Hell’s Kitchen Is Gayer Than Ever!

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By Michael Musto Wednesday, Jan 2 2013

Hell’s Kitchen is actually heaven’s boudoir for gays these days. The queer ratio is so high there that if the person to the left of you is straight and the person to the right of you is, too, then you’re definitely gay.

Way back in the mid 2000s, I was nudging everyone that the gay energy was migrating north, as Chelsea became a little too fancy, expensive, and hetero for the younger gays. Hell’s Kitchen beckoned with its relatively cheap walk-ups, Thai noodle restaurants, and growing lounge-based nightlife. What’s more, it seemed relatively unvarnished—an off-limits work in progress whose malleability was extremely appealing to gays who like to be part of an urban aesthetics project.

Jump ahead, and HK is now the NYC neighborhood with the most gay bars—13, as opposed to seven in Chelsea.

But my two favorite HK spots are the ones that are so wrong they’re right up my alley. Flaming Saddles is a brightly lit country-western bar that attracts a surprising crowd of flamboyantly gay wannabe cowboys and cowpokes. The screens there seem to show The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas on continual repeat (with Dom DeLuise and Jim Nabors in prominent roles, it’s gayer than a sheriff in a gingham dress), and at odd moments, three short, frisky dancers perform a hoedown on top of the bar—uniquely amusing, even if it tends to interrupt drink service.

Flaming Saddles Bandit

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Flaming Saddles