Our Lady J's guide to New York City
Presented by Las Vegas
The City's very own composer/chanteuse chats about a few of her favorite, local places, events and things.
Name: Our Lady J
City: New York City
Relationship Status: Single
Sexual Orientation: Queer
What are some of the things you love most about New York City?
Oh God, there are so many! I'd say the thing that satisfies me the most is that there is always something to do in New York. As a farm girl who grew up in a town of 200 people, that's the main reason why I moved here. It truly is the city that never sleeps. As long as you're creative and open to new things, you'll find something to do.
I also love the people of New York. We're constantly putting our ideas and thoughts out here, whether you agree with them or not. New Yorkers don't hold back, and the pulse of the city relies on this. It makes for a very interesting time. And of course, I love the music of New York. It's the thing that holds me here.
What are some of your least favorite things about New York City?
The smells! The rats! Wall Street!
What gym do you like most in New York City? Why?
I go to New York Sports Club, because they're very transgender-friendly. Plus, my trainer is unbelievably hot.
What are some great restaurants for a night out with gay friends in New York City?
Sushi always starts the night out right, and I love Takahachi on Avenue A. Or if you're looking for something less expensive, just walk around the East Village and you'll be sure to find a sushi special on every block.
What are some great restaurants for a romantic gay date in New York City? What about these restaurants appeals to you?
Well, I don't typically go on gay dates these days... but the straight men seem to like candlelight. Allen & Delancey is perfect for that. For something a little brighter, try Balthazar. Be sure to share the seafood tower!
What are your favorite gay bars and/or dance clubs in New York City? What do you like about them?
I've been loving Julius lately. It's one of the oldest bars in Manhattan, and you can just feel the history coming out of its bouncy wooden floors. The drinks are cheap, and they serve great late-night burgers. Also, Metropolitan bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a favorite of mine. It's got one of the most mixed crowds in N.Y.C.... girls, boys and everyone in between.
What are your favorite gay parties or events in New York City, if any? What is the crowd or scene like at those places?
I've been at a loss for tranny hang-outs/parties in New York... sorry, girls! I do love that the underground ballroom culture is still alive and well, although hard to find if you don't know someone involved. Mr. Black is always a great party, hosted by Johnny Dynell and djed by Sammy Jo.
Where is the best public place for a gay person to make out in New York City?
Anywhere in public! The more they see us, the more they'll get used to us!
What is the gay community like in New York City? Do you consider yourself to be part of any particular "scene"?
New York is obviously home to one of the largest gay communities in the world. There's something for everyone here. The community itself is supportive at its core, with places like the LGBT community center and GMHC hosting various events to bring us all together. I suppose my 'scene' would be a mix of straight/gay/trans artists. I'm definitely on the 'alternative' side of things.
Are you involved with any LGBT community organizations in New York City? Which ones? What do you like about those groups?
I'm a huge fan of "Youth Pride Chorus," a choir especially for LGBTQ youth ages 13-21, supported and founded by members of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus. These inspiring kids have performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Radio City Music Hall, and their membership is based from the Youth Enrichment Services program at the LGBT Center, another great organization in New York.
I also love GMHC, a place that New York would be lost without. Callen-Lorde Community Health center is also a staple for trans people in the city. They offer everything, including mental health care, insurance coverage counseling, hormonal therapy and HIV testing for both trans-men and women.
What do you think of the annual LGBT pride celebration in New York City? Do you usually attend? What are the highlights for you? What do you like least about it?
I love Pride. My favorite part of Pride is watching the local passerby's smile and join in with approval. It seems like the entire city celebrates Pride. The subways are filled with rainbow flags, the bars and restaurants are open all day and night, and Manhattan vibrates with a certain optimism for LGBT communities around the world.
Do you have a particular fashion style? Where do you shop for clothes?
Hmmm... my closet seems to be filled with a lot of black. My fashions change from season to season, but right now I'm inspired by classic old-school-glamour meets vampire-goth-girl... a very dark Marilyn Monroe.
Where do you go for other forms of entertainment -- live theater, concerts, movies, art exhibits? Are there any local gay performance groups, bands, or artists that you're a fan of?
I love the Zipper Factory, where I've been performing most. There I've seen performances by Margaret Cho, Nellie McKay, Scott Matthew, Joy Behar, Murray Hill and Bebe Neuwirth. I'm a huge fan of Novice Theory, aka Geo Wyeth. He's an extremely talented singer-songwriter, who's also a trans-man sex symbol! Also, of course I'm a fan of Justin Bond, who I've been working with for the last year-and-a-half. She's been an inspiration both personally and artistically.
If you had gay friends visiting from out of town for the first time, what are some "musts" that you'd recommend they see or do?
I'd tell them to either see one Broadway show, or 10 downtown shows for the same price. Go to the top of the Empire State Building on a clear summer evening. Stay away from 42nd Street. Get lost on purpose. See Coney Island before Disney buys it (and destroys it!).
What city (or cities) in America would you most like to visit next, and why? Are there any specific spots there (theaters, nightclubs, historic sites, etc.) that you'd really like to see?
I love San Francisco and have been going there as much as possible lately. The people seem to be much more accepting of non-traditional gender roles than most cities. The homes of my friends out there are the historic sites I'm most interested in!
Our Lady J is a popular performer and composer based in New York City. Over the past year she's performed most regularly at Manhattan's Zipper Factory and abroad with Justin Bond. For more on Our Lady J, head to: www.ourladyj.com.
Our Lady J: photo by Devin Elijah