After the owners of the Out NYC Hotel incited LGBT fury for hosting a dinner — something they claim was not a fundraiser — for antigay presidential candidate Ted Cruz, Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass sat down with New York magazine, ostensibly to quell the controversy, but they may have incited more.
The Q&A begins with discussion of a naked Twister game once played in the apartment that the business partners, formerly a couple, own in tony Central Park South. Then Reisner and Weiderpass discuss how the April dinner with Cruz and his wife came together (it involved shared interests in U.S. policy toward Israel). Then the men discussed the blowback from their hosting of Cruz, which includes a boycott of their hotel and cancellation of a Broadway Cares fundraiser and other events there (Reisner also owns property on Fire Island, and there's been discussion of repercussions there as well).
"Besides the business aspect, for me the horrible part is the abundance of communications in all forms," Reisner said. "Letters, calls, texts, emails, Facebook notifications, and postings. Like, hate. The hate against us is so strong, for me, it literally makes me weep. That there’s a vast group of gay folks in America that don’t know what I have done for the gay cause, consistently for decades, and now think I’m antigay. There’s such a massive divide between the reality of what we do, did and do, and their limited thinking of what we do because of a few facts and a few headlines."
In light of the growing controversy, the businessmen considered hosting a town hall meeting to discuss concerns with the public. That was quickly dismissed because of security concerns.
"You know, it’s so ironic — I wanted to build kind of a community center in the gateway to Hell’s Kitchen, which in 2008–2009 was already a gay place and now it’s even gayer," Reisner said. "Very close to Broadway. We decided there’d be so many different ways to give back to the community. We show gay artists there. For gay performers, we have let this cabaret club go on for three and a half years. And you don’t make money when you let drag queens in on Tuesday night and 30 people drink at $10 a drink and you have to pay five people to watch over the place. You don’t make money. ... My only point is, this has not been a profitable venture. Gays are cheap. They’re frugal; gays are frugal. Let me retract that … gays are entitled … Do you know how challenging it is to make a penny off a gay person? I’m gay, I don’t pay cover. I’m gay, where’s my comp drink? [Everyone laughs.] No, I’m being serious! The Out NYC has not shown a profit yet."