The only rewarding aspect of being young and well connected in New York City is that you will always find a party to go to (or crash) any night of the week. Promoters take note, if you throw it, I will come. So much so that merely a month after arriving in New York, Friday and Saturday nights became a respite from my otherwise hectic weekly agenda. Every single night, I’d find a different party at a different spot. It kept the crowds moving from the East Village down to the Lower East Side, over on to Williamsburg and back over the bridge to Chelsea or Chinatown. And the week culminated on Sunday night with the biggest, most notorious party in all of Manhattan, or so I had heard.
I will never forget my first Sunday night at the Hiro Ballroom for the Cuckoo Club, the dance party at the Maritime Hotel in the Meatpacking District. Hosted by Amanda Lepore, the poster child/cover girl of the freakshow/fashionshow nightlife debaucheries that regained popularity in the 21st century with the release of the film, Party Monster, and her entourage of club-kid socialites, Hiro’s feels like being trapped in a David LaChapelle photoshoot. The longer you stayed, the slower time passed. Everyone wanted to be here, beautiful and young, dearly clutching on to the last night of the week. Because as soon as Monday rolled around, it meant a new cycle, more wrinkles and worries and the awareness that nothing lasts forever.
Amateur models, prolific porn stars and glowing go-go boys, tanned creatures mingling with the stylish creeps of the underworld: it’s a kaleidoscope of characters and here I am too, swimming in the dark. I’ve dragged a guy I met that Thursday at Splash, the frat boy frenzy that caters to young, Midwest transplants still carrying their college IDs and popping their collar.
There was no cover, but unless we wanted to wait in line, it was vital to schmooze with the snobby doorboy whom I had met a week prior at The Plumm in the West Village. As soon as we step, Frat Boy comments on how this is so not his scene. Which I always think it’s just a condescending way of saying that someone is not comfortable or secure in the environment. And I guess he had a point, this party is not for everyone, but removing themselves from the festivities so early in the night just doesn’t feel right to me. That’s so not my scene.
So he’s surprised when I tell him that I want to stay pass our first drink.
“I’ve got to get going, though,” Frat Boy says. “I have work in the morning… don’t you?”
“Yeah, but I’m already out, it’s not like I’m going to stay here until dawn. If you want to go, just go. I’ll be fine.”
“By yourself? Isn’t that a little weird?”
“There’s a transsexual walking around topless and dancing by the bar. Trust me, I’ll be fine.”
Frat Boy takes off and I never see him again. But I don’t care. I order another drink and walk to the top of the stairs. From up so high, I can see the entire Japanese-inspired ballroom and the pool of men glistening under the bright red lights. Tonight I don’t have an agenda. I’m more of a spectator, observing from the sidelines. Perhaps I will dive in some other night. I finish my gin and tonic and head down towards the main entrance. It is getting late, and I do have to be at work at ten in the morning.
I decide that instead of trying to maneuver my way through the crowd, pushing and shoving my way out, I should take the route that leads through the elevated booths and out the other side. As I walk by, I notice a tall black guy with glitter on his face and wearing a tight leather jacket smoking a cigarette. Several people in the booths are, so I take my pack of Parliament lights out and light one.
I don’t remember exactly how it happened, I think I must have approached someone and started a stifling conversation, but next thing I know I’m sitting in one of the booths, talking to two tall guys, both at Columbia law school. Guys are lounging all around the booth, lurking almost. I take a look around, counter clockwise sitting down, it’s me, tall law student, tall law student #2, dark-haired hottie in a fedora, a baby-faced, blue-eyed boy with spiky, frosted hair, a fit black guy wearing a tank top and… wait, a minute. That baby face! Those blue eyes! The spiky, frosted hair! It’s former N’ Sync’er Lance Bass! What is he doing here? What am I doing sitting at his table?
But I can’t freak out and act like a teeny bopper fanatic, that would just diminish my luck and finesse that got me sitting almost next to a former pop star. Besides, when it comes to celebrities, I’ve learned it’s best to pretend you have no idea of their social magnitude. It’s all about keeping composure. Someone introduces me to Lance, and I manage not to bring up how I used to sing, “Tearin’ Up My Heart” in the shower when I was 13.
Apparently that summer, Lance was doing a stint in some Broadway show and was a common sight all over New York at various gay parties and other events. So it wasn’t that glorious that I ended up “hanging out” with him.
It gets to be almost 3:30 a.m., I’m running out of conversation topics with the group and I still have to work the next morning. At this point, Lance has stood up and is now lingering close by, dancing in place with a few other guys. I say my goodbyes to all and go down to where Lance is standing.
He’s just standing there, not talking or anything, so I go up to him to say goodbye. Even though I’ve just met him, I act like we’ve been friends since… we were both in the Mickey Mouse Club. I’m not a bit intimidated, so I give him a hug and make sure to inhale deeply when I get up close to his neck. He smells like baby powder.
So it’s true what they say: you should always aim for the moon, no matter how many plastic surgeries she has gone through. Even if you miss, you’ll still soar with former pop stars.
[Photos courtesy of OUT.com]