I first met my friend Katya directly after a sex education assembly at the Manhattan School of Music in which she had to role play a sex scene on stage with another student. I had until this point thought Katya was from a foreign country like the Czech Republic.
The interesting thing about the sex education for us was the enthusiasm given over sex. In my welcome packet for the school, I found a Time Out New York college edition which explained “you’re only young once; have as much sex as possible before your fab turns to flab and try different things with your partners, such as dildos, feathers, feathery dildos and the occasion blow-up doll”. To this day I have yet to try a feathery anything. In the same assembly, it was explained that we all had declining meal cards and learned that due to the extremely inflated prices at our cafeteria, we would run out of meal points very quickly. When we addressed this issue with the meal provider, we were simply told “if you can’t afford the food, then why are you going to school in Manhattan?”
About three weeks later, Katya and I were invited to a party thrown by our friend Amanda at her boyfriend’s apartment. By apartment, we didn’t realize that she meant extravagant high-rise penthouse. The elevator opened up directly into a penthouse foyer and when we arrived, we were immediately greeted by what seemed to be a short Christmas elf in Armani Exchange.
“Hey I’m Sean, you’re cute, let’s fuck.” said the overly processed man who barely reached Katya’s nipples.
“Umm… hello, nice to meet you too.” replied Katya with a stern look of confusion.“But seriously you’re cute, what’s your name?” asked Sean
“Catch-uh?” asked Sean
“Oh cool, well nice to meet you” he replied.
“Yeah, likewise” said Katya with a concentrated look of impatience.
As the evening went on, Amanda poured us mixed drinks and we discussed various school events and played Guitar Hero. Eventually, Sean decided to try his luck again with Katya.
“Hey Tatiana, do you want another drink” asked Sean
To which I replied “Her name is Katya, asshole!”
“Yo dipshit, I wasn’t asking you.” said Sean looking rather peeved.
Already that evening, Sean had taken his penis out to show another party guest a mysterious “birth mark,” and left the bathroom door open for all to observe while he peed.
“Oh don’t pay any attention to him” said Amanda’s boyfriend Brad “He’s just an annoying fuck face.”
“Oh is that his name?” I asked, I then turned to Sean and said “Well hello Fuck Face, it is truly a pleasure to meet you; unfortunately, due to your continued lack of courtesy, you have been labeled ‘douchebag’ and there for blacklisted from our yes list… so please leave us alone.”
Sean then complained to various party guests that “How dare that fag come and make a fool out of me.”
He then left and I was treated as the hero of the evening.“Seriously” said Brad “We’ve been trying to put him in his place for over 2 years, and you’re the first person who ever did successfully.”
Personally, I didn’t realize it would become such a big deal; especially since I had encountered much worse growing up. I found out later that evening Sean was an actor on Guiding Light and usually gets his way with everything. I also learned that he felt inadequate being constantly surrounded by Brad’s marketing and finance colleagues, as well as Amanda’s classical musician friends. Not a surprise when the most riveting thing you have to discuss in an evening is a strange mark on your penis.
We later relocated down the street to Jake’s Saloon where we all had a drink and said goodbye to Amanda and Brad. They were “tired” from a long day and went back to the penthouse by themselves, leaving us with several NYU marketing and finance students.
We stood at Jake’s Saloon trying to figure out what else we were going to do. After all… it was only 12:30.
“Let’s go Meatpacking!” said one of the partygoers in a thick Punjabi accent.
He was referring to New York City’s Meatpacking District, or as it was formerly known, the Gansevoort Market. In 1900, the Meatpacking District was home to over 250 slaughter houses and meatpacking plants, and by 1980 was home to a slew of shady gay bars where illicit sex acts were all too common. Currently, however, the area is undergoing a major renaissance. The district is now home to many upscale apartments, bars, boutiques and hotels. Katya and I were only too eager to experience the up and coming area for ourselves.
“Where are going?” asked Katya.
“We go Brass Monkey! Woohoo!” replied the Punjabi academic “I pay cab fee!”
We couldn’t beat that; the Meatpacking District was definitely out of our way, but we were excited to explore more areas of Manhattan. When we arrived at Brass Monkey, we found ourselves overcrowded and embarrassed. Our new hosts weren’t exactly as cool as Amanda and Brad, and by that I mean they wouldn’t shut up… literally.
“Wahoo! We at Brass Monkey! We so cool! Yay Meatpacking! So fun!” yelled our host.
He continued this behavior all evening. We were also accompanied by two other less exuberant men, but one was hitting on a girl outside, and his friend was complaining to someone on the phone that the Casanova was engaged and needed to stop his behavior.
When the Punjabi took a restroom break, we went upstairs to find ourselves even less entertained and tried to dance until we heard it again… “Yay Brass Monkey!”
Katya and I looked at each other, and as if by ESP, we came up with an excuse and a plan.
“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize how late it was, we have an audition in the morning, and since I already sound like a man, I have got to get some sleep.” said Katya.
People almost always seem to understand when you have to “pace for la voce” (peace out for the voice). The ecstatic bar hopper gave us hugs and walked us out the door.
“I still want to dance” said Katya “we have not successfully danced tonight and we cannot stop until we do!”
I agreed with her as we left the industrial drab of Brass Monkey and meandered our way towards the more upscale and modern Ninth Avenue. We both noticed a line coming out of a posh looking building with a sign that read “Gansevoort”.
The Hotel Gansevoort is sort of the Botox that gave way to the drastic and much needed facelift of the Meatpacking District. At the time, neither of us had any idea that the hotel was so popular (as seen on The Real Housewives of NYC) we just wanted to dance. So we stood at the very end of a very long line.
“Oh, I need to tell you something” said Katya. I looked over to her with an inquisitive look and she continued “don’t let me drink anymore tonight, I had way too much of that 99 Bananas at Brad’s, and the last two bars did not help me any.”
“OK, so don’t drink” I said.
“I won’t, but I do owe you a cocktail for paying my cab fee to the apartment… so what do you want if we get in?”
“Just a Cosmo” I replied. Just then, the bouncer announced that the rooftop bar Plunge was only taking couples. The crowd sighed heavily and parted like the Red Sea all the way down to where Katya and I stood. Before we made our way down the line, she looked seriously at me and said “act straight” to which I replied “act sober”. She did, and strutted down the cat walk of people on my arm looking like a Russian supermodel wearing a pair of deadly stilettos.
The interior of Plunge wasn’t enclosed; it was more like a really lavish veranda with a DJ, and opened up to a magnificent balcony giving stellar views of the Hudson River. We witnessed many of Manhattan’s elite trying to court one another with unnecessarily loud conversations concerning vacations and business trips to Europe, while pouring themselves their own drinks from a selection of juices and spirits ordered by bottle service. When Katya returned from the bar with my Cosmo, she had a tall glass in her other hand.
“What’s that?” I asked pointing to her beverage.
“Long Island Iced Tea” replied Katya “there was a minimum charge and I figured I’d get more bank for my buck if I got this!”
“But you told me not to let you drink” I said with an enthused yet worried look on my face.
“I’ll be fine” she said “I’ve never actually hit my limit… I’ll be fine!”
We were finally able to dance at the Gansevoort, though there was no real designated dance space; everyone else was doing it too. When Katya wasn’t looking, I placed her half empty glass on a table that had about forty other drinks on it. When she asked me “What happened to my drink?” I told her “I have no idea what you did with it!”
When Katya went for a potty break, I sat outside with two French men I had encountered earlier. Luckily, they were opera fans, and we had a ton to talk about. They were even more thrilled when Katya joined us because I had already explained that she was a contralto, and though the two men frequently went to the opera, they had never heard a contralto live, nor had they met one. Unfortunately, our conversation was cut short when the bar began to close. A massive amount of people headed for the exit and Katya and I stood in line to leave. I thought we would never get out, but luckily we were shoved into a very crowded elevator at the last minute. We stood closely together, on the outside corner and I positioned myself facing inward.
“Those men were really nice, weren’t they?” Katya nodded with a stern look of concern on her face.
” Are you ok?” I asked.
Katya pursed her lips together tightly and gave me a very concentrated nod.
“Are you going to be sick?”
She looked even more intense when I asked this question. In fact, it was very similar to how I’d imagine a priest to look when performing an exorcism.
“If you’re going to vomit” I said “turn towards the wall.”
Katya looked at me and nodded. She then turned away from the wall and towards the man next to her; she vomited all over him. The noisy elevator suddenly became very quiet, and instead of reacting with a look of disgust, the man simply said “not again!” and tried to move closer to the door. This is when the three women beside him realized that they too had the Katya special all over their Dolce and Gabbana boots as well. The elevator stopped at the 8th floor, and everyone got off to join an exclusive party without us.
“I am so embarrassed” said Katya as she stumbled out into the main lobby knocking down a velvet rope stanchion.
“Its ok sweetie” I said trying to hold her up “Just be lucky that no one from school is here… you’ll be fine”
Just as I said this, I recognized a big group of second year graduate students from the voice program at MSM chatting a few yards in front of us.“Fuck!” said Katya trying to conceal herself as we walked around towards the back of hotel. “There’s Devon Estes and his little posse! This is so fucking embarrassing. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Oh my God, I’m sorry” she repeated.
“Its fine… you’ll be fine, we just need to wait a while and get you some carbs before we try heading back, ok?” I tried to reassure her as she began stripping her vomit drenched top off to reveal a sleek black slip and a hint of a lacy black bra.
“I must look like shit” cried Katya trying to detect if she had anything on her face that wasn’t there when we had arrived.
“You look fine” I said. In reality, she looked better than fine. At this moment, Katya reminded me of one of those Heroine chic models from the early 90’s fashion magazines, but healthy.
When we finally got a cab, I warned Katya that she needed to roll her window down.
“I’ll be fine, I promise” she said.
“Oh hell no! You are not vomiting on me too” I snapped.
As we rode home, the cool breeze came in gently through the window as other taxis passed us. They were filled with passengers pointing and laughing at Katya, as she vomited what seemed like liters of alcohol all over the pavement of the West End Highway.