June 20, 2023
Around the Town with Dr. Bill: Countdown to Pride with Brooks Brothers, Flotilla DeBarge & Cafeteria's Birthday
Dr. William Kapfer READ TIME: 5 MIN.
Another glorious week commenced with some good, old fashioned retail therapy, thanks to Brooks Brothers, America's longest-established retailer, and GLSEN, the nonprofit group focused on advocating for racial equity, disability justice and the full inclusion of transgender and nonbinary youth in all facets of education.
On Wednesday, June 14th, Brooks Brothers, and GLSEN, hosted a virtual town hall-style panel discussion focused on LGBTQ+ issues with guest speakers: Executive Director of GLSEN, Melanie Willingham "The Gilded Age" star Clayborne Elder, and Brooks Brothers Creative Director, Michael Bastian hosted by Ken Ohashi.
The discussion was followed by a special evening at Brooks Brothers store at The Shops at Hudson Yards.
GLSEN's mission, behind which I am a fervent supporter, is to create safe learning environments for all K-12 students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
In essence, GLSEN firmly believes that young people should not have to choose between their wellbeing and their education.
To that end, and to support and create awareness for GLSEN's powerful mission, Brooks Brothers designed a limited-edition Pride Collection of Oxford button-downs and T-shirts–with 100% of proceeds directed to GLSEN to help support its mission of working to ensure a safe environment for LGBTQ+ students.
I had the chance to ask Ken Ohashi, CEO of Brooks Brothers, about the partnership with GLSEN and he shared passionately that, "The Brooks Brothers brand has always represented the celebration of achievement and success in our customers' lives. We are proud to partner with GLSEN to ensure that all students, regardless of their identity, get the chance to become their best selves. No student should face harassment and bullying in school because of who they are."
After the Brooks Brothers event I strolled over to Calligaris, a retailer featuring Italian-designed furniture conveniently located only steps away from our Chelsea apartment. There, I attended a Pride party celebration co-hosted by Frederick Anderson, Scott Buccheit, Naem Delbridge, Peter Som, Marcus Teo, and celebrity and nightlife photographer Patric McMullan.
The evening's music was courtesy of the iconic Flotilla DeBarge, who spun the best of classic dance and house music from the 80's and 90's–and was one of the best parts of the evening.
For those who don't know, the fabulously foul-mouthed, no holds barred alter ego of Kevin Joseph, the Flotilla is a drag legend who came up with some of the most iconic queens to emerge from the East Village drag scene.
I had the pleasure of running into so many beloved friends that night, including New York City Councilman Erik Botcher, fashion model Dillon Thomas, Charlii Sebunya, and the multitalented, media maven Alva Chinn, who was one of the first, and most celebrated, Black runway models in America.
Alva was one of Roy Halston's muses, nicknamed "The Halstonettes." Indeed, Halston revolutionized women's fashion in the United States, featuring models such as Alva, with the first ready-to-wear boutique on Madison Avenue and the still-imitated caftan dress.
Thursday, June 15th, took me to one of my neighborhood eateries, Cafeteria, for their 25th Anniversary celebration. Friends and family celebrated the hot spot's anniversary with a real rager. The famed, late-night Chelsea restaurant, where every table was the cool kids' table, opened in Chelsea in 1998; since then, it has been the center of the Chelsea scene–a haven for locals, celebrities, tourists, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community alike.
Regularly featured as the go-to brunch spot of the "Sex and The City ladies, the restaurant's popularity has been consistent throughout its tenure with its penchant for fun, turning it into a notorious landmark.
New York legends, drag queens, and local celebrities showed up to pay homage to Cafeteria. Cabaret drag artist Joey Arias and JoseÌ Xtravaganza treated guests to performances atop a Sweet Chick truck as it plated up chicken fingers and French fries for guests.
Carrie Dragshaw, the alter ego of buddy Dan Clay, pranced about the venue serving frozen cosmos; New York nightlife legend, impresario and co-founder of what is often referred to as the greatest club of all time, Studio 54, Carmen D'Alessio brought family members to the evening's festivities; and DJ Lina Bradford and DJ Mazurbate turned the volume up late into the night.
As I head into next week I can't help but wonder what awaits me on my exciting journey into 2023's thus far fabulous Pride month in New York City!