The Queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race Invade West Hollywood

RuPaulsDragRace 5 Premiere by JJ Keyes20

RuPaul’s Drag Race kicked off Season Five on January 28th and I snuck into the Los Angeles premiere party at the Abbey in West Hollywood.  Legendary queens Chi Chi LaRue and RuPaul herself were in attendance along with past contestants Raja Gemini, Raven, Tammie Brown, Latrice Royale, Mimi Imfurst, Ongina, Jessica Wild, Pandora Boxx, Mariah, and Sharon Needles. Season Five features the fishiest season yet: Alaska, Alyssa Edwards, Coco Montrese, Detox, Honey Mahogany, Ivy Winters, Jade Jolie, Jinkx Monsoon, Lineysha Sparx, Monica Beverly Hillz, Penny Tration, and Roxxy Andrews, Serena Chacha, & Vivienne Pinay.  Who will be the winner?  And who will sashay away?  Time will only tell.  I had a blast sipping Absolut cocktails in the crowd.  I even had the chance to rub elbows with Michelle Visage (who even more gorgeous and down to Earth in person).  This season is definitely one for the record books.

RuPaulsDragRace 5 Premiere by JJKeyes

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RuPaulsDragRace 5 Premiere by JJ Keyes8

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RuPaulsDragRace 5 Premiere by JJ Keyes19

Eat Pray Loving Penthaus Fridays at the Copacabana

Penthouse Fridays by JJ Keyes18

I don’t know what it was about the end of 2012 but rather than party hopping and trimming trees up and down the Hudson I felt like looking for quiet tidings of comfort and joy while I hibernated at my chateau up in Washington Heights.  Once the ball dropped and 2013 began, however, I whipped out my camera and took to the Copacabana where my friends Justin Luke, Alan Picus, Paige Turner, and the hotties at BoiParty.com unveiled Penthaus Fridays, the hottest new party in New York City.  I saw friends posting on facebook about how long the lines were to get in the second week of this hot new party and people tweeting about how cold they were standing out in line while sexy nightlife personalities were strutting in with their magical winks and smiles.  I was deciding on whether to wear hoops or studs and rolled in fashionably late once the party was in full swing.  Wild and seemingly uninhibited Latin music welcomed me as I passed dark unmarked doors on my way up to the Penthouse.  I took a mental note that if the party was a bust (it wasn’t, naturally) I would find a way to sneak one flight below to whatever Spanish debacle awaited me behind door #1.  When I reached door #2 I couldn’t have been more delighted.  Boys were serving shade and smiles on the dance floor as they shook everything God gave them like it’s always been 1999.

I was immediately mobbed by fifteen friends I haven’t seen since Thanksgiving and pulled into the adjacent room where socialites and local and infamous drag queens greeted me with open arms and fierce ensembles.  Paige Turner, Bianca Del Rio, Rebecca Glasscock, Ivy Winters, Maddelynn Hatter, Pattaya Hart, Nomi Sas, Fifi DuBois, and Porsche Pink were all present and photographers Richard Burrowes and JJ Mack worked the crowd.  I was lost for a good hour in the crowd before running into my pal Justin Luke.  I couldn’t be more proud of my friend.  The crowd was sexy, fashionable, and having a blast.  Three drinks in I felt as if I was turning into a pumpkin.  On my way out I ran into Drag Race All-Star Mimi Imfurst, who stopped for a photo op with the adorable Ivy Winters out of drag.  Look out for Ivy on the upcoming season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.  Not only is Ivy sweet but she can knit, sew, and create a garment like she’s a finalist on Project Runway.  Tune in later this month for more adventures and things that go bump in the night.

I’m off to the City of Angels to pound the pavement in Hollywood for awhile.  See you all soon!

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Penthouse Fridays by JJ Keyes1

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Inside New York City’s Abel Rootstein Showroom

Rootstein by JJ Keyes

Late at night, often we’re moving from one haunt to another there’s always one spot that makes Chelsea boys stop and audibly gasp.  Adel Roostein Inc., located at 205 West 19th Street, is a stunning showroom embodying mannequin pioneer Adel Roostein’s philosophy of constant innovation and boundless creativity.  I have often stopped in front of the showroom and fumbled with my camera for the chance to catch a closer impression of the lifelike mannequins in the window.  I recently had the great honor to attend a very swank New York cocktail party at this incredible place.  Thank god I brought my camera, because I had the opportunity to capture the mannequins up close and personal.  I swear some of them were so lifelike I could feel their breath release as I walked away.  If you have the chance to check out the mannequins at Rootstein I strongly recommend it, the showroom is an exquisite place to absorb the spirit of Adel Roostein, delivered by the creative force of Kevin Arpino.

Rootstein by JJ Keyes

Rootstein by JJ Keyes

Rootstein by JJ Keyes

Rootstein by JJ Keyes

Rootstein by JJ Keyes

Rootstein by JJ Keyes

Rootstein by JJ Keyes

Holiday Party For Chris89

Rootstein by JJ Keyes

Rootstein by JJ Keyes

Absolut OUTrageous, Drag Queens, and Legendary Queens I Never Thought I’d Meet

Raja Gemini by Jeffrey James Keyes

I’ve always been fascinated with drag queens.  I’m not sure if it’s the confidence, quick wit, makeup, sassy dresses, or high heels but they’ve been a longtime obsession of mine.  I want to learn from them, listen to them, surround myself with fabulous queens.  RuPaul has done an amazing thing over the past few years.  Through the popular television show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, we’ve been able to experience some of the most talented and polished drag personalities at their best (and candidly, off their rockers).

Over the past two years I have been lucky enough to work closely with SPI Marketing and Absolut Vodka, one of the main sponsors of LOGO’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.  I’ve shared pink cotton candy with Jiggly Caliente, kvetched with the late great Sahara Davenport bar-side in Philadelphia, sashayed to Fire Island with Latrice Royale and Raja Gemini, bar-hopped with Raven at Virginia Pride in Richmond, and checked out beefy jocks at New York City’s Boxer’s Sport Bar with Manila Luzon and Milan in New York City.  Everywhere we’ve been Absolut Vodka is there with their sassy glow in the dark cocktail stirrers, light up cups, and cute representatives.   Absolut Vodka has been celebrating 30 years of going out and coming out in the LGBT community with their Absolut OUTrageous campaign in bars, clubs, and special event this past year.  Absolut Vodka has supported LGBT charities, bars, and clubs, community centers, pride parades, and media outlets since 1981 when they placed one of the first national ads in The Advocate.  I feel blessed and lucky to have attended several events and parties Absolut has thrown for their OUTrageous campaign he past year.  Sure, there are always cute boys…but it’s thrilling to be up close and personal with some of the most prominent and up and coming drag queens on the scene.   Here are a few of my favorite snaps with backstage glimpses of the legendary and up and coming queens of the night.

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Latrice Royale by Jeffrey James KeyesAlexis Mateo by Jeffrey James Keyes

JuJuBee by Jeffrey James Keyes

Manila Luzon and Sahara Davenport by Jeffrey James Keyes

Milan by Jeffrey James Keyes

Shangela by Jeffrey James Keyes

Tyra Sanchez by Jeffrey James Keyes

Jessica Wild by Jeffrey James Keyes

Willam by by Jeffrey James Keyes

Philly Drag Race by Jeffrey James Keyes

Brooke Lynn and company by Jeffrey James Keyes

Ongeina by Jeffrey James KeyesAlaska Thunderfuck by Jeffrey James Keyes

Sharon Needles and PhiPhi OHara by Jeffrey James KeyesAbsolut Tune by Jeffrey James KeyesSabel by Jeffrey James Keyes

by Jeffrey James Keyes

Marti Gould Cummings by Jeffrey James Keyes

Boxers New York by Jeffrey James Keyes

Nights out in Stockholm

Stockholm Nightlife by Jeffrey James Keyes

Stockholm is known for it’s keen design aesthetic, intellectual locals, and the beautiful blend of culture and history visible everywhere you look.

There’s never a bad time to check out Stockholm, but I definitely recommend going in the summer.  There’s nothing like party hopping in Scandinavia’s gay capital during Stockholm Pride at the height of summer when vikings of all shapes and sizes are out and and about, proud and ready to have a good time.  Here are some of my pictures from my Swedish Adventure during Stockholm Pride this past summer.  Interested in heading out for this year’s pride?  Maybe I’ll see you there!

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Stockholm Nightlife by Jeffrey James Keyes

Stockholm Nightlife by Jeffrey James Keyes

Stockholm Nightlife by Jeffrey James Keyes

An Introduction

Image by Jeffrey James Keyes

My name is Jeffrey James Keyes, I’m a New York-based writer and photographer.  Nightlife has been a longtime obsession of mine.  I moved to New York City in the late nineties and quickly started working behind the scenes in bars and clubs documenting and writing about my experiences in nightlife.  When I was a student at Fordham University College at the Lincoln Center I worked at Club New York to make ends meet.  I started as a coat check boy and remember hiding between the furs and leather coats when I heard gunshots in the VIP lounge one infamous evening.

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I spent much of 2000 in the UK and felt like I was a gay Alice in Wonderland, staying out all night and exploring the foggy and desolate streets of London early in the morning covered in body glitter and sipping my Cafe Nero coffee when my classmates were still fast asleep.  When I came back to the states I picked up a job as a barback, cocktail waiter, then bartender at a gay bar in Chelsea and took candid black and white images of drag queens, porn stars, and late night parties as I finished my degree in theater and visual arts at Fordham.

Pines Party Image by JJ Keyes

I became obsessed with travel, saving tips from bartending and waiting tables jobs to fly to Europe and pretend I was Ernest Hemingway in the Alps or F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Tyrolean Sea.  I submitted a travel story I wrote in the Milan train station during a transit strike for a writing contest I found online and it was published in the book Italy From A Backpack and I decided to pursue work as a travel writer and photographer.  This work continued while I began a writing degree at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.  I graduated in the spring of 2010 and have been working as a freelance writer and photographer ever since.

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I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet extraordinary people and venture to once-in-a-lifetime places but it’s the nightlife that always gets me excited. Whether it’s dancing all night on the roof deck of the club on the Patricia ship in Stockholm, sipping elaborate cocktails drag queens in a New Zealand dive bar, or surrounded by revelers in costumes on the beach at Fire Island I love to capture nightlife at it’s finest, and hope to share my experiences with all of you through my latest adventure, Wish You Were Here, my new blog with TÊTU.

chris dance