David Sigal: Meat Packer

Director David Sigal serves up a starry, spicy slice of New York’s LGBT history in his Outfest selection Florent: Queen of the Meat Market.



You recently premiered the final cut at the New York City Food Film Festival. What was the experience like?
We won Best Film at that festival, and Mayor Bloomberg presented me the award, so that was a great experience. It was also great because so many people from the restaurant were there, so every time a host, a server, or any past employee came on screen, people started applauding.

The film points out Florent’s eclectic mix of patrons — blue-haired old ladies, blue-haired punks, and everyone in between. But no matter who was there on any given day, the LGBT community was always a strong presence. There’s even a funny sequence in the film where practically everyone independently recalls the abundance of “tranny hookers” in the early days. Why did the LGBT community feel so at home there? Was there more to it than the fact that the owner was an openly gay AIDS activist?
If you go back to the mid-’80s and the early ’90s, the era before the Internet, this was a place where people could really meet and pass on information, especially with regards to AIDS and activism. People could go to Florent and organize political action, such as the bus trips to D.C. for pro-choice and gay rights.

Do you feel that your being gay helped endear you to Florent?
Yeah, but I always felt it was more eclectic than just the gay crowd. It reminded me of Warhol’s Factory, where you had artists, celebrities, socialites, and everyday wacky New Yorkers, so it felt more than an LGBT clubhouse. It really was a mix, which is what made it so special.

Where do you eat your breakfast these days?
I’ve been craving a good place to get my breakfast now, so it’s funny you should ask. I don’t have a place that has replaced Florent in New York City. Everyone jokes that the closest equivalent is Tortilla Flats, but I don’t go there for breakfast.

Tags: film