Cheap tricks

NYC culturemakers divulge their favorite ways to play, low-cost style.

AA Bronson
Director, Printed Matter

    Building a castle out of old cardboard boxes in my living room Inviting special friends for a queer seance at midnight Organizing my collection of queer zines, all purchased for next to nothing at Printed Matter (195 Tenth Ave at 22nd St, 212-925-0325) Running naked on the High Line in the wee hours Visiting Terence Koh to try on his collection of fabulous furs

Michael “Bao” Huynh
Owner, Baoguette

    Eating pad thai at Kurve (87 Second Ave at 5th St, 212-260-8018, off the_after-11pm $10 menu. Seeing free rock shows at Crash Mansion (199 Bowery at Spring St; 212-982-0740, Getting $5 drinks at Klong (7 St. Marks Pl between Second and Third Aves; 212-505-9955, /newyork/restaurants/east-village/1513/klong) Browsing cookbooks for free at Barnes & Noble (various locations throughout the city; go to for info) Shopping for afordable designer clothes at Misorena (260 Fifth Ave between 28th and 29th Sts, 212-725-5400)

Thao Nguyen
Owner, Baoguette

    Eating a half pint of beef tripe with rice noodles ($2.50) from the Chinatown dumpling cart on Grand Street between Bowery and Chrystie Street Watching Netflix online for $14 a month ( Getting $5 drinks at Calle Ocho on Monday nights (446 Columbus Ave between 81st and 82nd Sts, 212-873-5025) Dancing for free on Tuesday nights at Pink Elephant (527 W 27th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, 212-463-0000, Shopping at City Opera Thrift Shop (222 E 23rd St between Second and Third Aves, no. 212, 212-684-5344)

The Wizard Brian Coxx
Proprietor, resident DJ, Soulgasm party

    Shopping at the Salvation Army (120 W 14th St, 212-229-2801) Buying records old and new for $6.99 and up at Discorama (44 W 8th St between MacDougal St and Sixth Ave, 212-477-9410) Going to the Central Park roller disco/funk circle (center of the park, enter at 72nd St, Going to John Davis’s new party, Sunday Shoutin’, at Webster Hall (125 E 11th St between Third and Fourth Aves; 212-353-1600, Dope DJs, great food and featured movies every Sunday for $15. Hanging in the buddy booth watching 25-cent movies at Show World (303 W 42nd St at Eighth Ave, 212-247-6643)

Neil O’Fortune
Host, Gameshow Speakeasy

    Enjoying a night at the Slipper Room (167 Orchard St at Stanton St, 212-253-7246, It’s burlesque, variety, comedy—a different show every night—always just five bucks at the door. Getting cheap pitchers at Grassroots Tavern (20 St. Marks Pl between Second and Third Aves, 212-475-9443), the old-school dive bar holdout on St. Mark’s. It’s so roomy that you can find a table even when it’s packed with NYU students. Going to the Coney Island Museum (1208 Surf Ave at W 12th St, Coney Island, Brooklyn; 718-372-5159, Admission to see the collection is just 99 cents, and the must-see sideshow is just $7.50. Having kebabs at Bereket (187 E Houston St at Orchard St, 212-475-7700), the LES’s best late-night, postshow alternative to pizza. Going to WANTED! at Rodeo Bar (375 Third Ave at 27th St; 212-683-6500,, the fabulous burlesque and variety show on the last Tuesday of every month. There’s never a cover charge.

Clams Casino
Host, Gameshow Speakeasy

    Satisfying the call of the cheese-steak craving at BB Sandwich Bar (120 W 3rd St between MacDougal St and Sixth Ave, 212-473-7500) Going to Zablozki’s (107 North 6th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-384-1903). It’s cozier than your neighbor’s basement in 1983—and you cannot beat their happy hour. Shopping at the trim stores on 38th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues: cheap feathers, rhinestones and opera gloves. It’s amazing how many problems five yards of beaded fringe can solve. Fawning over the teeniest dogs on the Upper East Side at the dog run at Carl Schurz Park (E 86th St at East End Ave; 212-459-4455,—and waving at the tourists floating by on the Circle Line. Watching the U.S. Open Qualifying tournaments (718-760-6200, I admit to spending a fortune during the U.S. Open between the tickets and the $11 cocktails, but the week before, you can still see top-quality tennis up close and personal for free—and usually catch Roger Federer on a practice court working on his backhand slice!

Lisa Haspel
Manager, Vintage Thrift (286 Third Ave between 22nd and 23rd Sts, 212-871-0777)

    Eating burgers and fries at The Stoned Crow (85 Washington Pl between Washington Sq West and Sixth Ave; 212-677-4022,,/a>) Seeing free private screenings of Frederick Wiseman documentaries at The NY Public Library of the Performing Arts (111 Amsterdam Ave between 64th and 65th Sts, 212-870-1630) Riding on Manhattan’s bike paths ( Practicing archery at the Queens Archery Range and Pro Shop (170-20 39th Ave between 170th and 171st Sts, Flushing, Queens; 718-461-1756, It’s $18 per hour and includes a lesson and equipment. Going to the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology—admission is free! (227 W 27th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, 212-217-4558)

Michelle Fleet
Dancer, Paul Taylor Dance Company

    Having lunch or dinner at Zoma (2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd [Eighth Ave] at 113th St; 212-662-0620, It’s some of the tastiest Ethiopian food you’ll find in Harlem. Relaxing at Salon de Tokyo (200 W 57th St between Seventh Ave and Broadway, suite 1308; 212-757-2187). For $70 an hour, you get a shower and an optional sauna, and a Swedish, shiatsu, or a combo massage. You can relax in the sauna for a while after. I also have to mention the Water Front Spa (33 First Ave at 2nd St, second floor; 212-777-3283, I love getting the Thai yoga massage there; an hour is $80. Seeing free concerts at Wingate Field (Winthrop St between Brooklyn and Kingston Aves, Crown Heights, Brooklyn; 718-469-1912). Just last year I saw Jill Scott there for free and the year before that Lauren Hill. You can’t go wrong with free. Getting a pitcher of sangria—you get two for one during happy hour— at Sala 19 (35 W 19th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-229-2300, They also have great tapas. For some fun, I love New York City Paintball (4711 Van Dam St between 47th and 48th Aves, Long Island City, Queens; 718-361-8337, It’s great with a group of friends. For $36--$42, you get admission, 500 bullets and hours of trigger-happy insanity. Hunting down great deals at The Market NYC (268 Mulberry St between Prince and Houston Sts; 212-580-8995, I’m also addicted to shopping at every Daffy’s, Loehmann’s, Filene’s Basement and Barneys Co-op in the city.

Cheap things to do in New York City
Save while taking advantage of the city's bounty.