Lucky Cheng's closes

The bachelorette-party central was a reminder of New York's epic weirdness

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Last week, pan-Asian restaurant and nightclub Lucky Cheng's announced it was closing, following the death of owner and downtown pioneer Hayne Suthon, and this past Pride weekend, the venue threw itself a final farewell party. The storied institution, staffed by drag queens and trans women, rose from the ashes of Suthon's East Village yuppie haven Cave Canem—situated in a former gay bathhouse!—in 1993.
 
For the first few years of its existence, Lucky's catered to a boozy (and maybe druggy) late-night clientele—a sort of grungy, post–boom-time variation of the Bret Easton Ellis crowd that filled Cave Canem. But when the restaurant was featured in a 1998 episode of Sex and the City, it started its transformation into the go-to spot for bachelorette and sweet 16 parties New Yorkers know and love-hate today. Its move to the Times Square area in 2012 cemented its status as a destination for the B&T pre-wedding set, but even as the clientele became thoroughly straight, Lucky Cheng's remained a decidedly queer venue with its staff and performers who existed well outside of the gender binary. And really, it's a quietly revolutionary thing that the tristate area's tiara'd, penis-straw-sipping brides-to-be were so eager to get lap dances from trans ladies rather than take in a beefcake strip show. Coming not long after the demise of other seemingly immortal gay venues Splash and Rawhide, it's hard not to see the shuttering of this kitschy eatery as another nail in the coffin of New York's status as a haven for outsiders and weirdos. We'll miss it—maybe even those screeching Jersey girls.


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