About Me

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Welcome My name is Tess. I'm a 9-5 New Yorker and traveler. My hobbies include destroying suitcases, photo-bombing tourists in Times Square, and taking long romantic ADHD walks around the globe. Welcome!

Jan 19, 2011

The Graveyard Shift

Brooklyn's finest working hard

They say the city never sleeps. But for Kenneth, Mitchell and Dumar, that's precisely what they are  ready to do.” No we're not tourists, we’re from Brooklyn" says Dumar. At 8 a.m. standing in the middle of Times Square, these three are just ending the night shift at McDonalds on 42cd st. "We work the night shift cleaning and restocking," says Kenneth "we're just getting off of work!"  

Jan 14, 2011

Subway Entertainers

entertainment while you ride

carrying around a song and an instrument 
The subway systems in New York are never short on talent. For less than three dollars, you can take in all the talent that Broadway missed. Lunchtime on the #1 train offers a variety of mariachi bands in full costume. They jump into one subway car, belt out a quick tune, pass around the "tips" hat. They hop off at the next stop to switch subway cars or simply switch trains.
Break dancing is also still alive and popular underground. 

On the A train uptown, adolescent boys break back-flips, floor spins and pop-lock; bringing back the dance styles that appeal to many 80s' babies. It's a much needed break from the typical alleged homeless persons making appeals to your your wallet. One might wonder about the legal status of some of these performers in the concrete jungle, yet they have figured out a way to use what they've got to get what they want - the definition of a hustle. And like the saying goes, if you can make it here... well you know the rest!

Jan 12, 2011

LIPS Service - Drag is back!

Ginger Snapt gets some audience participation
during her closing number on

Ariel Sinclaire breaks from
waiting tables to wow
the crowd
 I was called a whore, a bitch, and a slut - and that was just during my drink order. 
Formerly Lips of the west village, the relocated posh digs on the eastside of midtown Manhattan comes alive. Complete with trashy mouthed drag queens in six inch stilettos, sequins, and spackled with the best make-up jobs this side of the Manhattan.
But the decor extends far beyond the fishnets and faux lashes. Proprietor Mark Zchiesche, known in drag as Yvonne Lame has be-dazzled his flagship location by giving it a facelift fit for a drag queen. Inside Lips the mannequin legs adorned in high couture shoes protrude from black and white striped walls. Crystal shoe-shaped chandeliers sway overhead, sparkling curtains sweep the floors and gold goddess statues guard the stage.
The crowd is a mixture of birthdays, corporate office parties, bachelorette entourages and a few curious tourists.
The main attractions, stuffed into sparkling cat suits, drowning in shimmer and swathed in feathers, these trannies aim to entertain and if you are lucky you'll even be donned with you very own Drag-identity.

The drinks have catchy names like "Drag-O-Ritas" and "Blojitos" & meals are named after notable drag queens like the Ru Paul chicken breast. The wait staff also doubling as the on-stage talent entertains with quit witted, sexually charged insults, re-vamped song and dance numbers & a bit of audience participation - which is optional unless you are told to "Get your ass on stage," by your raunchy but ever so gracious host.

Paying homage to The Lion King

Nearly a dozen of us are pulled on-stage for a cat-walk contest where the three finalists battle it out over a lip-sync to Whitney Houston's " I Wanna Dance With Somebody." Afterwards, we play a few rounds of Bitchy Bingo in tandem with a Best gay joke contest. Prizes range from free drinks, sex toys, and tickets to Webster Hall. The last act in the show features all the Queens paying homage to the Broadway musical The Lion King complete with stuffed animals and one rather eager young man who chauffeured our hostess to the stage - on his back.
Ginger later thanks us for being good sports and treats us to a few Frankie's made by the bartender Frankie Cocktail! She then knights me with my new drag title which I amiably accept. The drinks are over-priced the food is underwhelming but the talent is worth the trip. This a place for New Yorkers and Tourists alike and that's not LIP service.

Candy cane

Jan 10, 2011

New York's Theme Park

The tax-free way to earn a living

a catchy get-up
to get your
It is 5:15 pm rush hour - suits and skirts flood the streets of midtown Manhattan speed walking to buses, trains children but more so to get the heck out of Times Sq. Manhattan is so congested with tourism hawkers and hustlers that it has become the veritable thorn in the ass of native New Yorkers. If I was ever to lose my job in corporate America, I could always work as an independent tour guide in Times Square," says Elsa Zapata of Bronx NY.  Places like midtown Manhattan’s Times Square have become a full fledged theme park complete with horses, naked cowboys and characters selling you all things from Obama condoms to Broadway tickets to hugs?  “Times Square - unless you work or have business there then you know better than to go through there,” says New Yorker Phil Grant. Let's not forget the tour guides who juggle tickets to and from tourists. International travelers – have you ever attempted to buy a tour bus ticket from a person that speaks less English than you?  It’s a mesmerizing feat to watch.So how can you distinguish a tourist from 

#3 of the most popular tourist photo-ops
 a resident  New Yorker? "You can always spot a tourist, just look at the way they are dressed they try too hard," says Revaz Gogiya of Coney Island. Only in Manhattan can u turn a dusty Disney costume into a tax free career. Just ask any number of the Elmos, Sponge Bob or Mickey Mouse costume-clad persons traipsing
6th avenue
as they lure your children in for a photo-op but not before you drop a crisp dollar bill into their sock!
  However fear not these camera clad out of state gawkers. For there are still a few cool bits of the big apple left to salvage for those of you in a New York State of mind. But I'm not telling. Let tourism take over Manhattan. There are still four other perfectly fascinating boroughs still relatively out of their jurisdiction - for now.

Jan 5, 2011

Diving Through the Friendly Skies

And I'm free...free fallingggg
"Why would anyone in their right mind want to jump out of a perfectly good plane?" These were the sentiments of my best friend's husband Richard.

Statistically 1 out of every 20,000 jumpers suffers fatal injury so although the chances of  returning unscathed are risky; as NYers surviving in the concrete jungle - we scoffed in the face of death. 
 So me and 3 friends signed up to jump 14,000 feet, free falling to uncertainty Tandem Skydiving.

 "I was in the airborne division of the military before this," says Range who has accomplished over 21,000 jumps and completes dozens more as a Tandem Diving instructor in Pennsylvania.  When we arrive the mostly outdoor facility is crawling with people in queue as well as cowardly spectators. In a small dark room, we watch a short video wherein the narrator stresses a clear message of, “I hope you fully understand the risk with death you are taking."  Got it!

 After signing our lives away on the six page liability release which states in case you lose a limb or become a pulverized heap of blood and bones - you cannot sue us, we then undergo a brief instructional in the airplane hanger.
 The 10 minute briefing covers the basics; body positioning, parachute deployment, safety and landing procedures finished off by executing a mini mock jump in full gear at a staggering two feet from the ground?

Our group is called and we head toward the plane,I get chummy with the guy who will strap me to his loins and take me sailing through the skyThe plane is just large enough to hold the 7 jumpers 7 pros and 1 camera man. All the tandem jumpers are first timers. “It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do,” says one jumper. 

Within minutes we have elevated to 13,000 feet. Moments before deploying, the pros fasten us into their harnesses. I was horrified! From a sitting position on a plane so small, Range had buckled and bound me to his body. 

But how could he know after a couple of yanks on the gear  that I was secure? The camera man begins snapping shots with his teeth by way of a tube running from the camera on his helmet to his mouth. He will be filming divers while he is also free falling. Instructors remind you that you will be signaled to check your wrist-meter when you've plummeted 5000 feet from ground level and to deploy the parachute. 

One at a time we scoot to the edge of the open door and I am first in line. Rocking at the edge of the plane's open door seeing a view I've only seen while in flight I begin to panic. Did I really pay someone to throw me from a friggin plane!

 It's at that point,staring over the edge, that you realize what is about to happen and that it's simply too late to change your mind.

Arms folded chin up over the edge and away we go!

Darla takes flight

The first surge of adrenaline tears through you seizing your limbs. You extend arms and legs, the wind whips around your body as you’re plummeting face down at 120mph thrusting through clouds and picking up speed.
Short of breath you panic and gasp for air breathing deeply through your mouth to alleviate the intensity of the impact, this part known as the “Freefall” lasts for sixty seconds or eight thousand feet.  At 5000 feet the instructor grabs your wristwatch signaling you pull the cord to deply your chute. Instantly, you begin to coast through the air overlooking the surrounding landscape - the views are breathtaking.  

“I felt really blessed to experience God’s creation that far up, the air was so still,” said Darla Price of N.Y
Toggles allow you to maneuver the parachute spinning and changing direction as you sail through the sky and descend to the ground.  You feel like a bird in flight. The adrenaline rushes over you again the feeling is surreal.

Me and Range free falling in Philly

“I said out loud …This is so peaceful,” says Andrea Young of N.J recalling her experience.

The landing is usually smooth with the instructor planting his feet first then you afterwards finally walking out to a complete stop; the entire dive lasts around 5 minutes. With all of us safely on the ground. The four of us - Dev, Darla, Andrea & I walk accross the lawn like a scene out of Top Gun. People are astounded. Not because we are so dashingly breath-taking but becasue we are the only 4 black girls in the place.

 "Wow you girls look great," says a spektator. We recieve indulge a few folks in some photo-ops, slapped some hi-fives and kissed a baby? We were a hit!

Back in the hanger were the results of some not so smooth landings with one diver having completely bloodied thighs. word of advice: don't skydive in daisy duke shorts!  Tandem Skydives cost around $195 and up and first time divers can eventually become licensed pros through progression training programs or integrated student programs. Each experience is unique to the diver but Skydiving is without a doubt a sport for the extremely adventurous!

Jan 2, 2011


Open for business
For more than eight years Amadou has traveled the globe in an effort to provide for the family that he left behind in Senegal.  Amadou is an independent street merchant. He sells fashion purses most of which he purchases in the fashion district.As one of 14 children from his father's union of four wives, Amadou understands well the value of family.
"I have to support everybody back home - just me."And from thousands of miles across the globe he provides for his four children, two wives, his father and his father's two surviving wives.  Seated on a bench in front of the Time & Life building he answers an incoming call, "Yes boss," and he begins speaking rapidly in Arabic.  It is a fellow countryman currently living in Germany where Amadou himself also lived,  sustained by the same trade before coming to the states. 

keeping in touch
with friends abroad

Amadou shares pics of
1 of his 2 wives.

 Amadou begins his day around 2pm on weekdays and 10 a.m. on Saturdays.Yes the tourists come out early on weekends." Tuesdays he takes the day off.  He has systematically positioned himself on the path to Rockefeller center from Times Sq. His roll-away tables are situated curbside, draped in tarp and spilling with purses. "I pay sometimes $20 for each. Customers do not have money, I charge sometimes $30." Amadou hasn't visited home for almost three years now.  When asked about Senegal he smiles, "I miss it very much. Here I have no wife." He then pulls out his cell phone and displays his screen saver a picture of his second wife. When asked when he thinks he will return home for good he smiles and stares out into the distance, "I don't know maybe not  for long time."