It is only 6pm and already the crowds have made Times Square impassable. I am holed up in my hotel room, with internet and room service. The crowds are roaring outside my window (and there are 6 hours to go).
Grey Gardens the musical was a lot of fun. In general, I kind of hate musicals that are based on films or tv shows - like sequels, they seem to be cynical attempts to cash in on an existing audience, and the music is often forgettable, sacrificed for the high concept. But whatever. It was very good. The first half was set in the Beales' heyday, with "Big" Edie presiding over the home, with her gay pianist, and Little Edie on the verge of marrying one of the Kennedys. By the end of the first half it's all gone wrong and both Edies have been deserted by all the men in their lives - even the gay pianist. The second half followed the film more closely, with lots of lines quoted verbatim. Mary Louise Wilson played Big Edie in the first half and Little Edie in the second, and she was pretty fantastic, earning a standing ovation at the end. Her chin certainly worked. The Marble Faun (shown in the picture above) also doubled as Little Edie's Kennedy beau in the first half. If you hadn't seen the film, it would all be much weirder and nowhere near as enjoyable. I've booked seats for Company as well, so feel like a total showtunes queen.
The weather is pretty cold, so we've been catching a few matinees: The Last King of Scotland (Idi Amin biopic), For Your Consideration (the latest from Christopher Guest) and Dreamgirls (another musical). Did a big walk from 48th Street all the way down to about 8th street, mostly on my favourite avenue: 8th Avenue - it's one of the seedier avenues with "adult" stores like The Playpen, one of the few reminders of scary, naughty 1970s New York. When we came here in 2001 with my (then) 13 year old niece, our hotel window overlooked The Playpen. My niece spied on who went in and out of it, and made notes in a little pad, eventually concluding that "pretty normal people" used it. That's the sort of education you don't get from school. Having been to New York more than a few times now, I tend to go for the atmosphere rather than the museums - I walk everywhere, soaking up the different neighbourhoods, revisiting a few of my favourite restaurants, browsing the massive Virgin Megastore on Times Square. I like walking through Chelsea and seeing how uber-gay it is, with all the steroid taking muscle marys walking hand in hand.
I also like going to the Quad Cinema, which shows lots of small budget gay movies that quite frankly, aren't usually very good. Never mind.
And Ultrasparky, a New York native (now in Reading, England) took me to Kim's Video on St Mark's years ago, and I always make a pilgrimage to it, stocking up on rare and cult DVDs that you can't get in the UK. It used to be a bath-house up until the 1980s. And it's kind of weird going in and imagining the ghosts of hundreds of gay men wandering the different floors, clad only in little white towels.
The nice thing about going to New York once or twice a year is that every time I go, it's changed just everso slightly, but there's always so much that's familiar. It's my favourite place in the whole world. And I can't imagine anywhere else I'd rather see in the New Year.