There’s food. There’s sex. There’s food and sex, and then there’s food, sex and a side of kink. The
latter dish seems like it would be the spiciest — but it’s not, at least not as served at La
Nouvelle Justine in New York City.
The idea began with Lucky Cheng’s, a restaurant that opened in New York’s East Village
several years ago with a brand-new gimmick: luscious Pan-Asian cuisine served by a cheerful staff of beautiful drag queens. It worked wonderfully — so wonderfully that there
are now branches in Miami and in New Orleans.
So when loyal denizens heard the Lucky Cheng owners were engaged in a new venture, there was
rapture in the air. The new idea: a restaurant with an S/M theme called La Nouvelle Justine, complete with dominatrices, a dungeon and a chef
who whips more than just cream. What could be better?
A lot could be better. Here’s the problem: Drag is fun, sexy, boisterous and accessible.
Everyone who has the requisite chutzpah looks good. With S/M, the rules are a lot more complicated.
And when you don’t know the rules, you feel at sea with no Dramamine.
The early buzz on Justine seemed all right. Michael Musto, New York’s downtown darling and
Village Voice gossip columnist, reported having a good time there, and described a tableful of
giggling secretaries and beefy guys taking pictures of each other getting spanked. So of course
gaggles of well-meaning customers showed up with cameras, ready to down a few fetish-christened
cocktails and whoop it up.
And there’s the rub. The staff of Justine, from Dawn (the manager, dubbed Mistress
Pre-Menstra by our group) to the dominatrix waitresses to the submissives that serve as bus-staff
(and even the floor-show participants) are so intent on proving that they work in a
restaurant, not a grody sex club, that they are missing several crucial elements, like a
sense of humor or genuine interest in S/M.
Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe some of the staff members are genuine fetishists. But the
spark, the passion that gives a good dominatrix the gleam in her eye as she gives a businesslike
snap to her rubber garter belt is conspicuously absent. The waitress gives a pinched, barely-patient
wide cat o’ nine tails
waitress for permission before snapping pictures, our first snap was met with a hostile