In Issue 24
Every time I think about Provincetown, or P-town as everyone calls it, I think of life as it should be. On any given summer day you will see walking down Commercial Street two guys walking hand in hand, next to an elderly straight couple, next to a gaggle of lesbians, next to a mom and dad with three kids next to a bunch of teenagers and everyone getting along. Live and let live, but have a damn good time while you are doing it. Ptown is one of the most picturesque towns on the east coast and one of the gay traveler’s favorite hot spots. If you want a true New England, gay, relaxing, historic experience, you have found the place.
The two easiest ways to get to Ptown are flying or the ferry. Most popular is to take the ferry from Boston. There is the high-speed ferry, taking only 90 minutes, while the regular ferry takes 3 hours. Cape Air has direct service from Boston’s Logan Airport. You can also take a bus from Boston or drive yourself there. However, having a car can be a hassle. You really don’t need one because everything is walkable or you can rent a bike.
There are a plethora of guesthouses and hotels to choose from in town, from gay only to gay friendly, to mostly straight. Ten to fifteen years ago, most of Ptown accommodations were mostly modest gay guesthouses with cheap bare bones rooms. Nowadays it has upwards of 20 upscale inns with rates to match. Some of the better known hotel includes the Boat Slip, the Crown and Anchor and my personal favorite, the Prince Albert. But you don’t have to have one to stay there. A convenient room-finder on Provincetown.com will help find accommodations by date and price-range for your stay. In most cases during the “season,” which is end of June to beginning of September, B&B’s will have minimum stays of 5 or 7 nights. If you’re looking for a shorter visit of just a couple nights, wait until a week before you go and try the gay chamber’s website, Ptown.org. The last-minute availability button generally has many reservation options for fewer nights. Most of the guest houses and hotels include breakfast, anywhere from a continental to a full breakfast. Make sure to ask when booking. If breakfast is not included or you want to go out, try the Devon’s on the East, Café Heaven to the West or the Post Office Café in the middle of it all.
If it’s a beach day there are 2 choices. While there is a beach in town on the bayside, called Town Beach (I know, original), it’s rather narrow and better for strolling (or trolling) than laying out. Race Point and Herring Cove are your ocean beaches. Race Point is a nice mix of people both gay and straight, while Herring cove has more of a separation, so go left for the gay section. Nudity is not allowed but tolerated. Also the dunes around Herring Cove can get crowded at times for no apparent reason. Ok, there is a reason, but keep in mind that you’re in a National Park, and we all know that really belongs in that room you’re paying for anyway! If the weather is not cooperating, head down Commercial Street to check the shops and art galleries.
Rain or shine everyone starts heading to the Boat Slip hotel at 4:00 pm for tea dance, but everyone being gay, it doesn’t get going until around 5. At 7:00 when the dance ends, the parade starts. A parade of all the boys, men and a smattering of gals, empty out of the party walking down the street to either a disco nap, dinner or the Atlantic House, (or A-House), to continue the party. It is 30 minutes of pure entertainment.
P-town is home to many great restaurant choices, such as Fanizzi’s and The Mews to the East, the Red Inn, Lorraine’s and Victor’s to the West and the old faithful Front Street, Ross’ Grill, and the Central House in town. Alternatives are also available at the upscale buffet dining at Frappo66 in the Art House.
After dinner, save room for dessert and some laughs, as Ptown offers up some of the best entertainment around with 20 shows nightly in the high season. Regulars include Varla Jean Merman, Miss Richfield 1981, Jackie Beat, Dina Martina, Lea Delaria, Judy Gold and the must-see Monday night insanity of Ryan Landry’s Show Girls. Also look for special guest appearances by Miss Co Co Peru, the Kinsey Sicks and Leslie Jordan.
Bars are aplenty in Ptown, so you won’t need to stand in a line to get in anywhere. The Crown and Anchor has three bars, which include a video dance bar, a large disco with various themes and the ever-beloved Vault, which is the hangout for the bears, leather and uniform crowd. Also fun is the Porch Bar at the Gifford House, the Monkey Bar on Commercial St, and Vixen to the East, for a more lesbian crowd.
The Bars in P-Town close at 1am, then everyone heads to Spiritus Pizza for the unofficial after party. You can’t talk about PTown with out mentioning Spiritus Pizza; it is in the center of town and probably the busiest establishment in the town. It is the spot where literally hundreds gather to grab a late night snack, chat with friends and check out the eye candy.
Ptown also is home to many festivals and events during the summer, these include: The International Film Festival, June 17-21, July 4th Independence Parties, Bear Week July 11-18, Girl Splash July 22-26, Family Week Aug 1-8, Carnival Week Aug 9-15 and the 5th annual Jazz Festival Aug 14-16. Independence Weekend is always packed and known for the big parties and the famous DJ’s. Carnival Week is known for the Parade, always on the Thursday. Get ready to head back to 1969, for this year’s theme is “Summer of Love – Peace, Love and Go-Go boots.
No matter what you like or what you like to do on vacation, from the beaches to shopping, dinning to drag queens, relaxing to dancing, Ptown has something for you. And it’s really cute!
Malcolm Nietzey is a regular contributor to Hotspots Magazine and is also the cruise director/MC of Atlantis Cruises.