'Straight Girls Guide to Gay Bars' is a new series from Open Book Productions the creative team behind 'Venice.' The premise is to have OBP producer and 'Venice' star Crystal Chappell as host along with a couple of straight friends, tour a few 'gay bars' in New York City and report on house special drinks, bar features and themes. The show's format is more like a travelogue than a 'reality series' as some have touted it.
In the premiere episode Crystal and her friends Hillary B. Smith and Liz Keifer take us to Henrietta Hudson Bar & Girl (438 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014)
The three hosts are sitting on bar stools around the bar in a bar-esque conversation pit with the bartender behind the bar. It's very casual and comfortable and very much like a group of friends sitting around talking and learning a little about the bar. Crystal has both of her legs crossed up on the stool and she's barefoot. I mention this because it's exactly the way I sit most of the time so I noticed it immediately. It also sets the mood for the show. Very laid back and conversational.
They get a tiny history about the bar opening in 1991 and previously having been a girl bar under a different name before that. Then Crystal asks the bartender about the different types of lesbians that she had mentioned. The bartender then sorts lesbians into three distinct groups based on clothing style. The descriptions are of course ludicrously stereotypical and even put Hillary and Liz firmly in one of the lesbian sub-categories. Luckily they move on to another subject: Why are there bowls full of free condoms in the lesbian bar? It's a valid question and I liked the hosts' possible scenarios they were humorously speculative. I was not expecting the bartender's reply. Especially since I have been asked that same question and the answer was completely different. (My theatre group used to rent space in an art gallery. the gallery was part of a local business association with the goal of HIV awareness so every business belonging to the association provided free condoms.) I was expecting something general and all encompassing in explanation and yet I should have known better judging by the pre-packed categorizing statement made earlier. My first thoughts in response were, 'not everyone who comes here is lesbian' 'you never know when your best friend might need one' 'as our websites states, we are gay boy friendly and culturally diverse.' But no, we got, "In order to have the most safest, safest, safest form of intimacy we tend to keep them for, um the attachable toys we may use." Um....okay. It's like every effort being made to say, 'hey we're all just people' keeps getting knocked with signs of exclusivity. But, now at least we're on a common ground subject right. Toys. Toys are a universal thing not limited to only straight or gay, male or female. Crystal bring up a business idea of putting a battery vending machine in the place, or selling them at the bar since they can't sell cigarettes anymore anyway. There is a cutaway to the ATM machine when it's mentioned. This bar is waaaay too small to get any good shots. I swear it feels like the camera is 2 feet from the ATM machine. The briefly mention Brazilian waxing which is also light and humorous especially considering that I had had a similar conversation with friends only a few days before.
Now onto bar features, there is a DJ 5 nights a week. They have a pole on a small stage and a cage. Anyone is allowed/encouraged to jump up and use either one. The bartender says that they have a lot of bachelorette parties there and the bride to be will hop into the cage. See, right there! Bachelorette party goers might need the condoms too. Anyway, they try to pan around and show as much of the space as possible but we only end up getting a quick shot of the cramped tiny DJ booth and narrow field of view images of decorations on the ceiling including a disco ball and electronic DJ lighting.
The house drink menu includes a 'multiple orgasm' that Hillary decides they have to try. After discussing who will cage dance and who will pole dance they bring up their kids and whether they would be watching. The banter is so free and light and it's like you the viewer are one of the gang just hanging out at this new place.
It's cute and fun, but I liked the banter with the hosts better than some of the things that the bartender had to say. She actually didn't seem to know a lot about the bar but she may have just been a little camera shy.
I'm very much looking forward to the next episode and location. :)
For this episode of SGGtGB click here.
Henrietta Hudson's website. http://henriettahudson.com/ They've got tons of info, pics, staff bios and drink menu online.