During the middle weekend in May, New York City celebrated the Second Annual Urban Bear Weekend, and I attended two events on May 16, which brought the festive fur fest to a close.
The city's first-ever Bear Fair, held on Little West 12th Street, between Washington and West Streets, down the block from where the notorious Mineshaft had been located, was a smashing success, featuring art, music, community organizations' businesses' participation, food and, of course the company of many bears. At 4:30 p.m., or halfway through the street fair, Robert Valin, Executive Producer of Urban Bear NYC, estimated the crowd size at 700. A portion of the proceeds from Bear Fair went to the LGBT Community Center.
Photographer Joe Oppedisano was there, hosting a table of books, DVDs and t-shirts with his work. Artist Michael Mitchell was at his easel, sketching the sexy bears posing for him. Neil Bruce held down the fort at a table of his Bearotic Art. Oso Oro was there, advertising the Global Bear Culture Art Jam and King Papi-Chulo Fundoshi Bear Contest, taking place at the Center on June 5.
"Bear-identified performers" of Bearapalooza Ernie Lijoi, Felix the Acoustic Punk, and Max Christopher sang and played their guitars. Jonny Mack and another hot, hairy go-go bear danced. Robert Valin and Mike Peyton oversaw a messy, but fun pie-eating contest among four contenders, the winner coming away with a leather teddy bear from the Leatherman. There was also a 'bear gut' competition.
The Center had a table, as did Crystal Meth Anonymous, and the New York City Gay Men's Chorus was present, informing people about its June 30 concert "High," at NYU's Skirball Center, featuring the local premiere of "Through a Glass, Darkly," a rock opera and cautionary tale about crystal meth. Members of Gotham Knights RFC, the gay rugby team, were there in full force.
The Eagle NYC bar had a table. Lest you think the Bear Fair involved just men, Lady Sabrina's My Lady's Toys was present, too. Information was available about the Muscle Bear Cruise 'sea tea,' co-hosted by Valin on June 26, and about Bearcruise.com and Castrobear's Beachcomber Bear Cancun event, at the Grand Coco Bay resort, from October 24 to 31. Blood Moon Productions pushed its book "50 Years of Queer Cinema: 500 of the Best GLBTQ Films Ever Made," by Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince. Pantheon Productions, the San Francisco-based company, made its presence known with a catalogue of DVDs of its bearish erotic films. Pizza, Chinese food, and ice cream could be had, and the ice cream vendor was helping to raise funds for True Colors, which assists homeless LGBT youth.
To wind down from Bear Fair and round out the day and weekend, many repaired to the 'Closing Night Gala: Truck Stop' at the Penthouse at The Park, in Chelsea.