Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tel-Aviv, Israel Great Place for Gay Men Over 50

He who desires to see Rabbi Johanan's beauty, let him take a silver goblet as it emerges from the crucible, fill it with the seeds of red pomegranate, encircle its brim with a chaplet of red roses, and set it between the sun and the shade: its lustrous glow is akin to Rabbi Johanan's beauty.
Babylonian Talmud Bava Metzia 84a

While this particular Hasidic Prince will probably not be available to you when you visit Israel, there is a chance that someone like him might be.  It is more likely, however, that you will meet one of the thousands of more secular gay men that live there.  There are many beautiful men of all ages in Israel, and one only has to look around to see them.
Despite the theocratic influence of the Orthodox in Israel, legal rights for gay people are among the most advanced in the world.  Common-law marriages between same-sex partners are recognized, as well as legal same sex marriages performed in other countries.  The age of consent in Israel is 16. Of course, in a country so dependent on its army, there is no such thing as discrimination against gay people in the military, and discrimination is prohibited against gays and lesbians by law.  A number of gay men I have spoken with had their first gay sexual encounters in the army.  If you're interested in a gay army romance, I suggest you watch Yossi and Jagger.

The gay capital of Israel is, of course, Tel Aviv. Located on the Mediterranean, Tel Aviv has a great beach, Bauhaus architecture, great cafes, museums, and nightlife.  It truly represents that amalgam of Middle Eastern, Jewish, and European cultures that is Israel.  Accommodations range from the very expensive to the more moderately priced.  I usually stay at the Deborah Hotel, from which this picture is taken.  I advise you to both shop the websites for accommodations, as well as call the hotels.  Rates are generally negotiable.  The highlight of any stay in a hotel in Tel Aviv are the free breakfasts.  Fruit, smoked fish, yogurt, salad, hummus, and pastries are generally served without limit and are a great way to start your day.  I recommend that you find a hotel that is close to the beach and North of Bograshov Street but not too far North of Sderot Nordau.  The Eastern boundary should not be too far East of Dizengoff.  This will give you an easy walk to the beach.
The beach itself is wonderful, as is the boardwalk.  The most gay friendly area of the beach is what is referred to as "The Hilton Beach" near the Hilton Hotel.  This is where the "boys" tend to hang out.  Looking down on the beach is Independence Park, which is a major cruising area, with sex taking place in the bushes, especially at night.  The park is safe.  However, I would not recommend embarking on such an adventure with your passport or very full wallet.
No doubt, whatever your activities at the beach, at some point you're going to get hungry.  The Boardwalk has many restaurants and you can get a good idea of what Israelis are about by sitting down at any of them and enjoying the scenery.  Nighttime is party time along the Boardwalk and there is music at most of the restaurants and clubs--some live, some djs.
For those interested in gay saunas and the activities that usually take place in such establishments, Sauna City is a good place to go.  There are a variety of men there, it's clean, there are private rooms, and it's generally upbeat.  For the older gay man, there are often admirers.  By the way, the visitor who is expecting to find only the circumcised in Israel will be surprised to discover the uncircumcised as well--due largely to immigration from the former Soviet Union.
Getting around the city is easy.  Buses are plentiful and inexpensive.  They are supplemented by Sheruts, vans that follow the bus routes and are somewhat less expensive.  Taxis are also plentiful and metered.
And you are going to want to get around the city.  One of my favorite places is Neve Tzedek, a charming neighborhood, filled with little boutiques, stores, the Suzanne Dallal Dance Center, and good restaurants. The Carmel Market and the Flea Market are both great places to visit.  The Carmel Market will give you a wonderful sense of the abundance and variety of Israeli fruits and vegetables and is just great fun.
 There are a number of museums in Tel Aviv.  I especially recommend the Museum of the Diaspora.  Located on the campus of Tel Aviv University, this museum is basically a Jewish history museum, which traces the history of the Jewish people.  Of course, it has its propagandistic elements--the culmination of Jewish history being the establishment of the State of Israel, but there is a lot to learn here and the exhibits are terrific.  The location of the Museum on the Tel Aviv University campus give you an opportunity to glimpse Israeli young people.  You will also probably be surprised, as I was, at the number of Arabs, and especially Arab women in attendance at the university.  There is also a really good cafeteria at the University with prices to fit the budgets of both students and budget-conscious travelers.
A visit to The Bauhaus Center is a must.  This museum will not only provide you with information about the city's Bauhaus architecture, but also has guided tours available.  Bauhaus Architecture, brought to Tel Aviv prior to World War II, is ubiquitous in Tel Aviv, and this museum will really help you to appreciate it more.
There is so much more to write about Tel Aviv, let alone the rest of Israel.  But that will have to wait for another post.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stonewall Pride Parade Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale - The Gay City

Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale, Florida has the largest per capita gay population on the Eastern seaboard and a city government that consists of more gay members than any city government in the United States.  It's no wonder then, that the Stonewall Pride Parade held this Sunday was a mega event.
The parade participants reflected the diversity and acceptance that, I believe, is the heart of Wilton Manors.  In contrast to other places I have lived and visited, the gay community in Wilton Manors is relatively "attitude-free".  I recommend you visit Georgie's Alibi or The Manor for a sense of what I'm talking about.  Georgie's is the older of the two venues, and is less expensive, and because of this, has a somewhat more diverse crowd.  The Manor is more upscale and seems to draw more women than does Georgie's.  The food is good at both.  For a nice inexpensive meal at The Manor, I recommend the hanger steak sandwich which, I believe, will not disappoint.
For the older gay gentleman (and their admirers!) there is probably no place in the United States that surpasses Tropics.  This is a place with absolutely no attitude!  There is always someone to talk to at the two bars, the bartenders can't be beat, and the food is terrific and inexpensive, with specials almost every night.  Drinks at the bar are two-for-one every night until 9.  I must reiterate that the food is top-notch.  My favorite here is the duck, which equals the duck I've had at the finest restaurants.  The burger can't be beat.  In addition, there's live entertainment most nights, two of which feature the Fort Lauderdale favorites, Tony & Gloria.
But having nice places to eat and carry-on is really not what the gay community in Fort Lauderdale is all about.  It's all about community.  And in Fort Lauderdale there is an opportunity to contribute to the community no matter what the size of your pocketbook.  Fort Lauderdale has numerous non-profit organizations that do good work and really serve the community.   Sunserve, The Pride Center, and The Stonewall Library Archives are just three.  I hope to write more about each of these organizations in the future.  I am especially fond of Sunserve which has one of the only senior gay day care centers in the United States, but focuses on the issues of gay youth as well, and has a great drama therapy program.   For those who are into just being philanthropic, Tuesday's Angels is a great choice.  You get to have dinner once a month at a really good Italian Restaurant,  Primavera, and know that your contributions are going to various causes that benefit the gay and HIV community.
My friends who participate in Gay Softball would not be happy if I did not include them in this article.  Not a ball player myself, I must say that watching this softball league on the weekend is an incredible experience.  The sense of camaraderie that prevails is amazing and the guys?--- well just think about gay guys in baseball uniforms.
So, come down to Fort Lauderdale for a visit, experience the gay community.  You may find yourself settling here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Buenos Aires, Argentina

I wish I had taken more pictures of the men of Argentina. This sampling hardly does them justice. The combination of Spanish, Italian, and Native American has made a wonderful mix, and, frankly, I have never seen so many handsome men all in one place. Not only are they handsome, but I found them to be polite and charmingly sweet. But the men are not the only reason to visit Argentina.

For budget-conscious travelers looking for European ambiance without European prices (or even USA prices) Argentina is the place to go. Although airfare is no cheaper than flying to Europe, once you get there, you're in for some real bargains.

My partner and I rented a flat in the Centro district of Buenos Aires for $50/night. The flat consisted of a nice size bedroom, living-room/dining room combination, kitchen, bathroom, and small office. It also came with free wireless access to the internet, a real necessity for us, as well as TV and air-conditioning. Furnishings were simple and comfortable, and the kitchen was simple, clean and modern.  For inquiries regarding this apartment contact Joe at  Another good resource for apartments is

If you're into Italian food and steak, Buenos Aires can't be beat. We ate pizza or pasta for lunch, and they were always excellent with variations in preparation from one restaurant to the next. A wonderful bonus for the wine-loving traveler from the US is that wine is no more expensive than bottled water. Bottles of wine with your meal are the equivalent of what you would pay if you bought your wine at a discount store in the US, and so it seems like there is no upcharge for the bottle of wine at your restaurant table. The two of us had a lunch at a restaurant called Broccolino (Brooklyn), reputed to be a favorite of the actor Robert Duvall for $32.50 which included a bottle of wine, bottled water, salad, calamari, and a pasta dish for each of us, and includes tax and tip. Our most expensive meal was at the upscale restaurant Cabana Las Lilas in Puerto Madero.  Appetizers, salad, the best steak that either of us have eaten, wine suggested by the sommelier, and dessert came to about $120.

Of course, Argentina is the birthplace of the tango. And tango in Argentina is not just a dance, but a whole culture. I suggest you visit the Boca section of Buenos Aires and visit on a Sunday. Yes it's touristy, but, yes it's fun. There's tango on every corner, and the colorful multi-colored shacks (the original housing for scores of Italian immigrants) add to the festive atmosphere. If you're seriously into tango or if you're just a beginner, there are dozens of milongas to choose from.  Tango was originally danced by male couples, as it was thought that if danced by a mixed couple it would be too obscene.  Perhaps in that tradition, Argentina had a number of gay tango clubs.  Check out  On the site you will not only find information about La Marshall, but also about the Tango Queer Festival happening in November 2010.

For those interested in a small restaurant nightclub, reminiscent of the best of Greenwich Village in its heyday, I recommend Clasica y Moderna.  This combination, restaurant, bookstore, and nightclub has the best of each.  The food is delicious, the shows are sophisticated, and the books are interesting (featuring a large number of English translations).  We were lucky enough to catch a show with Rita Cortese, an Argentine actress and singer who sang tango songs, recited poetry, and told anecdotes.  The fact that our Spanish is very limited did not detract from the experience.  The language of love, love unrequited, and love tragically ended is universal.

Of course, Buenos Aires has it's share of both gay clubs and bathhouses.  We ventured out to A Full Spa and found it clean, with nice clientele, and quite open to mid-century gentleman. I recommend going from about 4-8 on weekdays and all-day Sunday.  We even made friends whom we met later that evening at Inside Resto-Bar.  The food was not terrific at Inside, but the service and atmosphere more than made up for it, with the waiters caressing the patrons as they served drinks.  There was also a stripper who went from table to table providing both humor and full visual delights.  All this was quite inexpensive.

Buenos Aires nightlife goes on literally through the night and into the early morning.  For the traveler coming from the United States, be aware that Argentinian dinner hour doesn't start until at least 9.  So take a nap at about 6 or after experiencing the spa.

And the men are gorgeous!