What Recession? Out Magazine’s Publisher Insists Gays Are Still Spending

Out magazine threw its annual "Out 100" fete at Gotham Hall in midtown on Friday, Nov. 14, an event that felt more intimate than in previous years: fewer high-wattage luminaries and an altogether understated sensibility.

And, indeed, there was some bad mojo in the air. Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that prohibits gay marriage, had passed 10 days earlier. And you couldn’t help but feel that Out–which was sold earlier this year for pennies to the owners of the hereTV! network–might be throwing its last big party that every gay boy from Chelsea to Bushwick tries to get on the list for.

But Joe Landry, the magazine’s publisher, insisted everything was just dandy.

"We had our best quarter in the fourth quarter," said Mr. Landry, before adding that his audience is "still" spending lots of money.

Others were less optimistic. "We haven’t hit the tail end of this," said David Hauslaib, the 25-year-old gay blogger whose mini-empire includes Jossip and Queerty.

Even if it was the last of its kind, it was packed. Nick Denton, the Gawker Media mogul, spent most of his time with his boyfriend in the VIP section. WWD‘s Jacob Bernstein roamed the room, and Out‘s exhausted editor Aaron Hicklin was working the room, generously handing out black VIP bracelets to anyone he recognized. There were gaggles of Project Runway contestants (hi, Jack Mackenroth and Suede!) and the recently dropped Survivor contestant Charlie Herschel who was telling everyone about his overburdened TV schedule (enjoy it while it lasts, Charlie!) and how some other contestants had a less than flattering nickname for him on the show (we wouldn’t want to be called Fag, either, honey).

And some things proved immutable–like the uniform donned by most of the male partyers (dark suit, no tie, open collar). Other changes were welcome: The saccharine ubiquity of champagne at last year’s event gave way to smart Absolut vodka cocktails, but you were limited to just that.

The Out 100 hands out awards and they went out to stars like Xanadu star Cheyenne Jackson, singer Katy Perry and Milk director Gus Van Sant.

Mr. Jackson even gave everyone an assignment! As he got his award, he told the crowd to remember the big gay marriage protest that would take place on the steps of City Hall the next day.

"Right, like we’ll be up before 1:30," sniffed one attendee near us.

The one time everyone shut up during the night went out during the Nona Hendryx, Sarah Dash, and Patti LaBelle performance; the 60s trio was performing on stage together for the first time 30 years.

But alas, one person we couldn’t find was actor James Franco, the recent Out cover boy and definitely the boldest-face name on the invite list (and we even checked the bathroom).

There was something to make up for that, however. As party guests made their way out the doors, they were treated to a 50-pound survival gay hanbag. Inside we found DVDs of Samantha Who?, a Pink CD, a Patti LaBelle CD, a Lady GaGa CD, a tote bag, a coffee mug, cologne, an AIDS awareness T-shirt, a pair of 2(x)ist briefs (large!!), toothpaste, KY-jelly and condoms.

What Recession? Out Magazine’s Publisher Insists Gays Are Still Spending