The Out NYC is New York’s first and only gay hotel. It opened in Hell’s Kitchen this past March, boasting a wellness spa with fifteen-foot waterfall, massive nightclub, and miniature version of Central Park’s Great Lawn. And to appeal to the sophisticated sensibilities of its clientele, The Out has its own art gallery too. Following the success of the inaugural exhibit of photographs by actor Alan Cumming, The Out plans to make art shows a prominent and ongoing part of its programming.
The latest is Gilles Larrain: Idols, which opened July 17 and is curated by Mr. Patrick Duffy, the hotel’s creative director and a New York nightlife fixture. As you might expect of an exhibit curated by an event producer, nightlife is at the core of Idols. The show contains thirty of photographer Gilles Larrain’s most wild and glamorous portraits of friends dressed in drag in the early 1970s. After a visit to Max’s Kansas City during the heyday of the burgeoning gay rights movement, Larrain sought to replicate the club’s liberated nightlife scene at his studio. He transformed his workspace into a haven for transvestites to come dress up and pose for him. The result: a photographic series that captures the playful, powerful experience of exploring sexuality and identity through costume. Says Duffy, “For me, it’s the ability to display what you are feeling on the inside, on the exterior.”
It’s a perfect exhibit for The Out, which lays claim to its fair share of playful debauchery. Forget resting—a night at the hotel is designed to be a social experience. A case in point is the hotel’s “Sleep Shares,” four-person communal rooms designed for guests to, literally, sleep together. Those too shy for the Sleep Share but still in search of some titillating fun can get their fix from Larrain’s theatrical and orgiastic photographs instead.
Gilles Larrain: Idols will be on view from July 17 to August 12 at The Out NYC, located at 510 W. 42nd St, New York.