"The summer is here and the time is right for dancing in the streets"... or hanging out. We did some of our usual stops this week, which I want to shout out as suggested social fare for all of you who may come to New York City (as folks do during June, July, and August).
My Frankie, who I've known for about a decade now and is truly my 'first brother' in the National Association of Black Journalists, graciously invited me to accompany him to the Upper East Side of Manhattan's Gracie Mansion (www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/gracie.html). Mayor Bloomberg welcomed a huge, tented party of gays from New York City's poltical world onto his property to celebrate the coming of New York City PRIDE (www.nycpride.org/), the big LGBTQ festival that occurs throughout June (Borough to Borough) with parties, parades, and policies on the frontburner. In fact, the Mayor announced a program that the Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services has adopted that will make HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE for DOMESTIC PARTNERS available (www.nyc.gov/healthstate). I'm sure there's more work to be done in regard to equal benefits and rights for gays, but this is a step in the right direction. Anthony and I may now put some more urgency in our desired move to Manhattan.
Meanwhile, my Morehouse brother and dear friend Mario and I got the chance to get some one-on-one time earlier this week. We did drinks at a spot in Chelsea called Room Service (www.roomservicerestaurant.com/). From there, we did "scallops and grits" at Anthony's friend Marcos' spot VOYAGE. Marcos hosts parties at VOYAGE which is in the West Village (www.myspace.com/voyagerestaurant). Now, THIRST: THE CLASSIC SOCIAL HOUR FOR BOYZ will take place every Wednesday (from 5 - 12 [HAPPY HOUR is 5 - 8]). Additionally, Marcos and he and Anthony's friend Robert (who had been doing a TUESDAY night set at Pier 2110 in Harlem [www.pier2110.com/]), but now say on TUESDAYS, they will be using our spot GINGER (www.gingerexpress.com/press.html) at which N HARLEM (http://www.nharlemnewyork.com/) does a FIRST WEDNESDAYS set. Last week, Anthony and I attended that set and had a great time with Natasha, who works at N HARLEM. We enjoyed dancing with her and meeting her friend Q, who is a well-known stylist extraordinaire. One of his friends is a young Morehouse brother of mine. And as always, with N (Lenn, Larry, Nikoa, Jamar, and Natasha) and GINGER involved, ENERGY is great and off the charts.
But back to Mario's and my night. We decided to pop by SPLASH (www.splashbar.com/) which on Monday does a big party under the title of a good friend of mine Scott Nevins. (www.ScottNevins.com). Scott and I have auditioned to host a number of shows in New York City and when we've been "combo'd" together, we've found our chemistry to be off the charts. He's a very talented personality and performer and you can learn more about him via his www.myspace.com/ScottNevins . On this night, his 'CURTAIN CALL' featured Carly Jibson, Tracy in the Broadway production and National Tour of "Hairspray". After we looked at endless clips of Tony, Oscar, and Broadway performances - including "Dreamgirls" (on the TONY Awards 1982) and "Dreamgirls" (on the OSCARS 2007), Carly performed a handful of songs including her "Hairspray" gems; Irene Cara's "Flashdance (What a Feeling)"; Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)"; etc. Scott, then, came up to host a quick contest featuring a few people singing a capella songs from "Dreamgirls". One guy got up and did an excerpt from "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"; another did "One Night Only"; and one more Chelsea boy did Beyonce's "Listen". Mario looked at me and said "Rack [He calls me Rack as in PATARACK]? I need to hear some 'I Am Changing'". So, THIS JUST IN, I popped on the stage and surprised Scott with my presence and my announcement that I would lunge into an impromptu "I Am Changing". The response was great! And I won a signed, "Dreamgirls" poster. It was good to see Scott again. And he noted that he'd like us to do something together very soon as he's becoming steadily "the master of all media". So, I look forward to that.
From there, Mario and I stumbled into "Helen's" Cabaret and Piano Bar for one more drink before I was to get in my car service to go home (www.helensnyc.com/). There, Mario negotiated another song for me to sing with the pianist. It was "My Funny Valentine" and it received a lovely response. (I enjoy singing, I guess you can tell....). We also ran into Flotilla DeBarge, renowned and adored drag queen, who is poised to perform "her" new show in Helen's Hideaway Room. It's called "Flotilla DeBarge: Live from Cellblock H" and it is running Thursday June 14 - Saturday June 16 --- all showtimes at 9:30 pm. It's a $15 cover and $15 food and/or beverage minimum. Go check "her" out, if you're around!!!
By the way, Ern and I got the chance to get our Hackensack, New Jersey Houston's on (www.hillstone.com) this past Saturday and we ran into Chris Rock's wife Malaak, who I had the chance to interview years ago about her Styleworks (www.styleworks.org/news.htm), a program that helps welfare-to-work women transition back into society with the proper attire and make-up. She and her daughters were enjoying a nice lunch.
Also, last night, Anthony and I were to join our South African girlfriend Melony and many of her friends and our mutual friends for 'opera' in Central Park's Great Lawn. It was to be "Boheme". But unlike Miss Ross, whose 1983 show on The Great Lawn went on in the rain (for a little bit) before returning the next day to sunshine, "Boheme" was cancelled. Instead, my "Amazing Grace" Nichole, Anthony, Melony, and I enjoyed a lovely "Greek" meal of fried calf liver; shrimp dishes; hummus; wine and/or Veuve Clicquot (www.veuve-clicquot.com/) at Beyoglu (www.beyoglunyc.com). From there, we met some of Melony's friends (in town for PROMAX, big convention for PROMOTIONS producers and executives - www.promax.tv ). Ava Lounge was that spot. (www.avaloungenyc.com/) atop the oft-mentioned DREAM hotel, Anthony's and my favorite (www.dreamny.com/). From there, Melony's South African friend and former colleague Stephan, a creative director for United Senses (www.unitedsenses.tv) for drinks at STK, which is a hot, New York City spot in the meat-packing district (www.stkhouse.com). There, we ran into comedian George Lopez.
If these few days are the gauge, New York City and all within the radar of 'the life of Riley' are in for a treat! LET'S HAVE FUN!!!