Thanks to the lovely Yuhua Hamasaki for these very kind words! Watching her journey from hard working bar queen to RuGirl and multimedia star has been really inspiring… she was one of the first queens I met in New York City!
I started Thotyssey in 2016 (after a few false starts) solely for myself. I came out later in life and didn’t have any gay friends and was too shy and afraid to go wandering around all the gayborhoods, directionless, unsure of what I might run into. Eventually I did find my First Second Family at Boots & Saddle on Christopher Street, but then I would habitually only go there, like, every night for years. I heard other patrons mention other places, but shyness and stubbornness kept me from exploring further. I missed out on so much those years! Magazines like Get Out, Odyssey and Next sat on the shelves in the front of the bar that featured maps, listings and some articles about what else nightlife had to offer, and those at least inspired me to start maintaining a list of Places To Go Someday.
Eventually I started scouring social media to fill in all the gaps, and before I knew it I had this extensive list of basically every party and show in every venue across the city. I made a Tumblr and called it Thotyssey (Odyssey for thots, haha, which was a word I became obsessed with after my much younger boyfriend explained its meaning to me, and now I wished I had just called the site Red Light Safari like I originally intended to) and just started posting a few highlighted listings of the big events for that night.
It was cute; no one really noticed, and I didn’t expect anyone to. Again, it was just for me! But for some reason I kept doing the lists every day. Well okay, by “for some reason” I mean because I am both psychotically obsessive over lists and overwhelmingly curious about what goes on in this vast, mysterious city of hours. Gradually the list became more full and streamlined, until it was a complete city-wide accounting with a clear-ish regular format.
There were some things I was reporting that I couldn’t quite understand what they were from the flyers, so I started asking people I knew from Boots who were doing the events what exactly they were. That evolved slowly into On Point interviews, which gradually took me out of my comfort zone and had me starting to reach out to folks I never met, asking if they wanted to be interviewed about their gigs and their whole lives (nowadays, a whole year can go by before I physically meet a person I’ve On Pointed). Those early interviews were pretty weird in tone and all over the place in content (and very poorly proofread), but eventually they became more streamlined as well.
Everyone in nightlife was very supportive cuz they knew I was basically a harmless weirdo who healthily stanned them, and what’s wrong with a little extra press? People gradually took notice and thought it was an interesting little side project, but were mostly still relying on their own increasingly popular social medias and those prior-mentioned established magazines for their promotions.
Then all of the sudden most of those magazine publishers abruptly folded, and the ones that remained scaled back on their listings. Bizarrely, Thotyssey was the only remaining event lister of its kind and a lot of people began to realize that. Suddenly researching, listing and interviewing became a full time job for me. It was kind of scary and strange, but I never stopped because it seemed important and because I’m nuts. Then I started winning awards and getting a tiny bit of press of my own, and what?
I’ve experimented with a few monthly columns regarding non-nightlife or nightlife-adjacent content from other volunteer contributors, but you know how that sort of operation usually goes. The only non-Jim contribution that’s stuck has been “X-Rayed Sex” care of our sexpert LeNair Xavier, and we’re super grateful to him for that.
In 2017 I made an end of the year “tHOTlist” celebrating the best of NYC nightlife as kind of a joke because my opinion didn’t really mean anything, but also part of me did want to brag how much I’d come to learn about what was really going on in the city and who was doing what where. I was basically hit by a truck with the overwhelming response–love, hatred, and perhaps most shocking, the “I don’t care what Thotyssey says, who even is Thotyssey” statements. That kind of changed everything… there are lots of people now who only know the “tHOTlist” and not the site it belongs to that posts the other 364 days a year. That’s a trip.
I considered quitting the site last year because Covid made it mostly obsolete, and I had this secret miserable dread that nightlife would not return. But rather than stare at the wall for a year I wound up reporting on the surprisingly-broad spectrum of internet shows that queens and DJs and other nightlifers were putting out there. What a fun and interesting year of listing! But nightlife has come back swinging after all, and I hope I never have to fucking list an IG Live ever again.
I am so grateful to all my readers and the folks in the biz who support and stick with Thotyssey… several of the latter can be found on stage at Playhouse Bar (site of the former Boots & Saddle, some thing never change) on July 17th (9pm) for Night of 5000 Thots, a showcase celebrating Thotyssey’s 5th anniversary and my own birthday. I’m a huge fan of everyone in the lineup, even those I haven’t met or seen perform in person yet (hello Dragon Sisters, who are hosting and are clearly the Ones To Watch in post-Covid Nightlife). There will be drag, live music, burlesque, comedy, poetry, surprises, potential nudity and messiness galore! I encourage everyone to swing by and behold this spectacle for yourself, if only just to watch me running through a crowd frantically for two hours–OMG, can you imagine if we run too long over into Jasmine Rice’s show!??? Just kidding, it will be the massive Nightlifapalooza you will need while holding out for Bushwig, and I can’t wait!
Thotyssey is still growing, but very slowly because it has only one regular employee–a kind of stubborn and lazy one at that, and one who still has a lot to learn about marketing, journalism and so many other things. But we ain’t going nowhere anytime soon… here’s to the next 5 Years!
Jim Silvestri that Thotyssey Bitch
PS, last night was my actual birthday and a stranger told me he was a huge Thotyssey fan and I made out with him.
PPS, if you really love me and want to support Thotyssey’s growth, PLEASE GURL BUY SOME MERCH!