Call me lucky — my second stop on the Thursday Night express also happened to fall on the very night of chic chick Cyoni’s birthday extravaganza. Bearing in mind both the general upper-crust atmosphere of Bump and the sartorial responsibility inherent in attending such a glossy occasion, I switched out my usual ratty jeans/second-hand tee uniform to attend the soiree in a subtly-hued stretch button-down paired with charcoal grey slacks and honest-to-gawd dress shoes.
Even Bump dressed up for the event; arriving un-fashionably early, I spotted a rail-thin fabulista spreading sparkly little stars, stars, and more stars across the tabletops and the carpet. Larger stars were also hung from the ceiling, in addition to a thick silver curtain, or something, that was haphazardly draped from the ceiling to the wall, looking like nothing so much as a series of spray-painted trash bags knotted end-to-end and tacked onto the first available surface (Look, I have to say spiky things every now and again or y’all gonna think I’m a pushover). Otherwise, the space itself, split between the bar and dining area, displayed its usual Manhattan-gay-bar-esque setup, artfully-lit and populated with well-groomed young professionals and beautiful women accenting the modern tables and bar-stools.
A quick scan of the lounge at 9:50 revealed something else to me: I did not see one familiar face in the smattering of attendees. Panicking and suddenly feeling very much not-at-home in my grown-up get-up, I turned tail and headed to Uncle’s for a quick nip. Tony was working the bar, thankfully, so I was able to relax and shoot the breeze in the manner to which I’m accustomed. Fifteen minutes later, armed with just the slightest bit of liquid courage, I returned to Bump, checked my winter accessories, busted out my notepad, and got to the task at hand â€“ gawking at two shirtless Adonises (Adonisi?) whose taut’n’tan tits drove me to near distraction. Naturally, I did not get a photograph, as my vocabulary suddenly limited itself to "Homina-homina-homina."
Gathering up my remaining composure, I cornered DJ Carl Michael in the DJ booth and grilled him about Cyoni. Putting pen to paper about this birthday celebration, I realized that I know next-to-nothing about this staple of the local scene. Perhaps a Barbara Walters-style sit down in is order, hmm? In any case, briefly abandoning my investigative probe into Thursday, I decided to suss out some outrageous tale befitting Cyoni’s legacy. Most of the folks I talked to who are closest to miss Dharling demurred from giving me anything ridiculously juicy, but I did learn that:
– Carl Michaels and Cyoni have known each other for 12 years! Carl’s fuzzy on the details, but fairly sure they met "on the rave scene." Being a veteran party kidd myself, I couldn’t tell you if I met or spoke to anyone at all during that PLUR-based bygone era, but I did emerge sometime around 2001 with a newfound appreciation for Vicks Vapo-Rub and lollipops.
– Matthew Izzo, who I photographed at last week’s Bob & Barbara’s party, informs me that Cyoni does all of his fashion shows.
– Jen, the hostess of Kinky Quizzo at Vallani, confesses that she and Cyoni are like "sisters from the same mother", which is aww shucks, sweet.
– Naveeha, a whipsmart blonde and MC of the evening, tells me that while she’s a little bit country, Cyoni’s a little bit rock and roll.
At ten-thirty, the birthday girl herself puts in her appearance, sporting platinum finger waves, her petit figure swathed in something sheer and aqua. I quickly snap her picture before heading to the bar to refresh my drink. And now would be a good as good a time as any to get to the main thrust of Size Queen @ Bump: On this night, after 10pm, your cocktails are doubled in size, so for the price of a single drink, you get a towering pint-full of your preferred poison. All this and no cover too! The Size Queen party is often paired with a movie release party or other type of event, just as tonight’s is highlighted by birthday festivities.
Speaking of birthdays, I ran into a casual acquaintance named Tracy, who was in attendance with local bartenders Louis and Dave. It was her birthday too! I was going to include a description of the correspondent astrological sign and what that means for folks like Cyoni and Tracy, but then I wouldn’t presume to do quite so good a job as a Walter Mercado or a Rob Brezny, so I leave it to you and Google to figure it out for yourselves.
Anyway, from there I accosted prominent scene fixtures Mariah Gary and Michael, who posed for a photograph along with Cyoni and a tall mustachio’d chap I’ve since spotted just about everywhere that’s anywhere. As with Mr. Izzo, I’m sure I’ll learn his place in the Philly pantheon in due time.
Shortly thereafter, we were treated to a surprise celebrity-impersonator appearance by none other than Miss Mess, Amy Winehouse herself, thick in all the right places and sporting a pair of PBR cans as earrings. She gave Cyoni a special performance and then zipped back to the bathroom, to powder her nose, I’m sure. I tried to stop her for a photograph, but she ignored me and flew past. Knowing her contentious relationship with the paparazzi, I understood her reticence all too well.
Around midnight, having about three double-vodka-sodas above my belt by that point, my notes grew chicken-scratchier and less insightful by the nanosecond. Fortunately it was then that I ran into my buddy Tom, who was there with his boyfriend Alex and his out-of-town guest Alec. Alec, for you single guys in the audience, is a confirmed bachelor who will be transferring in from one of our sister cities in early February, and he wanted to make sure I would pass along the message that he’s "available". Alex suggested I add "morally loose" for good measure. In any case, who better to assess the atmosphere than a fresh pair of eyes, courtesy of our resident alien? "I dunno what to say," Alec offered, "It’s nice. I like all the rainbow flags in the neighborhood, and I like that it’s close to the other bars. Is this the only place where people dress up?" Giving his question some thought, I came to the conclusion that, yes, Bump is pretty much the dressiest place in the â€˜hood. So there’s a tip for you: while most of the other gay bars have a decidedly casual vibe, the overwhelming majority of the crowd at Bump is of the tailored, snazzy variety. Take that for what it’s worth and plan accordingly.
I asked Tom if he came out for the Thursday party or for this specific occasion. He shared with me that Carl Michaels is his favorite local DJ, and the Size Queen drink special holds its appeal as well. Taking a moment to survey the packed venue, I could see that both the music and the libations were indeed popular with this crowd.
My verdict? Although it is a total 360 from the beery, sweat-drenched good-timing at Bob & Barbara’s drag night, Bump’s Thursdays offer an opportunity to preen one’s feathers and pass the evening in a distinctly metropolitan setting, without dropping metropolitan dollars. And this much I can say for certain: Perched on stage, flanked by chiseled go-go boys and at the receiving end of a gorgeous candle-lit birthday cake, Miss Cyoni certainly seemed to be enjoying herself immensely on this, her special day.
See photos from Cynoi’s Birthday at Size Queen Thursday