Out Goes to Israel: Eliad Cohen
Photos: Yaniv Edry
Eliad Cohen wants to sleep with you — in a piazza near the Ponte Vecchio, with the waves of Leblon crashing out front, high above the streets of Chelsea, or late at night on a terrace in the heart of Tel Aviv. He’ll take you wherever you want. And he loves groups.
Welcome to Gay-ville, population: you and everyone you know. With Cohen as the scruffy marketing and PR face behind Gay-ville.com, which launched during last year’s Tel Aviv Pride, the brand has steadily carved out its niche in the vacation rental market as a spunky cross between European Bed & Breakfast (EBAB.de) and AirBNB.com.
“We have all traveled and had to deal with bad situations at hotels or not having any inside information of what to do,” explains Cohen. “Now there’s no question. We know what gays like and where they want to be — in the center of it all. And at ease.”
That attitude — not to mention a score of winking YouTube commercials that typically end with a near-naked Cohen sexing up your screen, often with the comedic assistance of Gila Goldstein, Israel’s first transsexual and a Rubenesque force of nature — has grown a base of 50 initial hosts to more than 2,500 properties in 360 cities and 64 countries around the globe. Not bad for a lark from four friends who met through a mutual gal pal at the beach.
Event listings and city guides written by locals and jazzed up by personalities such as drag sensation Shequida add value beyond the beds, but Cohen credits community as the business’s real driving force. “If the world is six degrees of separation, gays have, like, two or three,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve partied with my guests. We’ve become friends. It’s like making the world a small village.” A gay village, if you will.
Eliad Cohen’s Tel Aviv Must List
Bauhaus Architecture: Tel Aviv is known as the “White City” because of the many Bauhaus buildings. Check out the Bauhaus walking tour, starting at the former City Hall located on Bialik Street.
Hilton Hotel Beach: Tel Aviv is a beach town, and the gay beach is located behind the Hilton Hotel. There’s a beach bar as well, so you can stay well hydrated while you work on your tan.
Neve Tzedek: This bohemian neighborhood is one of the oldest parts of Tel Aviv, and it’s filled with great little shops, cafés, and restaurants. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped out of the city for a little while.
Gay Nightlife: Some of our best clubs include HaOman (“The Artist” in Hebrew), The Block, Lima Lima on a Monday night, and Drek.
Watch Cohen with Amanda Lepore (and friends).