Ian, what made you come up with the idea to open The OUT NYC complex?
I grew up in New York and came out about 25 years ago. Over the last 25 years, it seems the gay “fun nightlife” has disappeared; Sound Factory, Area, Tunnel, Palladium, they’ve all disappeared. To just go somewhere and “chill” I used to love The Big Cup, which is also gone. In terms of a straight place, we would go to Hell to hang out, which is gone as well. I stayed at a gay hotel in Barcelona, Spain, and started thinking, “Why don’t we have something for the gay population like this in New York City?”
Did you always intend for The OUT NYC to become the centerpiece of New York City nightlife that it has becomecommercial jumping castles for sale melbourne?
Originally I wanted to open a boutique hotel, and then I started thinking, why not build a gay community center and have it all under one roof? I wanted to do it in Hell’s Kitchen, but naturally everyone thought I should do it in Chelsea. I told them that used to be the gay ghetto; it was all about Hell’s Kitchen now. I love our address, too: 510 West 42nd Street. It makes people think of the Broadway show “42nd St.,” and we are close to all of the subway lines and the tunnel. It’s a perfect location for tourists also christmas inflatables canada.
Have you been happy with the reaction from the community to XL nightclub?
We are known all over the world. I have friends in Russia and in Brazil that called me when “Tan Mom” was here for her roast! [laughs] We’ve had half a million people come in the doors since opening, which is unheard of. In terms of nightlife now, we have some great places like the Industry and Therapy, but like I said before, big nightlife was gone. We had lost a lot of what we had, as well as some that we didn’t have. As far as the nightclub now, there is something for everyone. Friday nights is Rockit, which is about 20% straight, with about 15% straight women and about 5% straight men. It’s a very pop, upbeat party, so they definitely come for a good time. I have many friends come to our cabaret nights, and we do Twisted Cabaret on Mondays when Broadway is dark, and the Broadway stars come sing. We’ve had Alan Cumming come do stand-up for us, and we had a performer by the name of Cyndi Lauper a couple weeks ago!
The OUT NYC is New York’s first straight-friendly urban resort. How have you enhanced the hotel experience for your customers?
My vision was not to open a gay ghetto; we are not a “clothing optional” facility. We are truly the first gay-owned, gay-operated, gay-programmed, straight-friendly facility. One-third of my 20,000 sleeping customers who have come through the doors since we opened have been straight. Their way of thinking is that staying at a gay-owned and operated facility will definitely be more chic and definitely more fun, and they’re right! We wanted to show that this hotel was definitely not just for rich gay men.
We truly have something for everyone. Everything from our $99 sleep share for single travelers who want to stay in shared quarters but have a four-star experience. It’s a private suite, cubicle-style, full bed, television, full access to XL Nightclub, the spa, business center and free WiFi. We have found that this package has been getting used quite a lot by modeling agencies. It’s much safer than putting young models in a Holiday Inn down on 8th Ave. & 38th St.! They also love having the models stay at an establishment where we have such a young, hipper and cuter crowd. For our regular rooms, we used the Standard in Miami as the model. They go for anywhere from $200 to $400 a night, and they all are in a very monotone, clean-cut style. Great linens, king-size beds and sexy furniture. We also have executive and suites available for people that want to spend a few more dollars.
You recently opened KTCHN, the restaurant that is part of the complex. What made you want to add a restaurant to the complex?
I always loved several restaurants: the Universal Grill, Kiss, places like that. Some that were gay friendly and places that you did not have to think twice about. Since we were already known around the world with XL, I wanted to create the same experience for the dining experience. Essentially, I wanted to surprise the world, to revolutionize the experience, not “evolutionize” it. The concept of KTCHN is unbelievably healthy, but very yummy food. Our Executive Chef Dale Schnell is unbelievable and is doing something so unique with fish and sea. We’re an American bistro with Mediterranean influences. We have amazing dishes, like our spicy french fries dipped in vinegar and sprinkled with sea salt. We make our own ketchup, our own desserts, and everything is made in-house. Our pricing is reasonable, and we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also have room service available, as well as delivery services.
The OUT NYC seems to be a one-stop shop for almost anything. What else does the complex offer?
We also have an event space that can do handle any size event. We held John Blair’s wedding last year (which was officiated by Fran Drescher), to a straight wedding with 220 people! We also had a luncheon for the Rockettes where they actually performed on stage. Recently, we just held our first bar mitzvah, where the family could not find a space that would work for them until they saw ours. During Fashion Week, we had eight fashion shows, mostly with gay designers. The shows were definitely experimental, not traditional; one of the shows was by Ice-T and his wife Coco. The New York Times named us on their list of hottest places to be during Fashion Week. I owe all of this to our Cultural Minister/Creative Director Patrick Duffy. He’s been bringing vibes to hotels for half a dozen years. He was the manager/promoter at The Box and was the cultural director at the Hotel Americano when they first opened.
I’ve heard that The OUT NYC features new and interesting talent in the hotel lobby.
We had used about half a dozen artists whose art that we rotate in the lobby. Alan Cumming was our first one with his art, which is very experimental. We’ve featured jewelry designers with their pieces being featured on our great lawn.