Del Marquis' NYC... And Beyond
Name: Del Marquis
Relationship Status: Single
What is your favorite city in the U.S.?
My favorite city is a split between New Orleans and San Francisco, because I think that right now the city that I live in, New York, suffers from increased globalization. It's really hard to find a present or something unique that you can't get here. But what's amazing about New Orleans and San Francisco is that both have a really mythical quality. They're rough around the edges, bogged down by a sense of melancholy, but magical. There's no other place like them in the world. While New York is fabulous, it's big block stores and generic Williams Sonomas, so I really appreciate those cities that champion small businesses. There's a unique culture and people and sense of magic in the air.
It always seems like the grass is greener. There are probably tons of San Franciscans who think that New York is the Emerald City.
Tons of people leave other cities and come here. A lot of the people that I know come from San Francisco, but they say that they know that when their time comes, they'll go back. Sometimes you really enjoy a Sunday that's raining or where you're even crying. It's not the best day, but you relish in the melancholy. It's a really strange Sunday at its best and worst. There's something mysterious in the fog. There's a feeling of decades of young men going west to San Francisco for liberation.
What's your least favorite city in the country?
I would have to say San Diego, because I don't get it. I've never seen the core of it or any pocket of community. But I have not seen enough to make a good call. It just seemed like highways and suburbs conveniently packaged as a city. But I could be wrong.
Really? I'm surprised that, like most East Coasters, you didn't say Los Angeles.
In the past I would have said L.A. I thought it was a city without a plan, which is a really obnoxious thing to say, because I didn't really know it, and only judged it by the concept of New York, which is built on a grid and has great public transportation. But now I actually love L.A., after taking several visits and finding out how nuanced it is. I've found pockets of fantasy and how people there really live... and now I'm totally fascinated. L.A. actually has freaks and people that are bizarre. It's so strange... so many pockets of strange culture and loopy lost souls. It's like San Francisco with its lost soul vibe. There's no room for that in New York, where you either pay rent or have to go.
What are some of the things you love most about New York?
New York always seems to build up and break down, so you've lost a lot. You lose a lot of amazing buildings or stores, but there's always something new to take its place; there's always something new to discover. It seems endless that way. There's a constant turnover in the DNA of the City, that's renewing and revitalizing. Let a year or two go by, and you might not even recognize a certain block. Also, the geography of it: it's a series of islands and waterways. There are so many extremities to it, so many lost corners. It has nooks and crannies, and weird little pockets of culture that I had no idea still exist today... these little beach huts on stilts with fishermen... or City Island or Marine Park Wilderness Reserve, which looks like an estuary, how New York was in the 1600's.
What are some of your least favorite things about New York?
The streets are dirty, so I think the people don't have enough pride or appreciation for the architectural integrity of the City. It upsets me when I see dilapidated old homes that need renovating. My biggest gripe is how anytime an old building bites the dust, it's replaced by something hideous. Even basic, lowly tenements still look 10 times better than what they replace them with.
I take immense pride in the City, because I've always been here. I have a little front garden and I work on it all day long, and I take immense pride in talking to my neighbors, and people telling me that my garden looks so nice. These are things I wish people didn't take for granted.
What are some great restaurants for a night out with gay friends in New York?
My favorite restaurant in Brooklyn, in Park Slope, is called Applewood. It has phenomenal food, but it's completely without pretense, and it's easy to feel comfortable there, because you can move your chair two inches back and there's a fireplace, which makes it feel more relaxed. For me to really enjoy a restaurant, everything from the appetizer to the dessert has to be flawless, and a place in New York that's like that is Wallse, which has a modern concept of classic Austrian food. It's really refined, always comfortable, and the food is flawless. There's also enough room to move around, which I like because I can't stand eating in a restaurant where you can't move your chair and people are practically shouting over your shoulder.
What are some great restaurants for a romantic gay date in New York? What about these restaurants appeals to you?
The most important requirements for a romantic restaurant would be that it's comfortable and that it has good food, so I'd say either of the two. But Applewood is probably more romantic because of the fireplace. Wallse is more Benicio del Toro or Lou Reed sitting next to you.
What are your favorite gay bars and/or dance clubs in New York? What do you like about them?
Where my friends are, so I would have to say Mr. Black.
What are your favorite gay parties or events in New York, if any? What is the crowd or scene like at those places?
Friday or Saturday at Mr. Black, because it's where my friends are. But it's not easy to get out of the house sometimes. I usually wait to go out and visit another city to satisfy my urge to go out late at night, 'cause I live by Prospect Park, which is not really the nightlife capital. My house is really comfortable, so I have the urge to be slightly more social when I travel. At home, all I need are my friends around me. I don't like to saddle up to a bar with the idea that I need to get drunk. I like to see people that are familiar to me, so it's like one big tea party, except with alcohol.
What is the gay community like in New York? Do you consider yourself to be part of any particular "scene"?
First of all, I'm now suffering through a generational gap, myself. I no longer intuitively know what it's like to be young and gay in New York City, 'cause I'm not.
Do you really feel older now, at 31?
I have aged more this year, both visually and internally than I was quite prepared for. This year has been a mindfuck for me. There are things about my age that I embrace and things I get excited about, because it's a changed perspective. But I also feel like I've lost certain things... an innocence that's lost, a naivete that's lost. I try to get back to being open-minded, but I can't always do it. When I see people who are 20, there is now such an obvious difference. When you see people who are 20, and you think they're 14, you know something has changed. But now it's another generation for me, and time to be that age. With that there are endless possibilities with different priorities and perspectives to put to use in new ways.
But is there a particular 30's crowd that you most identify with?
There are so many different ways to exist and be identified as gay and lesbian, so I couldn't give a definition of what it's like to be queer in the City.
But I guess I would call myself post-gay. I like to dip my toes into many different pools. Sometimes, it's something very typical, and sometimes it's more archaic like a bunch of old ladies getting together and doing something silly. I prefer identifying as queer, because it incorporates all alternative culture, and embracing whatever's fun at the moment, whatever everyone is feeling, whether it's sleigh riding, making dinner and watching a trashy movie, a night of clubbing, or playing soccer and flying kites in Prospect Park.
I'm happy that I've been OUT long enough to have queer friends that I've known for a decade, which is the greatest thing about being in the City. Being OUT at such a young age, I know a lot of likeminded people, who've developed into fascinating people that do fun, creative things, so we can do projects together or just hang out.
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?
New York has the best of almost anything. When you have the desire to tap into it, it's always there. I took my mom to see Liza Minnelli for her birthday. It was cold, so we dressed up in night clothes, jackets, scarves and hats, and went to an overrated, but fun dinner in Hell's Kitchen.
Everyone should really see this kind of performer, because not that many exist anymore. Regardless of her status as a gay icon, this type of attraction doesn't exist anymore. So I'll go with mom and have a night on the town that's very New York. Very few people go to observation decks on skyscrapers anymore, and it even takes someone coming from out of town to get my ass up there. But at any given moment you can really do anything. All those people who are busy with life, busy slaving away, supporting enormous rents and lifestyles, living way beyond their incomes, should take a moment to be a tourist here and discover new things.
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 have a guestroom in my house so they could stay here. But I don't cook, so I'd take them around Brooklyn. If there's something major that they want to see in Manhattan, we'll go in and do it... like maybe Mr. Black. But I'd rather take them to my favorite restaurant locally, or to the Brooklyn Museum instead of The Met, Prospect Park instead of Central. That's my life, the things that are closest to me.
My perfect day would start out with an amazing quiche, bacon, and a double shot cappuccino. Then we'd see an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, stroll around Park Slope, and take a nap for three hours. Then we'd see a movie and have a ridiculous dinner with pork belly and foie gras, and then pass out, wake up in the morning, and then repeat it every day they're here.
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've never been anywhere in the Southwest. I've never gone to New Mexico or Arizona so I have no concept of them. I see Stevie Nicks and graying ladies tapping into their menopausal energy, which sounds great.
Scissor Sisters' guitarist Del Marquis made his solo debut with the release of the first in a series of EP's on Dec. 2, entitled "Hothouse." The first EP includes the songs "Remember Me Young," "Cry So Long," "How I Lost The Plot" and "Hothouse." The EP is available exclusively at www.delmarquis.com