Public Sex and the Standard Hotel

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Photo: rhocken's Flickr

Has the handsome Standard hotel — neighbor to the newly opened High Line, and declared this week to be the Municipal Art Society's Best New Building of 2009 — revived the meatpacking district’s seedy, sexual side? In the neighborhood that was once home to sex dungeons and street walkers, there stand 337 rooms framed by huge, non-reflective glass windows. Some months ago, hotelier André Balazs, who has cited the “exhibitionist” nature of his building, ran ads inviting guests to move into the hotel while it was still under construction. “We’ll put up with your banging if you put up with ours,” read the ad, which pictured a nicely oiled woman naked but for a tool belt, her left hand gripping the head of a long hammer. But now, it seems, passersby are actually witnessing some of this “banging.”

Our Tim Murphy found a visitor to the High Line who spotted a naked hotel guest midway up the hotel, and there’s even some evidence of nudity online. But a couple of locals tell us they’ve witnessed more than a few simple pressed hams. Meatpacker Ricky Serling begins his day with a view of the hotel from the meat co-op on Little West 12th Street. “I’ve seen men and women, women and women, men and men [in the windows],” he says, modestly. “Lights, leather, chains. Everything.”

Marc Capano, head of security for Hogs & Heifers, who has a nightly, full-on view of the Standard from the doorway of the West 13th Street biker bar, offers more details. “I’ve seen women in the classic cop ‘up against the wall’ pose, only up against the window, while their man is behind them,” he reports. “Lights on so all can see.” And not only that. “I've seen guys [pleasuring themselves] in front of the windows. I've seen multiple women in the same room picking up and waving lamps to get our attention so they could flash” onlookers. Still to come is the Standard’s much-anticipated high-end lounge; its windows are colossal and it reportedly shares the top floors with a huge Jacuzzi and co-ed bathrooms. It could be an interesting summer near the High Line.