines you’ve never heard of, don’t fret and ask for help. I’ve never had a bad glass of wine there. And, to top it off, the food is awesome. The duck fat fries are not to be missed, and if you get there before the mushroom tacos run out, I’m incredibly jealous (because they ALWAYS run out


by the time I get there). They’re not open super late, and seating is limited, but you must give this place a try if you’re up for some exciting vino. Wine of choice: Australian Yetti & the Kokonut Gertz and Grenache rose (it’s weird but so good).


About KATE

Kate Rockwell originated the role of Karen Smith in Broadway’s Mean Girls. Her previous Broadway roles include Sherrie in Rock of Ages, originating the role of Skylar in Bring It On: The Musical, and Margot in Legally Blonde. She released her first studio album, Back To My Roots, in 2018. She earned her advanced WSET degree in wine and spirits in 2016. Follow her on instagram, @KateRockwell NYC, or at her wine-centric account @BroadwayWino

W51st St - 7th/8th Ave We at Mean Girls were so happy when this place opened up just a block from our theater. Unlike some of my other faves, this place can accommodate a larger group, so it’s great to take family to, or for a larger cast party. This is a wine and beer-only kind of place, with very limited cheese-type bites, but the list is solid and there’s something for everyone on there. Insider tip: they carry wine by Southold Farm and Cellars, this super cool winery that just relocated from Long Island to Texas (yes, Texas wine!) that I absolutely adore. I also just love the low-key vibe, and the location can’t be beat (especially if you’re in Wicked – it’s literally next door). Wine of choice: Southold Farm and Cellar Chardonnay blend (it’s real rich and a little funky).

Aldo Sohm

W51st St - 6th/7th Ave Want to feel SUPER bougie (that’s an official word now, right?) and spend probably too much money on a glass of wine but REALLY enjoy it? This is your place. I’m not usually a fancy wine bar person, but I do love the 9pm Pour program, where they open a different magnum (read: double-size bottle) and pour glasses from that until it runs out. Magnums are much more rare and the wine ages differently in them, so they’re pretty exciting to taste. I got to try some really fun rare wine this way and, since you only have to commit to paying for one glass rather than the whole magnum bottle, it’s a steal. An added bonus is you might even get to meet Aldo (2007’s “Best Sommelier in America”) if he happens to be in town – I’ve gotten to shake his hand twice when I’ve been there. Wine of choice: German Spätburgunder, Shelter Winery (it’s pinot noir with a fancy name).




SPACE Is the city’s newest public arts space yet another expensive, elitist tourist attraction? Or something much more thoughtful? Ryan Leeds asks the big questions


udson Yards, the towering new development at the southern tip of Hell’s Kitchen, has not arrived without dissent. The designer shops, the high end restaurants, and the $150 million Vessel have drawn ire from both local residents and architectural critics who have deemed it excessive and elitist. It’s only sensible, then, that there would be resistance and skepticism to The Shed, a new cultural arts space at the center of it all. The Shed’s artistic director, Alex Poots, is well aware of the daggers. “Perception is king, I suppose,” he says. “I understand how the public would link the two.” However, he’s quick to point out that the structure sits on city-owned land and is a not-for-profit organization. “With that in mind, our primary reason is to be as culturally and civically responsible as possible. I never would have come here had that not been the case.” Poots arrived at the Shed in 2014, at the behest of Mayor Bloomberg’s

deputy, Dan Doctoroff. At the time, the Scottish native was the artistic director for the Manchester International Festival, as well as part-time artistic director for the Park Avenue Armory. “Dan and his founding board members thought about looking for a leader,” Poots explains. “They approached me, but had not decided exactly what it would be. They wanted it to be on the cutting edge and unlike anything else, so that it complemented the cultural landscape in New York and didn’t compete with it. “They also wanted it to be as wide ranging as possible. I found those parameters galvanizing and started to explore ways to create a commissioning center for all art forms under one roof. It would really adapt to the needs of the art form. You just surround yourself with a lot of good people and attract really good artists. That’s a good start.” He enlisted the help of Tamara McCaw, an arts veteran who worked for 17 years at Brooklyn Academy of Music, and who now serves as chief civic program officer for The Shed. McCaw


OUT met W42ST at Cedric’s, a non-tipping public lounge on the building’s ground floor, to discuss the mission. “When we were thinking about community engagement, we wanted it to start right here at home,” she says, recalling an early conversation with a local tenant leader who told her: “This is really beautiful, but it cannot be one more thing that’s not for us.” In 2015, four years before the concrete structure existed, McCaw and Poots started to work with FlexNYC, a dance group that began in Hell’s Kitchen and raises social consciousness and educates students. Together, they partnered with title one public schools and NYC Housing Authority community centers. A year later, they created DIS OBEY, a literary program incorporating poetry and spoken word. “It gives young people the chance to express themselves about the things that really matter to them,” she says. Both programs now exist in all five boroughs, with 100 students working


“There is so much to be done and we want to invest more in the people of this city rather than on flights and accommodation for visiting artists.”

Opposite and below: FlexNYC uses a form of Jamaican street dance to help students explore social issues and self-expression.

in DIS OBEY and 600 in FlexNYC. “It’s been remarkable,” she says. “We don’t always get outside of our own neighborhoods, but with these resources, we’re able to unite kids from all the boroughs who may otherwise never have met each other. “At the heart of civic programs is the parity of the art. What happens in

communities is as important as what happens on these beautiful stages.” Poots echoes those sentiments. “The great advantage of moving here without a building was that we could get to know people and discuss things without being in full operation mode. We’ve already become friends with local communities. Ten percent of all tickets are $10. We distribute them to households of low income. We don’t make people queue up for them, nor give them the worst seats in the house. “There is so much to be done and we want to invest more in the people of this city rather than on flights and accommodation for visiting artists. I felt that it was important to start working with people here.” Within the first seven weeks of opening, statistics showed that 60% of visitors to The Shed were local. Poots sees those numbers as a positive reinforcement of the organization’s mission. “I couldn’t have engineered that but if you had asked me a year ago, that would have been the ideal.” There is great pressure to ensure The Shed’s $500 million endowment will be handled judiciously, but Poots and McCaw believe they are up to the challenge. “It’s a wonderful roller coaster ride,” McCaw says. “You don’t wanna mess this up. We’re trying to lay the best foundation we can for New Yorkers, for artists, and for those who come after us. I feel the weight, but it motivates me. In the same way that artists are experimenting, we have to be generous with ourselves too. That’s the spirit – and I think the audiences feel it too. We’re all shaping what this place will become.” theshed.org

Culture Shed, led by Dan

(who shortens the name

2005 Mayor Bloomberg

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with Rockwell Group, is

million capital campaign.

owned land on W30th

calling for a “unique



St - 10th/11th Ave, next to

and innovative place for

The High Line, for future

creative expression and

2011 The proposed

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April 5, 2019 The Shed 2014 Alex Poots is

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2013 A non profit is

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BROADWAYBFFS Meet the stars who are more than just backstage buddies … Elizabeth Durand Streisand finds the actors who are friendly AF Illustrations Chelsey Hill


ew York isn’t known for its friendliness – which is why finding your tribe in this city is such a special rite of passage. This chosen family helps you move to your fourth-story walk-up. They comfort you after a bad break-up. And, if you’re really lucky, they perform with you (or near you, at least). We caught up with three pairs of theater BFFs to hear about how their paths crossed, how their friendship has made life better, and why they love Taco Bell Cantina.

Brad Oscar (Broadway Bounty Hunter) and John Treacy Egan (most recently My Fair Lady)

“We would cut up at understudy rehearsal so badly that when we would have to go on together, we couldn’t make eye contact.”

Though their paths first crossed in 1993 when John went to see his friend, Christine Pedi, in Forbidden Broadway, both he and Brad attribute their first real encounter to the pre-Broadway tour of Jekyll and Hyde two years later. “We hit it off right away,” Oscar recalls. “He is one of the funniest people alive, and such a good man. I understood why everyone spoke so well of him, and you’re always ready to hate that guy! Once the tour ended, we’d go to the movies, have dinner, and then we started rehearsals



for Jekyll on Broadway and worked together for the next four years.” The pair went on to appear in both Jekyll and The Producers together. “We would cut up at understudy rehearsal so badly that when we would have to go on together, we couldn’t make eye contact. I replaced Brad as Franz Liebkind in The Producers and understudied him as Max Bialystock. What a treat to perform with your best bud. A simple look can communicate so much,” John says. Though they aren’t currently on stage together, the BFFs can often be found at Joe Allen’s (though they mourn the loss of the “house account” the restaurant recently discontinued).

Danny Miller and Kristen Oei (both in King Kong)

“Kristen and I met last summer at the first rehearsal of King Kong Alive on Broadway at the New 42 studios,” Danny recalls. “I knew from that first moment that Danny had a sweetness in his soul,” Kristen adds. “I was plucked from Down Under to reprise my role as the face of Kong, so I barely know the city, nor do I really know many people, aside from a handful of fellow puppeteers,” he continues.

OUT Tiffany Engen (Rock of Ages) and Brooke Engen (Beetlejuice)

“Seeing that Kristen is now on her fourth Broadway show, she has really been my guide to all things Broadway and NYC in general. We can barely walk a block without her saying hello to a former cast-member or a choreographer that she worked with.” Kristen says they spend more time together outside of work than backstage. Favorite activities include going to the movies, dropping by Haswell Greens to see a stellar cover band called the Savage Pianos, and dining at Taco Bell Cantina (where Danny reportedly scores Cinnabon Delights for free). “It’s refreshing to have such an open and honest relationship in an industry that tends to be competitive and even biting,” he says.

Above: Stick with Danny if you want to score free dessert!

Friends are the family you choose for yourself, unless the friend you choose happens to also be your family. Enter Tiffany and Brooke Engen, twin sisters who currently perform just a few blocks from each other. Tiffany, who is older by one minute, stars in the Rock of Ages revival at New World Stages, while her younger sister Brooke performs in Beetlejuice at the Winter Garden Theatre. “Our mom and dad put us in dance classes when we were three years old because we couldn’t stand still. We both loved it from the get go. We would make up dances together, put on skits and make up characters to play,” Tiffany says. “It was so fun because, between the two of us, we could be the writer, director, choreographer, and actor. We got to wear all the hats!” Brooke adds. Over the years, the pair found themselves going up for the same roles. “It feels normal to us because, for any job, you are auditioning with hundreds of girls (many of whom look like you),” Tiffany says. For her part, Brooke notes that they’ve never been competitive with each other – just with everyone else. “We just want one of us to get the job!” she says. “Fun fact: when Tiffany

left the Vegas company of Rock of Ages to play Lauren in Kinky Boots, I replaced her as Regina in Vegas.” The best thing about performing so close to each other now? Back-up supplies. “It’s nice to know that, if ever I needed something or forgot something, chances are she has it at her dressing station at her theater,” Tiffany says. In between shows they can be found at the (healthy) Juice Generation, or (the decidedly less healthy) Schmackary’s. Tiffany says: “There’s nothing a cookie can’t fix.”


Elizabeth Durand Streisand is the CEO and co-founder of Broadway Roulette, the fun and easy way to see Broadway shows. Pick a date and number of tickets, give some info about what you like (and don’t!), and spin the wheel for a surprise show matching your criteria. All tickets only $49 weekday or $59 weekends – and Broadway Roulette will never send you to the same show twice! Visit broadwayroulette.com / IG: @broadwayroulette





LIVING Living in a tiny studio above the Lincoln Tunnel, Raechel Lambert has learned life is less about Marie Kondo, more about priorities and the power of three


used to live in a 240 square foot studio. With a husband. Don’t worry, we’ve been married for 11 years and know how to get along. But if you can’t visualize how big 240 square feet is, it’s about the size of an air vent. That was in San Francisco. Now we live in a palatial 400 square foot studio in Hell’s Kitchen, perched right above the horn section of the Lincoln Tunnel entrance. What started as a necessity — we were broke with student loans — has become a lifestyle we love. We learned that, with a few changes, you can live a big life in a small space. We have less stuff to manage, and the $700 a month we’d otherwise spend on a bedroom has provided more freedom — both in time and money. Instead of space, we focus our resources on experiences like hanging out at coffee shops, seeing live shows, and taking trips to see friends. Sure, we could save that money by tightening up on groceries, coffee, and outings. But because those are much smaller expenses compared to rent, we’d have to make drastic changes to our daily behavior. Rent is the biggest expense, so it’s the biggest opportunity to save.

Prioritize the jobs of your space

To make a small space work, you have to recognize that it can’t do all the jobs you



Design • Decor • Organize Home • Business • Life


Juli Oliver Professional Organizer

organizeny.com juli@organizeny.com 315.559.4845 New York, NY Wearable Art at The Matasso Store

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Where There Is Balance, There Is Success.


LIVING might want. Trying to work, relax, cook, and entertain means you won’t be able to do any of it well. You have to pick what’s most important to you and optimize for that. We prioritized my home office, relaxing, and playing music. By day, our dining table becomes my workstation. In the evening, we arrange our modular couch to suit our mood. Guitars and keyboard are out and ready to play.

Outsource to the neighborhood Above: Go up! Store as much as you can off the floor to keep things looking uncluttered. Left: The dining table doubles as Rae’s home office, and music instruments are out, ready to play.

About RAE

Rae Lambert lives and works from her Hell’s Kitchen studio, which she shares with her partner, Ryan. She is the creator of Small Space, Big Taste — a blog that helps people live large with less — covering smart spending, simple recipes, and small space design. ssbt.co @smallspace bigtaste


For all other needs, we outsource to our neighborhood. Hello, Hell’s Kitchen! We steer clear of cooking elaborate meals that require obscure kitchen gadgets, and with only four forks, we can’t host big dinners. To feed a crowd, we treat them to tacos at Taqueria Diana (9th Ave - 39th St) or pasta at Tavola (9th Ave - 37th/38th St). Amy’s Bread (9th Ave - 46th/47th St) is there when we’re craving baked goodies. When I need a place to work while the husband is still sleeping, I head to Culture Espresso (38th & 8th/9th Ave). Four hundred square feet means sleepovers are out. Instead, we put guests up at The Pod Hotel (W42nd St - 9th Ave), which has tiny but thoughtfully designed rooms at a reasonable price. Does this all sound expensive? Would you believe hosting folks at The Pod for 15 nights of the year is $5,000 less than paying for a one-bedroom and having them crash on your pull-out? Or that hosting your birthday party at a bar for 15 people will run you about $800 but you won’t have to lift a finger? While hotels and bar tabs might seem expensive at first, they are much less than the additional cost of a one-bedroom. Better yet, they are completely optional and you can decide if and when to pay for them.

The rule of threes

De-cluttering is subjective and can get emotional. Are scissors even capable of sparking joy? To help decide what items to keep in a quantifiable way, I devised the rule of threes. For every item, I must be able to answer “yes” to one of the following questions: does it have three different functions? If it has only one function, does it get used three times a week? If it won’t get used often, will I



– Time Out

“New York Times Critics’ Pick”

The LOUNGE at 777 Theater 777 8th Ave, 2nd Floor (near 47th St)

A hidden library with over 15,000 books and craft cocktails served during the show



still want this in my life three years from now?

The rule of threes at my place

3 functions: I have an aluminum basket that acts as our recycling receptacle, grocery shopping bag, and mounts to my bicycle. 3/week: Single function items that get daily use like toothbrush, fork, and music instruments. 3+ years: For me, that’s my favorite serving dish, ice skates, and wedding photos. This is the rule that stops me buying clothes that won’t be in style next year.

My top tips for space saving

Get a wall bed. Assuming you don’t cook and sleep at the same time, investing in a wall bed is the biggest impact you can make to increase your useable space. We’ve quietly installed a wall bed in three apartments with no trouble. It’s a bit of an upfront investment, but it’s the key ingredient to thriving in our studio. Go up. Use the walls for storage and get everything you can up off the floor. Use your door to hang a shoe rack. Mount a

“We steer clear of cooking elaborate meals that require obscure kitchen gadgets, and with only four forks, we can’t host big dinners.” small trash can on the cabinets under your sinks. Install small, low shelves in your bathroom for the toilet brush and plunger to make the floors easier to keep clean. Break the rules. Let go of where things are “supposed” to go. In a studio, things go wherever they can fit. I knew a woman who never cooked but had a killer shoe collection, which she kept in the kitchen cabinets. We have a huge refrigerator so


Above: The modular seating is super flexible. Below: Now you see it, now you don’t - a wall bed is key to survival in a studio space.

we use it to store dry goods even though they don’t need to be kept cold. Make it delightful. There’s no getting around the fact that we all own some ugly stuff. Items like the step ladder, cleaning supplies, and electronic cords are functional necessities. Whatever you can’t hide out of sight, keep together in one area that you don’t spend much time looking at. My entryway isn’t winning any design awards. It houses my shoes, coat rack, and robot vacuum — but my main room is lovely. Whenever possible, invest in beautiful containers so that your functional items get integrated with your decor. Organize by activity. Keep frequent activity items together in containers that are easy to move around. That way, when you’re ready to start something, you have everything you need in one bin. For example, my “home office” which has things like my keyboard, mouse, and headphones, is stored in a wooden box. I set it up on the dining table when it’s time to work. Music stuff such as charts, microphone, and extra guitar strings are in a bin over the wall bed. Glam supplies — curling iron, red lipstick, and statement earrings — are in a box under the bathroom sink. Don’t get me wrong, studio living has its challenges. Both of us can’t take a call at the same time unless someone’s in the bathroom. But with some creativity, you can thrive in a small space. Maybe you think you could never live in a studio, but what if you got paid $8,000 a year to try? We love our lifestyle, and the money we’ve saved! So even though we’re no longer broke, we’re not upgrading to a bigger place.



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Changing the sheets

during dinner... And other adventures Matt D’Silva is happy to say goodbye to, now he no longer lives in a studio


hen we think of apartment living in New York, in particular studio living, we can’t help but think of the many TV shows that featured a grand space, beautifully designed, and large enough to host a sophisticated wine tasting party with all our intellectual friends. The reality is slightly different. Arriving in the Big Apple a number of years ago, I was determined to have my own New York experience. My husband, myself, and our cat found a small studio apartment in a Hell’s Kitchen walk up. It sounded so glamorous. Living in the theater district, in our own studio, with our kitty. The shine soon started to rub off. Living in 500 square feet with only a small divide separating the bed from the stove made it impossible to have a quiet moment when both of us were home, especially in the cold winter months. The novelty became a chore. Laying on the couch, I could lean over and reach the refrigerator. It became quite common to stir whatever was cooking while lounging in front of the television. Having people over for drinks or dinner was an impossible task. Of course, we tried numerous times. But inevitably someone would end up sitting on our bed, which was about five feet from the dining space. There was more than one occasion where wine or food was spilled on the bed, requiring a

Above: Living in a tight space requires a certain amount of creativity and a lot of patience.

“The closet next to the bathroom became a makeshift liquor cabinet and bar with wine fridge. Clothes above, liquor below.”


change of bedsheets mid-course. And when it came time to climb into bed, one of us had to get in first, as it was impossible to walk around. If I needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I had to wake my husband. Then I’d stumble into the dresser that always slightly blocked the doorway. We had to get dressed in the kitchen. When we first moved into the studio, there was a closet and bathroom at one end of the space. It seemed fairly reasonable and normal. But it wasn’t until a couple of days living there that we realized having the kitty litter box in the bathroom meant we always had to leave the door open. This created a lovely view of the toilet from the living room. We quickly installed a curtain to cover up that view. Being creative with limited space was something my husband became expert at. Summer and winter wardrobes were stored under the bed when no longer required. Racks were installed to support pots and pans above the stove. The nuisance dresser became a creative TV stand. The back of the front door became a coat and shoe rack. Traveling trunks became the coffee table. A discarded bar table and stools became our dining room table, which also doubled as extra seats to watch the TV if we had guests over. The closet next to the bathroom became a makeshift liquor cabinet and bar with wine fridge. Clothes above, liquor below. Looking back at studio living, it wasn’t a nightmare, just a creative way to live in a densely populated city.



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570 11th Ave, New York, NY 10036



neighbor! A broadcasting job offer blew Jesse Hamilton from the windy city to the west side … the bars here are just a bonus


Jesse Hamilton

Profession: Executive producer, NBC New York. Moving from: The chilling city of Chicago, although I’ll say the NYC spring wasn’t much warmer. To: W43rd St - 10th/11th Ave. Why: I was working as the morning executive producer at ABC 7 in Chicago and got an offer here at NBC 4. I couldn’t wait to make the move and also work dayside. It’s nice to not wake up when

Above: Happy to be working dayside instead of waking up when everyone else is going to bed.

people are usually going to bed. Why Hell’s Kitchen: I’ve had friends here in NYC for years and they live in Hell’s Kitchen and love it. It’s also close to my favorite bars like Hardware, Therapy, and Industry. My budget: I wanted to stick around $5k for my apartment and found a good deal, since I picked it up in October instead of the busy summer months. Along the way: A broker ended up helping me out by looking at about 10 places on the west side via FaceTime. As you can imagine, it’s hard to get a


good idea of what an apartment looks like on a small screen and what can fit in a space ... not to mention the many times the screen froze up as she was walking through a place to show me. We ended up getting lucky with the space we found. On the tick list: Storage, close enough to walk to work within 20 minutes, storage, two bedrooms, storage, two bathrooms, and a fun neighborhood. Did I mention storage? What sealed the deal: Once I knew I was close enough to great friends, good drinks (and had enough storage), I signed the contract. The best thing about living in Hell’s Kitchen: The diversity of the neighborhood, the wide variety of restaurants, and friendly neighbors.

VITAL STATS Where: W43rd St - 10th/11th Ave # stories: 14 # units: 280 Built: 2016 Amenities: Full-time doorman, gym, laundry in-unit, rooftop grills. Pet friendly: Yes


LIVING Friend charm

Show your loyalty to your most cherished relationship with this friend charm bangle from Alex and Ani. Pick a gold or silver expandable bracelet to keep your true friends a little bit closer. $32, alexandani.com

Near and

Pet love

Don’t forget about your most loving friend of all! This turquoise pet love canister stores all your furry friend’s tasty treats. And it comes in several other colors to choose from. $8.99, athome.com

DEAR There’s no doubt that our friends and family are priceless. But that doesn’t mean you can’t surprise them with something to show just why they’re so near and dear to your heart.


Have your own blox party! These clear acrylic mini blocks are the perfect way to arrange your photos at home or at the office. They come in sets of six, 12 of 18 to display all of your favorite memories. Now you just have to decide how to stack them! $60, myphoto.com



Pump props

This is for those who say everything looks better with heels. Prop your cellphone up on these ruby slippers. $13.95, delphiniumhome. com

Show stoppers

Regular corks are so boring compared to a beautiful birthstone wine bottle stopper. Preserve your wine in style with these handmade glass toppers designed by Jill Henrietta Davis. $24, uncommongoods. com

LIVING Midnight jasmine

This lush rainforest printed chair is filled with leopards, peacocks, and berry-covered branches. Designed by New York-based artist Emily Isabella, the dining chair is inspired by a vintage Italian classic that comes in blue and pink. $498, anthropologie.com

Pure silk

Age backwards with an anti-aging, anti-crease, anti-bed head pillowcase. This “Cali nights” design is one of 10 options to get an eight-hour beauty treatment every night. $85, shop.nordstrom.com

Building blocks

Customize the squares of this family blanket with names, birth years, and icons that represent hobbies or traits. It’s the perfect woven keepsake for your loved ones. $145, uncommongoods.com

Notes of cheer

When you’re away from some of your favorite people, show them you still care. This collection of 100 uplifting and encouraging notes can easily brighten up your family or friend’s day. $9.95, hallmark.com

Cozy Boots

Pop these cozy white boots in the microwave to help out your tired aching feet. They’re scented with lavender and made for a luxury evening of relaxation. Oh, and they’re vegan friendly! $26, prezzybox.com




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

We got through the heatwave. And we survived the blackout. (with the help of a light saber or two). It's the stickiest part of summer, so stay cool, friends. And if anyone's having a pool party, don't forget to invite us! Anyone can be featured on these pages. Just tag your images #W42ST and you could be the one whose photograph ends up in the next issue.







This page: Former collegiate athletes, finance suits, and lifelong friends Eric Posner, Chelsea Kocis, and John Henry McNierney – the faces behind Swerve.






Competitive much? You’ll want Sophia Strawser on your team

’m that level of competitive that loses friends playing charades, so the idea of adding competition into my workout class was a big “YAS PLEASE” for me. (Just as long as I promised not to bring any near and dear friends … please note what it means for our relationship if I invite you to a Swerve class with me). Swerve divides you into three teams: Red, Blue, and Green. This is completely random so most classes you’ll know no one on your team. But believe me, within five minutes you’ll feel so much like a team you’ll be wiring them money, volunteering to be their surrogate, and knocking out anyone who talks against them. I was on the Blue team (I’d have

preferred to be on a team that brings out my eyes but, alas, maybe next time). The class was like many other spin classes, with loud music, fun instructors, and dimmed lights. But the structure was different, based around competitive sprints and ride averages for each team. I love this because, although most spin classes focus on feeling like a team, Swerve literally makes you compete. It becomes less about competing against everyone else in the class and more about keeping up with the best on your team – which I find pushes the classmates even harder. Unfortunately Blue didn’t win. (In the first draft of this article, I’d written that we won but, what can I say, my integrity got the better of me). But don’t worry, I’m


not that sore of a loser … I only kicked over, like, four spin bikes. Following the 45-minute class, this particular ride was followed by a panel on being a female entrepreneur. We’d ordered smoothies beforehand, which were waiting for us post-class, so the panel was about 80% soaking in valuable lessons about being a businesswoman, and about 20% trying to get the last drops of my kale smoothie without making a slurping sound. The panelists – Laura Holden, Meahgan O’Grady, and the moderator, Chelsea Kocis – were about as good, if not better, than the smoothie. Their chemistry was perfect, each having slightly different experiences in the workforce, but all having common themes that women need to see, address, and know how to handle. For example, they all talked about being in a boardroom with a male coworker who is the same status but, for some reason, the man is always looked at to pitch or answer questions. These women spoke beautifully to that, and gave tips on how to feel confident while dominating the room. As women, we’re often taught to take up as little space as possible. Unlearning that mindset is hard, but these women were an amazing reminder that it’s time for strong women, both physically and mentally, to rise up and take leadership. So let’s be our size, if not greater, because boardrooms are big and meant to be filled (by women).

Eric Posner, Chelsea Kocis, and John Henry McNierney are three lifelong friends from Long Island. All former collegiate athletes who were working in finance, they found that taking clients to fitness classes created a much stronger bond than the traditional wining and dining could. They decided to recreate that camaraderie from their college days in a fitness class. “Our goal,” they say, “is to shift the focus of fitness from ‘me’ to ‘we’ by using the teambased workout to harness the motivation, community, and accountability that make for a better experience.” Swerve Fitness W46th St - 5th/6th Ave swervefitness. com






Mary Geneva thought she’d seen everything the shallow end of the Manhattan dating pool had to offer … until this dirty dude showed up

was recently having cocktails with my friend Nora and she told me about a guy she’d been on a few dates with. Let’s call him Jeff. Jeff’s Hinge messages were friendly enough and didn’t smell of any kind of weirdness. “You have some great pictures and seem interesting. I would like to learn more about you. Would you like to meet up for coffee?”




Mary Geneva is a sales professional by day and serial dater by night. In her book Nicknames, she tiptoes into the dating pool accumulating late-night, drunken scraps of paper and text messages outlining

Nora checked out his pictures. There was Jeff cycling through the woods, wine tasting, sailing, running on the beach with his dog, and all around enjoying life. Jeff sounded like someone she’d like to get to know offline so they decided to meet. Coffee. Sounds innocent enough. What did she have to lose? They hit it off on that coffee date and decided to go out a few more times. A few dates is a milestone, and. I gave Nora props for making it that far in the urban dating game. He must be a real catch, I thought. Nora and Jeff had three dates before she saw his place: an elevator building on the Upper East Side. Not too shabby, she banked in the back of her head as they entered the beautiful pre-war lobby and rode the elevator up to his sixthfloor apartment. Everything appeared to be totally normal until Jeff opened his apartment door. He was fully aware that Nora owned an organization company that specializes in hoarding and cleaning apartments, but he clearly didn’t think his place was bad. Just a little cluttered. Right … (insert yack emoji). The apartment was so filthy, Nora had to get stoned to even sit on his couch. There was dog hair that would cling to any piece of fabric it came into contact with, dust so thick you could slice a knife through it, and


dirty laundry EVERYWHERE – insideout boxers, jeans, dirty socks, you name it. But that was NOTHING compared to the kitchen, where Jeff had to remove filthy, month-old dishes from the overflowing sink to fill up a glass of water for her. Then she noticed the roach. Every New Yorker’s worst apartment nightmare. The creepy-crawly was hanging out on the kitchen counter and scurried between a crack in the wall when Jeff started moving the dishes around. Nora got panicky. Was it the pot making her feel paranoid? Was she having a nightmare and really just sleeping? Did his parents never tell him to clean up after himself? Or was she simply feeling flabbergasted that an “adult” in his 50s invited her into his apartment that was in need of a total chemical clean up by professionals wearing hazmat suits. Kind of like the movie ET, when the astronautlooking people invaded Eliot’s house and placed everyone on lock down. Needless to say, there was no fourth date in their future. What’s up with these “boys” not cleaning their apartments? I have a similar story, except my date had cat poop on his floor – which he graciously warned me about first. Long story short: boys, men, women, etc, clean up your shit before inviting a date to your home if you expect to be in a relationship. Cleanliness is good for you and good for your partner. You don’t want roaches to start clicking the Netflix channels for you.

unbelievable – yet totally true – events. Undaunted, she lives, works, and plays in New York City, and calls Hell’s Kitchen home, along with her rescued pets, pup Valentino and kitty Diva. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @marygeneva nyc, and at thatssomary. com. You can buy Nicknames at nicknamesnyc. com. And you can share your most bizarre dating story with Mary. Email mary genevanyc@ gmail.com.



PEOPLE... After Claudia Chung lost her lover, creating a chosen family was a lifeline, with some tough lessons along the way



ooking at my imaginary family table – the people I love most in this world – no one actually looks like me. They don’t share my bloodstream, my DNA, or my hair color. Come to think of it, most of them come from broken homes like mine, ones that were riddled with absentee papas, crazy mamas, alcoholics, abusers, lovewithholders, sunshine stealers, bullies, and manipulators. Of course, there are exceptions. Those who had it differently. And if you are one of them, good for you – you are very lucky. But the people I hang out with were raised by wolves and did the best they could. After my guy died, I lost my entire family in one fell swoop. You see, my family at the time only had two members – me and him. And it was enough for many, many years. An insulated private world that just belonged to us felt almost magical, certainly romantic. I was the luckiest girl in the world. I’d found a guy that could fill the shoes of father, best friend, lover, teacher, editor, and oftentimes even mother. I felt no desire to create relationships outside of this nucleus. So, when he dropped dead in our bedroom, I imploded.



Claudia Chung is a writer who moonlights as a school teacher. She is currently working on a book of essays and stories on the trials, tribulations, and the funny in being a young widow.

After coming out of a grief-stricken coma – which took time, support groups, spirituality, and cake – I started to build a chosen family that didn’t look like a romantic relationship. I started to make a group of friends that didn’t want to have sex with me, borrow money, or even a cup of sugar. They just wanted my time and love. The concept of a chosen family has many different meanings for different people. In practice, it can look like or be most anything. But, essentially, it’s a group of people you believe will treat you as an equal, who you might rely on in a crisis, and who you hope will stay close to you, even when you are starring in a shit show. Frankly, making up my chosen family wasn’t easy. After all, we’re dealing with other human beings who have opinions, emotions, and life baggage. And I did have my heart broken a few times in the process. These were hard lessons, but here’s what I learned:

Too much, too soon

NRE (New Relationship Energy or the honeymoon) is a phrase usually employed to describe the intense feelings at the start of a romantic relationship, but it


also serves to describe feelings at the start of any new intimate relationship. You are all in from the moment you meet, and there’s a 50-50 chance this person is either a psycho or your soulmate. I’ve hit both marks.

Too many WTF warnings

It’s that feeling when your stomach drops into your shoes and you can’t quite believe what you just heard – so you discount it. For instance, the person sends a message that makes you go: “WTF?!” Something a little bit tactless, jarring, or controlling that is out of your comfort zone but you don’t have a rudder to navigate it or respond to it.

Too scared to leave

You may have found yourself staying in a friendship that is not working anymore out of sheer fear. One sure way of identifying this is if you find yourself wondering what on earth your life would be like if this person wasn’t in it. If it seems unimaginable, it’s worth wondering why you have come to rely on this person for so much, even when they are making you unhappy.

Too much work

If you sense that your true self is disapproved of and you start to change, wonder about it. What exactly is it that you are needing to conceal from your chosen person? Are you actually avoiding the fact that, while they may be lovely, they may just not be the right person for you?

Too much silence

It’s definitely a red alert when I find myself saying little in a friendship, especially when it’s a hard topic. To me, not being able to discuss the difficulties in a friendship – or end it – means I am in trouble. There is so much public advice on romantic relationships: getting together, keeping together, and breaking up. We’re not encouraged to have much emotional literacy about our friendships. It’s about time we took ownership of our families, chosen or not.



Wagging Wells

Human’s name: Jennifer. Age: I’m a rescue, so it’s an estimate I’m about seven years old. Breed: Shih Tzu mix. What makes me bark: Other dogs and the apartment buzzer. Three words that describe me best: Spunky, funny, cute. Confession: I’ll do anything if you have treats! Instadog: @wells.kitchen


Pepsicoula Human’s name: John. Age: Four. Breed: Yorkshire terrier. What makes me bark: I love to bark when I don’t get attention, and I’m very protective of my daddy. Three words that describe me best: Smart, ballsy, loud. Confession: I sleep under the covers!


Lola Human’s name: Kay. Age: Four. Breed: Yorkie. What makes me bark: UPS, the mail person, and fireworks. Three words that describe me best: Loving, snuggly, playful. Confession: I love to hide socks.


tales Noel Human’s name: Deb. Age: Ten. Breed: Van. What makes me meow: When my HuMommy asks if I want to eat. Three words that describe me best: Loveable, smoochable angel. Confession: I’m running for first feline President 2020! Facecat: @noelfirstfeline – please vote for me

Jorgia Humans’ names: Paulo and Scott. Age: Five. Breed: Goldendoodle. What makes me bark: Since I’m a lady, I don’t bark. Three words that describe me best: I’m a lovable, affectionate, ultra-smart bitch! Instadog: @jorgianyc


These camera-happy cuties took a time out for a quick Q&A with W42ST

Dog day care


Be featured in Wagging Tales – and get a FREE week of dog day care at AKC Canine Retreat.* Your dog will experience a new level of care tailored to their individual needs and temperament. AKC Canine Retreat welcomes dogs of all backgrounds, shapes, and sizes, and offers a full range of services including day care, overnight care, grooming, training, walking, and jogging. Our professional staff are trained in the most up-to-date methods recognized by the American Kennel Club, and each location features a range of play and rest spaces. Come visit our locations at W72nd St, W42nd St, SKY, Chelsea, and Tribeca – we’ve got the West Side covered! Email the pictures of your dog to waggingtales@w42st.com with the answers to our questions, and one lucky dog will get a FREE week of care.* Your name: Pet’s name: How old? Breed: What makes your pet bark? Three words that describe them best: Naughty confession: Are you an Instadog? *Dog must pass interview to enter day care



“She’s my friend and she needed help. If I had to, I’d pee on any one of you!”

Joey Tribbiani, Friends


s urinating on someone to ease the pain of a jellyfish sting the ultimate act of friendship? We’ll let you decide. It’s been 25 years since Friends aired on NBC and demonstrated the value of friendship in each episode. But what’s changed since 1994?


Our friends are our chosen family and can be the source of some of the best life experiences. And although the Friends group is what many of us aspired to have, what we’ve ended up with is probably a lot better. These days, friend groups are likely to be more diverse, consisting


of different ages, races, sexualities, and identities. So, even though the last episode aired over a decade ago (and you might still be quoting your favorite episode), your chosen family is most likely a better representation of “friendship goals.” VANESSA ETIENNE


FEARLESSNESS SPOTTED AT 52ND & 10TH. new musical / SEP 18 thru OCT 27, 2019


book, music, and lyrics by ROSS GOLAN music supervision, vocal arrangements and orchestrations by ALEX LACAMOIRE choreography by TRAVIS WALL directed by THOMAS KAIL

new play / OCT 3 thru NOV 10, 2019



new play / FEB 6 thru MAR 15, 2020


new play / MAR 19 thru APR 26, 2020


new play / JUN 4 thru JUL 12, 2020


WARNING Our 2019/20 season may grab you and not let you go.


T I X AT M CCT H EAT ER .O RG / (64 6) 5 0 6 - 93 93 photo DA PING LUO

Hello Hudson Yards The Preferred Bank of Hudson Yards Š 2019 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC.

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