The Coolest, Wildest, Weirdest Things To Do In NYC: A Guide for the Freaks

i love new york veronica varlow
I have a full on hot, wild love affair with NYC.

For two years when I first arrived here, I was a tour guide on a double-decker bus,
cruising down the streets in the open air
introducing tourists to my lover.

Here’s some of my favorite must-do, must-see picks of Gotham City:

♥  Make a wish on the Empire State Building and “blow” it out at 2am.

Seeking a beautiful and romantic view of the city lights and the moonlight?
The Empire State Building is open until 2am at the moment!
Head over to this epic Art Deco building at midnight and beat the crowds.
Two years ago on my birthday, I started making my wishes and “blowing out” the lights when they flicker and go out every night at 2am.

new york city skyline

The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building from my Bedroom Window in Brooklyn.

♥  Visit the Slipper Room (NYC’s oldest Burlesque and Vaudeville House) and take a picture of yourself in the gutter out front (It’s tradition.  I say so.)

The Slipper Room is my burlesque home and where I first saw burlesque and got my start.
It’s home to magicians, aerialists, burlesque performers, comedians, musicians, and fire performers.
Go be enchanted.
veronica varlow gutter photo

♥  Dine in a secret 1870s style Parisian train car on a rooftop.

Talk about romantic! Le Train Bleu on top of Bloomingdales is one of the best kept secrets in NYC.
Address: 1000 3rd Avenue, NY, NY – enter Bloomingdales and go to 6th floor.
le train bleu

♥  Dance among the club kids and you will never want to go home again.

Kayvon Zand and his partner, Anna Evans are the King and Queen of NYC nightlife. Their parties include Dorian Gray, Sex Fifth Avenue and others. Dance in a world of hot imagination.
Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 11.54.55 PM

♥ Ride the World Famous Coney Island Cyclone!

Coney Island is an enchanted place – go take in all the sights: ride the Cyclone, go to the world famous Coney Island Freak Show, make out on the Wonder Wheel and GO SEE Lola Star! <3
Lola Star

♥  Have a picnic in Central Park and wander around the sights.

Central Park Must-Sees are:
Alice in Wonderland Statue
Strawberry Fields and the John Lennon “Imagine” Mosaic
Shakespeare Garden
Conservatory Garden (where Burke and I got engaged!)
burke heffner veronica varlow

♥ Rock out at Punk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke

Punk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke is a NYC staple. Now held at Fontana’s, you get to scream to your punk rock favorites as a live band plays behind you.
Pretty bad ass.

♥ Duck down a dark alley and into a real Prohibition Era bar.

The Back Room serves up beverages in tea cups (just in case the joint gets raided). Once a real Speakeasy 85 years ago, this place delivers that old world charm of New York City.
Look for the “Toy Company” sign. Go down alley. You’ll see the secret door.
Once inside, peek behind the bookshelf to another secret room.
amanda palmer neil gaiman veronica varlow burke heffner

♥ Visit one of the most impressive collections of Egyptian artifacts in the world at the Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum houses World-Class Egyptian treasures – not to be missed. Go early to avoid crowds and wander the artifacts in silence.

♥ Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and go grab a slice of pizza at Grimaldi’s.

Do this at Sunset or Sunrise for fantastic views and a gorgeous skyline.  Also, nighttime walks for the city lights are gorgeous.
You can wave to the Statue of Liberty from the bridge!
girl gang

♥ Screw Broadway. Go see incredible immersive theater and be a part of the action.

Check out Sleep No More and Queen of the Night.
I can’t tell you anything else,
but just trust me on this one – you’ve never seen anything like this before.

♥ Check out these secret underground party lists for the best things to do whether you are a visitor or a local!

These three lists are your new best friends in New York City.
You’re welcome.
Nonsense NYC
Gemini and Scorpio
The Skint

jeff stark

What’s your favorite things to do in this enchanted city?
Tell me in the comments.
Looking forward to seeing you on a wild New York City adventure!

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When I Walk with the Lion – And Other Things I Learned About Combating Fear

I am proud to share this fire film with you for so many reasons, because it delves into the performance experience, and in it, I am doing something that I had been afraid to do for so long.

I know what subtle fear looks like on my face, and I can see it at :17.

Then I glance at world-renowned fire performer,  Flambeaux and nod at :23 in a we’re-in-this-together look.   I have to summon the courage to walk into the performance space. I have to summon the courage to quell my shaking as I look up to see people hanging from the balconies watching, people surrounding me watching….an audience waiting for the show.

But something changes at 29 seconds in, if you are watching closely, you can see an almost complete physical change.  The fear evaporates and something else takes over.

You can see it in the way I move….

I call on the lion to walk with me.  Watch it again.

This is the real me.  This is a photo I wasn’t ever going to post.  A photo that Burke snapped in a private moment. But I want to make good on my promise to show you the bones and here they are.

You’ve asked me what I do to combat fear.  You’ve asked me what I do when my legs are shaking so hard that I don’t think I can even move them to get me on to the stage.  I’ve told you many other answers of things that help me, but this is one I’ve never shared until now.

Partially because it was so deeply personal I wanted to keep it to myself. But then I thought, well, if this idea could help someone else, why would I keep it hidden?

And the other part, is because it is so incredibly personal and might seem odd to some, I was afraid of being made fun of about it. But as I sit here in the dawn of the early morning, as a simple post about a fire film that I am proud of is turning into something quite different than I expected as thoughts pour out on my keyboard, what is most important is the truth.

So I will post it. I will post it rather than deleting all of my words and going on about my day like I have done so many times before in the past.

Her name is Sekhmet.  She is from 1390 BC and was found in Thebes, Egypt during the XVIII Dynasty.  And one day in 2006, while wandering through the Egyptian wing, I came face to face with her kind and fierce 3,000 year old eyes.

I stood there in front of her until the museum closed.

I was emotionally moved by something very, very old before me.  Perhaps it was because it moved something equally as old inside of me, something in my DNA harkening from the beginning of time.

I found myself in that human moment, faced with the great mysteries of the world…standing before this Sekhmet carved during one of the earliest civilizations on our planet…. and my mind was flooded with wonder, with reverence, and with awe.

There are pieces we can carry with us today from the myths and stories told by our ancestors in front of fires thousands of years ago.

There is something powerful in Goddesses that will not die.

I have seen it myself in the eyes of a 3,000 year old statue.

And there is something of that – that lives on in us.

We are more than what the eyes can see.

We are far older than our age.

I never take the stage alone, even when your eyes can only see me.  I carry the stories of my ancestors, the eyes of my mother, the charisma of my father, the magic of my grandmother, the walk of Sekhmet.  I carry all of these to combat fear,  I carry them to push myself into things that I long to learn and do, I carry them to craft the story of my life….

and to boldly walk forth into new adventures.

How do you combat fear?   Do you have any secret tricks that you can share with our Danger Diary community?  Let’s continue this conversation over here!