Note: for no clear reason, Tumblr has deleted the original interview. What follows is a rough transcript of Thotyssey’s interview with Shameless (founder of Otter Box and Playpen Mondays) from June 6th, 2016.
Thotyssey: The Cock! Everyone who has been inside the Cock for 5 minutes, at any point in history, has Mad Stories.
Shameless: I’ll just say there’s a lot of playful interaction between consenting adults. To actually work there and do your job, I guess you must either have to be very interested in what’s going on… or very divorced from it. Well surprisingly, there ARE some tame hours at The Cock, for those who are more timid. A couple years ago we started happy hour. We open at 9pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, and 6pm all the other days. Any time before 10pm, drinks are 2 for 1! Come after midnight any given night, and you’re liable to find someone down for a titillating time.
I’ve definitely grown over the course of my time there. I definitely threw myself into it head(s) first when I first started, and now I’ve sort of compartmentalized it. So I’m simultaneously interested and divorced, if you know what I mean.
Totally. I had great experiences there in my swinging single years, and some terrible ones too. But I kept coming back! What do you think the allure of the Cock is?
Everyone knows about it, and everyone goes, whether they admit it or not. You can really find people from all walks of life there at any given time. I like working at The Cock because once you’re there, everyone is equal. You’re all at the fucking Cock, looking for the same thing. It’s what life was like before apps, and it’s usually more interesting.
Now mind you, that thing doesn’t have to be sex. Plenty of people go there to just have a drink with friends. It’s a pretty unassuming, no-attitude place.
Got it. Has the overall vibe or crowd changed since the newest location opened? It does seem like there’s more of a diversity of parties/nights.
Well, we basically carried over all of the same parties. Now the venue has two floors. You’ll be upstairs for happy hour and most weeknights and downstairs on the weekend nights (Fri-Sun). Friday and Saturday have both floors open so you can experience two different vibes. The basement is cool because it’s sort of dungeon-like and such a different aesthetic. The upstairs is very neighborhoody but still dark and a bit kitschy in a good way. We kept most things the same as Lit Lounge, the bar that was previously there. That said, the upstairs on the weeknights is still a great time. It’s more spacious than the old location, and for Playpen Mondays I’ve done everything I can to keep the vibe the same.
Cool. You mentioned apps earlier… Do you think a generation of guys “raised” on these get the appeal of a cruisy environment like the Cock or the Eagle?
I’ve certainly tried to show them! I like to think I have had some success in it, too. Like I said, it’s not always cruisy either. Any experience is what you make of it. If you want your time at a bar to be fun, bring your idea of fun with you and act on it! That’s what is hard for some people to understand. You as the patron are as important to the experience as the bar and party staff. Don’t go to a club and expect everything to be handed to you – it’s about your attitude and what you bring as well.
As far as the apps are concerned, I think everyone has a love-hate relationship with them. As I’ve gone from my early to late 20s, I definitely find that I get more sick of them than not. On an app you’re going to find more of the same, and in a bar you’re more likely to have a unique experience each time. And that’s the thing. Going out is an experience. Scrolling through profiles and photos is a boring time waster that you can do anywhere. The affirming or negative results of electronic interactions are easier to handle, but the thrill of in-person interaction is incomparable when they get the guts to do it.
What does everyone feel about women being there? Obviously not during happy hours or tamer nights, I mean, when you want to hook up and there’s a flock of bachelorettes there taking selfies? Or does that not really happen?
We have a door staff after 11pm just like any other club. Obviously we don’t discriminate, but we definitely let them know what kind of bar it is and likely won’t let a bachelorette party in. I think that’s kind of a universal thing – a door person knows what kind of patron might cause more problems than fun inside. We also have a hard and fast rule about no photography.
That was gonna be my next question, good to know! And you don’t have to name names, but have you ever seen any celebs playing around in the Cock?
Of course! They don’t usually do anything too “incriminating,” but on the right night you might catch them drinking a gin and tonic or Maker’s Mark.
Cool! Okay, let’s talk about Playpen, which is a party you host and promote there Monday nights with Bobby LaSalle. First of all, how and when did that come about?
It was actually my third Monday night party that I decided to bring back after we ended Snarky when One-Half NelSon moved to LA. The Cock is unique in that it’s usually the bartender who also plans the party, so I’ve brought in various DJs, go-gos, and occasionally hosts. Playpen was my idea when I decided specifically to target a younger crowd. This time around, I brought Bobby on specifically for that purpose. I give free shots to boys who check their clothes, so it’s a nice thing for boys on a budget.
As far as people you book for that night, Honey Davenport is there a lot too at Playpen, right? Is that a gig for her, or is she just there to be slutty?
She’s one of my DJs, and sometimes duos with DJ Neverland. I also kept Matty Glitterati from Snarky and brought back Rico Alexis from the previous incarnation of Playpen. And yes, Honey is one of the hardest-working queens I know! She has made it her life, and is constantly doing something.
She’s amazing. Vinny Vega’s gonna go-go dance this week (right?)! Aside from extreme hotness, why do you think he’s so popular? There’s a lot of hot gogo boys out there!
Yes, Vinny will be debuting at The Cock this Monday. I think part of his popularity is that he goes out and makes friends so easily. He’s such a nice guy. A talented photographer too! There are indeed a lot of hot go-gos, and I definitely try to make sure that I keep a decent variety of “hot” at Playpen, especially those who are friendly!
Nikco Fume, Jeremy Ward, Hans Berlin and Alex Killborn are some of my other regularly appearing boys that you might know. All gorgeous, and nice guys too.
So Playpen is good for a younger crowd, are there better nights for older guys that you know of?
Any, really. Everyone is always welcome. The older one gets, the more likely one is to have a day job, so that makes Friday and Saturday a pretty good mix. It’s never exclusively just one thing.
So, Otter Box is a monthly (I believe second Sunday?) at Macri Park in Brooklyn. How long has it been going on for?
Otter Box is a Sunday weekly that I produce with JEM entertainment. We started it in January 2015 at The Flat. Macri Park is its third home.
It’s a very popular night. What’s the attraction?
It’s a boys’ night in Williamsburg. We occasionally throw in a short performance from a boylesquer, singer, dancer, or drag queen, but the emphasis is on dancing and conversation, geared toward scruffy Brooklyn boys. Recently we’ve added porn on the screens and a go-go, so that definitely helps set the sexy vibe. It’s not a cruising night per se, but I’ve definitely gone home with a boy once or twice afterward!
Is it otter-specific, as far as the gogo boys are concerned usually?
Yes, we definitely make sure our go-gos are scruffy!
Good to know! Back to you for a bit: I’m not sure what your relationship status is, but can you pretty much get any guy you want to at any of these events? And if so, does that mojo extend to oher venues, or the world at large?
Oh my! What a question. I’d say there is definitely a bit of a power play as a promoter. Also as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I give off a bit of a daddy vibe (even though I’m not yet 30), so that helps too. Especially since I’ve started to embrace it rather than try to be thin, I have a sort of confidence now that I didn’t before. That said, I’m certainly not everyone’s type. And at Otter Box, not every patron knows I’m hosting, so the power dynamic is sometimes removed.
I’m not currently in a relationship, and I don’t plan on getting into one either, as I’m moving to Miami in August for school. I’ve had a few boyfriends while in nightlife, but it’s difficult to sustain.
It sure is! Are you leaving NYC Nightlife behind when you go to school, or do you plan on returning between semesters, or after you graduate?
Well, this is going to be my terminal degree before I enter the professional world, so I’m going to try and make more of my income in my artistic fields. I’ve toyed with the idea of remaining involved, and some of my more experienced nightlife friends told me it never leaves you. I have a definite life plan, but I’ve also learned recently to be open to any opportunity as it comes. It’s hard to say no to money! As far as returning to NYC goes, it depends on my work life in Miami, or afterwards, if I get a job up here. In my field, I have to go where the job takes me.
Wow, good luck with everything! That’s a big change. So, I guess I’ll revise my final question to make it all academici-ish!: When your finally retired and ready to write your memoirs, what will the title be?
I’ll hopefully be too busy playing clarinet and teaching Irish dance to write a memoir (I love those things and hope to do them my whole life). I guess a cute title could be “The Road to Shamelessness”
Love it! By the way, what’s your academic field?
Clarinet performance. Yes, you can get degrees in it through the doctorate.
Amazing! Thank you, Shameless!