Come to “Big Top”: New York’s Hottest New Party

Photo credit: Wilsonmodels

With the extravagantly colorful crowd it attracts, “Amanda’s Big Top” doesn’t even need a carnival décor. It’s already a three-ring extravaganza, with club kids, muscle bears, wandering tourists, and a guy with masking tape on his mouth all convening every Wednesday to put the carnal back in carnival.

But even if it seems a bit redundant, the physical setting is YouTube-perfect, making this the de rigueur event of the week for those on the edge and not afraid to dangle there. Held on the “Carnival” level of Bowlmor on University Place, the bash (promoted by Kenny Kenny and Joey Israel) is set under a pseudo tent in a post-modern amusement arcade lined with Coney Island-style games to work out your aggressions on. Throw a ping pong ball in a goldfish bowl or knock down a clown doll with a softball and you win an assortment of aptly esoteric prizes like paisley dolphin dolls and neon anal beads.

The ringmaster is famed transsexual Amanda Lepore, a walking inflatable doll who’s been sculpted, corseted, and zhoozhed into a real-life Disney character out of a wonderfully fractured fairy tale. “I put all this up myself,” she joked one week, “and I have to take it all down later. Exhausting!” And vacuuming off all that makeup too! Forget about it!

Still, Lepore summoned the energy to escort me to the fishbowl game, where we had a fiery showdown, a small crowd gathering to watch a man and a woman battle it out over a fish. (Poignantly, neither of us won a thing.) I messed up at all the other games too—I’m single jointed–but finally, someone sensed my despair and gave me a tiny green monkey doll they’d won at the ring toss, so the night became a tiny bit of a triumph for me. Something about this party’s forced reawakening of childhood brings out the compassion and wonder in people, everyone mercifully forgetting that as kids, we were all really mean.

As an extra gift, there’s some suitable entertainment around 1 A.M., like a troupe of cross dressing modern dancers or some obscure hiphop diva screaming into a mic as a 6’ 6” guy in a ruffled skirt scamps around like he’s having a seizure. But one week it was a far more literally circuslike act—an aerialist who spun around on hoops as the crowd got dizzy, in a good way. Pink would love this place, for so many reasons.