Flirting With Israel



On arrival in Tel Aviv, I was shuttled to the Alexander, a modern-style boutique hotel sandwiched between the once-popular gay cruising park (much of the foliage has been removed, so there are fewer spots for covert interludes) and the gay beach, which come the weekend (Friday and Saturday) was overflowing with built, tanned men in tantalizingly little in the way of swimsuits. Tel Aviv is a modern city, built like Miami, a metropolis abutting a gorgeous beach.

I’d been told that Israel was a gay-friendly place, and the country came through. Never did a cab driver blanche when we asked for the location of a gay bar, and because clubs and venues shift so often there, the cabbies we encountered made it their business to know, at the very least, where one should start the night. A night out in Tel Aviv often starts at 9 or 10 p.m. at Evita, a gay pub where the music is far too loud, so most people stay inside only long enough to order a drink before heading out to the patio to talk and smoke. At Evita the men were friendly and happy to say where the next party was starting—and the parties start late, rarely before midnight.

From there, we got directions to Comfort Men, a club hidden on a quiet, industrial-looking street. The DJs played a mix of international gay fare, Euro-techno, and Arab-influenced pop. At 35, I was at the upper edge of the age curve, but men showed no reluctance to come up and say hi. A dance-floor makeout session made me feel like I was 21 again, and then a post–closing-hour tumble onto the street gave me the chance to feel an actual 21-year-old, a soldier. Unlike most of the other Israelis I met, he spoke no English, and my Hebrew was limited to a smattering of harsh top-of-the-throat utterances that vaguely resembled the words for “hello,” “please,” “thank you,” and a tahini dessert with pistachios. I knew how to ask for halva but not to ask for a man’s name. Turned out, my soldier had little interest in conversation. Fine by me.

Tags: Travel