1.) How long have you been in your city? When did you first visit your city?
I’ve been a Los Angeles resident for almost a year and am still very much in the honeymoon phase! When I moved to San Francisco right after college I would visit Los Angeles frequently, but in those days I drank the Northern California Kool-Aid and convinced myself LA was an inferior city. It was actually through a conversation with comedian and actor Sandra Bernhard that made me rethink Los Angeles, but that’s another story. Sufficed to say, before I moved here in 2016 I’d already been to the city dozens and dozens of times.
2.) Where should people stay and visit?
I work in travel, so I’m obsessed with hotels. The rooftops at both the new Dream Hotel and Mama Shelter have amazing views of Hollywood and the city. If you’re staying downtown, don’t shy away from booking a private room at the hostel-hybrid Freehand; it’s basically the talk of downtown right now. I also love the lobby at the new Kimpton Everly Hotel in Hollywood. If a friend were staying in the Valley I’d probably direct them to Sportsmen’s Lodge (hip, affordable and a LA classic). If that friend wanted to be based on the beach, I’d have them stay at the Kinney or the Hotel Erwin; both are in Venice. Venice is more interesting than Santa Monica in my opinion, and the Kinney is where the cool kids hang out.
3.) Give us a tour of your gaybourhood?
I live in DTLA (downtown Los Angeles) which is the most exciting neighborhood in the city right now. It’s really broken into many different sub-neighborhoods including the Historic Core (where I live), Bunker Hill, the Financial District, the Garment District, Little Tokyo, the Fashion District, South Park, the Arts District, etc. It thrums with energy 24/7. On my requisite downtown tour I take people to Grand Central Market for Lunch, a swing through Clifton’s Cafeteria, a ride up the funicular railway Angel’s Flight, rooftop drinks at the Ace Hotel, gallery hopping and window shopping in the Arts District and dinner at PYT, Baco Mercat or Broken Spanish. Requisite cocktails at queer Bar Mattachine will top off the night.
4.) Where do gentlemen go?
I love hitting up the Korean bathhouses in K-Town. Wi Spa is probably the best of the bunch. It’s really nice and I got to see Flea, the guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, in the buff there once. (He still looks amazing!) Century Spa is beloved by gays. It’s a legit Korean spa, but is also very cruisy. Still, I’ve struck up some fantastic conversations there and the guys who frequent it are very diverse. I rarely go out in WeHo because I work there during the day, but when I do I’ll hit up the Mother Lode and Fubar. The strippers at Fubar are outrageous and fun.
Mostly I go out on the East Side to places like Akbar which, in my opinion, is the best queer bar in the city. I make new friends there almost every time I visit and I love the jukebox and dance floor. I’ll also hit up the Eagle a few blocks away. Downtown boasts four gay bars including the aforementioned Bar Mattachine which has awesome cocktails. I also love Precinct which is around the corner from my apartment. It’s a loud, raucous beehive of queer activity on weekends including outrageous drag shows featuring the likes of the Boulet Brothers or the legendary Jackie Beat, queer popup shops like Starrfucker or Lockwood 51 and also puppeteers, photo booths, etc. Anything and everything goes. Shawn Morales (of RuPaul’s Drag Race pit crew fame) just brought his underwear night to Precinct on Thursdays so that’s becoming a new fun night if you’re looking to hang with men in briefs (or less). Gentleman also need to eat and I think Norah is the best restaurant in WeHo right now. It has both style and substance which can sometimes be hard to come by in Los Angeles.
5.) What’s a hidden gem?
The best thing about Los Angeles is that it’s a gigantic city and FULL of hidden gems. 1642 in Echo Park is probably the best little dive bar in the city; the LA River Bike Path is amazing and refreshingly free of tourists and Hollywood types; I love rummaging through mid-century furniture at Sunbeam Vintage in Highland Park; the Disney-like facades at St. Vincent Court in DTLA are a hoot to walk around; I love the glassy Wayfarers Chapel in Pacific Palisades; and of course lovers of queer history should walk the Cove Avenue Staircase in Silver Lake where pioneering gay activist Harry Hay once lived.
6.) What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
I love the tiny, intimate and unfussy restaurants so common in cities like New York and San Francisco so I gravitate to places like that here in Los Angeles. I could recommend many that fit that description, but if I’m courting a guy I like, I’ll take him to Ostrich Farm in Echo Park. It’s elegant and simple and very romantic.
7.) What’s your perfect day in LA?
I’m a total East Sider, but I do love venturing over to the West Side for a Sunday Funday. I’ll start in Venice Beach where I’ll stroll around the artfully manicured canals, grab lunch and do some shopping along Abbot Kinney and then walk the Venice Beach Boardwalk which justly deserves its reputation as a mecca for people watching. I’m not in love with the beaches in Los Angeles, but I do like to surround myself with men in tiny swimsuits so I’m a sucker for Ginger Rogers Beach (the gay beach) in Santa Monica. It gets quite busy on Sundays and I’ve spotted dolphins there on numerous occasions. Santa Monica finally has a gay bar called the Birdcage and it can be a fun place to hit up after the beach. I’ll probably end the day with a quick bite at somewhere near my house like one of the eateries in the Spring Street Arcade or at Corporation Food Hall which just opened and it already buzzing with people.