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Home > Movies > Florent: Queen of the Meat Market

Florent: Queen of the Meat Market

(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: No Rating
  • Director: David Sigal
  • Running Time: 87 minutes
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review



Release Date

May 20, 2011


Like the trailblazing, neo-bohemian restaurant itself, the documentary Florent: Queen of the Meat Market is more about the vibe than the meat and potatoes. And like a night in the restaurant, the film gets sloppy toward the end, when you realize the party probably went on a little too long. But the guests are always terrific: “You got your gays, your lesbians, your rich banker people, the celebrities, the downtown wack jobs,” says burlesque impresario Murray Hill, who puts himself in the last category. The film is packed with amusing talking heads (Michael Musto, Murray Hill, Penny Arcade, Frank DeCaro, Diane von Furstenberg, Isaac Mizrahi, Julianne Moore, and many more) who showed up to pay tribute to Florent Morellet, the mischievous restaurateur who helped pioneer the now-oversaturated cool of the meatpacking district through the grubby glamour of his glorified luncheonette — a place that made all sorts of activism appetizing.

Like many of New York’s freaks who were born elsewhere, the ever-ridiculous and usually nude performer Tigger says Florent “felt like all the things I was running away to.” As in sex, drugs, and tranny hookers (always the special of the day). The annual Bastille Day party was a cross-dressing, Antoinette-beheading bash. As the scene grew, so did Florent’s hand-in-hand taste for self-promotion and agitation: At one point, Morellet actually says that he used political action to make his place famous. Incensed, for example, by right-to-die activism, he handed out living wills with menus. Supporting pro-choice groups, he baked cookies decorated with coat-hanger icing. After contracting HIV, he posted his T-cell count on the specials board. Finally, when his landlords raised the rent, Morellet called it quits.

Florent is less a chronicle of an era than a loving scrapbook: It has the amateur feel of a video guestbook, signed by all of Morellet’s friends. And really, the scattershot approach perfectly captures the restaurant's lovably garish vibe. There’s no denying that since Florent closed in 2008, the west side of Manhattan has been a far less fabulous place.