Last night's party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Barracuda was an object lesson in two things: Chelsea's long-running dive bar continues to be a force to be reckoned with -- still packed with cute boys, cute bartenders and lively drag shows, thanks to co-founder Bob Pontarelli and his muse, Sherry Vine, and that I'm old, and don't like standing for extended periods of time. (Hard to believe I had the patience to pick up The One-Armed Love Bandit there all those years ago.) My friend Greg and I arrived 30 minutes before the appointed start time only to find a sweeping line down West 22nd Street, which featured an assortment of already drunk queens who do not respect the PLEASE RESPECT OUR NEIGHBORS sign hanging out front. (In fairness, who has time to read when you're too busy cracking your drunk self up?)
Fortunately, once the door opened at 7 sharp, we got right in and were able to quickly procure our first drink before heading to the back to secure a view of the stage.
Settled into our pretty-good spot by the pool table, we were immediately taken with a hunky guy with a shaved head and suit standing in front of us. At first we were enjoying the view, until we realized this guy was blocking the entire flow of the joint -- which not unlike most of the attendees has a weak stream to begin with -- and annoying the shit out of everyone.
It was only after he'd bashed into the 10,000th person that we realized he was a bodyguard(!) for Laverne Cox, who instead of sitting on one of the sofas near the stage where no one would even see her deliberately sat in an area with the most traffic with the best-looking guy in the place standing directly in front of her ... you know, so NO ONE would ever look over her way. If it hadn't been so disruptive it would have been comical.
Eventually we just had to laugh -- that she was a foot taller and looked like she could take him was pretty funny -- and then others started chiming in on how desperately she was behaving, (Who knew people who are paid $800 a week for a Netflix series could even afford security?)
In due time, Sherry Vine came on and got things rolling, with a clever parody of "Gangsta's Paradise" that was called "Drag Queen's Paradise," natch. She brought co-founder/owner Bob Pontarelli out to say a few words, who was quick to deflect praise to his late business partner (Stephen Heighton) and told Sherry none of this would be possible without her, a rare sentimental moment at a drag show. Greg and I then thanked the Divine one above that there was a cocktail waiter on duty, as getting back to the bar would have been impossible even without Laverne's Cox blocking.
We managed to stay through a handful of performers, but after consulting the Google Drag Queen Time app decided Jackie Beat and Candis Cayne would probably not be out for another 12 hours, so decided to call it a night, having already been on our feet for more than three hours.
Instead, we opted for Grandma slices at Pizza Italia while feeling like (well-preserved) grandpas. The photo up top is one Candis posted last night with the caption, "Razzle-dazzle 'em." And although I was too tired to see if for myself, I have no doubt she did.
Congrats to everyone involved -- a great night for a legendary nightspot!
More photos HERE.