What appeal to us Swedish people are the coasts of the USA when we venture over the pond. Places like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco are name and places that create an atmosphere of adventure, glamour and dreams to be fulfilled. Our image of the land of the free is naturally influenced by what we see on film and TV-series in our own living room. How is then the reality? Personally I feel that both the west- and east coat live up to my expectations of excitements.
If you are gay and happen to be in Los Angeles, West Hollywood is the place where you should go. The rainbow family is everywhere to be seen. The multi coloured flags are in front of shops, restaurants and cafés along Santa Monica Boulevard and most of the time you are met by a Californian sunshine smile when you step over the threshold. Welcoming is a good word to sum up the feeling of moving about West Hollywood at the same time as you enjoy finally seeing the Hollywood sign or walking along Hollywood Boulevard searching for the stars of Greta Garbo and Tom Cruise.
I got the chance to rub shoulders with the local West Hollywood and was at a barbeque with a substantial amount of gays who actually worked in the dream factory. We had a Developer for FOX Television and a Marketing Executive for MGM and one was more handsome and well trained than the next. If you are going to raise a glass with these boys you need your confidence.
There is no shortage of bars and clubs. The important thing is to learn which night or nights that are the good ones. FouBar is a little pocket in the wall high up on Santa Monica Boulevard where it easily gets sweaty and crowded. The bartenders have most likely been hired because of the firmness of their butts and the quality of the six-packs then their knowledge of mixing a drink. With that enticing view one can forgive a mistake or two. If you dare you can have your family jewels photographed, enter a competition with the result of the alcohol overflowing at the bar without it affecting your own wallet.
Go-go dancers seem to be a must at West Hollywood’s clubs and if nothing else it triggers your appetite. One of the guys managed to, in an intricate way, show every inch of his body without revealing what the audience was most interested in at the same time as he picked up dollar bill after dollar bill. At The Abbey I saw a guy go-go boy dancing who I had once seen in an X-rated film. I stuck a five dollar bill down his briefs. I mean; When in Rome do as the Romans do.
After LA with its desert heat which means that it gets cold in the evenings (nasty surprise) it was a bit of shock with the humid heat of New York. Two steps on the Fifth Avenue and the sweat was pouring, which in itself is the best excuse to step into Barneys or Saks and in the best air conditioned environment enjoy the fashion of the most famous designers in the world.
Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea are the gay areas of NYC at the moment but that can change due to escalating house prices. One wonders where everybody will go in the end and if the entire Manhattan is to be conquered by conglomerates and department stores? In any case the flavour of the month is Chelsea and much of it concentrated around Christopher Street on the lower west side. Industry is a very nice bar on 52nd Street and if you get tired of it you have Therapy across the street or why not Posh a stone’s throw away. Chelsea is like West Hollywood. Lots of bars, clubs and the like. Are there any differences? Well, yes and no. The style in clothes is different in NYC and everyone is not a muscle Mary and the climate feels slightly harder and chillier.
No matter the ambience it is down to your own approach how you will be treated. Since I was a tourist and came from, for the Americans, exotic Sweden I had no problems with getting contact. The knowledge of my country could easily fit on a post-it note but it was of a positive kind. Then it is easy to hold your head high and deliver a smile which seems to be needed among men who seem to have seen it all.
NYC feels more European than LA and all the skyscrapers and famous landmarks take your breath away no matter how often you see them. In LA you are in need of a car to get around while in NYC there is a relatively functioning subway and if you stay on Manhattan you can easily walk. With all the straight avenues it is easy to stay orientated. The only thing you have to think about is if you are on your way to Upper or Lower New York.
At the surface there can exist differences between gay life in LA and NYC but if you scrutinize it there is no real difference no matter where in the world you are. It is full of men who wants to have a good time and who are looking for that special someone.