Chicago’s Boystown was voted the globe’s most incomparable neighborhood last year.
Out Traveler readers chose Chicago’s gay ghetto over those of Madrid, New York and San Francisco.
We love what we’ve experienced so far of Chicago’s Boystown, but to get the gay skinny on the Windy City we thought we’d get an insider’s opinion. Who better to ask than a man who’s lived in Boystown for the past 20 years, who is writing a gay-themed book series named after his neighborhood?
Jake Biondi, the creative force behind the Boystown literary series, is a die-hard, born and bred Chi-town advocate. He’s only lived outside Chicago four years of his life, and says though Boystown is becoming ‘a little more straight’, the neighborhood is still ‘vibrant and diverse’ as ever.
So what it is about Chicago’s gay ghetto that makes it so amazing? ‘For me: it’s really “neighborhoody,”’ says Biondi,
‘You’ve got a good portion of people that live here. For them, it’s not just a place to play, it’s a place to live. That translates into people having a deeper sense of involvement and being more vocal. People have opinions all across the board. The neighborhood is social, but also very historical. Soon they’re putting up an outdoor museum on Halston Street with historical facts and gay people throughout history.’
Biondi’s love for his home hood of the past two decades has inspired him to write a series titled Boystown. In his series, Biondi explores some universal issues: ‘People dealing with their past, the coming out process, awful ex-boyfriends you can’t seem to get away from. From relationship to family issues, there’s not a lot of politics but the characters reflect the diversity of the neighborhood.’
Biondi has even cast real-life actors and models to pose as some of the characters, in hopes the series will be taken from book pages to the TV screen in the future.
Actor and model Aaron Savvy (who appears on the book’s cover as the character of Cole) said: ‘It is an honor to be working with Jake Biondi. I am excited to be on this journey and can’t wait to bring the character of Cole to life by playing him in the Boystown television series in the near future.’
Actor DeMarco Majors (pictured in this article) said: ‘The vision for this particular series is a work of art. It is racially diverse, and sexy! Very sexy. You won’t believe some of the topics and each episode leaves you hanging on by the edge of your seat.
Following his love of Charles Dickens, Biondi has written his gay-based stories in installments, each ending in a dramatic cliffhanger. The first Boystown book published November of last year included installments one through 10, and book two coming out this April will publish installments 11-20. The Boystown series is available online at Amazon.com, and for more photos and updates visit Jake Biondi’s website.
For the day you’re ready to visit what has been voted the world’s best gay city, here are Biondi’s favorite places in Chicago.
Favorite gay bar – That’s a tough one… there are so many and they all have different vibes. Can’t beat showtunes night and comedy night at Sidetrack, and I also enjoy the new bars Progress and Replay.
Favorite any bar – That’s easy…ROCKS Lakeview.
Favorite dance floor – If you saw my attempts at dancing, you’d understand why I have no answer for this one!
Favorite tourist sight – Architectural boat cruises along the Chicago River.
Favorite meal – Anything from Ristorante Dinotto – they are the best.
Favorite getaway – In the Chicago area? Saugatuck, Michigan. In the country and beyond? Too many to list here!
Favorite breakfast – Brunch at Taverna 750.
Favorite park – Millennium Park but the soon-to-be-open Maggie Daley Park looks like it will be pretty fabulous.
Favorite café – There are so many. Dinotto is at the top. In Boystown, the new mEAT is really fun and Angelina is a great place that’s been around forever.
Favorite hotel – The Witt. I love their rooftop lounge The Roof.
Favorite festival – North Halsted Market Days
Favorite bike ride – anywhere along the lakefront
Favorite long walk – again, anywhere along Lake Michigan
Favorite photo-op – ‘The Ledge’ at the top of Willis Tower or with friends anywhere along Halsted Street
Favorite museum – The Shedd Aquarium
Favorite beach – Oak Street (great people watching)
Favorite place for a first date – That depends on the person I’m having the date with
Favorite shopping street – Michigan Avenue, especially at Christmas time…it’s not called The Magnificent Mile for nothing
Favorite food store – Mariano’s
Favorite art gallery – The Art Institute of Chicago
Favorite view – Standing at Diversey Harbor looking south onto Chicago’s beautiful skyline
Favorite public art – Cloudgate (aka The Bean) and Shakespeare’s statue in Lincoln Park
Favorite thing in the city that defies categorization – ‘The hole’ that is the foundation of the infamous Chicago Spire, which may still be built and would become the world’s tallest residential building
Favorite time of year in Chicago – believe it or not, December!! There is no place better to celebrate the Christmas season than Chicago.
Favorite hidden treasures – Elixir martini bar, North Pond Café