For the past 21 years, gays of all stripes have flocked to the annual Holi-gay "Toys for Tots" charity event, where they've drunk and flirted and the only price of admission was a Malibu Barbie or fire truck to be donated for poor city children. Last year, over 4,000 hairdressers, publicists, and lawyers packed into the Metropolitan Pavilion, breaking fire-code regulations. And so this year, the organizers decided to charge a $35 admission (plus a toy). The fee was introduced in order, the organizers said, to defray costs and stay under capacity, but a number of gay New Yorkers were disgruntled and boycotted the party, saying the "gay elite" was trying to price out less-affluent homosexuals.
The hosts denied classism had anything to do with it. "Besides, people don't seem to have a problem paying $100 for the Black Party or Allegria," sniffed one of the hosts, Chris Kann, a broker for Corcoran, referring to the city's gay circuit parties. Happily for the masses, Dave Barton, owner of that Chelsea mecca of homosexual sweat and muscles, is keeping his annual Christmas toy-drive party for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital free of charge. It's Tuesday, December 11, and celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Alan Cumming, and Marc Jacobs have promised to attend. Barton said that if the event — which brought in more than 3,000 people and 7,000 toys in 2006 — attracts more this year, they can open up more space in the gym. "We had people running in and out of the locker rooms and steam rooms last year, and we can do that again," said Barton. After all, "more people mean more giving … it's better for the kids." Not too mention better for Alan Cumming, who says he's already feeling the Christmas spirit. "I can probably meet Jesus in the steam room," he said. "Or at least someone who has the body of God." —Dan Levin