Back by popular demand is the latest edition of fashion advice from my dear friend Billy, an art consultant with a wicked eye and even wickeder wardrobe. This time he takes us on a tour of Atlanta’s hotspots, from museums to dinner to designer shopping to dressing in drag.
POSTCARD FROM SUGARBAKER DESIGN (AKA ATLANTA)
Finally settling in to my new zip code, 30309 – which is found somewhere between hipster Little Five Points and childless-couple-with-rescued-lab Virginia Highlands. I’ve been here for over four months, but really haven’t explored much until 2009. Alas, I was too busy this fall racking up frequent flyer miles on American Airlines. Since Dallas was my last port of call, I had somehow achieved gold status in the past year and since gold is the new silver, it’s an airport distinction I’m eager to keep.
I used to spend quite a bit of time in Atlanta when growing up in Tallahassee, the capital for those who’ve forgotten that bit of knowledge from middle school. It has changed dramatically and many of my old haunts have been razed to make way for the young professional condo market. I’ve been most saddened by the departure of Backstreet, a true gay rite of passage from my youth. As a small town boy looking for big city glamour, we would often make the pilgrimage to Atlanta to visit this multi-level gay watering hole. Its primary claim to fame was the 24-hour liquor license. We didn’t discover this wonderful attribute until the wee hours on our first visit. We pounded drinks expecting last call to be around the corner and were pleasantly surprised to see that it never came.
Atlanta was the shopping mecca of the South back in the day and it still holds that distinction (save for Miami, which is more Brazil than Florida). For true shoppers and New Yorkers who hold Jeffrey in the Meat Packing district in the highest regard, Atlanta was the first outpost for this well edited boutique.
For more of Billy’s best-of-Atlanta, click READ MORE below…
If you find yourself in Atlanta anytime soon, a few not to miss stops:
· High Museum of Art – culturally, this museum really put Georgia’s capital on the map. It is the largest art institution in the South, you must travel up to DC or West to Texas to find anything comparable. The original Richard Meier building is still a glorious triumph and the recent Renzo Piano expansion does not compete architecturally.
· Phipps Plaza – back in the 1980s, this “mall” felt more like a mausoleum at times. It underwent a makeover, as an aging beauty should, and now houses high-end shops like Saks Fifth Avenue, Armani, Gucci and Barneys (don’t get too excited though, its just a smaller Co-op outpost). If your boyfriend hates getting dragged through a day of shopping, rest assured he will be pleasantly surprised to gawk at the preponderance of sports and hip hop celebrities milling about. Also, after a long day of retail therapy enjoy an al fresco glass of wine at Twist and marvel at the line of Bentleys and Aston Martins in the valet line.
· Little Five Points – once a punk rock hot spot, it’s now a melting pot of alt-rockers, rappers and granola girls. Some wonderful vintage stores and the best of the lot is Stephans. Its been around forever and used to provide staples for the niftier drag queens back in the day (think over the top Priscilla Queen of the Desert frocks).
· The Colonnade – this Atlanta institution since the 1920s offers true Southern classics that haven’t been tricked up. How many times recently have you been to a new hotspot that promises nouveau Southern creations only to be served absurd high-end creations with a staggering bill leaving you longing for great fried chicken and collard greens.
· Build-up – When packing for a trip, remember its half the fun of the actual journey and often calls for a party (cocktails and numerous outfit changes in front of girlfriends), be sure to go to YouTube and search for the Designing Women episode where Julia has has her pivotal monologue – the night the lights went out in Geor-gia. Southern women are cut from a certain cloth and Miss Sugarbaker is that gal in spades.
I always want my life to resemble the movies, or at least popular television. When I first relocated from NYC to South Florida I hoped that my new existence would be similar to Goldfinger with great mid-century architecture and glamorous Bond girls around every turn. The end of my life will hopefully end on a cul-de-sac like Knots Landing – even better if a yummy Gary Ewing is living next door and drunk Val is wearing thigh high boots picking up the kids in her station wagon. I watched numerous episodes of Designing Women when making the decision to move to Atlanta, but have yet to find Julia, Suzanne, Charlene and Mary Jo. However, since I do frequent the local gay haunts I’m quite certain that one day I will bump in to Payne (who else thought that Julia’s son had to turn out queer?) and Anthony.
For the previous POSTCARD, click here.