Parting Shots: Jeffrey James Keyes’ New York

By @ 04/21/14 in Correspondent, Gay travel, Gay travel magazine, Jeffrey James Keyes, ManAboutWorld, New York, Parting Shots, Travel

Photo: Jeffrey James Keyes

Our Global Correspondent Jeffrey James Keyes moved to New York the moment he turned 18 and never looked back. Sixteen years later, he is a playwright, travel writer, and photographer currently living in the Big Apple. He currently contributes to ManAboutWorld, Metrosource Magazine, Instinct, The Luminesce, Queerty, and GayCities and has had plays developed and produced in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. We spoke to him about his passion for travel, and we selected his journeys as this month’s Parting Shots in our magazine. Here’s the expanded story and more of his photos.

1. Why do you love to travel?

Travel was never an option when I was growing up. The furthest trip I took when I was a child was to my family’s farm near Ashland in Northern Wisconsin. In high school I was able to participate in a foreign exchange program and studied in Offenbach, Germany. Upon returning from Europe I became stir crazy and saved every penny so I would be able to travel and see the world. I applied for every grant and program, even working with the church by teaching vacation Bible school in the Caribbean and building orphanage floors in the mountains of Guatemala. I’ve grown to feel a bit like Juliette Binoche in the film Chocolat, whenever I am in one place for too long I feel the need to hop on a plane and immerse myself into another world. Unlike Binoche in the film, I’ve set my anchor down in New York City and call it my home. Being able to travel, write about my adventures, and share my pictures through my editorial work is an extraordinary opportunity. Through working in LGBT media I’m able to share information about safe and welcoming destinations and offer advice as to how to curate a much-needed vacation. I share the stories of the people I encounter and pass on something.

2. How far in advance do you plan your trips?

I do a great deal of research prior to leaving for a trip and gather as much information as I can so I can be self-sufficient with maps and resources upon arrival. I travel with groups frequently so I’ve grown accustomed to having a full itinerary. When I travel alone or with my partner, I try to reserve one or two activities each day to keep us on our toes and on somewhat of a schedule. It’s important to make reservations like this a week or two prior to landing in a destination. This sort of advanced planning saves time that would otherwise be spent making scheduling decisions and waiting in ticketing lines, and allows for daily benchmarks with plenty of time for adventure and exploration.

3. Who do you travel with?

I love traveling with friends, family, groups of writers, individually, and my partner Chris. I often give myself specific “photography excursions” while traveling, which is sort of like taking myself on a date where I investigate a destination. I’m lucky to live in a city like NYC where there is plenty of weird and extraordinary locations and subjects to warrant continual photography excursions across the five boroughs.

4. What has surprised you about travel?

I’m an extremely open and crunchy granola sort of guy and I’m continually surprised by how open and receptive people are regardless of where I am. I’m a native English speaker, can get by in German, and understand some “restaurant Spanish” and yet I’m always able to find a way to communicate with people while traveling. I always have a moment where I feel as if the majority of people are going to hate me or be curt because I’m unable to speak their language but this is rare … even in Paris. I thrive on being out of my element yet always find people to be open, kind, helpful, and hospitable even when I have that unmistakable lost American look on my face.

5. What do you know now that you wish you knew before your first trip?

There is a preconceived notion that New Yorkers are angry, mean, or difficult. Avoid the tourist traps, traditional rush hours, and be conscious of people in busy locations (they need to get to work!) and you will have a wonderful trip. Tip generously, walk instead of taking a cab, and if you’re going to stop and look up be sure that you’re off to the side and out of the way.

6. Favorite New York City moment was …

I have too many favorite moments of my sixteen years of living in New York. I love the big annual events like Broadway Bares and New York Pride but sometimes purely spontaneous nights out are the most extraordinary. Celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA in front of the Stonewall with Edith Windsor and Christine Quinn was a magical moment, as was every Pride Parade I’ve walked in and photographed. There was one particular night in the midst of one of our wild recent NYC blizzards when I happened to be passing through Times Square as a snowball fight broke out on Duffy Square.

7. Best time to go…

I love New York City in mid-September after Fashion Week: The weather is perfect, there is less congestion in the streets, children are back in schools, and the city is calm and relatively peaceful. There’s no need for reservations in most restaurants, everything appears to be on sale, and it’s easy to get theater tickets.

8. Gay factor

NYC is the gay mecca of the East Coast. Chelsea is still alive and kicking but there are plenty of other “gayborhoods” to explore. There’s plenty to see and do in Hells Kitchen, Soho, Harlem, Williamsburg, and even Long Island City!

Exclusive photos

Soho Sunset: I’m always impressed with how ominous the rooftop water towers appear as the sun rolls over the Hudson on it’s daily trip to the west. The width of Houston Street make it an incredible landscape to capture sweeping views of Manhattan just before night falls.


The Flat Iron Building


Rootstein Models: I’ve spent years passing by and fawning over the windows at Rootstein, the world’s leading Mannequin Design Company, and jumped at the invitation to take pictures of the mannequins from inside the showroom. Not everyone has the opportunity to venture inside of Rootstein, but stopping and taking a peek at the window display on 19th Street is always sublime.


Backstage at Broadway Bares: 

A select group of photographers are invited behind the scenes at Broadway Bares every year. This event, one of the largest charity organizations, has raised over $250 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States



Chris Harder of Cocky Boys:

Harder is at an event Hell’s Kitchen drag queen Paige Turner produces called “So You Think You Can Drag” at New World Stages.


Please share


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *