The very best thing about Gotham is its gossamer predilection for magic. It seems a stalwart city, all great hunkering buildings of glass and metal, peopled by humans who live insular quotidian lives tethered to their white iPhone cords and their Lululemon totes and their thinly veiled misanthropy. On its surface, Gotham is solid and real, and every year I live here, it seems to solidify more. It would be a shame to see Gotham take itself seriously, but gravitas seems its future.
Which is why those moments when the magic spins and reels, drunk as dust motes, shine so bright. The movies tell you that so much is possible here in New York City. Here in Gotham, Kris Kringle lives, rival street gangs dance their disputes in primary colors, apes rise to global prominence—or the top of buildings, a young mother comes to love her demon spawn, pigs and frogs marry to packed houses, an abandoned child protects his apartment from robbers—twice. In the movies, Gotham withstands aliens, a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow man, very cold weather, lots of water, vampires, zombies and all manner of technicolor apocalypse. Looking at pop culture, there is no place in America more magic than Manhattan. If you can make it here, you can marry Beyoncé, Marilyn Monroe, or Neil Patrick Harris.
The reality is somewhat more moribund. Magic seems to have diminished as Times Square became sanitized for bourgeois family protection, as bottle service replaced the glorious polymorphously perverse e pluribus unum of Gotham clubs of yore, those halcyon nightlife years when kids dressed in thrift-store leotards, and piled wigs on their heads, and towering in platform boots danced next to demigods. As Gotham has been scrubbed clean of its crime and its spray paint and its desolation, as its rents have grown too damn high, as it has become a place where families wheel their doublewide prams through the Meatpacking District, former home to transvestite whores and the Hellfire Club, the best-natured kink bar ever to house Danny the Wonder Pony, Gotham has grown positively plebian.
Gotham has become place of Gaps and Starbucks and Duane Reades and H&Ms. With each new Best Buy, at every Subway opening, the magic diminishes. When Rawhide closed its doors, the magic diminished. When Odessa shut, when Chelsea Gallery Diner lost its lease, when H&H bagel was evicted, the magic died. As Billy’s Topless stopped, when The Baby Doll Lounge closed, when the Harmony went tits up, the magic lost. When the magic loses, it almost always loses to money.
Still, magic lingers. In the crepuscular dark of Metropolitan Opera house, leaning against the red velvet hitching post built for ushers to lean against, my black sweater dress hiked above my delectable ass, my caramel leather boots hugging the sneakers of the very beautiful man whose very beautiful cock was fucking me forcefully from behind, the ethereal voices of a full company singing some two tiers below me echoing in our ears, I was honoring the magic. There is nothing quite so magical as fucking, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The great burgeoning beauty of living in this very difficult city is that it sometimes gifts you inexpressible beauty. To be fucked standing in the back of the red velvet jewel of the Met Opera house is a gift. It was a cinematographic glory. It beckoned out-of-the-body experience, the rise and fall of these exquisitely trained voices, the harsh bark of the director, the hush of my partner and me, our breath beating in time, and that flush, that perfect electric spark of his singular cock.
He fucked me, there, in the opera house, and it was magic. I knelt before him, swallowing his cock, his metal belt buckle pressing my nose, and it was magic. He fucked me until he came, and he stayed hard, and it was magic. He heard a noise, and it was magic. He pulled me behind a column, and he pressed me against it, and he fucked me more, my cheek rasping raw against the rough fabric, and it was magic. He came again, and it was magic, and we left, wending our way through the house, under the building, through the serpentine hallways, and out into the great heaving gorgeous city, and it was magic.
Later, after a few drinks and a couple of hours of conversation, we took the C train to my apartment, and we fucked again on my bed, curling into 69 like two interlocking commas, fucking hard and long and slow and deeply and coming again, and it was magic. We fit together like subway cars, like brownstones, like the skyline and the sky, and it was magic.
It was magic, and it was more magic and it was magic and magic lives and don’t let this great grey cement city ever make you believe that it has gone. It lives, quiet and in hiding, waiting for your hearts to crack wide with joy and life and all that ineffable beauty that must be stolen with love.