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Glace Chase is New York’s first drag queen tour guide. Photo: Pontus Höök
Glace Chase is New York’s first drag queen tour guide. Photo: Pontus Höök

A drag queen’s guide to New York

Glace Chase is New York’s first drag queen tour guide. On Sunday afternoons she can be seen strolling through Greenwich Village in stilettos with a big-eyed bunch of both tourists and locals in tow.

Glace Chase left Australia for the US almost five years ago. Her accent is completely gone (“quite intentionally”) and you wouldn’t think for a second that she didn’t grow up on the streets we’re walking.

“I left Australia to figure out if I was trans or not,” says Chase. “My career back there was kind of up and up, but I was miserable.”

As a trained actor and award winning playwright, being funny comes naturally to Glace Chase. As does the more heartfelt parts of the almost three hour long walking tour, which we begin and end in well-known gay bars.

“It’s not supposed to be a public service announcement, but there’s a political angel of course. But it’s mostly just for us to have a few drinks and a good time together.” Chase says.

It seems however, while walking the tour, that Chase reaches out to more people as we go along – not just the tour group – than she would do through writing a play.

“You are absolutely right,” she says. “It’s a dream come true actually. I'm my own boss and I don't have to deal with homophobia and transphobia. The only thing I have to worry about is to put on a damn good show.”

Chase explains how the tour came about. “My sister was in town from Australia and she wanted to go up the Empire State Building, and I hate that. I said I’d only do it if I was in full drag. One of my friends heard about it so we ended up going as a group – two in drag. It was at 11.30pm but I’ve never been in so many pictures. I figured, ‘this is a really good idea, being a drag tour guide.’” I’m now thinking of another tour in the financial district, about the 80’s, the cocaine and the suicides.”

Glace Chase guiding tourists around New York. Photo: Pontus Höök

Gay bars in New York

Julius’

The oldest gay bar in New York has been in the center of plenty of activist campaigns. It also has a nice bar. “Peter who works there is a sweetheart, be nice to him”, says Glace Chase.

Julius’

159 W 10th Street, Manhattan, New York

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Metropolitan

This is where you’ll most likely find Glace Chase on her off days. ”It’s cheap, it’s divey and it’s a 2-for-1 happy hour”.

Metropolitan

559 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, New York

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Gym Sportsbar

A gay sportsbar, which isn’t necessarily something this Queen enjoys, but as Glace tells us ”there’s a smokers’ patio in the back.”

Gym Sportsbar

167 8th Avenue, Manhattan, New York

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Industry

A classic, big (“generic”) gay bar. Wins a spot on this list for the big drag shows and huge parties.

Industry

355 W 52nd Street, Manhattan, New York

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Marie’s Crisis

This piano bar is frequented by people from the musical theatres and has become a New York classic. Also has karaoke and a lot of fun.

Marie’s Crisis

59 Grove St, Manhattan, New York

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A drag queen's best tips for New York

Beacon’s closet

This is the store in Manhattan, but Beacon’s has three other locations in Brooklyn. Great and reasonably priced second hand clothing.

Beacon’s closet

10 W 13th Street, Manhattan, New York

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Burlington Coat Factory

You wouldn’t guess that this big American chain of outlet stores is a drag queen’s heaven. But they carry everything from outlandish accessories to jewelry and dresses.

Burlington Coat Factory

4 Union Square E, Manhattan, New York

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Wigs and plus

A huge selection of wigs (obviously) where you can style them yourself, or get help from the professional staff to style them for you.

Wigs and plus

37 W 14th Street, Manhattan, New York

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Alcone

Theatrical make up for the more heavy duty woman. And the colors are much bolder; ”I mostly use Ben Nye or Mehron”, says Glace.

Alcone

322 W 49th Street, Manhattan, New York

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Orchard Corset

A massive collection of great corsets for both on-stage and for sexy time. “This orthodox Jewish shop is fantastic – personally fitted corsets for everyone.”

Orchard Corset

157 Orchard Street, Manhattan, New York

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Text: Henrik Ek

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