An Ear to the Ground for the Queer in Baltimore
When I received an invitation from the Baltimore tourism folks to go down there for the LGBT show-and-tell weekend I thought: “What the hell is special about Baltimore?” The first time I had gone to Baltimore it was in high school traveling for an ASA softball tournament. All I saw of the city was fields. I missed a fly ball in the ninth inning which cost the team the tournament.
I did not have pleasant feelings about the place, but I decided to accept, because I was intrigued. There must be something about the city besides softball fields! Also, with other bright stars crowding it out on the eastern seaboard — New York, D.C. and Boston — there might something about the city that everyone is missing.
As we cruised around the city it was clear that the city was not as pretentious as its neighbors; much more relaxed, and is historical and tourist friendly without being cheesy and overdone. Federal Hill and Fell’s Point are two neighborhoods with charming historic character, great restaurants and cute shops. Fell’s Point seemed like a great place to get a homemade ice cream and sit on the water front, but I wasn’t able to have the experience. Instead I ran off to the “Jazz Brunch” at gay-owned Meli (1636 Thames Street, www.kalismeli.com). In Federal Hill I recommend Scarborough Fair (www.scarboroughfairbandb.com) the cutest little B&B owned by cuddly Barry Werner. Rooms are stylishly decorated according to theme. In the picture below is Barry in the Edgar Allen Poe Room. He also makes homemade biscotti in multiple flavors — delish!
The gays tend to congregate around Mount Vernon and Hampden. Mount Vernon is a little more upscale (like Chelsea) while Hamdpen is more arty and queer (like the East Village and Williamsburg). Coconuts Cafe, Grand Central, Sappho (upstairs at Grand Central) and Hippo seem to be the good clubs in Mount Vernon (you can never really tell from just cursory weekend trip). Further out in Station North is the Baltimore Eagle, which keeps with Eagle tradition in being all at once friendly, edgy and sexy. Brunch at City Cafe is a tradition for some.
Hampden has tons of veryvery cutsy and queer shops. My fav was Ma Petite Shoe (832 West 36th St., www.mapetiteshoe.com). Not only does owner Susannah Singer display a dazzling and spicy selection of shoes, she also has a tempting choice of chocolates in the inner room of the shop. Susannah told me that their goal is to have the chocolates that you will not be able to find anywhere else. The “Firecracker” chocolate bar, with a mixture of dark chocolate chips, salt and pop rocks, lit my mouth on fire and took me back to elementary school happiness. Flaunt, across the street is a good place to get a queer hair cut. Sugar (927 W. 36th St.) is the sex-positive toy shop in town. Further down the road Atomic Books (3620 Falls Rd., www.atomicbooks.com) has a sizable alternative section. There is a salute to working-class-old-lady-drag at Cafe Hon (1002 West 36th St., www.cafehon.com).
To find out about events Susannah and her girlfriend and Amanda suggested coming by the store or other queer interest stores for flyers, asking around the friendly community and looking out for the Charm City Kitty Club tri-annual events. Moveable Feast is also a queer party to search out.
Blogger Bio: Lauren LoGiudice is an actor, model, performance artist, writer, host, producer, improv comedian and amateur chef. A native New Yorker—born in Queens, now living out in Brooklyn—who likes to shake the dust of the outer boroughs off to travel the world, living and working in places that range from India to Mexico to Italy. Part of the slim minority who does not like bacon, potato chips or milk chocolate. Often seen in farmer’s markets trolling for and the latest weird vegetable. Eats her greens. (laurenlogiudice.com).