Toronto
3 min

Broadway baby baiting

In my quest to bring you the latest from the world of arts and culture as seen through my perspectus homosexualis, my gay peepers, my “Mama Rose”-coloured glasses, if you will, I have gone the extra mile this week. Literally. Yes, I’ve really gone the distance to share with you a flamer’s-eye view, a poofter’s periscope, the arts in Nancyvision, Mary had a little arts column…. You get the picture.

The exciting news for you, dear reader, is that I decided to take a weekend and travel to New York City to fill my soul with New York-style art and culture, something I recommend to anyone who needs a little pick me up.

Speaking of “pick me up,” here’s a helpful, though unrelated, hint. If you happen to be engaged in illicit sex in a downtown Toronto park at night with a stranger who looks like he spends afternoons moving furniture and evenings as part of a biker gang, apparently it’s a faux pas to finish the deed with, “Are you on Facebook?” This may be something you did not know, as I didn’t. I believe it is important to impart wisdom where one can.

Anyway, back to my weekend trip to New York City! I am very familiar with the Big Apple as I have been travelling there for years. You’ve heard of Stonewall, the scene of the seminal event that launched gay rights? Well, I was actually at Stonewall that day in 1969. I was in the bar and this cute guy in hot pants came in and yelled, “A bunch of drag queens are rioting outside!”

Infused with the energy of the moment, I put my drink down and headed out front onto Christopher St with the rest of the bar. At which point a giant drag queen who looked like Ann Miller dipped in crazy juice and festooned with sparkles screamed in my face, “Don’t you want your rights?” I was so frightened I nearly wet my pants. Then she picked up a garbage can and launched it through the shop window next door. As she came toward me I screamed like Janet Leigh, grabbed my man purse and ran down Christopher St toward 6th Ave. I didn’t stop running until I got to my friend Richard’s apartment in Washington Square. I walked into his living room with its lovely grand piano at which Richard was entertaining some chic New York friends, including Peter Allen and Liza Minnelli. Overcome with fear and adrenaline from the frightful drag queen and running eight blocks I took one look at Liza, said, “You should wear your hair in a point” and ladyfainted on Richard’s living-room floor.

True story. And I guess you know history was made that day. Liza started wearing her hair in a point. Oh, and that Stonewall thing.

But what I’m saying is that I know New York City like the back of my hand so you can consider this a what-to-do-in-New-York tip fest. Who you do in New York, on the other hand, is entirely different. And completely up to you.

However a word of advice — if you decide during the cab ride from LaGuardia to Manhattan to make sexual advances toward your Turkish cab driver named Afet who has a gravelly rough voice and a whisper of a moustache, it might behoove you to know that Afet is a lady name. And a Turkish lady cab driver can apparently simultaneously pay a toll on the 59th St bridge, eat a deli sandwich and bitchslap you through the open plastic divider, while changing the radio station and singing along to Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle.”

Again these are things one may not know.

So New York City. The first place I went was Broadway. I love everything about Broadway. I was raised on Broadway. My first words as a baby were “Starring Gwen Verdon!”

There are so many Broadway shows you could see this season and you couldn’t go wrong with any of them. First I saw Billy Elliott the Musical, which was darling, and honestly could have been my own life story. If I could dance. And was from England.

The following afternoon I took in a matinee of Next to Normal, a terrific new musical that tells the story of a dysfunctional family with a bipolar mother, played by the gorgeous Alice Ripley, who recently won the Tony. I went to meet her at the backstage door and she kindly smiled at me even though I blurted out, “I love you, Mommy!”

Then, after a quick dinner of four martinis and a Cobb salad at Sardi’s, I took in an evening performance of Ms Jane Fonda in the play 33 Variations. I really enjoyed it, although I didn’t see the whole thing as I was escorted out of the theatre at Intermission. I’d been really annoyed during the show because someone kept yelling out, “Tell ’em, Hanoi Jane!” Later on I discovered it was apparently me.

They make a mean martini at Sardi’s.

I would love to tell you more of my trip, but alas our time together has run out. I bid you farewell, adieu or as Jane Fonda would say, “Get out!”