The Queens of Queens

The live show at Bum Bum.

Jackson Heights’ effervescent and hipster-deficient gay scene (New York City’s 2nd largest gay neighborhood) may be decidedly Latino, but it’s by no means an earsplitting Puerto Rican pride parade. More South than Central American, and more simmering than flaming, the scene here offs up a string of watering holes that are intimate and friendly, but still retain all the sparkle of the Bollywoood blockbusters playing at the local Eagle Theatre.

Bum Bum Bar
63-14 Roosevelt Ave. between 63rd and 64th Sts., 718-651-4145
On Friday nights, this speakeasy whips up a drag show for every flavor in the rainbow. Come Saturday, butch-femme female couples fueled by Mexican Piccala coffee liqueur and Colombian aguardiente pack the cozy, mixed dance floor for the DJ’s mix of salsa and merengue.

69-04 Woodside Ave. at 69th St., 718-424-1171
The neighborhood’s single exclusively lesbian bar is a Colombian-owned joint that reflects its scruffy ambience into infinity with mirrored walls. Weekends attract a tight-knit crew of scantily-clad women hungry for lap dances and thirsty for body shots slurped off barmaids doubling as bartop dancers.

Club Atlantis
76-19 Roosevelt Ave. between 76th and 77th Sts., 718-457-3939
Unquestionably, the Queen Bee of Roosevelt Avenue, this megaclub is the outer-boroughs’ answer to SBNY with a Latin twist. Locals and commuters come for Gong Show-style talent contests, strippers who look like Diesel models, and trannie divas paying tribute to Latin icons like the Fantanas and Shakira.

Friend’s Tavern
78-11 Roosevelt Ave between 78th and 79th Sts., 718-397-7256
The longest running gay bar in Queens has lasted fifteen years by sticking to a tried-and-true formula: ionic columns, mirrored ceilings and a jukebox with Rick Astley, Ceila Cruz and Caentano Veloso. It all makes for a cozy respite for daytrippers and local yokels alike.

Lidia’s Place
79-18 Roosevelt Ave between 79th & 80th Sts., 718-899-9869
The newest addition to Jackson Heights’s gay scene is almost too clean for its own good: Leather seating cubes and cherry-stained wood suggest Chelsea circa 2000 but the thump of vintage disco and Latin pop is pure Woodside. Tursdays, bilingual go-go boys sizzle on fold-down stage while Sundays bring the acidic Latina wit of local drag queens.

38-19 69th St. at Roosevelt Ave., 718-424-9181
Across from an evangelical church, Lucho’s attracts a wide spectrum of men on the make—some donning guayabera or Western-style shirts; others markedly older gringos on the prowl. A mix of salsa, merengue, and cumbia segues into raucous reggaeton and hip hop as the night wears on (and the shirts come off).

The Music Box
40-08 74th St. between Broadway and 40th Sts., 718-457-5306
Sharing a corner with the subway entrance and the rumble of the elevated rail, Music Box has marked the beginning and the end of many a gay bar crawl for over a decade. Spanish and English speakers mingle as if backstage amidst the seasoned and spicy dancers, local dragellas like Barbara Herr and sharp-shooting pool players.

Additional writing and reporting by Amy Hundley and Elizabeth Cline.

The Queens of Queens