Queer Astoria is for more than just the queens.
Thu Apr 30 2009
Photos: Beth Levendis
Start: 36-01 35th Ave at 37th St, Astoria Queens
End: 34-01 36th Ave at 34th St, Astoria, Queens
Time: 4 hours
Distance: 5.4 miles
1 The most noticeable breed of homo on the N train to 36th Ave is the yoga-mat-toting swishy boy, but lesbians do this way come. As in most gay communities outside Manhattan, Astoria’s gays and lezzies are comfortable commingling; in that spirit, this queer jaunt starts at the Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave at 37th St; 718-784-0077, movingimage.us). Because it’s still undergoing an expansion, the venue currently has limited hours (Tue--Fri 10am--3pm), just one exhibition (“Behind the Screen”) and a single screening per day. Appropriately, that daily 1:30pm flick is the 1956 French short The Red Balloon, which follows a fey young outsider who is saved by a helium-propelled, rainbow-colored cluster of balloons. If that’s not an allegory for every gay person’s childhood, we don’t know what is.
2 Gay guys get all the credit for having impeccable home-decorating instincts, but lesbians also know how to turn it out. Example: Mackenzi Farquer, owner of nearby craft and furnishing store SITE (35-11 34th Ave at 36th St; 718-626-6030, sitedesignnyc.com). Her shop carries everything from retro kitchen timers ($10--$13) and city-map totes ($16.95) to organic wood-stump side tables ($200) and metal deer heads ($195), much of it designed by local artists.
3 Examine your new wares over lunch next door at the eclectically furnished Cafe Bar (32-90 36th St at 34th Ave, 718-204-5273). If you’re lucky, you can grab a seat facing the mondo painting of a naked lady. The restaurant offers a wide variety of foods that represent the borough, including a Greek meze under $12, Lebanese salad ($12), a Cuban sandwich ($11), organic omelettes ($9--$12) and simple PB&J ($6).
4 Stave off a food coma by walking along the dreary streets lining Astoria’s North-South corridor and you’ll be handsomely rewarded at the Queens Public Library Astoria (14-01 Astoria Blvd at 14th St; 718-278-2220, queenslibrary.org; Mon 1--8pm; Tue 1--6pm; Wed, Thu 10am--6pm; Fri 1--6pm; Sat 10am--5:30pm), which houses a special collection of graphic novels. Dive into Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise series and decide for yourself which drawn lady couple is hotter: SiP’s Francine and Katchoo, or Batwoman and her hot-cop gal pal, Renee Montoya. Among the treasures found here are collections of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and sapphic manga.
5 Stereotyping be damned, but lesbians have made a name for themselves as crunchy animal lovers. Take in the parade of adorable puppies out for walks—and the perfect view of Randalls Island and upper Manhattan—as you traverse the sprawling Astoria Park en route to Whiskers Holistic Petcare (19-25 Ditmars Blvd at 21st St; 718-626-8590, 1800whiskers.com). The founders of this East Village--based store practice an Eastern approach to animal health. The Astoria branch opened in July to answer a growing demand for natural lamb-lung treats and jungle-patterned raincoats. “We’re very big believers in a raw-food diet,” says store manager Kathleen Charas, who will walk the uninitiated through Fido’s new menu. (Vegan owners thinking of converting their pussies, take heed: “We don’t support that,” says Charas.)
6 If Whiskers’ inventory of ocean-fish-flavored products gets your tummy growling, help yourself to the mojo-marinated and grilled Block Island swordfish ($22) at Mojave (22-36 31st St between Ditmars and 23rd Aves; 718-545-4100, mojaveny.com). The 150-variety-strong tequila bar and Southwestern eatery has a rap as a gay-friendly establishment, precisely because, says local ’mo Jonathan Graf, “it’s fancier than anyplace else in the neighborhood.”
7 Instead of returning to the litter-strewn North-South corridor, hop the N two stops from Ditmars to 30th Ave. When Lillian Hellman penned The Children’s Hour in 1934, insinuations of lesbianism could still destroy a person’s career. Today, they only get you more press (ahem, Lindsay). For the 75th anniversary of this chilling play about a pair of boarding-school headmistresses accused of the unthinkable—carpet-munching—Astoria Performing Arts Center is mounting a revival at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church (30-44 Crescent St at 30th Rd; 718-393-7505, apacny.org). “When it premiered in 1934, small-minded people deduced it to be a lesbian drama and boycotted it,” explains queer director Jessi D. Hill. “Today, some people still regard it as a controversial play; of course, in my world, it isn’t.” The Children’s Hour runs May 21 through June 7; tickets are $12--$18.
8 Cheat again and ride the subway from 30th Ave to 36th Ave. At the moment, there’s no well-known lesbian dance party in Astoria, but newish gay bar Lavish Lounge (34-01 36th Ave at 34th St; 718-361-0022, lavishloungeny.com) might change that. Bartender Clint Spires says a Tuesday-night Frauen throwdown may be in the works “It’s necessary and I don’t know why we shouldn’t,” says Spires, who encourages those in favor to message their wishes to drag personality and Lavish Lounge manager Mimi Imfurst, via Facebook. For now, ladies just have to party with their gay boyfriends at Lavish’s weekly karaoke or amateur drag nights. After a few rounds, what’s the diff anyway? (Kidding!)
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