5. Alexander Hamilton United States Customs House
Using a connection, Ned tries to speak to the former Mayor Ed Koch (someone always suspected of being a closeted homosexual). The Mayor’s security (aware of who Ned Weeks is) forcefully escorts him away from the mayor and out of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House, home to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. The Mayor and his assistant, both believed to be closeted, scurry away from being seen with Ned in a display of cowardice and ignorance which left the gay community feeling isolated, with their pleas for help ignored by their own city’s government.
The Museum was also featured in a much less serious film, Wes Andersen’s The Royal Tenenbaums.
6. Killarney Rose
Ned and closeted Wall Street broker and President of the GMHC Bruce Niles (Taylor Kitsch) are having a few drinks at the Killarney Rose bar in the Financial District. Niles has already lost one lover to the virus, and now is going to lose another as his current boyfriend has also caught it. Ned tries to offer some encouragement, but ends up having to drag Bruce to his home. The Killarney has been in business for the last couple of decades with an impossible to predict happy hour. The only way patrons at this bar/restaurant know when happy hour begins and ends is when the bartender sounds a bell.
7. Paradise Garage
The Paradise Garage, formerly located on 84 King Street, is remembered as a prominent location in the history of Dance and Pop music and was a popular nightclub for the city’s gay community. Owned by Michael Brody, it is known as the blueprint for the modern dance club. Legendary DJ Larry Levan made his name here, experimenting with drum machines and synthesizers. The nightclub sold no alcohol and because it was a private establishment, people were interviewed beforehand to gain entry. While the club was not exclusively for the gay community, Saturday night crowds were predominantly gay.
Famous performers include Salsa star Willie Colon, the late Whitney Houston, NYC pop icon Cindy Lauper, freestyle stars Lisa Lisa and The Cult Jam and one of the biggest NYC music stars in history, Madonna, filmed the video for her debut single Somebody at the nightclub.
The Garage was the location for the first ever event thrown by the GMHC. On April 8th 1982, they raised more money for AIDS awareness than any other gay organization in NYC. The nightclub closed down in 1987, drawing 14,000 people to its final two day non-stop dance party. Today, the legacy of the Garage continues to live on in tribute parties, which all are events to spread AIDS awareness.
8. Ned & Felix’s Apartment
During the course of the film, Ned and Felix fall in love, with Ned asking Felix to move in with him after the fundraiser at the Paradise Garage. With love comes tragedy, as Felix becomes infected with the AIDS virus. Ned, desperate to save the love of his life, fights harder, all the while supporting his boyfriend who looks sicker and sicker as the film progresses. Once Felix is gone, Ned calls his only friend left at the GMHC, Tommy Boatright, played by The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons. The inspiration for the character comes from real life activist Rodger Macfarlane, who began as a volunteer for the GMHC and would later set up the advocacy groups ACT UP and Broadway Cares.
His role in the film is crucial for he speaks (in voice-over) of a routine he has picked up. When he receives the news of another friend passing, he take their name out of a Rolodex and places it among a pile of other names that he has already collected. By the time he plucks Felix’s name out, he already has two stacks of names, indicating the amount of people in his community Tommy has lost.
To contact the author of this piece, contact him @TatteredFedora