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Asian Drag Queens Sashay Out of the Shadows

BaeJing (courtesy of BaeJing)

Chinese drag queen BaeJing is at home in front of a camera. When she heard we’d be taking photos, she strutted to the front of the bar at the Ritz in midtown Manhattan, ready to serve looks. She knows her angles—each pose showed off the blended contour and shimmery highlight of her cheekbones.  More →

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What to Do On Thanksgiving If Turkey Ain’t Gonna Cut It

Puff, Pass and Paint

If gorging on turkey, stuffing and canned cranberry sauce doesn’t sound like a good time and you wouldn’t be caught dead at the Macy’s parade, you might be anti-Thanksgiving. Luckily, there are plenty of things to do in the city that don’t involve gluttonous food consumption or having awkward conversations with distant relatives. If you’re stuck in the city for the fourth Thursday of the month, here are some alternative events to check out.  More →

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Teen Songstress Chloe Grace Baker’s Interactive Music Video Has a Hidden Message About Social Media

(Photo: Gianennio Salucci)

If you text teen pop star Chloe Grace Baker, a.k.a Baker Grace, you’ll probably wait for a reply for three to five business days. The 19-year-old songstress isn’t a fan of technology, or the way social media is being relied on in this digital age. Instead of fawning over Instagram likes and Facebook friends, Baker is using her music to flip the script on how social media is used.  More →

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Chelsea Market Bags a New Zero-Waste Shop: Package Free

If you’re starting to panic about how many plastic straws you’re using on a daily basis to fuel that iced-coffee addiction, you’ll no longer have to trek all the way to Brooklyn for eco-friendly reusables. Starting this week, Williamsburg’s Package Free shop is taking Manhattan from trashy to tasteful with a Chelsea Market outpost.

Package Free Shop Chelsea Market is 300 square feet of goods that are good for the earth. The design of the store is in line with Package Free’s zero-waste model, too—all of the shelving and modular, reusable furniture was handmade by Josh Colon using sustainable wood.

“We designed everything for what happens in the future,” said Package Free CEO Lauren Singer. “So if we wanted to move locations everything is totally reusable or it could go in someone’s house.”

Other touches in the store include a locally-made arrangement of wheat and decorative items from Singer’s own home. “I wanted to make this store really cozy and really homey, and mix old and new to make it warm and have a bit of a more vintage feel,” said Singer.

The new location’s opening comes shortly after Package Free announced that a $4.5 million investment would allow it to scale its operations. The store wasn’t funded by the venture capital, though, speaking to Singer’s sustainability-focused financial model and the rise in demand for sustainable products.

“Even if we hadn’t taken on venture capital, we would have been able to support it with cash flow,” she said. “I’m very much still flexing my muscles of bootstrapping and only spending money I absolutely have to spend.”

Package Free came to be through Lauren Singer’s personal blog, Trash is for Tossers, where she shares tips for the eco-conscious consumer. Singer opened a pop-up shop on Grand Street in Williamsburg in 2017, which is now the site of Package Free’s flagship store. With the help of online marketing, Package Free has grown from a little-known startup to a major player in the zero-waste movement.

The eco brand prides itself on waste diversion across both the store locations and the e-commerce site. Package Free says it has diverted over 75 million units of trash (including plastic bags, water bottles, straws, coffee cups and disposable razors) since its 2017 launch by making its plastic-free products more accessible.

The sustainability movement is flourishing in the city. Brooklyn-based Precycle and The Wally Shop have continued to scale up their offerings of local, package and plastic-free grocery items, while clothing retailers Zero Waste Daniel and Everlane are bringing radical transparency and waste reduction to the fashion industry.

The Chelsea Market location is another way for Package Free to expand its mission of making sustainable products more accessible in New York. Singer said that she hopes more people will visit the store since the new location is off the L, A, C and E trains as well as the highway. She also wants to educate tourists visiting Chelsea Market about the zero-waste movement.

“Around six million people walk through Chelsea Market every year,” said Singer. “So being able to let that many people know that you can reduce your waste and have a more positive environmental impact is a huge opportunity to align with our mission and help make the world less trashy.”

Package Free Shop Chelsea Market is located at 75 9th Avenue and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Best of Other Art Fair, Where Attendees Got Nude and Tattooed

Handpoked Tattoos by Bluestone Babe.

The Other Art Fair returned to Greenpoint this past weekend to show works from over 130 emerging masterpiece-makers. The fair wants to draw in a new generation of art-buyers by exhibiting a wide variety of works (those bland still-life paintings just aren’t doing it for people anymore). The fair served as an active, immersive experience—some creators drew or painted or even tattooed during the open hours. Over the course of the weekend, Bedford + Bowery found seven of the most out-of-the-box and interactive collections at The Other Art Fair. More →

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Does a CBD Workout Make Hitting the Gym More Chill?

(Photo: Hanson Fitness)

Before starting the new CBD workout at Hanson Fitness, owner Harry Hanson— known for training celebrities like Rihanna and Tyra Banks— helped me apply a transdermal patch to the back of my neck. He guaranteed the patch contained “good quality CBD oil” and that it would help with muscle relaxation. He then turned me over to Fodell Oukil, who works as a trainer for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team for the 17u division. After the class, I’d “sleep like an angel,” Fodell assured me. More →

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Ruffian’s New Offshoot Adds a Tropical Touch to Aperitivo

This week, the hospitality team behind Ruffian (the recently designated Michelin Bib Gourmand) opened their offshoot project, Kindred, an East Village restaurant with nods to the coastal Adriatic regions of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.

While they wait for gas, Kindred is currently operating as a wine and cocktail bar with a small selection of snacks: smoked olives, onion dip with flatbread, a crostini plate and chicken meatballs. The menu will be extended in upcoming weeks, to offer diners an incentive to spend more time in the tastefully decorated space. 

The decor in the East 6th Street location is minimal and clean, evoking the feeling of a sun-soaked Mediterranean getaway. The bar and dining room are separated by a white-washed brick wall, calling to mind Italian aperitivo culture—one where diners are encouraged to socialize while sipping cocktails at the bar before even looking at the food menu.

Charlotte Mirzoeff, director of the cocktail program and head bartender, was heavily influenced by the laid-back nature of Italian aperitivo tradition while crafting the mixed-drinks. “Aperitivo culture is catching on because it’s more sustainable,” she said. “It’s not going to three different restaurants or bars and being shit-faced by the end of the night.”

At the same time, you’ll find more than just Aperol Spritzes here. The cocktail list is compact but lively, featuring six creations with complex, layered flavors and tropical vibes. A staff favorite is the Isola Mai Tai, which features Belizean rum, cachaca, pineapple, pistachio syrup, lime, basil and celery. “When you think of coastal regions anywhere in the world, you’re like, ‘I want a piña colada or a margarita,’ tropical- style drinks,” Mirzoeff said. “So I wanted to steer Kindred’s cocktails away from plain-old Italian aperitivo and give it this more coastal identity.”

During happy hour (weekdays 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and late night happy hour (Friday and Saturday 11 p.m. to 12 a.m.), there’ll be three additional cocktails—an Italian style Daiquiri, a rum and pineapple drink called Jungle Bird and a sparkling aperitivo cocktail—at reduced prices.

Kindred isn’t solely focused on cocktails—the restaurant stays true to its Ruffian roots with a wide selection of natural and orange wines. The list of around 70 wines from the featured waterside regions is focused mainly on by-the-glass options, but the bottles also sit at reasonable price points, with very few bottles exceeding $100.

“What’s great about the Adriatic region is that you get fantastic value in the quality of wines, particularly with older vintages, but at a very good price point,” said Alexis Percival, partner and co-director of the beverage program.

Once up and running, Kindred’s full menu will serve a little bit of family tradition to the East Village. Chef de Cuisine Amy Mattulina (Maialino, Charlie Bird) says the handcrafted pasta dishes will start off with her grandmother’s recipe for potato-based gnocchi, paired with a simple tomato sauce. In addition, there’ll be large-format dishes like “fish in a blanket” and a whole hen roasted with Calabrian chili oil and preserved lemon. Smaller plates will include fried chickpeas, fried ravioli, seasonal roast vegetables, radicchio salad and a warm grain salad, all keeping to the theme of Adriatic cuisine. 

Reservations are available on a limited basis, something that the small space at Ruffian doesn’t allow for. But only a small number of tables are set aside each night for reservations. Mirzoeff wants people to walk in and socialize, true to the name Kindred. “It’s an homage to community and an homage to bringing people together.”

Kindred is open Sunday, Monday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Beginning November 11th, Kindred will be open 7 days a week. 

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Here’s How Much It Costs to Dress Like a Drag Queen

Hover over or tap clothing/accessories.

Brita Filter knows a thing or two about being in costume. The NYC-based drag queen, whose real name is Jesse Havea, has years of experience in theater. Havea grew up as a child performer, went on to book national tours with a theater company and eventually studied acting at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. After booking a production of Cinderella (where he played one of the evil step-sisters in drag), Havea knew he wanted to pursue drag full time, and thus Brita Filter was born. More →