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A knight on the town

for The Brooklyn Paper
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In a recent television interview in Singapore, Sir Ian McKellen, who’s currently starring in both “King Lear” and “The Seagull” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, shocked his interviewer with the revelation that he was on the prowl for local gay bars.

In Singapore such things are often not spoken about, but in Brooklyn, McKellan will find plenty of local establishments ready, willing and able to satisfy his cravings for a post-show whisky or conversation. To welcome the 68-year-old actor and gay rights activist to the borough, GO Brooklyn offers our own guide to the best gay bars in the area.

Cattyshack

This two-level lesbian hangout is great for gay guys who love their female friends — so round up Cordelia and Regan (we would suggest leaving Goneril at home) and hit the town. Guys hang out here almost every night, but Wednesday’s “Oink” party is the biggest draw of the week for all genders. DJ S. Pony keeps the crowd dancing and there are free hot dogs and a karaoke contest to boot — but professionals are probably prohibited from winning the $50 grand prize. Sorry, Sir Ian.

Cyn Lounge

This local bar has a new music night charmingly called “QBR” (for queers, beers and rears) every Thursday, presented by Andrew Martini (a member of the punk rock band Limpwrist) and a chap called Sir Loins. The focus here is on punk and indie music. “The party is a pretty mixed crowd, more local hipster homos and artists,” Loins said. So if the Royal Shakespeare Company isn’t experimental enough for you, try this on for size.

Excelsior

Are you so over the scene and looking to meet a nice guy? This is the spot. Sure, weekends are as crowded as New York Sports Club on Ninth Street, but Mondays and Tuesdays find the brainy and the brawny crowded around the Scrabble board — in the warmer months outside on the patio — or watching the foot traffic on Fifth Avenue. But neighborhood chatter, friendly bartenders and a killer jukebox are the real attractions here.

Metropolitan

If McKellen, who played Gandolf in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, is looking for Frodo and his pals, Metropolitan wouldn’t be a bad spot to start. Almost everyone, regardless of gender, in Williamsburg’s first and most popular gay bar has that elfin hipster, lost-in-the-Shire look about him. And while nobody we’ve met there is looking for a ring — not legal in New York State, anyway! — the $1 PBR cans on Monday nights are just as precious. Through September, there is a weekly barbeque on the club’s gigantic back porch, and once it cools down, local lads and lasses are always crowded around the pool table or on the dance floor.

Sugarland

The newest addition to the borough’s gay scene, Sugarland opened just a few weeks ago in the space that once housed Capone’s, a bar-pizzeria hybrid that never quite took off. Momentum is still growing here, but Wednesday nights are already the hottest in Billyburg; a party called TuffLove heats up at 10 pm and draws a serious crowd. There’s no cover, and anyone willing to check his pants at the door is rewarded with a free drink. Since McKellen is dropping his drawers nightly in “Lear,” perhaps he’ll feel at home.

Updated 12:33 am, July 30, 2014
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