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.
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♥ 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.
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♥ 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.
sekhmet

♥ 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.
SleepNoMore

♥ 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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Inspiring Random Acts of Kindness Stories and Winners!

Ready to have your day brightened?
Here is the inspiring stories that were sent in for the Random Acts of Kindness Contest.
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This contest was dreamed up by the kickass force that is known as Revolverlution.
So much love and thanks to Lady Cyanide and White Rabbit Days for all they do to help change the world and inspire others.
You are my heroes.
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Indie Business Rock Star and Volunteering Hero –Lola Star donated THREE $25 Gift Certificates as prizes.
She believes in community, kindness and all of us thriving together….and she takes action!
Lola is one of my personal heroes – her work fostering and volunteering with animals is legendary, she is a true leader and a community builder. Not to mention her style and store ROCK. Here is she with her awesome furchild, Shimmer. Like her on Facebook to see all of her fun Coney Island adventures!
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Here are the Rockstars of Random Acts of Kindness (in order they were received):

Acts of Kindness 1: 
Name: White Rabbit Days
My act of kindness was sort of pre-established, but I volunteer at HYPA (helping young people achieve) after setting up a Youth Leadership Team and Peer Mentoring Unit there. Basically my role is both as a young person on the leadership team, and as a facilitator running workshops and training as well as providing support to those newer to leadership roles. I do about 5 hours, 3 times a week.
The Youth Leadership team is really exciting because it’s the first time in the history of HYPA, a youth organisation, that young people have been involved in the decision making process and been able to have a say in the way things are run, offer suggestions for improvements, influence policy and be able to take HYPA out into the wider community to advocate on behalf of homeless youth, and make HYPA more well known and better utilised by those in need. I’m really proud of my team, and that I’ve been able to found it.
I provided training this month in media, communication styles, general leadership and mental health, as well as supporting members of the team who were struggling in different aspects of their lives.
Other acts of kindness were more simple – being extra smiley, doing crisis support for Reachout.com,  helping lost kids find their parents, teaching tourists how to get around the city, and just being supportive to people who needed that.
I also do free photoshoots for families in need and teenagers to build confidence and self esteem.

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Acts of Kindness 2: 
Name:  Lady Cyanide

My first act of kindness was to help an old woman use the train. I was decked out in full goth regalia, complete with spiked collar, had my ipod in and faintly heard an “excuse me”, but i’d already put my ticket in and I was through the gates. Then I head it again, so I turned around. An old woman- who I had seen buy a ticket earlier- was holding her ticket out and trying to get someone, anyone’s attention but everybody kept ignoring her and walked past. 

I walked back, blocking that ticket barrier and asked if she needed my help. She was obviously a bit taken aback by my appearance, but she asked me how she could get through, so explained how to use her ticket and get through the barrier. Her ticket didn’t work, but as i’d just seen her buy it I directed her over to the rail staff to let her through. I then walked down to my platform. 

As I was waiting, I saw her come down the stairs, so she was also catching my train. She smiled and then walked over to me and thanked me. She said she kept asking people to help but everyone just kept ignoring her. 

My second act is volunteering, but not in the traditional sense. I’m volunteering to be a participant for a research project which is aiming to find the genetic basis of neurocognitive markers of affective and psychotic disorders- basically, they’re trying to find any genetic similarities between sufferers Vs healthy subjects. The aim is to find the link, which may be able to help in earlier diagnosis, and also find people who may be susceptible to developing an affective or psychotic disorder. 

As a sufferer of one of these conditions, I thought it would be great to help. While it won’t help me directly, if it prevents others going through what I have in order to get treatment, it is definitely worth it. I will give saliva tests, blood samples, an MRI and participate in cognitive tests, as well as describing my symptoms in a questionnaire.

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Acts of Kindness 3:
Name: Moises Rodriguez

Last month I volunteered at my schools food drive to donate can food and make thanksgiving baskets to underprivileged families.
Also while in the downtown LA I took quarters and put them in parking meters that ran out of time or almost ran out.
And I wrote little notes that say positive things and to cheer people up because everyone has their own battles to fight daily and I put them on bus stop benches, on crosswalk buttons and coffee shop tables – anywhere where people see them and are able to read them.
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Acts of Kindness 4:
Name: Michelle

It’s not much, but… Something unexpected happened at work today. One of my coworkers is mentally challenged…and she is constantly made fun of by other people I work with. It gets as bad as managers referring to her as “the stupid one”.

We work different shifts typically (me in the morning and her in the evenings) so I only get to talk to her on the rare occasion our shifts overlap.

Today was one of those rare days.

She was drawing.

I asked if I could see what she was working on. Turns out, she was in the process of creating HUNDREDS of hand drawn designs/templates for buttons. So I asked her what it was all about, and she told me she’s saving up for a fancy pro button maker, AND she’s planning on launching a Kickstarter in January to kick off her art business.

I offered her my services for graphic deign stuff (no charge) as well as helping her spread the word.
Then she got to telling me how she’ll have to take the bus to do all her promoting, so I promised I would do what I could when the time came, put up flyers, and stuff like that.
As our conversation was ending, another coworker asked her about her art as well, so maybe it was contagious 🙂

Acts of Kindness 5:
Name: Snail Boy (@horatiohappened)

I am here to tell you about my story – how me and my Mum helped a man in a storm.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the situation where I could take photos of what was going on but I can always show you the street where it happened if you’d like.  So, here it is:

It was very dark, coming up to Yule and in the UK we were getting really bad weather. As in, trees had been uprooted further north of where I live in London. It was also raining and the traffic was speeding past to get home. Me and my Mum were bringing back our puppy from the vet where we just picked up her medication so I had to sit I’m the back to make sure she didn’t get on the seat and rip her stitches (Jemma, you remember?). We saw an old man walking through the traffic and stopped to let him cross the street – nobody else looked like they were going to anytime soon. Then I heard him.

He was stumbling across the street with his cane and calling for help. The cars still weren’t stopping so I looked to my mum and I hopped out to help him in to our car. Poor guy looked so disoriented and in a panic. He explained he just wanted a lift from somebody down the hill because of both the storm and his disability, he even chatted yo the puppy in the back and thanked us.

I got down when we arrived in the quiet street and walked him to his door.  He was talking to me on our short-but-long walk, telling me about how animals know and his cat as a child, always coming back at the exact time his mum would tell it.  I know from looking after my grandmother, but this gentleman reinhanced this message – the elderly are a fountain of wealth when it comes to stories and knowledge, we severely undervalue them in today’s world, in the Western world more than anywhere.

There’s more I do, just little changes to pay it forward what people have done to help me come out from a bad place and still do today. If I’ve got the change, why not pay it to the person in front?

I did this for a woman once, she was only short about 40p (just under a dollar for you) and I had it. The amount of gratitude for being what I thought was decent was fucking overwhelming. She was acting like I’d carried out CPR on her daughter or done some other act of heroism.

People just don’t expect to be helped even in the smallest of ways these days, and whilst sad, it’s a hell of an incentive!

Acts of Kindness 6:
Name: Reegan Bonar

Well I work in a really boring job 2 days a week serving cakes and pies. People are rude and don’t see me as a person, just as someone who feeds them. To try and make me feel better I start conversations with people and always give them a compliment. This gives the customer a confidence boost and allows me to chat to people to pass my day. It is a bit of a win win. I do this several times a day to cheer people up. Now I have people coming in and chatting to me regularly and if they are supper nice I give them a large cup of tea. No one can complain at free tea, right?
I have also helped a first year at my University with tips how to study. I didn’t want to ask her for pictures, or give out her details but here is her story. I found her crying in the psychology toilets and started chatting to her. She told me how stressed she was and she is not naturally smart and had to work so hard to get into University. She was embarrassed as so many people in her class get good grades with no effort and she was to put in 100% to get a half decent grade. She was so stressed with exams coming up I knew I needed to help her. She wanted to leave University as she said it was too much for her and she couldn’t do it. I took her to a computing room and organized all her notes. I showed her how I plan essays and memorize material. I make a revision timetable with her. Now we meet one a week to revise stuff together and if she needs any help or tips she can call or email me any time. She has improved so much and I know she will ace her exams in January. She is no longer doubting herself, which makes me so happy and proud!

Acts of Kindness 7:
Name: Jackie

Hi!
I’m Jackie and here is what I did! I posted a poster in the entrance to a building in my school. It was finals week and it had different positive saying at the bottom. It said take one and pass it on. When I left my hour long final all the tabs had been taken. At my final two days later I was handed one!
I helped a strange women on the subway figure out how to get to the museum!
I was walking home one day when a child tripped and fell. I heard the mother complaining she did not have a bandaid. I happened to have one so I gave it to them!
I donated blood. (As always it turned my arm blue from a bruise!)
I made balloon animals at a holiday party with the VKA.
I played an elf at Operation Santa smiles. Along with that I wrapped presents for them and the VKA party donated toys that we brought! It was so great! My mother also joined me for those 2 events! Also I am happy to say the cat I rescued over the summer is happy healthy and my love!
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Acts of Kindness 8:
Name: Kristi

I mainly gave money to people/charities who crossed my path and needed it more than myself, even though I’m out of a job and borderline broke. 
My main face-to-face interaction happened two days before Christmas:
My friends and I were walking across the Walmart parking lot when a man approached us. He apologized for bothering us but wanted to know if we could spare any money so that he would be able to eat that night. My friend, Evan, barely hesitated before pulling a wad of ones from his wallet. The man was telling us about how he had just lost his job. I myself had been out of work for a few weeks, it sucks. I had a few dollars in my pocket which I offered him before he thanked us and turned away. He looked genuinely surprised. Evan later commented that even if the guy buys beer with our money everyone deserves beer on Christmas. But, I like to think that he actually bought food.

Acts of Kindness 9:
Name: Jamie Slater

Tex and Bundy are – very plainly – a man and his dog. Bundy rides on the tank of Tex’s motorbike, with a proper vest, goggles and harness, and they travel around Australia raising funds and awareness for multiple causes. At this particular event, they were raising funds for Project KidSafe, a group dedicated to helping the victims of child abuse. I helped by walking Bundy around the venue and just generally spreading the word about Project KidSafe, and raised nearly $30.

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Acts of Kindness 10:
Name: Jade Addis

So at the end of December, I volunteered at Hollyhedge Animal Sanctuary. I’d volunteered there before…but the ‘How To Change the World’ Blog post, really helped push me to go again. 
In 2012, Like Ve, I too lost my animal companion.
This beaut, was my baby! I adored this creature with all my soul! I even spoke to Veronica at the time it happened…it killed me inside when we had to put her to sleep. She slept on my bed for 13 years of my life, she was my best friend, and my spirit guide.

I couldn’t really face animals for a long time after this happened…it hurt. I guess maybe I was afraid to move on…or for Sheba to be looking down on me and seeing my ‘cheating’ :’)
 But reading that blog post, made me think – these animals still deserve the help and the love. My pain needs to be put aside, and their pain should come first. I can bring a few hours of joy to their lives, so why am I not doing it. 

Below is a load of pictures from my day… As well as volunteering for the day, I also got my local customers to make a collection bag of food, treats and old blankets. I went on about 10 doggy walks, did the feeding rounds, had to clean up after poor parvo ridden puppies. Washed up all the doggy bowls, played ball, and gave a motherfucking load of cuddles.
I think I helped them…but they definatley helped me!
(I even wore my World Domination Tee!)

Love, Jade Addis
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Acts of Kindness 11:
Name: Miss C

I love to help people. I got lucky in life with the path that I’ve been put on. I work at a hotel (two hotels, full and part time). I’m tasked daily with being nice and helpful to people in need. My hotels happens to be in a city nicknamed the “Destination Medical Center” most of my guests are here for treatment, they are here to heal, or to hope for family members to heal. It’s a stressful environment and it hard to see so many people suffering each day as they stay at my hotel. So I’ve tasked myself with trying each day to help. To do something within my power when I can. Even if it’s just a smile or a quip about our beyond freezing weather and mountains of snow.

Two of my favorite stories or the most recent I suppose have to do with Love and Being Lost.

Last night I had a couple walk in. Very sweet, definitely in love but a little short on money for one of our more romantic suites. They didn’t care. I could tell that all that really mattered to these two was that they were together for their anniversary. I love that. I want it in my life so I gave them some magic. I upgraded them to a beautiful suite on the top floor. The view is magical- twinkling lights and snow falling. They loved it. That’s all I needed.

A week or so back I had a team of college basketball girls in. They were all here for a tournament and finally ready to head back home. Then our weather turned. It’s been gross out. Snow, a cold snap, we’re getting it hard. They were miserable and worried they wouldn’t make it home so I bagged up some of our hot chocolate chip cookies and sent them with to the airport. It was simple and quick but the head of the college sent me a letter thanking me for what I’d done. That’s when I realized how amazing it is to be thanked. I don’t think it happens enough with honest sentiment. It’s so easy and such a throw away phrase to say “Thank You” so when I say it now I mean it. Everytime.

I do things like this everyday, I’m part of two volunteer organizations and I generally go out of my way to be helpful. With Kickstarter and Internet Petitions at my fingers it’s getting so much easier but having an internet family like Revolverlution makes me so thankful. I loved being a part of TeamRevolver and making dreams happen and bringing us all together again is a wonderful blessing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you. For reading our stories and inspiring us to work harder at helping others. It’s a crazy world and the amount of  magic, love, and kickassness that we bring together is going to be something to marvel at. I’m so psyched. I love you all!

LovexMagic

MissC

Acts of Kindness 12:
Name: Kurt
My family and I volunteered, for the first time, a few weeks ago at Forgotten Harvest.  They are a kick ass locally organization that collects perishable food from stores and restaurants and then redistributes it almost immediately to the needy.

We packed 3000 lbs of meat sticks(!) into small packages to be delivered around town to soup kitchens, shelters and halfway homes.

We plan on going back at least once a month.  My youngest son took the picture below:

 Please, no need to enter me into the contest.  Just know that YOU GUYS ROCK! 

Love from Detroit,
Kurt
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Acts of Kindness 13:
Name: Stevi
Hello!
Back in early December I read about the Revolverlution Acts of Kindness Challenge and decided to participate.
Here is what I did:
On December seventeenth I volunteered my day to helping a child shop for Christmas. The event is similar to “shop with a cop”. In my area police officers, military, firefighters, and college students (Myself included) volunteered our time to help children who couldn’t afford a Christmas be able to have a good one. Each volunteer got 1 to 3 children and helped them shop for items they needed and wanted for Christmas. The child I shopped with was a little girl named Amanda, she is a fourth grader in Carson City, Nevada. It was a really awesome experience. At 8 o’clock in the morning I arrived at the local Wal Mart to help set up. The children arrived at 9 am. Since this was a Christmas event, there was a Santa Claus who flew in on a helicopter right in the parking lot! It was a great experience for everyone. I went shopping with Amanda until close to noon, then we wrapped her presents, and after I was able to take her to lunch at McDonalds. After that I took her to her bus to head back to school.
Aside from that event I spent my time doing a bunch of little random acts of kindness. If I stopped in for some coffee I would pay for the person behind me, when I ate out I would anonymously pay for a persons lunch.  I have no pictures for those things, but I do have pictures for the notes I left with flowers. A few years ago when I walked to my car I noticed flowers and a note on it, and all it said was “Never stop being amazing”. It was the best surprise I have ever received, so much so I remember it years later. So I decided to do the same thing. Every few weeks I bought a bouquet of flowers and wrote little notes and put them on peoples cars and front doors. I have some pictures I took when I was making the notes and attaching it to the flowers.
Thank you so much for presenting this challenge! I had so much fun and it was unforgettable for me.

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WINNERS: All of you are winners for participating. Email me your mailing address with “Random Acts of Kindness” in the title and I’m writing each one of you a thank you card with stickers. <3

The three winners chosen by RANDOM.ORG for the Three Lola Star $25 Gift Certificates are:….drum roll, please!
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Congratulations to: Stevi, Michelle and Jade!

How To Change The World: Revolverlution

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One thing that I have recently learned:

For 8 years, Burke and I tried on our own to get funding for our dream.

Once we put it out to you – this community helped us accomplish it in 28 days.

More than ever, I believe in the power of community – and I want to give back.

Then, Lady Cyanide and White Rabbit Days contacted me and the brainstorming began. They had so many great ideas from talking to all of you. They started a new movement called “Revolverlution” based on the powerful community of Team Revolver. We are going to be putting updates and doing fun challenges/contests monthly – like our page here to keep in the loop. Today, Lady Cyanide and White Rabbit Days are KICKING this off. Check out their awesome video:

Here are the details – straight from White Rabbit Days:

“Following Burke, Veronica and Niney’s kickstarter, we realized how huge Team Revolver really was – we realized that so many people around the globe were coming together and creating a family – a family who fosters dreams, and works to make them come true. Seeing the support and love between members of Team Revolver on twitter was just so overwhelming, and we wanted to take this a step further.

Lady C and I were planning a catch up on New Years Eve, and were talking with Kristi and a few other people about what we were going to wish for over the New Year. This simple idea snowballed into something much bigger – Revolverlution. Our ideas became bigger and bigger, and then with the support of Veronica, Burke and Lola Star, it became bigger still – we plan to make it unstoppable.

Our first challenge is to take the love we’ve seen in the Revolver community, out into the world, through our first challenge – Acts of Kindness month.

Do you want to be apart of this?

This month we want you to:

    • Do something nice for 6 different people you don’t know. For example: pay them a compliment, give a hand to someone in need, write cute notes and leave them in public places. Use your imagination.
    • Volunteer at a charitable organization for at least 3 hours. Then share your volunteer story with us, along with photos, screenshots or video. *Remember no faces unless you have their permission to upload.
    • Send your stories to us at: revolverlution@live.com.au
    • Each entry goes into the draw to win an amazing prize pack from indie business owner and volunteering hero, Lola Star.
    Lola Star on the Coney Island Boardwalk

    Lola Star on the Coney Island Boardwalk

    You can submit your entry up to January 31, 2014. Every person who submits a story with photos or video will receive a sticker pack from Danger Dame to thank you for volunteering and making the world a better place.

    Let’s do this!