April 6th 2016
Story originally written and experienced: March 24th 2016
Everyone was half-naked but no one seemed to care.
Here’s what happened:
It was a Thursday night, and my friend Megan asked me to go to a happy hour.
A drag show happy hour.
A drag show happy hour that was also a fundraiser.
A drag show happy hour that was also a fundraiser for the NYC rugby team named the “Gotham Knights.”
II I paused. II
Because adventure, curiosity and chaos have always been ideal trifecta in evoking this response out of me.
And whether that’s a good, bad or dangerous thing, has increasingly become more irrelevant.
“Great! Let’s meet at 7:15 PM outside of Hardware’s in Hell’s Kitchen,” she said.
A funky and fabulous bar whose website banner, much like Clarissa, explains it all:
I arrived early, oddly excited and undeniably perplexed by the amount of men squeezed into tight fishnets and lacey corsets who stood outside having a smoke. One with pink hair. One with blue. Another with bright red lipstick and stick-thin stilettos, all dropping really relatable quotes like:
“Megan! Over here!” I said swiftly as I saw her cruise right past >>
“Oh, hey! Sorry I’m late.”
“Should we go inside?”
Our I.Ds were checked. Hands stamped. And tickets given for a complimentary Coors lights at the bar.
Beers finally in hand, we pushed past everyone>>> witnessing a variety of outfits, perfumes, stockings, wigs and charisma before we got to the front of the stage.
“LADDDIESSS AND GENTLEMANNN!!!!” The hostess announced at 8:09 PM wearing a hot pink dress, tight brunette curls, metallic eyeshadow, an easter egg hat and more.
“Welcome to the Gotham Knights drag show fundraiser!”
“Tonight, we’ve got some fabulous divas that are ready to rock your world. Are you ready?!”
“Okay now shut the fuck up so we can get started.”
And that’s exactly what we did.
A slow, g-rated song-and-dance about…virginities and butts:
Followed by a rosy-cheeked, golden-haired twirling doppelganger of Tanya Harding:
A Marilyn-Manson themed mademoiselle:
A hairy Lady Gaga:
And two straight guys who so desperately dreamed of sharing the disco-ball limelight, they stole the stage and performed this:
Coors lights were a aflowin, booty poPpIn was a goin, and two quick hours later, the show finaled with glitter, glee and an indescribable group consensus to go dancing.
Because what we just saw needed to be celebrated.
“The Ritz is close by!” said a few new friends who wanted to come too.
“What’s The Ritz?”
“A gay dance bar right down the way.”
“I’m down. Might as well keep the theme of the evening going.”
“Our thoughts exactly.”
We sprinted >> across a few crosswalks made a few shArp turns, and the next thing I knew, I was posed next to a rogue rabbit:
The beats were a bumpin, the fog machine a pUmPiN.
Blacked-out baes were on every ledge of every bench, destroying their dignity and for some reason, I had front row.
An hour or so later we decided to leave.
Determined to have even more fun and thoughtfully choosing to forget we were way past our professional bedtime.
“Should we do one more drink…then home?” We debated amongst ourselves at 11:30 PM.
“…You know…” I said with a mischievous undertone and Stella-Artois-induced confidence. “We’re right next to Times Square…and Olive Garden…is in Times Square…and I wouldn’t hate…bottomless breadsticks right now.”
And the crowd went wild.
And then suggested something else. Like Red Lobster’s biscuits, Ruby Tuesday’s appetizers and hell, TGIF’s too.
“Why don’t we just walk to Times Square, and go wherever we see first?”
So we ventured on.
But to our drunk dismay.
Everything was closed.
For Planet Hollywood. So we used their bathrooms.
There it was.
The Hershey Store.
Teasing us with neon letters and inedible decor.
And best of all, adorned with a teeny, tiny sign that said,
“Closes at 12 AM.”
We looked at our clocks.
We sped inside eager to see everything with just 8 minutes on the clock, witnessing vital wardrobe updates such as this:
“GUYS,” I yell for no reason, ready to make some sort of inspirational speech. “We have GOT to get some candy. When we look back on our lives and we think about the time we were in our mid twenties at midnight at the Hershey store in Times Square on a Thursday, we’re going to want to remember that we bought something great and ate it RIGHT HERE. Right now.”
They all looked at me, offended I expected they had ever thought any differently.
Purchased 2.5 pounds worth of Reese’s cups. Got their receipt. Found chairs and tables in the middle of the city lights. And dined.
And I realized in that moment, bright lights glistening off the Reese’s wrapper circa 1 AM whilst I had chocolate on my cheeks.
That the three things drag queens, peanut butter and that one place called Times Square had in common, was
That I said yes to all of them.
To an experience, a treat and a place available to me any day and any night, but united as one to give me a hell of a happy hour on a Thursday night.
All because I said yes.
Realizing again how easy it can be to do something different.
Whenever I want.
So to fishnets, chocolate and the city that never sleeps, I say thank you.
And to my co-workers, friends and family who I made swipe right on all my photos the next day recapping this ridiculousness, I say I’m sorry.