Although I often write about how I am not a huge fan of cabaret and torch songs, there are always exceptions to the rule, and Don't Tell Mama is one of them. But for me, it's not as much about the music genre as it is the memories, because it was one of the first places that I ever went that would be considered a gay venue...or close to a gay venue. It's actually mainstream, with a strong gay influence. But I was young; I wasn't ready for the novelties of a full fledged gay bar downtown...at the time.
And I found a sense of comfort there I hadn't experienced anywhere else. Don't Tell Mama is a sort of cabaret, restaurant, and entertainment destination in the theater district in Manhattan where some big name stars can show up at any time. It was one of the first places where I ever saw gay people acting openly as gay people. I was there more than once when celebrities came in just to watch the shows. In fact, in my Bad Boy Billionaire book, The Actor Learning to Love, I based one of the scenes on a place very similar to Don't Tell Mama because one of the main characters is a pianist/cabaret singer. I don't always base scenes in books on personal experiences. However, it seemed a shame not to write fiction about my own experiences at Don't Tell Mama at least once. There was one point when going to Don't Tell Mama actually became habit forming. A group of us would go there every weekend for over a year.
Established in 1982, don't tell mama is celebrating over 30 years as a world famous entertainment destination. Located on renowned Restaurant Row in the heart of New York’s theater district, don't tell mama is one-of-a-kind - a veritable nightlife mall with four individual spaces: a piano bar, a restaurant and 2 separate cabaret showrooms: a cineplex of cabaret!
Countless luminaries have come through our doors such as Liza Minnelli, Paul Newman, Joan Rivers, Bette Midler, Rosie O'Donnell, Chita Rivera, Kathy Griffin, Audra MacDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Mario Cantone, & Cuba Gooding Jr., to name but a few!
Even though I'm only an hour from NY, I haven't been there in a long time, but I'm thinking this summer might be perfect to revisit an old haunt. And if you are in the NYC area this summer for an event or a conference, I would highly suggest checking out Don't Tell Mama. It's one of the few remaining spots in the theater district from the old days.
There's also one on the west coast, but I've never been there.