Celebrity City Guide: Chris Willis
Name: Chris Willis
Profession: Recording Artist / Songwriter / Producer [Dance/Pop]
Relationship Status: Single
What is the best date you ever had in this town? Why?
My favorite date in Atlanta would be to go to Grape Atlantic Station and a movie after at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station. I love sitting outside at The Grape for dinner. On top of their incredible wine selection, the menu is full of items that fit any budget and appetite. The Atlantic Station location is perfect for people-watching and cozying up to one you love. You can hide in plain sight. Who doesn't like a movie after dinner?
What are some of the things you love most about your city/town?
I love Atlanta. It's a major league town boasting football, basketball and baseball teams. It's a growing thriving metropolis filled with people from all over the world. There's an international airport that makes it easy to get in and out of most places non-stop. There is always something going on in Atlanta, whether it's a convention or a holiday where people come to visit the Aquarium, The King Center, and The World of Coca Cola Museum. No matter what your walk of life, the place is full of activity. I love the fact that Atlanta has a large black population and a relatively progressive social climate where gay and straight seem to intermingle seamlessly.
What are some of your least favorite things about it?
As socially aware as Atlanta is I think there are still miles to go.
What gym do you like most? Why?
I've been a member of LA fitness since I relocated to Atlanta. It's probably the most popular gym in the city. Depending on the time you work out, it has a nice social club sort of feel. It's a large gym there are plenty of machines, classes, a swimming pool, and a basketball court. And; let's not forget loads of eye candy when you need that boost of inspiration.
What are some great restaurants for a night out with gay friends there?
Midtown Atlanta is what I consider the gayborhood, and right smack dab in the middle is a place called Einstien's. There is also Joe's On Juniper. Some nights, they have games where the whole place is alive with team competition. Both are great places to eat and hang out no matter what your orientation.
What are some great restaurants for a romantic gay date?
For a romantic date no matter who you are, I recommend Murphy's in Virginia Highlands, Einstien's on Juniper, Houston's on Peachtree, and Season's 52 in Buckhead.
What about these restaurants appeals to you?
They all have their own ambiance, but you can hide in plain site there, and no one will bother you, no matter what your orientation. The food is good, and the service is friendly. All are known for excellent food and style.
Is there a particular best place to "people watch" that most people not familiar with your town would find helpful?
A few of the best places to people watch are Atlantic Station, Lennox Square Mall, and Piedmont Park.
Are there any famous people from your town?
Atlanta is the birth place of Martin Luther King, so when you're here, visit the King Center. It's full of Black History. I am told that a few well-known celebs have residences here including Dallas Austin, Usher, Big Boi, and Andre 3000.
What are your favorite gay bars and/or dance clubs? What do you like about them?
My favorite spot is Vita on Fridays. In my opinion, it's the hottest joint in town on Fridays. Opera is probably the hottest club in Atlanta. What I like about both of these is that it doesn't matter if your gay or not, you can have a great time there regardless. Opera plays host to some of the top DJ's, and it's the place to be for the dance crowd and VIP's. There's also Whiskey Park located in the W Hotel Midtown. It's also a hot spot for the VIP crowd. Vita is the place to be if you don't mind a night out in a predominantly black gay crowd.
Where is the best public place for a gay person to make out?
There are still mountains to climb here in the ATL before being gay and making out in public aren't viewed with criticism.
What is the gay community like in your city? Do you consider yourself to be part of any particular "scene?
The gay community in my opinion in the ATL is somewhat compartmentalized. There is some overlap culturally but not as much intermingling. This, I think, mirrors the community at large. More time may need to pass before intermixing is a little easier in the general population, let alone the gay population. I don't consider myself to be a part of any particular scene.
Do gay men and lesbians hang out in the same places in your town, or is that just a ridiculous notion?
Gays and lesbians do hang out in the same places. That's just it about Atlanta: it has the potential to be a real melting pot of culture and lifestyle because you never know what's going on in the car next to you in traffic, or what the story is in the booth next to you at a restaurant. Everybody's here making a life for themselves wherever they choose to be.
Does your town have a LGBT pride celebration? Do you usually attend? What are the highlights for you? What do you like least about it?
I have attended festivities only once at each of the pride celebrations. There are two celebrations. One is usually July 4th and particularly caters to the non-black gay community. The second celebration is Black Gay Pride on Labor Day Weekend. I think both events were great. I think people go where they feel most comfortable. The highlight for me was really getting a sense of how large the community seems to be.
Do you have a particular fashion style? Where do you shop for clothes?
I call my style Euro-chic. I shop for clothes in Paris when I can or try to pick up things in stores here in the US that gives me that found-this-in-Paris feeling. BHV Homme is incredible. It's in Paris, and the whole store is about 6 floors all devoted to menswear. I love" 7 For All Mankind" jeans at the moment. There's a "7" shop in Lennox Square Atlanta. I love Neiman Marcus for that last minute, one-of-a-kind item. Any American Apparel worldwide is perfect for tees on a budget.
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 am not aware of any local gay performance groups, bands, or artists. Whenever I'm home and make time to catch a performance, I love the Fox Theater Jennifer Holiday has appeared there, and I've always been a fan of hers. Chastain Park is a great outdoor venue. My cousin Brian McKnight and his sons put on a great show there. Chante Moore also appeared there a while back. Flawless. She is quite possibly the best live performer I've ever seen. I love Regal Atlantic Station whenever new movies come out. The best place to catch an exhibit is the High Museum of Art on Peachtree.
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?
Believe it or not, the first few jobs I had as a singer involved performing in just about every state and major city in America. So there are few cities that I haven't already been to. Unfortunately, with all that travel I have never made it to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, or the Grand Canyon. One of my dreams is to get a group of friends together on a road trip in an RV. We can take our time and visit these three monuments and all points in between.
Images Courtesy: Mike Ruiz