ISSUE 62 FEBRUARY 2020
ADULTS ONEXLY AND
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T HE ROBERT W. WIL S O N M CC T H EATER S PACE 51 1 W EST 52N D ST REET
6 thru MAR new play / FEB
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MCCT HEAT ER .ORG / (646) 5 0 6 - 93 93
THE TEAM THAT BROUGHT YOU W42ST
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DANE LACHIUSA KRISTEN JONGEN CLAUDIA CHUNG SOPHIA STRAWSER CID ROBERTS MICHAEL MUÑOZ ELIZABETH DURAND STREISAND SAMIA FAKIH CLAYTON HOWE NATE BOZEMAN ALEXANDRA CRUZ CRISTINA DOIKOS JAMIE VALENTINO A HAYES SARAH BROWN CARLOS RUIZ KRISTIN CAMPING MARY GENEVA All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used without written permission of the publisher ©2020. 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.
8 WEST SIDE STORY
A couple of clowns, and a story of love at first laugh.
23 FREEZING TIME
Why freezing her eggs has bought Cristina Doikos the luxury of time.
The power of words to hurt or heal.
Our pick of the big events you MUST see this February.
13 LETTER FROM THE ED When twins go into battle.
14 TOP AND BOTTOM
A domme and a sub tell their tales of sexual self-discovery ... and how the vanilla world could learn a thing or two from them.
18 CONFLICT CENTRAL
Learning how to resolve conflict from a Broadway fight master.
28 THE JOY OF SINGLEDOM
It’s not hard to date in New York City; it’s just such a great place to be single.
30 LOVE LETTER TO ME
It started with naked selfies for a lover, but became something much more.
32 EDUCATE YOURSELF
The unequal state of sex ed in this country – and how it’s slowly changing.
34 FLASH FORWARD
Fashion, #MeToo, and the future.
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66 LAST WORD
The rise, fall, and rise of Carrie Bradshaw.
38 IT’S COMPLICATED
You think your love life is nuts? Try on these Broadway couplings for size.
40 HOT OPERA
The artform is having a sexy moment, and Claudia Chung is smitten.
45 PIE ODYSSEY
Is this the best key lime pie in the country?
46 THE KITCHEN GAILY Michael Muñoz gets saucy!
An actor’s best of the neighborhood.
A day in the life of a Mean Girl.
55 HEY NEIGHBOR! COVER ARTIST
has been commissioned by companies
56 HOME COMFORTS
A renowned Alvaro’s work
A makeup artist at home in Hell’s Kitchen.
including L’Oreal, Armani, and Calvin Klein, and his art hangs in the private collections of
61 VIVE LE WORKOUT
How the City of Lights compares with the City that Never Sleeps.
62 BREAK UP DIARIES The anatomy of a split.
63 SOBER IN THE CITY
The old ways? They’re so 2019.
Campbell, and Mariah Carey. alvaroartz.com
64 WAGGING TALES
Two pages of Hell’s Kitchen’s most handsome pets.
JOIN US FEB 15–22!
AT THE INTREPID MUSEUM
Science, technology, engineering, arts, math and fun take center stage!
8 DAYS OF GREAT ACTIVITIES FOR CURIOUS KIDS OF ALL AGES AND INTERESTS.
WEST SIDE STORIES BIO
Kelly Anne Burns and Mike Smith Rivera are both professional actors who do theater, comedy, voice-overs, TV, and commercials to pay the bills. Together, they make up Burning Clown Productions. burningclown.tv Kelly and Mikeâ€™s HK UCB, W42nd St 11th Ave Ensemble Studio Theatre, W52nd St 10th/11th Ave PS Kitchen, W48th St - 7th/8th Ave Totto Ramen, W52nd St - 8th/9th Ave Landmark 57, W57th St - 12th Ave Hudson River Park, 12th Ave Treadwell Park, W42nd St 10th/11th Ave
WEST SIDE STORIES
VALENTINE They met, they had “insane chemistry,” they moved in together … this is how a couple of clowns do romance Interview Ruth Walker Photograph Cid Roberts We struck lucky Mike signed up for a housing list in a performer building in Hell’s Kitchen many, many years ago and we arrived to the top of the list pretty soon after we were married. It was a terrific wedding present. We’ve been here ever since. Why would we ever move? There’s no better place in NYC for centrality, convenience, fun, entertainment, and adventure. Also, our favorite theaters to perform at are so close (UCB Hell’s Kitchen for comedy, and Ensemble Studio Theatre for new plays), so we can walk to work. But the best thing about living here? Waking up in the heart of the greatest city in the world and stepping out into an international circus of locals and travelers. And we can work some pretty strange hours, so it’s a delight to be able to emerge at any hour of any day and be immersed in a neighborhood that’s alive and vibrant. And the worst? Time passes quickly here so sometimes cute or fun places disappear before you can catch your breath. Fortunately, something else pops up before long that you never could’ve imagined. When you know, you know … We met while doing a play down on the Lower East Side about a decade ago. We had insane chemistry. We moved in together after two weeks and were married about a year later. Mike: I remember she was all legs and kept sweeping her hair out of her face while
Opposite: Mike and Kelly apply the clown principles of rigid flexibility and buoyancy to make their relationship work.
doing a comedic monologue. She was adorable; a natural clown. Kelly: I didn’t like him the day I met him. I think I mistook his confidence for cockiness. In hindsight, I was probably reacting to my instant attraction to him. He was so handsome and super talented. By day two, I realized how incredibly funny and sweet he was, and I was a goner. Clown lessons we apply to “us” Rigid flexibility and buoyancy (two important clown principles) are big parts of what make us work well together. We’re on a team and obstacles are things we can overcome together. Also, being able to fall down or stumble and find humor in those situations instead of reacting harshly is a relief in this insane world. When it comes to date night … We like dinner/drinks at PS Kitchen or Totto Ramen, and then maybe a movie at Landmark 57. Or, if the weather’s nice, we love to picnic in the park by the Hudson River and watch the sunset. Honestly, as long as it involves food and laughter, that’s a pretty great recipe for romance. Our HK happy place There’s no place better than our terrace at home, but hitting Treadwell Park after performing in a great show at UCB is a swell victory lap. It’s a neighborhood bar that on any given night is filled with Broadway actors, theater performers, and comedians just getting out of their shows, so it’s always brimming with an electric celebratory vibe. They’ve got great, big benches, games, good drinks, a late-night menu, and free popcorn!
NEWS February 2020
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
smart, “too gay”, and too lonely to fit in. Her escape is into a world of rom coms, red carpets, and all the characters played by her muse, Natalie Portman. mcctheater.org
Inspired by the Oscar-nominated 1969 film, Scott Elliott directs The New Group in this bittersweet comic take on the sexual revolution. Opening night is February 4, at the Pershing Square Signature Center. thenewgroup.org
Girl From The North Country
Bob Dylan delivers the music and lyrics in this tale about travelers who pass through a guesthouse in America’s heartland. northcountryonbroadway.com
We’re Gonna Die
Second Stage’s non-musical/nonplay/non-concert that is not about dying, but rather a celebration of the things we do, say, and sing to keep ourselves going as we hurtle toward the finish line. 2st.com
Roundabout debuts its first new musical in a decade, in which a charismatic songwriter falls for a clever chorus girl. roundabouttheatre.org
Cambodian Rock Band
A Khmer Rouge survivor returns to Cambodia as his daughter prepares to prosecute one of the country’s most infamous war criminals. Backed by a live band, this is an intimate rock epic about family secrets set against a dark chapter of history. signaturetheatre.org
Tracy Letts and Anna D Shapiro reunite for the first time on Broadway since August: Osage County in this play about smalltown politics. Letts will share the stage with Armie Hammer and Jessie Meuller. theminutesbroadway.com
ILLUSTRATION: DANE LACHIUSA
The Music of Bob Marley Bassist and bandleader Russell Hall celebrates what would have been the reggae legend’s 75th birthday with two nights of shows at Dizzy’s Club, on February 4 and 5. jazz.org
All the Natalie Portmans
A coming-of-age comedy centered on 16-year-old Keyonna, who is too
The ill-fated wives of Henry VIII get a chance to tell their story in this musical with a high-energy pop score. The all-female cast is joined by an all-female backing band, whose studio album is already the second highest streaming cast recording in the world. Previews start February 13 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. sixonbroadway.com
On the day hanging is abolished, local hangman Harry finds himself suddenly unemployed. Mark Addy, Owen Campbell, and Ewen Bremner star in this transfer from the West End. Previews start February 28. hangmenbroadway.com
JOIN US FEB 15–22!
AT THE INTREPID MUSEUM
Science, technology, engineering, arts, math and fun take center stage! DIGITAL EDITION
8 DAYS OF GREAT ACTIVITIES FOR CURIOUS KIDS OF ALL AGES AND INTERESTS.
B A S E D O N T H E U NF I N I SH E D N OV E L BY
JA N E AU ST E N
STREAM NOW THIRTEEN.ORG/PASSPORT
I CAME OUT
ILLUSTRATION: CHESLEY HILL
Sibling rivalry? Ruth Walker feels your pain
lmost every relationship in my life can trace its complicated dynamic back to my first. Before my parents met me, before I was even considered a person, I shared cramped accommodation with the growing, miraculous jumble of cells that was to become my twin brother, Stuart. We lived in our safe, warm bubble of amniotic fluid for just over eight months until, suddenly, my partner, my soulmate, my other half was violently ripped from me and I was left alone. Hello! Abandonment issues! I put in an appearance four minutes later. And any opportunity he can get, he’ll remind me of the infinitesimal but precise difference in our age. Power struggle? Hell yes! From then on, we were “the twins.” Not two small, unique people with wildly different needs and personalities, but a single unit. We were dressed in the same yellow check rompers. And even when we were older and social norms dictated more gender-specific clothing, Mum’s enthusiastic dressmaking attempts ensured we were always matching. I think I feel an individuality crisis coming on. We fought, of course; competing for attention, food, and the TV. It was survival of the fittest. Or the smartest. As babies, we communicated in our own language. I learned to talk first, and would use my new-found linguistic
superpower to translate Stuart’s gobbledegook into English before he even had a chance to work out what he wanted to say for himself. This battle for airtime resulted in a stammer that lasted well into his twenties. We fought over who got more soda (cola was an only occasional treat, and Grandma’s SodaStream was still an exciting, new-fangled gadget that filled us with wonder). We fought over who got more presents. One year I’d already opened and discarded most of his gifts before the sight of yet another Airfix model made me realize I’d been opening the wrong ones. Undeterred, I shrugged and moved on to my fresh pile of goodies. He reminded me of that again this year – I guess I’m not the only one with issues. And it wasn’t just mind games. When things got physical, it would inevitably end in violence, with him pulling my hair, or ripping the head off my teddy (he was always jealous of that little bear), or sitting on me, rendering me immobile, helpless, and covered in bruises. “Muuuuuuuuum!!” Victim triangle? The struggle is real, people. It’s funny. I saw that teddy again recently. Mum had kept it – and sewed the head back on. Bless. It had seemed such a bone of contention. But now, for the life of me, I can’t work out what all the fuss was about.
sex and relationships
WELCOME TO THE
DUNGEON A personal journey of sexual selfdiscovery, from romance novels to professional dominatrix Words Ruth Walker
“I was attracted to this idea of a strong woman who knows what she likes, and is comfortable in her sexuality, and makes no apologies. That was the kind of woman I wanted to be.”
sex and relationships
he invitation called for “something that makes you feel sexy and comfortable to move around in.” We were also advised to eat beforehand, so we’d have “plenty of energy for the fun that awaits.” This was our introduction to Kink 101 – a lesson in flogging, spanking, bondage, and role play, led by professional domme Miss Nina Payne (aka Kimi Inch). Dressed (not particlarly comfortably) in leather, lace, and heels, we found our way to a secret location in Chelsea. There was wine to loosen any inhibitions and toys to experiment with. The evening ended with my friend leading me around the room on a leash. It was fun. It was safe. And I learned how to wield a flogger like a pro. “I used to train at different dungeons in New York City, teaching women who wanted to become dominatrixes,” says Kimi. “A lot of these women would come to my classes and they were like, ‘My girlfriends don’t want to be a professional, but they would love this.’ Or, ‘My boyfriend would love to learn about this.’ Or, ‘I want my boyfriend to learn about this so he knows what to do in the bedroom.’ “So I started doing things like bachelorette parties and girl gatherings. Then the book Fifty Shades of Grey came out and all of a sudden everybody wanted to come to my classes. There were always teachers you could learn from, but my classes were light and sexy and glamorous instead of the stereotypical dark, gothic, hardcore sort of imagery.” Growing up, sex wasn’t particularly taboo in her family; it just wasn’t discussed at all. But she also didn’t have a lot of censorship, so was free to watch R-rated movies and read her mom’s bodice-ripping romantic novels. “I’d be seeing highly sexualized movies like Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct, and the character Sharon Stone played is actually the character I modeled my dominatrix persona after – she made such an impression on me. “I was also a huge Madonna fan – she’d just started doing her Blonde Ambition tour and singing songs like ‘Justify My Love’ and ‘Erotica.’ So that influenced
what I thought sex was. I was attracted to this idea of a strong woman who knows what she likes, and is comfortable in her sexuality, and makes no apologies. That was the kind of woman I wanted to be.” As a teenager experiencing her first fumblings with her high school boyfriend, she was keen to start pushing the boundaries. “I was always like, ‘What else can we do here? How else can we amp it up?’ I’d suggest, ‘Why don’t you tie me up? Or why don’t I slap you?’ My boyfriend? He was just happy to have sex!” But that wasn’t enough for her. She loved feeling “like the puppet master or the composer,” she says. “You also get this indirect pleasure from bringing other people pleasure and seeing them comfortable in their own skin, and knowing that you created this safe environment for them.” Her journey of sexual self-discovery took her to the kink scene in Tokyo in 2002, and dungeons all over the world, practicing and teaching the finer points of BDSM. But she knows what you’re thinking. And you’re wrong. “The number one misconception,” says Kimi, “is that this is just prostitution or escorting. And my work does not involve nudity or a sexual exchange. It’s very erotic. My clients can be naked, should I feel that’s appropriate. But, although it’s considered sex work, it feels like so much more than that, because there’s such a big psychological and emotional element to it. There’s a lot of talking and prepping and conversations back and forth about how the encounters are going to play out and how it’s going to be, before you even meet the person. And it’s an art form. I’ve studied with a lot of great people all over the world to learn how to do these different techniques in a way that’s safe and effective, and that’s ultimately going to bring my partner a lot of pleasure. BDSM doesn’t even have to lead to any sort of climax; it can be that the act itself is enough for people.” It’s an important distinction. Because, while she’s trained in how to keep her clients safe as well as stimulated, she also has a deep understanding of how to tap into someone’s psyche. “I’m not
going to go in and just spank the shit out of someone,” she says. “There’s this whole scenario of setting the stage and building the anticipation, and taking them on a journey and getting into their heads. Everything is very, very deliberate.” Her exploration led her to become a student of somatic therapy, which combines talk therapy with body psychotherapy and energy work, and she says her work as a domme can be as therapeutic as it is sexual. “Some people go to the gym and work out to blow off steam. Some people want to get spanked and lose a little control. People tell me they can do their jobs better; they can do their family life better; they can do their regular life better when they have that outlet. “A lot of clients want to explore fantasies that they typically don’t feel they can explore with their partners, or they don’t feel comfortable even telling their friends about,” she adds. “They don’t want their families to know. Some of them are married and they don’t want their husbands or wives to know because there’s a shame and stigma around these unconventional sexual practices. So to be able to be with someone in that place and to make them feel like it’s OK, and to make them feel safe and make them feel seen – bearing witness to that can be really cathartic for some people. Often all we really want in this world is connection and to feel seen. And I offer that to my clients. It’s fucking fun too!” But once you’ve stepped over to the dark side of sex, can you ever go back to missionary? “Oh, hell yeah, absolutely,” she says. “I think vanilla sex is amazing. I’m a huge, huge fan. We’re such complex creatures, it’s hard to just say I would want one thing or the other. But I like having options. And kink is just another item in your tool box. “And, ultimately, I don’t identify purely as a domme. I like to switch it up depending on my mood, depending on the partner, depending on who I’m with.” Miss Nina Payne is holding a special Valentine’s Day class on February 14. Find out more at domidollz.com
sex and relationships
LETâ€™S TALK ABOUT
sex and relationships
IMAGE: CARLOS RUIZ
The vanilla world could learn a thing or two about communication from their kinky counterparts. Alexandra Cruz submits to going first …
’ve been on a mainstream wrong. Those five years of exploration dating site for exactly one created a space between both worlds week – seven very long days. that I wasn’t aware of – a chasm that I’ve scrolled through countless I’m finding difficult to bridge. profiles of men who profess an I’ve stayed up nights mulling it unwavering love for tacos and honesty over. Why do I feel this way? Why (I didn’t know tacos were so popular). the frustration? The problem, oddly, The profiles are paired with beautifully is that I felt far more freedom and curated photo galleries – images of empowerment while searching for a men with their dogs or cradling babies partner as a submissive in the kink in their strong, protective arms; action world than I do as a woman in the shots where they’re skiing black vanilla world. Probably because the diamonds or powering through the final process of vetting a dominant partner leg of a Tough Mudder race. is anything but passive. Let’s break When I get bored, I go to another it down. website, one where men pursue darker First, for me, submission requires delights: deep throating, spanking, communication and consent. Before bondage. The photos on this site are I meet a dominant in person, I vet mostly tight shots of ripped his communication style. abs and cocks, grainy If he comes off pushy, silhouettes of broad or tries to assert “If something shoulders and blurry dominance too soon, didn’t work, we talk faces. I toggle back the communication and troubleshoot to keep it and forth between will cease. If from ever happening again. sites, sometimes he’s respectful placing both and a gentleman, Communication isn’t just browser windows communication comforting, it’s damn right next to each continues. If we have sexy.” other, picking and common friends in the choosing the best traits kink community, I’ll reach from both sides and building out to them to find out if he’s the perfect imaginary partner, the safe to meet with. If I know other one that loves dogs and runs races and submissives he’s been involved with, protects babies and every so often asks I will contact them as well. If all that me to serve him tacos, on my knees. goes smoothly, we set up a meeting in I scroll and I wonder … I wonder how a public place to meet face-to-face. A many of these men are on both sites, safe call is scheduled for before and like me. after we meet, I send my safe call his I’m a submissive who’s been dating photo, online profile, and place and time exclusively within the kink world that we’re meeting. for the past five years. After my last Second, I ask for what I want. relationship with a dominant ended, Exactly what I want. If the first I decided to diversify the search for initial dates go well, we move on to a partner. My kinks never negated negotiation. This involves sitting down my broader interests: theater, books, with a potential partner to explore what travel, humanitarian causes, meditation we want from one another; long term, – all these things coexist within me. short term, five minutes, an hour, sex, I thought it would be easy to revisit no sex, companionship, friends with vanilla online dating. Turns out I was benefits. Whatever it is, it’s discussed.
Opposite: Before the clothes come off, you discuss what you want – exactly what you want.
Alexandra Cruz is a writer based in New York City. She’s learning how to make killer tacos.
Submission doesn’t always mean sex. But let’s make this example about sex. During negotiation we go over a long list of sexual acts together and discuss what we’ve done, what we’d like to do, and what’s completely off the table. Sometimes we talk about fantasies and fears, the names we want to be called and places on the body where we like or don’t like to be touched. We talk openly about STD testing and establish safe words. Third, we take care of each other after sex. Before the clothes come off we talk about aftercare, what each person wants or needs after sex. Do you want to be held, have your hair stroked, do you need verbal communication, do you need silence. I had a partner who liked to watch Archer and eat ice cream with me after sex (bless his dom heart). If you need a check-in phone call a day or two after, then you ask for it. We’re human beings, not mind readers. That uncomfortable guessing game of what to do “after” – I don’t do that shit. Fourth, if something goes wrong, we talk about it. What’s the quote about best laid plans? Yeah, that. Look, things still go wrong, even with all the communicating and planning. In the end, you’re just two people trying to connect and make some sexy magic. If something didn’t work, we talk and troubleshoot to keep it from ever happening again. Communication isn’t just comforting, it’s damn sexy. So, what now? I can’t go back to prekink relationship settings and I don’t want to deny myself potential partners who align with all my other interests. Perhaps there will be a hybrid site created that will enable the merging of all our selves: the naughty, the nice, and everything in-between. In the meantime, maybe I’ll just try to be brave and inspire some of those conversations on my own. How ‘bout it? Can we can get to it? I promise to go for tacos after.
sex and relationships
sex and relationships
THE SWORD AND THE
SOLUTION Conflict in life is inevitable – but does it have to be so toxic?
Words Ruth Walker
avid Leong adored who’d worked on those Errol Flynn Zorro movies as a movies he’d so adored as a child, he child. Zorro and Robin went on to choreograph the complex Hood. He’d turn up the fight scenes in Broadway shows volume as high as it (Amazing Grace, Billy Elliot, Carousel) would go and swash his buckle to his and Hollywood movies, working with little heart’s content. stars including Christopher Walken, The sound from the TV, he says, Don Cheadle, Sigourney Weaver, and served to drown out the awful noises in Hilary Swank. the other room; heartbreaking noises no Or was it almost inevitable? A kind child should ever have to hear. of working through his childhood “I grew up in a family surrounded by trauma in a safe, controlled space? domestic violence,” he says. “So Finding resolution? my escape from all that stuff Early in his career as was watching TV and a fight coordinator, he “She said, covering up the sounds was choreographing ‘You’re really around me.” the play Extremities, choreographing trust. His father was full which opened You’re choreographing Chinese; his mother at the Westside resolution. This is your half Chinese, half Theatre in December Irish. And in their 1982. The story focuses way to work out all generation, the man on a woman (played your crap.’” was considered the boss. by Susan Sarandon) What he says goes. “So he who turns the tables on her was very dictatorial, really harsh attempted rapist. It’s undeniably on all of us. And he just wasn’t happy violent. ”It was kind of a traumatic for emotionally.” me,” says David, “and I did it really, You’ve heard of Tiger Moms, he really well. On an unconscious level, I says? “Well, there are Tiger Dads was recreating the reality that I saw too, and my dad was one of those at home.” who literally pounded it into us. He At the same time, he was in therapy terrorized us.” for PTSD related to everything that Is it ironic, then, that David ended had happened to him as a child, and up becoming a fight master, one of his therapist asked if she could watch fewer than 20 in the whole of the US? him work. Training with Paddy Crean, the man “I said, ‘Sure.’ With a lot of anxiety
sex and relationships
ISSUE Previous page: A fight scene from the 1999 musical The Civil War. Left: Extremities, with Susan Sarandon – the traumatic play that may have saved his life. Below: 2006’s The Miracle, The Ultimate Battle Between Good and Evil.
and trepidation. So she watched me put together the sexual assault, which was rather ugly. And afterwards, she came up to me and I was really nervous. I thought, ‘Oh my God, she’s going to tell me I’m a mess.’ But she looked at me, she took my hand, and she said, ‘David, you realize that what you’re doing is the opposite of what you think.’ She said, ‘You’re really choreographing trust. You’re choreographing resolution. This is your way to work out all your crap.’ “And she said, ‘You probably don’t know this, but my guess is doing this and delving into it so deeply, you’ve probably saved your life.’” The realization set him on a new path of training, and he is now the only person in the US who is both a fight master and a certified conflict resolution trainer. OK, so the bad news: conflict is inevitable – we just can’t avoid it. So, unless you actually enjoy battling with your fellow humans (in which case, I don’t want to be your friend), that means we all have to learn how to resolve things as healthily and as productively as possible. His work focuses on removing the personal element in disagreements and focusing instead on issues and problem solving. And, crucial to that is identifying our hot buttons; the emotional triggers that have the potential to set us off on conflict highway; the things that annoy, frustrate, or upset us, usually developed when we were children that are now
sex and relationships
ISSUE Let’s get real Real-life situation #1: A woman
ingrained in our psyche. They can in your mind how you might have done range from getting pissy when people things differently. Damn, how familiar are unreliable and don’t appreciate us, that sounds. to wanting to smash our fist in the faces On the other hand, constructive of those who are hostile and abrasive. responses might be trying to see things And they can be pressed at work, at from the other person’s point of view, home, on the subway – anywhere we expressing emotion (ie “I find this interact with other humans. situation frustrating,” “this is upsetting “If you believe that you have to be to me,” etc), and taking time out to let responsible and show up on time, the tension settle. and you’ve got someone at David has trained and work who’s always late, coached doctors, lawyers, that pushes your nurses, engineers, “You probably hot button,” scientists, and don’t know this, but my explains David. teachers, working guess is doing this and But when we with banks, hospitals, delving into it so deeply, recognize what and industry. you’ve probably saved they are – ah, “I’m in my sixties enlightenment! – we’re now,” he says. “In my your life.” on the way to finding thirties and forties it healthy resolutions to was a tough time, because conflict instead of all-out war. that’s when I first started Destructive (and therefore negative) dealing with my family trauma. In my responses to a potential conflict fifties, I began to understand it. It was include a desire to win at all costs, and when I was 60 that I was able to use displaying anger. But it’s also unhelpful everything that happened to me in a when you constantly give in to avoid way that helps in my life and working any further argument, and beat yourself with other people.” up after the event, going over and over davidsleong.com
Above: King John, which was performed at the Lansburgh Theatre in Washington DC in 1990.
has witnessed, first-hand, inappropriate conversations from a work colleague. She expresses her concern to a good friend and colleague, who then ceases all communication with her, ending their friendship and shutting down any future conversation. David: “It’s hard to respond unless I know what was shared. But I would just say that if a person wants to shut down, they can shut down. People walk away in mediation all the time. They can just say, ‘You know what? I have no interest in that.’ And they have to come back in their own time. Because if I walk away from this dialogue, the more you try to get me to talk, the more that pushes my hot button, which is control, and I’m going to push away even more.”
Real-life situation #2: A manager is constantly redoing a very talented colleague’s work. The colleague has raised the issue multiple times, asking if there’s anything they should be doing differently, but the situation continues. David: “Micromanaging is a huge hot button for people. Both these people actually have a similarity and they don’t even know it – that’s what’s going on here. It’s a control issue – a power thing.”
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sex and relationships
SUNNY SIDE UP I
Fresh out of a relationship and still unsure whether she wanted children or not, Cristina Doikos came to an empowering decision … to freeze her eggs and buy some time
t was just another date in the endless process of online searching for that special person. I’d been on so many first date fails that I’d become a pro at making these meet-ups fold effortlessly into my schedule. On this unexpected April evening, I’d managed to fit in a Pilates class, a quick freshen up, and was scooting off to meet my suitor. I arrived at The Campbell, which I thought was a lovely choice for a first-time encounter – public enough, yet on this particular night, quiet and civilized inside. I hurried in a few minutes late and he was already there, waiting with drinks and a smile. Something clicked and I was instantly at ease. Chemistry is funny like that. Normally, I’d be irritated that he’d assigned me a cocktail of his choice, but not this time. I plopped down on the stool he’d saved and thought how sweet and chivalrous he was. He really wanted to impress, and I was charmed. A few swigs in, it occurred to me that I was drinking a cocktail that could be tainted with who knows what. Oh shit! What do I do now? How could I have been so taken by his boyish charm? I was ready to grab the person at the next table and scream out: “I’ve been roofied!” I’m happy to report that the evening ended perfectly and we went on to date for over a year. That first date illusion became something we laughed about over and over. The relationship blossomed and I learned so much about myself and how I wanted to feel in a partnership. Though
our time together was magical, in the end, timing is either a friend or an enemy. In this case, I was head over heels for the guy but our agendas just didn’t align and, poof, it was over. As one does at the end of relationships, I looked for the lesson. What did I really want? This was the first time I’d actually imagined my life with someone, and even entertained the idea of having children. I wasn’t one of those women who dropped an egg every time she held a newborn, and was never aware of my biological clock. But I began to realize that, while time heals heartbreak, it isn’t
“I began to realize that, while time heals heartbreak, it isn’t the ovaries’ best friend.”
the ovaries’ best friend. I still wasn’t sure if I wanted kids, and I especially didn’t want them with the wrong person. But I did want the option. Recognizing that a woman’s eggs are considered geriatric at 35 years old, I wanted to buy time. I envied my friends who knew, without a doubt, whether or not they wanted to pop out pups. I was still so undecided and, frankly, didn’t want to deal with my maturing eggs and give up my carefree life. So I bought some insurance … I froze my eggs. The process was much more involved than I’d expected. A series of injections day and night for 14 days became somehow empowering. It developed into a ritual. I was investing in myself and, since I don’t spend recklessly, it was a decision I did not take lightly. Through the process, I gained confidence by taking control over something that I thought was out of my control. I realized that I could give myself options that weren’t available to my mom’s generation. Technology and medicine work in women’s favor in this case, and have given me a little extra time to figure out life. Now, my dating life can still be fraught with ups and downs, but I approach it with a sense of ease, knowing I am not at the mercy of a biological deadline. What comes next? Who knows, but my options are on ice and I’m feeling fine as I enter 2020.
sex and relationships
STONES Our fears, hopes, sins, and secrets reflect the power of words to hurt and heal Interviews and photographs Cid Roberts
rojection (noun). The unconscious transfer of one’s own desires or emotions to another person (thank you, Google dictionary). That word – and the weighted vocabulary that can both wound and lift up – is the basis of photographer Cid Roberts’ series of images examining the innermost thoughts, fears, dreams, exploits, secrets, and sins of the men featured in the project.
“People project on to others as a weapon of defense,” he says, “to protect what is sacred, or defend what is compromised. To confess. To legitimize. To decimate. To declare. To repair. To say: ‘This is what it means to be me in this world.’” He photographed 11 men from Hell’s Kitchen over the course of 2018 and 2019. These are just three of them. bit.ly/projectionseries
1 a: subject to lasting shock as a result of an emotionally disturbing experience or physical injury; “the children were traumatized by separation from their families.” b: cause physical injury to; “the dressings can be removed without traumatizing newly-formed tissue.”
“This word ‘pansy’ is something that used to really diminish me. It is something that bullies in school used to ostracize me and tear me down. It is even a word that my own parents have used (not specifically as a gay slur, like bullies would, but certainly to suggest that I stop acting outside of the societal norm when dealing with the expression or performance of the male gender).
“I am someone who tends to be more interested in the artistic, in beautiful or pretty things, in anything that sparkles or glows, in flowers, mermaids, butterflies, fairies, show tunes, and pretty much all activities generally stereotyped to be ‘for girls’ (sewing, decorating, baking, etc). So hearing this word was hearing my greatest fear: everyone knows that I am invalid as a man. “It wasn’t until at least a decade past my coming out that I began to realize that nearly ALL men and women (except perhaps those individuals who have expressed themselves as non-binary, gender-fluid, etc) struggle with ‘being man enough,’ or ‘performing womanhood correctly,’ or being ‘butch enough’ and, at the core, having worth as a person.
1 a: omission of occurrence or performance; specifically: a failing to perform duty or expected action; “failure to pay the rent on time.” b: (1) a state of inability to perform a normal function; “kidney failure.” (2) an abrupt cessation of normal functioning; “a power failure.” c: a fracturing or giving way under stress; “structural failure.” 2 a: a lack of success. b: a failing in business; bankruptcy. 3 a: a falling short; deficiency; “a crop failure.” b: deterioration; decay. 4: one that has failed; “he felt like a failure when he was denied another chance.” DIGITAL EDITION
“It has taken me years to learn that what I like is what I like. What someone else likes is what THEY like. There is no right or wrong. The color pink, and the color blue have no gender. The appreciation of a beautiful flower is not reserved for any one gender. “Only by living as authentically as we can (and being OK with not always having everyone’s approval) will we finally begin to love ourselves, the beautiful uniqueness that makes each of us amazing, and truly find happiness that comes from within. “So, yeah, I am a pansy. I am a beautiful living thing that blooms even when it is too cold and harsh for many other flowers. Some people like pansies. Some people don’t. And that’s OK.”
“As a gay, Latinx man, so much of my childhood was shaped and influenced by Catholicism, and a very strict belief that being gay equals going to hell. The weight of that certainty, of being such a massive failure as a human being and all the shame on myself and on my family that came along with that ... it’s a heavy thing for a kid to have to spend his childhood carrying around on his back.”
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sex and relationships
1: having been deserted or cast off; “an abandoned car.” 2: unrestrained; uninhibited; “a wild, abandoned dance.”
“I’ve experienced a lot of abandonment in my life, especially when I first came out. I was misunderstood by my family and, later on, trying to find support for my HIV. The gay community provided so much that was missing and, as time passed, my family became my biggest supporters again. “It’s always a fear, being alone, but the people in my life remind me that I’m not, and I’m very grateful for them.”
sex and relationships
It’s not hard to date in New York, says Jamie Valentino – it’s just so damn easy to be single!
y friend Marie once lamented that restaurants don’t offer tables for one person. “Just for you?” she recollected, discouraged by the semantic shortcomings never placed on couples or groups. “Just – as if I’m not enough to occupy a table. You’re left feeling insecure by the empty seat all night.” Like many divorcees, she escaped from a small town to New York with the hope of reinventing herself. The first thing she did was get bangs, but hit a wall when the new hairdo failed to attract a new hubby. The problem was that Marie used “moving on” and “meeting someone” synonymously, so the wonderful new life she’d envisioned in the city that never sleeps was suddenly snoozed. Perhaps the issue was the fact that she felt pressured to start over. Couples wouldn’t be thrown into such a drastic identity crisis post-breakup if they treated singledom less like a phase. A partner should add excitement and fulfilment but not be the sole source of it. The clock starts ticking for many people, especially women, when they
sex and relationships
ISSUE reach their mid-twenties and early thirties. It’s like the future is an atomic bomb that can only be defused by finding a partner. In New York, however, this is less the case. Newbies might claim dating is difficult, but veteran New Yorkers know that’s only because it can be so damn easy to be single. Plenty people celebrate turning 30, 40, 50 and so on, still single, without exploding. After planning over 500 engagement proposals nationwide over the past four
years, I’ve learned that love doesn’t Modern times have empowered us depreciate with age. The women (or men) to feel whole while single. And anyway, saying “Yes!” looked equally dumbfounded New Yorkers are too practical to be with happiness at 25 or 60. The biggest hopeless romantics, especially when difference? The older couples had more discovering a potential “the one” lives disposable income. The time crunch across town. Ranking 180 US cities on that singles create for themselves is dating-friendliness, WalletHub placed actually detrimental to realizing their New York at 35 – much lower than dream romance, unless Mom and Dad are researchers expected. Isn’t solitude a helping with an engagement ring and the better alternative to transferring trains financial chaos that is a wedding. More during rush hour? Love isn’t valued less, than that, the younger clients were more but it’s not considered the only means to likely to request clichés – definitely roses personal fulfilment. – while the more mature ones focused on Where New York did score on those meaning. When you know yourself, it’s rankings, however, was on fun and easier to understand other people. opportunity. It’s not the promise of Disney’s propaganda of happily-everromance but the likelihood of adventure after only works because the characters that makes it the best city in the world. cease to exist after the movie. Real people Someone in a relationship can live an wake up the next morning, so why put up exciting life, sure – but if anything can with being kissed by the morning happen, wouldn’t those without the breath of someone mediocre? responsibility of reporting to New York, on the someone be better suited “Marie was other hand, embodies for spontaneity? wrong about the beauty that And while many restaurants not catering comes with aging, singles choose to use and the strength the time they would to singles. Why else are that comes with allocate to a partner there chairs at the bar being unabashedly in actively searching and, typically, a cute, self-sufficient. For for one, more often charismatic singles living in places than not, New Yorkers bartender?” that view marriage and opt to invest it back in raising children as the themselves. The art of being meat and potatoes of adulthood, single depends on how you the city offers a Neverland where take advantage of the fruitful autonomy “growing up” is optional. There’s a reason that comes with it, whether it’s kissing a apartment shares continue to be common, stranger, or taking a book to lunch. regardless of age. (It has been dubbed Everyone should invite themselves to by Forbes as the real estate “Single’s be single occasionally. Go to a museum, Tax,” due to the high cost of rent single see a show, take a class, or spend a New Yorkers pay compared to couples. night at home doing nothing at all. Learn However, a lease with a roommate comes to tolerate your own company before without the clause of forever.) someone else’s. My friend Marie Settling used to make sense, because was wrong about restaurants not a relationship was the bridge to sex, or a catering to singles. Why else are there family, or a certain lifestyle. But women chairs at the bar and, typically, a cute, no longer choose husbands like careers. charismatic bartender? It’s also nice And men don’t need to be in a relationship to have the option of a table, to have sex every day. The decades-long when the only conversation march towards gender equality has made you want is ordering any pressure to tie the knot, besides love another glass of wine. New (and the Green Card), obsolete. And our York invites singlehood betrothed friends no longer walk around in the same way it with a sense of survivor’s guilt, pitying us welcomes everyone, with for not getting laid. indifference.
Jamie Valentino is a Hell’s Kitchen-based freelance writer whose thoughts on all things sex and romance have been featured in Gay Weddings, ArtSugar, Betches, OKCupid, and more. He previously planned engagement proposals for Shark Tank’s Paparazzi Proposals, proving that you can, in fact, put a price on love. @jamie_ valentino
sex and relationships
NOTE TO SELF:
First, she took her “erotic selfies” to send to a lover far away, but soon A. Hayes was celebrating her own changing body and evolving sexuality
just read Lady Chatterly’s Lover for the first time. I don’t know why I’ve never read it before, but perhaps I wasn’t ready for it. I am now. It’s a story of a married woman who finds not only sexual fulfillment outside her marriage, but also her sexual nature and her actual self. I’m a late bloomer, I think. Sexually speaking, anyway. I’ve always been fascinated by my body and felt the stirrings of sexual curiosity early. I
married somewhat but not tragically young – a virgin (go ahead, digest that for a moment), had kids young (they’re grown now), but I don’t think I began to really awaken sexually until about ten years ago. Perhaps that’s not an usual story for women. There’s a line in the 1982 film of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, when she’s saying to her husband that it’s a shame we can only see people’s faces in everyday life; why, she asks, must they cover their bodies? He answers that perhaps it’s because it’s the face that really reveals the personality. Then why, she asks, are classical sculptures of headless torsos so beautiful and intriguing? “Might the body have a life of its own?” Oh, it does. It does. I started taking pictures of my own naked body about eight years ago, after I got my first smart phone (if someone out there is watching us through our smart phones, you’re welcome). I called them “erotic selfies,” and I became, I think, rather good at it. No face, just my body, from many angles, with no selfie stick. I did it first to send to my lover far away. But I became interested in the unfolding documentation of my body at this middle time in my life. It’s become a self-retrospective
Above and left: The photographs became a self-retrospective of her body after babies, breastfeeding, and biopsy.
of my body after babies, breastfeeding, and biopsy. But it’s also become a love letter to my body, its life, and my everevolving sexuality. We think about sex too much but not enough. Or we don’t think about it in the right, needed ways. At least, Americans don’t. (I’ve always thought I should have been French.) Sex as a manifestation of life; as a celebration of our bodies and our connections with others; sex not as obsession or escapism or destruction but as presence and awareness and, dare I say it, LOVE.
sex and relationships
ISSUE FANTASY Beethoven, I think. The Emperor Concerto: Music for discovery. And as you discover me, you ask about this scar: An experiment with sealing wax. Ten years old. And this one? Surfing lesson, age twelve. This was too many glasses of wine and a hot oven, And this, the iron, which I never use, for obvious reasons. This, ballet-burdened knees that needed saving at sixteen. I love sex. I love my body. I love using my body to show love to another’s body. And I love my body separate from sex, if that’s even a possibility. I love that my body gave me babies and then gave them life and sustenance. I love that it heals itself and responds to stimulus and issues warnings. I love how it expresses itself and looks in clothes and out of them. I love how it experiences pain and pleasure and temperature and taste and sensuality. I love that I’ve gotten to ride around in it through this life. For me, it’s a physical manifestation of the spiritual. Perhaps it’s ironic that I’m just coming fully into this awareness as I pass the half-century mark of living and loving in
this body. But maybe there is no irony at all. Maybe the stirrings of suspicion and mystery that I felt as a little girl standing naked and curious in front of my bedroom mirror have continued to unfold and blossom in perfect time, so that, now, I’m at last old enough to understand and find joy in my physical self, and still young enough to do something about it. In the second half of my life, as my material self returns slowly to spirit, I imagine a wise and compassionate self looking at and touching with love and tenderness and gratitude my aging body. I’ll remember that child in front of the mirror, that young wife and mother, that exploring and experienced lover, and I’ll thank her. All of me.
“‘Why are classical sculptures of headless torsos so beautiful and intriguing? Might the body have a life of its own?’ Oh, it does. It does.”
Above: The photographs were all taken on a smart phone – no face, no selfie stick – from many angles.
And this knick the last baby – almost too big and turned wrong – took out of me on his way through to life. Each a stain on the intimate map of my terrain. Mark by mark you comb me, exploring, filling each space, Empty of you until now. You navigate with reverence. With diligence, you learn me, and I demand more And more attention to detail, trembling to be discovered. I lie still, my hills and valleys breathing softly at your touch, Terra incognita, unrecognizable even to me. This beautiful and fertile land: new. All new. A Hayes
sex and relationships
sex and relationships
ISSUE The queer community is at the forefront of revolutionizing sex ed, says Sarah Brown. When will the rest of the country catch up? Opposite: Current sex ed is still overwhelmingly heteronormative, while the LGBTQIA+ community is changing the conversation.
“Only 13 states require medically accurate sex ed, and 25 states teach abstinence only.”
me that in their school they teach about the difference between desire and arousal. I was shocked. No sex ed class of mine had ever even mentioned those words, let alone talked about what they meant. Desire is what we want. Arousal is how we feel. But we never really take into account the emotions of sex when teaching. Issues like consent and being safe have a huge impact on kids, especially hormonal teenagers learning about their bodies. University of Southern California professor Dr Theresa Granger says comprehensive sex ed goes far beyond the biophysical aspects: “It’s about focusing on the emotional, psychosocial, and economic impacts of what happens when youth and adolescents engage in sexual intercourse and other sexual practices.” I began to wonder how different it would be if sex ed was more than just learning about what goes where and how babies are made. Why do we as a society only look at the physical aspects and not the emotional? Why should we bury our feelings? Sex can be a beautiful, scary, and wonderful thing – sometimes all once. Make sure and do the work. Educate yourself to better your own understanding of sex. The Sex in Color and TheSexEd podcasts are great resources. And remember the most important thing: consent is sexy!
Sarah Brown is the host and producer of The Queerience podcast. You can find all episodes on Anchor. fm and get updates by following @thequeeriencepodcast and @sbrownsays on instagram.
SARAH BROWN IMAGE: JOE DELAHUNTY
ex looks different to everyone. That’s the world we live in – it’s part of life. But state sex education does not go beyond high school. And most people don’t even learn the proper anatomy in class. In fact, only 13 states even require medically accurate sex ed. Twenty-five states teach abstinence only, and only nine states talk about inclusivity (meaning all issues including LGBTQIA+). Five states don’t even require sex ed to be taught at all. As of today, there is still no mandated curriculum that is universally taught at schools. Against this background, how is anyone supposed to feel educated on sex, let alone ready to deal with anything that comes with it? Sex. It’s a very big umbrella term that can mean so many different things depending on who you ask. It can be a big deal to some; it’s how they express their love, emotions, vulnerability – it’s how they feel close to someone. Sex can result in new life, in heartache, pleasure, and a huge mix of complicated emotions. But we don’t talk about that. Our education and views on sex could be described as heteronormative – the entire LGBTQIA+ community seems to be left out of the conversation when, in fact, we are the ones at the forefront, trying to create a better system. After a recent volunteer stint at The Harvey Milk High School in Manhattan, I found myself in a conversation with one of the health educators, who told
sex and relationships
HOT SHOT The fashion world is still floundering from its brush with #MeToo – this is one photographer’s response Photographs Carlos Ruiz 34
sex and relationships
n 2018, as the #MeToo movement gathered pace, the fashion industry found itself under the spotlight – and it wasn’t pretty. In its investigation into accusations of sexual exploitation and abuse of models, The Boston Globe named 25 photographers, including Terry Richardson, Mario Testino, Bruce Weber, and Patrick Demarchelier. And while safeguards have since been put in place by publishers, brands, and agencies to protect models – both male and female – insiders say there is still a long way to go. Photographer Carlos Ruiz – who trained with legends like Arthur Elgort and Steven Meisel – wanted to respond. And, naturally, he did it through the lens. The result is a series of nudes – but where the balance of power has been switched. Now the model wields the camera – almost like a weapon. “There’s a lot of power behind the female figure,” says Carlos. “These photographs are about being conscious of that. They’re about the female having the power and being able to use it their own way.”
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sex and relationships
About CARLOS Carlos Ruiz went to New York’s School of Visual Arts and trained with legendary photographers Arthur Elgort and Steven Meisel. His editorial work has appeared in publications including Modern Luxury, and he’s collaborated with brands such as Oribe and Replay. More recently, he has branched out into making videos for country music performers. He lives in Hell’s Kitchen. carlosruizstudio.com
COMPLICATED You think your love life is a soap opera? Try on these crazy couplings for size
Words Elizabeth Durand Streisand Illustrations Samia Fakih
s there a holiday that’s more universally hate-celebrated than Valentine’s Day? We think not. Yes, the whole “celebrating love” idea is nice in theory – but in practice it often amounts to a series of anxiety-inducing challenges ranging from giving the right gifts to wearing the right clothes to saying the right thing.
And perhaps nowhere are the challenges of relationships better illustrated than on Broadway. There are relationships that could really benefit from some boundaries. Friendships that border on obsession. And romances that are doomed from the outset. So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here’s our top five shows that capture the modern meaning of “it’s complicated.”
Tina Turner and Ike, from Tina: The Tina Turner Musical Tina Turner is nothing short of a living legend, but despite the fact that she has sold 180 million records worldwide and has 11 Grammy awards to her name, her stormy relationship with Ike is one of the first facts that comes to mind at the mention of her name. To be fair, that’s partly because she rose to fame in the 1960s alongside her thenhusband Ike. However, they separated in 1976 and she largely forged her own path after that, finally revealing in her autobiography that she had endured domestic abuse at his hands. Tina: The Tina Turner
Left: Ike and Tina; Opposite: Not all relationships are romantic – just ask the Mean Girls; Charles and Diana were doing scandal before the world knew who Meghan Markle was.
Musical shines the spotlight on her career and the star she is today, while still acknowledging her early troubled times.
Orpheus and Eurydice, from
Hadestown Hadestown is a love story that follows the path of so many others. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl wanders off (well, something like that) and boy loses girl. This time, however, the girl wanders into Hadestown, an industrial city in the underworld. Naturally, Orpheus embarks on a journey to save her – you probably know the rest from your high school English courses (if you did the required reading, that is), but it’s safe to say that this show captures the fever-pitch of new love and the challenges that can stand in its way.
“She was all of 20 years old. He was 12 years her senior and was probably in love with someone else at the time. What could go wrong?”
OUT Princess Diana and Prince Charles, from Diana
If you think things are wild with the British royal family these days (insert the latest gossip about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry here), you should go back and see how it was when Princess Diana was married to Prince Charles. She was all of 20 years old. He was 12 years her senior and was probably in love with someone else at the time. What could go wrong? The new musical, succinctly titled Diana, looks at the remarkable life of the late People’s Princess – a young woman who didn’t fit in with The Firm from the outset but who wasn’t able to fully break away. “It’s complicated” might be the understatement of the century.
Cady Heron and Regina George, from Mean Girls
Not all complicated relationships are romantic, just ask high schooler Cady Heron. In Tina Fey’s opus Mean Girls, Cady pretend-befriends Regina George, the blond, vicious leader of The Plastics. But the closer Cady gets to Regina “for research,” the closer she gets to Regina for real – until Cady’s true feelings for Regina are no longer clear, even to Cady herself. While not everyone has buddied up with someone in the hopes of taking that person down, it’s safe to say that most of us have been in relationships that we struggled to define. If you didn’t think Mean Girls was deep, think again. (Also, this show is great for a date. Just saying.)
Christine Daaé and Phantom, from The Phantom of the Opera Once in a while someone comes into your life who teaches you and nurtures you, and you feel
overwhelmingly indebted to them as a result. No one understands this sentiment better than Christine Daaé, the female star of The Phantom of the Opera. An upand-coming opera singer, Christine gets invaluable lessons from a secretive tutor, the Phantom himself. Their relationship turns sour, however, when it becomes clear that his interest in her goes beyond her singing and the guy has some serious boundary issues.
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 broadway roulette.com / IG: @broadway roulette
YOU HAD ME AT
That stirring in the loins? It’s the realization that opera is suddenly HOT! Claudia Chung is smitten
“Modern opera was never part of my world – there are just so many implications, expectations, and complications surrounding the artform. It evokes ideas of classism, racism, and snobbery”
t’s a cold winter morning, and I’m traveling to BAM with an open mind and zero expectations. I’m going there to witness. Nothing more, nothing less. Maybe things will be different this time, I think. I’ve been invited to watch the first dry run of Ellen West. It’s an opera. And I HATE operas. Rehearsal spaces are overflowing with potential. Clean. Plain. Unassuming. They’re deathly peaceful. But when filled with creative people, the air is thick with tension; the anticipation alluring and seductive. Baritone Nathan Gunn takes his place and starts to sing. It’s deep … and it’s in English. This surprises me. I’m hating opera a little less. Everything is loud, but in a good way. It feels as though the studio mirrors are shaking from this powerful voice. A pianist sweats over the keys, and the conductor mouths along to the lines, motioning for the singer to crescendo
WHY OPERA IS SEXY AF!
Lulu: The titular character goes from well-kept mistress to street prostitute to Jack the Ripper victim in this delicious opera by Alban Berg.
Death in Venice: Benjamin
Opposite: Nathan Gunn demonstrates why he’s known as a “barihunk.”
Britten’s last opera drips with yearning and obsession as the
or decrescendo. I’m entranced. The whole experience is damn sexy. Who knew? I’m a sophisticated New Yorker. I have a graduate degree and read the newspaper daily. But modern opera was never part of my world – there are just so many implications, expectations, and complications surrounding the artform. It evokes ideas of classism, racism, and general snobbery. Take the movie Pretty Woman. Richard Gere’s character falls for a hooker with a heart of gold. He gives her a ton of dough to buy lots really, really fancy clothes, and whisks her off on a private jet to see her first opera. Aptly, it is Verdi’s La Traviata – the tragic tale of a dying courtesan searching for true love. Our hooker is moved to tears and says: “It was so good, I almost peed my pants.” I’d never experienced this pee-inmy-pants moment until that morning in Brooklyn. Why has it been so hard for
protagonist falls for a beautiful young Polish boy on a trip to Venice.
Expect plenty of taut flesh on show.
Billy Budd: Another homoerotic masterpiece by Britten, in which the titular young merchant sailor is pressganged on to a naval vessel, where he catches the
lustful eye of the cruel master-at-arms.
Salome: The 1905 opera by Richard Strauss (based on the Oscar Wilde play) sees the teenage Salome demand the head of John the Baptist after
And there’s no better time. Because opera is having a very sexy moment right now. Most people think an evening at the Met will involve watching a Pavarotti clone perform as the strapping, young hero (only in opera!), unintelligible lyrics, and unaffordable tickets. But modern operas are produced in intimate theaters, the singers are hot, and there’s no need for subtitles. Traditional operas, too, are throbbing with sexual power and intrigue: all those dying, lost, hurting, psycho characters
he has rejected her, then proceeds to kiss his cold, dead lips. Hello! Necrophilia! Her Dance of the Seven Veils is one of the most risqué moments in opera.
Carmen: Bizet’s scandalous story
of a fiery, sexually liberated gypsy failed to set the world on fire when it premiered in 1875. An early review called Carmen a “veritable prostitute of the gutter and the street corner.” But it has become one
Below: Nathan Gunn and Jennifer Zetlan Shimoni in Ellen West. Opposite: Smoldering Carmen at The Met.
of the world’s most popular operas.
Tristan und Isolde: Love, sex, and death. Wagner ticks all the boxes in this medieval tale of forbidden passion.
performed by magnificent artists in full control of strong and sexy instruments – their voices. These are stories of lust and love; deep, unspeakable, ravenous emotions that can only be expressed by breaking into an aria. It is not beige. It is bloodthirsty red. It demands our attention. It is the artform of human catastrophe, sex, murder, incest, suicide, revenge – and, yes, romance. Coming to Lincoln Center Theater this month, Intimate Apparel is set in 1905, in turn-of-the-century New York. Esther is a lonely, single, African-American woman who makes her living sewing beautiful corsets and ladies’ undergarments. There is affection between her and the Jewish man who sells fabrics to her, but any relationship between them, even a touch, is forbidden. Seeking love, Esther embarks on a journey only opera can do justice to. And I’m peeing my pants waiting for a production of Alban Berg’s Lulu, the most dazzling, complicated, heart-wrenching of all 20th-century operas, to manifest itself in New York. Its glorious heroine rampages through life, adored by both men and women, greedy, manipulative, and seductive. She works her way through scores of lovers and husbands, is arrested for the murder of one of them, and becomes a prostitute in London. For her curtain call, she brings home Jack the Ripper, who murders her. It’s an ugly death that only an opera can create. And if we, the audience, are captivated, the experience is multiplied for the performers. “It’s about contact with the audience and connection with them,” says Nathan Gunn, who appeared in People’s Sexiest Man Alive list.
The Midsummer Marriage: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl get hot and heavy. This opera by Michael Tippett was based on Mozart’s The Magic Flute and, while it’s not for everyone, it’s “climax” has been
called one of the sexiest moments in classical music.
Don Giovanni: In 1787, Mozart wrote this tale of a wild seducer working his way through Europe, leaving a trail of broken
IMAGES: METROPOLITAN OPERA
opera to reach a younger audience? “If you are interested, and willing to research,” says Ricky Ian Gordon, the composer of Ellen West, “there is such eclecticism, such pluralism in opera being written now, and in the 20th century. You will surely find work that resonates with you if you poke around a little bit, and it is worth the effort. You go to a museum, you go to MoMA to see whose work resonates with you. You become a Picasso fan, a Matisse fan, a Warhol fan. Music takes the same effort and is rewarded tenfold.”
ELLEN WEST IMAGE: MARIA BARANOVA
OUT “It is not beige. It is bloodthirsty red. It demands our attention. It is the artform of human catastrophe, sex, murder, incest, suicide, revenge – and, yes, romance.” “Seventy percent of communication is visual. I like people to see the expression on my face, the subtle gestures of my body, and feel the impact of the sounds coming from the instruments and the singers. It is what helps to create that privately communal experience people so badly crave these days.” But the “barihunk” plays down his own sexy persona. “It was a struggle to work through that stigma,” he says. “Even after singing a touching and brilliantly written song recital, people in the receiving line after would say that they were wondering when I’d take my shirt off. “Nudity in the operas I’d do was never gratuitous, but it seemed to be what most people noticed and what I thought about the least.”
hearts in his wake. Last year, Opera Queensland staged a version for the #MeToo era, featuring 200 naked volunteers in the critical closing scene, when the misogynistic womanizer finally
has to answer to the women he’s used.
hugely popular opera set in a 24-hour period in 1800 Rome.
Tosca: Love, lust, jealousy, politics, religion – all the subjects you really shouldn’t discuss at the dinner table are tossed around in Puccini’s
Cosi fan Tutte: Two soldiers disguise themselves to test the fidelity of each other’s fiancées. Mozart’s comic opera
was considered too vulgar to be staged much in its early days. It has since been criticized for its use of racial disguises and (less thinly disguised) misogyny. But it remains a muchloved classic.
Dinner and a movie? Done. “Excellent modern Greek food close to the Landmark Theater complex on the Hudson. Great before or after a movie.”
A SLICE OF
SELF LOVE Clayton Howe is coming to terms with time zones, touring quirks, and long-distance loving
y journey clear across America continues apace. Since we spoke last, I’ve been to Palm Desert, Albuquerque, Houston, Florida, and back up to Canada, surprising myself at how well I can adjust to different time zones and climates. It’s also been fascinating to see how diversely Waitress is received wherever we play. Some audiences laugh in parts of the show that others would not, and some do not laugh AT ALL. The variety certainly keeps us on our toes. Out west, I explored everything from Joshua Tree National Park to the Route 66 Diner. This American staple was super cute – a real throwback to the 1950s, with tons of neon signs. Across the top of the bar was a full Disney Pez dispenser set, complete with Snow White and her seven dwarfs.
The pecan pie was delectable, although – after having a full peanut butter milkshake and the 66 burger covered in green chili – I barely managed to finish the slice. The pecans were fresh, and there was the perfect balance of sweetness without being overpowering. Less than a week later, I was on the other side of the country in Florida, at Shuckers, a local favorite on the ocean. This spot had everything from seafood to burgers to margarita buckets. Every time I visit, it seems to become more crowded — the word must be getting
Below: Pecan pie at the Route 66 Diner ... and is this the best key lime pie on the planet?
out! I opted for a refreshing slice of key lime pie – wonderfully sweet and tart, with beautiful presentation. Honestly, I’d say it’s the best key lime I’ll ever find! It’s hard to believe we’re already into the month of love in this new year. Besides buying the obligatory cards, chocolate, and flowers for the one I love, I’ve been taking stock of my relationships and what they mean to me. Trust has been a massive theme, as my girlfriend and I navigate the twists and turns of a long-distance relationship. With three or four months between visits, I’ve learned a thing or two about letting go of the negatives and embracing the positives. In the book Awareness, the author Anthony de Mello makes some incredible, mind-clearing statements that are applicable to many fields of thought, particularly personal relationships. “Perfect love casts out fear,” he writes. “Where there is love, there are no demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you. If you were to leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself; I enjoy your company immensely, but I do not cling.” This quote resonated with me the most because we naturally want to rely on others. It wasn’t until I found that happiness and love come from within, I could love more freely and more healthily. This month, take some time to love yourself. Take stock in your relationship with you. Are you happy? Or are you creating illusions, cravings, and desires that make you suffer? Don’t try to force change on yourself, just take a moment to understand yourself more. Only then can you understand and love others more. Happy Valentine’s, Hell’s Kitchen!
Clayton Howe is the creator and host of Entertainment(x) and currently on tour as Earl through the US and Canada in Waitress.
HOT ENOUGH EAT
EAT Those with fetish allergies, look away now – Michael Muñoz is whipping up some sauce in the kitchen, and anything goes!
Photograph Kristin Camping
hen was the last time you ate food off someone’s naked body? Have you ever fed a love interest some sultry piece of deliciousness? Or have you been so hard up you’ve had to use a cucumber or a hole in a melon for some self-satisfaction? As funny or as awkward as any of this may make you feel, our relationship with food and sex are not that far apart. From sexy dinners that lead to sealing the deal, to things we won’t eat because there’s a chance we may be getting some, to foods that feed our libido and, of course, fetishes, food plays an important role in our sex lives. Surely the two most satisfying things in this world are food and sex. If you go without either for a while, the hanger is real! Am I right or am I right? But what is it about food that’s so satisfying? I mean, obviously I get the nourishing part. But I’m talking more along the lines of that first bite that gives you goosebumps. How about that one dish you can’t get enough of? Or that meal that gives you the warm and fuzzies? American Pie hit the nail on the head in that infamous scene where Jason Biggs’ character sticks his member in a warm pie. Granted, he was doing it for different reasons, but it’s that feeling that the food is so good you want to do
dirty things to it. And why shouldn’t you? There is no lack of fetishes to satisfy even the freakiest of freaky, but when it comes to food play, these fixations are as old as the hills. The most obvious one is the overeating fetish. There are people out there obsessed with feeding you till you can’t be fed anymore, and it’s pure ecstasy for them. To be honest, if I wasn’t born gay and vanity wasn’t beat into me by society, I think I’d be down with this. In the age of social media, it has taken on the form of something called Mukbang. There are people out there making MILLIONS of dollars on YouTube by filming themselves sloppily overeating – and folks really get off on it! Then there’s the fetish of eating food off someone’s body. We all remember that Sex And The City episode with the naked sushi and, let’s be real, if you haven’t had a whipped cream or chocolate sauce moment you’re missing out. From watching people smash foods with their bodies to self-pleasure with melons and squash, the world is our oyster in the food-fetish world and I say, as long as it’s organic, let your freak flag fly! Speaking of oysters, food plays a very important role in keeping our libido healthy. There is an awesome episode of my podcast, In Yo Mouth, where I talk to Dr Stephanie Zgraggen about this subject. According to Dr Z, as we age, it’s important that we keep our hormones in balance and focus on the adrenal glands, as they are a major player in getting and
“Surely the two most satisfying things in this world are food and sex. If you go without either for a while, the hanger is real!”
keeping us in the mood. Eating clean and keeping our diets high in protein will help support this, as well as making sure we’re getting a daily intake of vitamin C. Aphrodisiac foods like strawberries can help with this, and they’re fun to play with in the bedroom. Other foods that help get and keep you frisky are figs, nuts (not the ones in my pants, although I am told they have the same effect), avocados, oysters, chili peppers, and asparagus. Yes, asparagus. The reason being that, although these foods may not make you immediately horny, they have essential vitamins and minerals that keep your hormones in check and your juices flowing. Just make sure that after you have that asparagus you’re not immediately going to have a water sports moment. Also, check with your medical professional before taking supplements or doing anything drastic. I may like to play doctor but I am not one! Whether you’re single and ready to mingle, happily partnered, or looking for love in all the wrong places, it’s important to remember that relationships, whether with food or sex, should be healthy yet fun, adventurous, and satisfying for all parties involved. Half the fun for both food and sex is the discovery and exploration, so why not head to your favorite hangout, pull out your best pick-up line, and find someone to have an adventure with. If I can leave you with one last tip, much like you do with the loose vegetables in the grocery store, always remember to bag it up.
Do you have a dirty little bedroom secret? A really awesome fetish? A fun and sexy story about food? Or just the most sensuous recipe you’d like to share with me? It can be totally anonymous, although I may anonymously discuss the situation on my sexy podcast. Just shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’d love to hear about it.
Playlist DJ Reynolds W57th St - 8th/9th Ave
Classic Irish bar, stiff drinks, wood paneling, colorful characters, and super-friendly staff. I finished writing my first book last year sitting in that booth with the movie poster of The Quiet Man overhead.
Upright Citizens Brigade
W42nd St – 10th/11th Ave It’s hard to write funny without being around funny, so the genius sketch comedy and insane schedule of shows at UCB is pretty easy to love. The improvised musicals make my head explode with joy.
10th Ave – 50th/51st St Built in 1910, I love this place. An old-fashioned local library that always makes me remember and imagine things, which is kind of important in my line of work. My laptop and I can often be found here. A true community center with career coaching, a book discussion group, and “Monday Movies.”
Bar 9 9th Ave - 53rd/54th St
Live music every night with a wide variety of acts, bartenders who know what they’re doing, a solid bar menu, and a nice neighborhood vibe. There’s nothing like live music to shut off the noise in your head.
Pier 84 W44th St - 12th Ave
The biggest public pier in Hudson River Park, this place has the USS Intrepid, kayak rentals, a dog park, green space to picnic, plus good eating close by. The best part is, of course, the mighty Hudson that blissfully reminds me that I’m still living on an enchanted island and that rivers (like life) just keep rolling along.
IMAGE: JASON KAUFMAN
Alone Again (Naturally) - Jonathan Coulton By Myself - Rosemary Clooney One Man Band - Old Dominion Solitaire - The Carpenters I Get Along Without You Very Well - Chet Baker David Dean Bottrell is an actor (Modern Family) and monologist whose latest solo show, David Dean Bottrell Makes Love (a comic collage of true “love stories”) returns to the Triad Theater on February 12, 19, and 26 (triadnyc.com). The live audiobook version of the show will be released on Valentine’s Day by Random House Audio.
A Mean Girl’s
La Bergamote, W52nd St - 10th/11th Ave This spot is perfect for casual, light breakfast fare. I’m usually too wiped out on Sunday mornings (after two shows on Saturday and before our final two of the week) to cook breakfast, so I’ll make my way to La Berg for their chive scrambled eggs, quiches, or, if I happened to go the gym that week, an almond croissant and coffee. It’s my favorite place to sit down for breakfast.
Amy’s Bread, 9th Ave - 46th/47th St But … Amy’s Bread egg sandwiches will always be a go-to in a rush!
Westerly Market, 8th Ave - 54th St If you don’t think Westerly is the eighth wonder of the world, you’re doing it wrong. I am obsessed with this natural market, and they are the sole reason I’ve gotten through cold and flu season each year while leading a Broadway show eight times a week.
Clinton Community Garden, W48th St 9th/10th Ave This is a perfect hideaway nook that is always serene and a great place to bring a book and a blanket to recharge. I love little places like this – they help me stay afloat and calm in our crazy city.
IMAGE: CORINNE LOUIE
Añejo, 10th Ave - 47th St Because we get out so late from work, any spot that serves food past 11pm on a weeknight is definitely a must. Añejo is my go-to for margaritas and carnitas tacos. Also getting a shout out is Vanguard (W52st St - 7th/8th Ave) for a quick glass of wine in a quiet atmosphere, and Casellula (W52nd St - 9th/10th Ave) if I’m feeling particularly deserving. The crew at these places always make my friends and me at home and it feels like family any time we walk in. Erika Henningsen originated the role of Cady Heron in Mean Girls on Broadway. She moved to Hell’s Kitchen when the show started rehearsals and, at first, the location and proximity to the theater was the main selling point. But after two years in the neighborhood, she’s fallen in love with the local spots, some of her favorite sommeliers and cheese gourmands, and, of course, the local pooches.
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LIVING I experienced it I called the cops because I though someone was trying to break into my apartment! I learned I can’t stand the smell of any kind of smoke, so I really need a no-smoking building. I like the security that a doorman gives me, and the anonymity of a larger building. I also love to move. I love the packing and unpacking … the throwing away of all the stuff that I realize I don’t need.
neighbor! The minute she left Hell’s Kitchen eight years ago, Victoria knew she’d made a mistake. Now she’s back – and it feels like home at last
IMAGE: PHIL O’BRIEN
Profession: I’m a make-up artist, and I’ve worked in TV for over 20 years (victoriabmua.com). Moving from: I grew up in NYC, and was living in Harlem, on 140th St. To: A little slice of heaven in the sky in Hell’s Kitchen, on W42nd St - 11th Ave. Why: I lived in HK for almost 10 years and moved away for eight. But as soon as I left, all I wanted to do was come back. I
Above: Victoria discovered the delights of a luxury building, complete with elevator, doorman ... and no clanging pipes!
love this neighborhood. It also took me 40 minutes to get to work and, when I had to get to clients’ or photographers’ studios with my make-up kit, it became very expensive to take cabs. I bounced around the city – UES and Harlem – but never felt that I was home … until I came back to the hood. My budget: Never enough! Lessons I learned along the way: I used to think I was more walk up than high rise. But now I know that’s not really true. I lived in a four-story walk up and every winter the clanging of the pipes would wake me up at 2am. The first time
On the check list: I wanted an elevator – I can’t do all those steps with a big kit of make-up. I also wanted a doorman, and I really wanted a new building – I’m too afraid of bed bugs. Also, a no smoking policy was important to me. In my last building every day was 4/20! There also had to be a place for packages – in my last building, people would sneak into the lobby and steal packages. It was big issue. What sealed the deal: The apartment has a beautiful view, a washer/dryer, and walk-in closet. Dream! My favorite thing about living in Hell’s Kitchen: So many of my friends live here. I’m a block from the water, a block from a great supermarket, all the restaurants, two movie theaters, all the trains, and St Malachy’s Church.
VITAL STATS Where: W42nd St - 11th Ave # stories: 71 # units: 1,175 Built: 2016 $ one-bed apartment: $4,246 Amenities: What doesn’t it have?! They offer a laundry room, even though there is washer dryer in apartment. There is a bike room and pet sitters. The management office is in building. There is access to a gym, a park on the 10th floor that is open from spring to late fall, access to a pool in the gym, and concierge, dry cleaning, a tailor, and a cleaning service. Pet-friendly? Yes. I’m thinking about getting a dog.
sex and relationships
Tickle your fancy?
It’s not strictly a sex toy, obviously, but this ostrich feather duster doubles as a playful tickler (when you’re not using it to get rid of the cobwebs in the corner). $36, november19market.com
Close your eyes …
When you deprive one sense, the others are naturally enhanced. Take away sight, and you’ll feel everything else with much more intensity. We like this red leather blindfold because it’s lined with fleece, making it nice and soft. And, if you prefer to shop in person, there are stores on the UES and the West Village. $29.95, thepleasurechest.com
Wear your preferred gender pronoun with pride. This enamel pin keeps things nice and easy. Turn the crystal dial to tell the world who you are. You’ll also be supporting a small, local business, the New York Toy Collective, whose specialty is self-affirming products for all forms of gender expression $10, weloveshag.com
LET’S GET IT ON The sex shops have largely disappeared from The Deuce, but if you know where to look, there’s a new generation of saucy shopping destinations in the city
Resistance is futile
The harness could hardly be hotter, after Louis Vuitton sent one down the runway (and Timothée Chalamet promptly wore one to the Golden Globes). This one – made from stretchy spandex – comes from Hell’s Kitchenbased lifestyle blog and underwear online store He Is Style. Shop local, friends! $28, heisstyle.com
sex and relationships
Don’t just sit there …
The patented design of the Tantra Chair (also known as the Kama Sutra chair) means it doesn’t just look good – it has all the right curves to maximize your loving. You may never go back to flat again. And, naturally, the leather is wipe clean. From $1,299, tantrachair.com
Ramp things up
These lace, ribbon, and silk knickers are made to be untied. And, while we’re on the subject of the crotch, feast your eyes on some magnificent specimens in the underwear and swimwear (and no wear) magazine Crotch. $85 & $15, maison10.com
Using masturbation as a metaphor for New York’s recent wave of real estate development, design firm Wolfgang & Hite has crafted a collection of luxury dildos modeled on the architecture of Hudson Yards. The Vessel butt plus is a particular office favorite (personal reviews available on request). $75, wolfgang-hite.com
Get a little lift here, a bolster there, and suddenly you’re hitting spots you were beginning to think were the stuff of myth. The Wedge/Ramp Combo gives just the right amount of support for some of your favorite positions, and has been hailed as the “greatest invention for sex since the bed.” $250, liberator.com
All tied up
Bondage can bring a sense of adventure to your sex life. Take your lover prisoner with gauntlet cuffs, tied behind or in front of their body, and find out what they’ll do to gain their freedom. Eve’s Garden is “Zagat’s #1 rated discreet shop in NYC” – but you can find it on W57th St - 6th/7th Ave. $47.95, evesgarden.com
If you’ve read the reviews on Amazon, you’ll start to realize why you haven’t seen most of the women in your life for a couple of weeks. They’re not doing Dry January; they’ve locked themselves in their apartments with Tracy’s Dog. What sets this apart from your average vibrator is the clitoral sucking feature. A sample of those reviews for your reading pleasure: “This is a weapon. It cured my depression, I don’t go to therapy anymore.” “I’m dead. I died and I’m never leaving my house again.” “I’m not convinced any human contact for the rest of my life will ever measure up to the intensity of this.” “My legs went straight out like those goats who faint when scared.” $49, tracysdog.com
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Parisians versus New Yorkers – Sophia Strawser compares how the two cities burn their calories (and eats her body weight in baguette)
IMAGE: SERENA MERRY
he NYC hustle is such a part of my daily life that, whenever I go on vacation, I’m already researching workout studios before I’ve even booked the Airbnb. And, since I’m a dedicated subscriber to ClassPass (which is now available in over 30 countries), on a recent trip to Paris, I decided to see how the city of lights compares to the city that never sleeps. After sitting alone in a restaurant called Big Love (highly recommended) eating an entire pizza by myself and washing it down with wine, I felt it was an appropriate time to book some workout classes for my next few days in the city. (Insert that grin you do when you are halfway between “treat yo self” and “I treat myself far too much to reach my goals.”) I love cycling so that was the first thing I wanted to track down. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as you might think. Because, while I’m no stranger to working out while traveling, one thing I hadn’t thought about until recently is how other countries or cities exercise: their preferred times, and what kind of workouts are most common. There are a crazy number of aqua biking studios (the word “aqua” had me baffled – were there that many indoor pools hidden around Paris?), but after some digging, I was able to find two classes to scratch that cycling itch. Dynamo Cycling is basically SoulCycle, but in French. They do have some classes in English, but if you’re even remotely familiar with SoulCycle, just follow the instructor and you’ll be
amazed at how well you keep up. Summit Cycle was more like Flywheel – not my favorite because I prefer a music-based class and this was more about the competition between the classmates. But it was still a great studio to try out. As you might imagine, it was less hard to find a Pilates or yoga studio. For every spin class, I had at least five matbased classes to choose from. I tried Pilates at Chez Simone (talk about a dreamy studio – my jet lagged self really didn’t deserve to be there), and Fit’Ballet (this is what I imagine when I picture a Parisian women – coming off the street from having an espresso and a cigarette and going straight to the barre). I tried hot yoga at Modo Yoga, mainly because it was the only studio I could find that had a class before 11am on a Sunday, but I was so happy I stumbled on to it. It was well thought out, with hot tea in the corner, clean showers, dim lighting, and soft music. The instructor was even nice enough to switch to English when he saw me over in the corner, still in downward dog as the rest of the class had moved on. The major difference between the two cities, however, was in the workout times. In New York, I can find a class any time, any day. In Paris, classes were around 7am or 8am, 12pm, and then again at 6pm – there was very little, if anything, in the late morning or afternoon. Apparently, Parisians are more likely to work out at lunchtime, according to my mole at Class Pass. I’d guess
Below: In Paris, does drinking copious cups of coffee and eating cheese count as a workout?
New York is more of a before-work or after-work kind of crowd, but with classes throughout the day for all those people with not-so-common schedules (like myself). Well, I’m off to eat enough cheese to discredit any workout I did in the last week, but until next time, this is @SophieStrawser saying au revoir.
Diary of a
DUMPEE The seven stages of getting over a break up
ong story short: I fell hard in love, was dumped on the corner of W47th St - 10th Ave, and I did not die. It all started with a like of his picture on a popular dating app. He liked my pic back. And just like that, we were unlocked to the next level in the matchmaking game. We met at Back Pocket bar. He was new to the hood so I thought I’d give him a little tour. He complimented me on my skirt (yaaas!) and we talked for what felt like hours. He walked me home and gave me a goodnight kiss. I was smitten from the start. This time was different, I swear. But, in the back of my mind, I knew there were red flags. He was divorced just a year. New in his apartment. And he had a demanding job that meant he was on the road from Monday to Thursday. But I loved cuddling on Sunday mornings, and how he’d go to the local supermarket to buy ingredients for breakfast. I loved wearing his sweatpants. He cooked me dinner. We went running together along the Hudson. We had Star Wars nights. We explored the city. We picked ticks off each other after our first weekend away out in Montauk (romantic, right?), and he even got me a toothbrush to keep at his place. He made me feel appreciated, wanted, needed, and he accepted me for me. I’d never had a guy make me feel so special before. He’s the first guy who made me think I want a family. What?! Even my girlfriends were shocked when I told them this.
– Mary Geneva learned the hard way Of course, everything is always great in the beginning, and the first few months were awesome. But, somewhere around the four-month mark, his communication started to dwindle, and the text messages started to get generic. Then I was dumped. He didn’t feel a bond, he said. He wasn’t excited to see me, he said. He’d done some soul searching, yadda, yadda, yadda, it just wasn’t going to work out. And that was it. It was all very adult. We walked back to my place, I gave him his belongings back, we hugged, and poof! He was gone. But it really sucked.
The taco phase The day after the dumping, I ate six food items from Taco Bell in one sitting and enjoyed every damn bite. I’m not one of those girls who can’t eat when depressed. Pass me the carbs, please! I tried every single hot sauce packet in Taco Bell’s repertoire that night.
The numb phase It’s almost like an out-of-body experience. You’re putting up barriers from being hurt by going numb. You can’t accept this yet.
The keep-yourself-busy-24/7 phase Also known as the “spend every second not alone for validation that you’re still breathing and will survive having your heart stepped on” phase. Fuck. I’d devoted every Saturday night of the past five months to this guy. I needed to keep busy. I caught up with friends for three days straight and booked myself a spa day. Then I hit the gym.
Grieving It feels like someone has died. One minute he’s there, the next he’s gone. The texting-every-one-of-your-bestgirlfriends phase “SOS I got dumped.” “It’s his loss.” “You’re beautiful and successful and will find someone.” “He didn’t deserve you.” “It just wasn’t the right time.” “You’re strong and will get over it.” The sympathy texts go on, and I appreciate them. I REALLY do. But your heart still feels like it’s been shredded into pieces and thrown in the Hudson.
The wine phase The following Saturday, I drank. A lot. I holed myself up in my studio apartment with my dog and watched every spinoff of 90 Day Fiancé. It actually helped me feel a lot better – there’s always someone out there who has it even worse than you.
The acceptance phase I’m taking a few weeks off dating and spending QT with friends and my dog instead. I’m also using this time to dig deep and figure out what I really want from my next relationship – and life in general. I’m also planning my next vacation. I recently read that the secret to a good life is to pay attention to the beginnings rather than the endings. I’m going to try and follow this.
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 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.
SOBER IN THE CITY
You know it’s 2020 when
I CONCEDE A POINT
Do not adjust your sets – there is a new Kristen Jongen on the block, and she’s not taking any of your 2019 shit!
don’t know about you, but I was desperate for 2019 to end. By the time December 31 rolled around, I was sickened by everything about it. From the stupid tweets and sex scandals to the misunderstandings and constant fighting, I felt steeped in a garbage stew (and that was my own “recovered” life!) I couldn’t even bear to plug into the national landscape. Until the bitter end, 2019 made me its bitch. Like many of us, I gasped for a cleansing breath. I did the elbow crawl through the sand and across the finish line into 2020. At last, it is here. I for one could not be happier. The world seems to feel the same way. Fresh air has blown in, and times, they are a-changin. In 2020, I am committed to moving forward. This gal will not be breathing life back into tired drama. As a part of my emotional rehabilitation, I am refusing to rehash past complainy, woe-is-me stories, no matter how juicy they were. The 2020 KJ claps-back at such nonsense. When someone asks, I reply: “Oh, I don’t talk about that. It’s so 2019.”
Money problems? Blip. Misunderstandings that led to tears? Bloop. Men that turned out to be something other than what they presented themselves as, and thereby made me doubt my sanity? Blap. A horrific political landscape that challenged my faith in humanity? ... erm ... Blurp. I gather myself in the name of progress. Will you join me? I cannot do it alone. The compulsion to dig up old wounds, share negative posts, pick at scabs, and poke sleeping dogs (especially when bored) can be overwhelming. So, in retaliation, my enlightened friends and I have launched a campaign to help move us forward. We have started sending messages and photos to each other that are about change, progress, and welcoming a brand new day. For the next 11 months, we will employ a phrase that starts with: “You know it’s 2020 ...” in order to remind each other that this is no ordinary era. 2020 is about to turn shit up. Here are a few academic examples.
IMAGE: JULIO NUNYO
“As a part of my emotional rehabilitation, I am refusing to rehash past complainy, woeis-me stories, no matter how juicy they were.”
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
“You know it’s 2020 when the British Royals up and quit the monarchy to move to LA.” “You know it’s 2020 when pickle bouquets outsell incredible edibles.” “You know its 2020 when Brad Pitt thanks Bradley Cooper IN PUBLIC for helping him get sober.” “You know it’s 2020 when I am considering getting my nipple pierced.” You heard me. Part of the transformation is to make a simple decision. I am only a few weeks in, and I have already preemptively deleted dozens of knee-jerk responses to social media, email, and text messages with a quick press of the delete button. “You know it’s 2020 when I think twice.” I would love for you, dear readers, to join me. Please jump in on the conversation on my FB page: Kristen Jongen. Oh, I know FB is old-timey, and what’s-his-face’s politics are questionable. But, you know it’s 2020 when I surrender to the fact that FB is easiest to use ... and I desperately want to connect with you. That being said, you know it’s 2020 when I also have an IG and Tik Tok account with the same name. Let’s get this party started. Your friend in recovery,
Wagging Tito + Ariel Cashew
Human’s name: Adam. Age: Nine. Breed: Mostly Chihuahua (I think). What makes me bark: Anyone at the door of the apartment. Three words that describe me best: Feisty, smart, loyal. Confession: My home is great and I feel safe and happy here, but sometimes I worry about Adam.
Badger Humans’ names: Randi and Bruce. Age: Nineish (I’m a rescue so that’s the best estimate). Breed: English Springer Spaniel. What makes me bark: Pumpkins. Three words that describe me best: Playful, loving, hyper. Confession: I eat cat poop.
Humans’ names: Amber and Tom. Age: Tito – one. Ariel – five. Breed: T – terrier mix. A – silky terrier. What make us bark: T – another dog or animal on the TV. Even animated. I went nuts for commercials for Secret Life of Pets. A – when it’s time for my GREENIE!!! Three words that describe us best: T – smart, playful, cute. A – cuddly, sweet, assertive. Confession: T – I like to wake Mommy up by climbing on top of her and squeaking a toy in her ear to get her to play. A – I am super spoiled and I always get what I want.
PETS These camera-happy cuties took a time out for a quick Q&A with W42ST
Chip Human’s name: Hilary. Age: Three (I think). Breed: Chihuahua/Doxie mix. What makes me bark: Food and visitors. Three words that describe me best: Observant, sweet, food-motivated. Confession: I stole my friend’s bone from his apartment.
Human’s name: Chiqui. Age: Around five (I’m a rescue, so my human doesn’t know my exact age). Breed: Miniature Poodle. What makes me bark: I bark non-stop whenever I play chase with other dogs, especially with Finn and Lladro (I love these two cuties so much). Three words that describe me best: Sweet, loyal, and playful. Confession: I am a rescue from Arizona who found a loving home and I have blossomed in it. I believe that dreams do come true. Look at me, I’m living the best life in the best city in the world ... New York City, darling!
So many of you have contacted us, asking how your own happy hound or cute kitty can be included in Wagging Tales. Well, we’ve heard your pleas, duly considered them, and thought, hey, what the heck, why not? (We must have been barking mad not to have thought of it sooner!) This all means, of course, that you can now send us the finest photograph you can find of your furry best friend, answer the questions below, then cross your paws you’ll be included in our monthly column of local canine (and kitty) celebrities. Your name: Pet’s name: Breed: How old? What makes your pet bark or purr? Three words that describe them best: Naughty confessions (dish the dirt – not literally, of course!): And are you an Insta-animal? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do the rest.
“New York City is all about sex. People getting it, people trying to get it, people who can’t get it. No wonder the city never sleeps. It’s too busy trying to get laid.”
he final episode of Sex and the City aired 16 years ago, on February 22, 2004. Over 94 episodes (and two feature films), we followed the sexual misadventures of four friends living and loving in Manhattan. The final season saw Carrie move to Paris to be with her sullen artist lover Alexandr Petrovsky (and “rescued” by Big, who brought our heroine back to New York). Samantha survived breast cancer (and the loss of her libido), Miranda finally reunited with Steve, the father of her son (and helped nurse his aging mother after she suffered a stroke), and Charlotte converted to
Judaism to marry her divorce lawyer. The couple went on to adopt a daughter after multiple attempts to get pregnant. The series broke boundaries, started fashion trends, and made it acceptable to talk about blow jobs over brunch. The 1990s were Carrie Bradshaw’s decade. But, by 2016, even Sarah Jessica Parker was admitting she’d found the character … problematic. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal magazine, she said: “In truth, it took real work every day to be her, to understand her, to not judge her.” And the fans had to agree. Grazia magazine called her “the actual worst.” An article in Elle said she was the ultimate anti-heroine. “Carrie
Bradshaw is an idiot,” it said. “Carrie Bradshaw is a sucker. And – this is the part that kills me – Carrie Bradshaw is a fake feminist who’s holding down the patriarchy, one pun at a time.” And The Guardian couldn’t help but wonder: “Did Carrie ruin Sex and the City?” It also called the series out on its lack of any non-white regulars and “racial insensitivities.” However, on the 20th anniversary of the show’s premiere, the newspaper published an opinion piece arguing that, despite its flaws, “it was, and is, a brilliant, daring, pioneering show.” And if you still can’t agree, there’s always #WokeCharlotte. Thank you, internet.
AINSWORTH SOCIAL 2020
SHOWING THE LOVE
THE WEEK OF LOVE AT SOCIAL FEBRUARY 10TH - 14TH
MONDAY Game Night at Social - Happy Hour all night for Locals (With ID)
PDA Storytelling Show 7pm
DRINK SPECIALS FOR ALL OF FEBRUARY Come in and try our Signature Social Cocktail $8.99
RESERVATIONS: 212-234-0090 EMAIL: EVENTS@PAIGECONCEPTSNY.COM 645 9TH AVENUE (CORNER OF 45TH AND 9TH)
Jazz of Love - Playing all your favorite Love Songs
Afterwork Meet UP - Network and Find connections
Find LOVE Friday Singles Night - DJ “Happy Valentine’s Day” Ladies Night
JAZZ NIGHT Every Wednesday - with a mix of new jazz bands every week
AFTERWORK THURSDAY AND FRIDAY Happy Hour Specials all of February
SOCIAL LOVE COUPON COME IN WITH THIS AD and get 15% off your bill
the Welcome to eason! S 0 2 0 2 g n i r Sp
S W O H S T A SEE W H ! U O Y W O H CAN S With nine more shows this season, you and your family can travel far and wide with New Victory! Marionettes from ITALY Circus from FRANCE Theater from the NETHERLANDS and more! Photo: Laura Luca
THE NEW VICTORYÂ® THEATER NewVictory.org
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New York stories from a domme, a sub, and a photographic journey of sexual self-discovery. Adults only!