Heather Dockray

Articles by

Heather Dockray

Heather Dockray is a writer-storyteller-sometimes-performer who lives in Brooklyn, New York. She's a regular contributor to Uproxx Media and loves talking about film, comedy, and BDSM dungeons in Park Slope. The proud owner of two vacuum cleaners, Heather enjoys showing up late, then apologizing. You can find more of Heather's work at heatherdockray.com or follow her on Twitter @wear_a_helmet.

06/11/15 9:30am
Children doing what children do best: watching TV. (Photo via Facebook)

In The Wolfpack, the Angulo boys bring new meaning to TV dinner. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Every once in a while, a great story comes by and smacks you in the face. For Crystal Moselle, that happened just a few years ago on First Avenue, when a group of six young boys with Rapunzel-length hair ran right past her. Crystal, blessed with a healthy lack of boundaries, went up to the boys and started asking them questions. She discovered a couple of interesting facts—the boys loved movies, were interested in making their own—before one of them casually revealed that oh yeah, all six of them had spent the past 20 years of their lives locked in a tiny NYCHA apartment with over 1,000 DVDs, a disabled sister, and an oppressive Hare Krishna rock star dad. What was her favorite movie?

Needless to say, lifelong incarceration is “kind of” a dramatic reveal, so Moselle followed up, and kept listening. Years later, out came Wolfpack, the director’s 90-minute investigation into the lives of the Angulo boys. You simply don’t get a better premise than Wolfpack, because if there’s one thing our culture loves, it’s children-in-home-prison stories. Remember 1987’s Flowers in the Attic? (Please tell me you don’t. It’s atrocious.) Or seasons 1-1 million of  Law & Order SVU? Wolfpack is the latest iteration of a genre we are all ashamed to admit that we love, even as we wonder—why the hell do we like it? (more…)

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06/10/15 9:25am
Hot Rabbit in all of its Hot Rabbit glory. (Photo by Maro Hagopian)

Hot Rabbit in all of its Hot Rabbit glory. (Photo by Maro Hagopian)

Only two years ago, Marty Markowitz dubbed Brooklyn “the lesbian capital of the Northeast.” While NYC Pride might get more attention, Brooklyn Pride has surged ahead in recent years, with a fantastic selection of film screenings, storytelling nights, and actually great parties with actually great music (that don’t cost a hundred dollars). There’s even a Pride run to celebrate people who want to celebrate queerness via exercise. God bless them. Check out the list below for the best of Brooklyn Pride this week. (more…)

06/04/15 11:34am
Image via Facebook

Labradoodles, always and forever. Photo: The Metagame

Disclosure: I’ve never won Apples to Apples. And I don’t really love Cards Against Humanity, either. It’s a game that once included the charming card “Passable Transvestites,” and gives sometimes-terrible people the delusion that they’re funny. I remember once losing a game to an annoying guy whose personality could be best described as “Office Max File Cabinet.” “Neneer-neneer-neneer,” he gloated to me afterwards, a grown man of 35. All this is to say: I was terrified of playing The Metagame, a game whose structure is fundamentally similar to ‘Cards,’ and then overjoyed to find its brain and its bones, fundamentally better.

The Metagame, which was released on Amazon and for free download about a month ago, was designed by Colleen Macklin, John Sharp, and Eric Zimmerman, founders of a Brooklyn-based game collective called Local No. 12. The prominent game designers describe their creation, which came to life after two Kickstarter campaigns, as a “social card game about art, design, entertainment and culture.” Because talking about rules for games has always been boring, I’ll keep my explanation short. Metagame gives you two sets of cards: opinion cards and culture cards. Opinion cards range take the form of big questions—“Which gets more action?”—to bizarre fill-in-the-blanks: “If this were an animal, it would be a ____.” Similar to Apples, the game is opinion-based. Though there are a dozen different ways to play The Metagame (more on that later), each version is similar: pick the culture card that best matches the opinion card, and let your dumb friends be the judge. (more…)

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05/22/15 10:00am
Image courtesy of the author

The Samurai at the bar. Photo: Heather Dockray

Back when I lived in Bed-Stuy just three years ago, there weren’t too many bars to choose from. Over on Franklin, we had Tip-Top, a lovely neighborhood dive bar that I’m quite sure gave me bronchitis. On Nostrand, there was Vodou, and on Bedford, Larry’s Liquid Love, a bar I’m a deeply saddened to report I never once visited (we’re all human, we all make mistakes). That’s why I was especially excited to see Bed-Vyne Cocktail Lounge open next door to Royal Rib House (my favorite place in New York to pick up dripping ribs in a Styrofoam container). Sure, ‘rib house’ and ‘cocktail lounge’ might make for strange bedfellows, but Bed-Vyne fits seamlessly into its surrounding neighborhood.

Owner Rotimi Akinnuoye, who owns Bed-Vyne Brew and Bed-Vyne Wine, wanted to create a space that would meet the demands of its community. “We opened Bed-Vyne Brew in 2013 after the wine shop because people in the neighborhood said they wanted a place to hang out,” Akinnuoye told DNAinfo. “Then they said they wanted mixed drinks, and when people tell you want they want, you have to listen.” (more…)

05/13/15 2:26pm
A screening of "Paris is Burning" sparked a heated debate on Facebook when the ballroom community the film represents was not invited to present it. Image: Mirimax

A screening of ‘Paris is Burning’ sparked a heated debate on Facebook when readers learned that members from the ballroom community the film represents would not be presenting. Image: Miramax

As of today, over 7,000 people have RSVP’d yes for Celebrate Brooklyn’s screening of Paris is Burning, the famous documentary that explored ball culture in 1980’s New York. By comparison, only 1,384 people have RSVP’d for Krosfyah, the celebration’s second most attended event, and just 179 people have accepted invitations for Lucinda Williams. Normally, this would be cause for Celebrate Brooklyn to celebrate itself, but over this past weekend, their Facebook page exploded in anger. While Paris is Burning examines ball culture produced by Trans /Queer People  of Color (TQPOC), all of the presenters listed on the bill for that night–including director Jennie Livingston and DJ JD Samson–were white. None were from the Ballroom community. (more…)

05/05/15 9:00am
Photo by Mindy Tucker

Comedian Sue Smith. Photo: Mindy Tucker

It’s hard to admit, but I first discovered Sue Smith via a listicle. Go to Smith’s Twitter page and it reads: “One of the 10 Funniest Women in New York, according to Time Out New York. My mom disagrees.” While listicles often say little and mean less (sorry, Buzzfeed, I respectfully disagree with your “Cat Vacuuming” rankings), I was glad it pointed me her way. Smith’s debut EP, Slutty Pretzel, which is out today, (sample here) is a reflective and hilarious take on some of the most pressing political issues of our time: eating at 7-Eleven, watching House Hunters, “handsome washing machines.”

It’s her Brooklyn-based material that made my Australian grandma laugh in the car (my grandma has excellent taste, so be cool, reader). And while some of Smith’s content centers around commonly disparaged “women’s issues” (you may have seen her running around McCarren park with a diva cup), she’s refreshingly unapologetic about it. Listening to the album, and watching her perform, you get the sense that she actually cares about the material she writes. It’s rarer than you think. Not too long ago, I went to a comedy show where some guy presented a 10-minute set called ‘The Encyclopedia of My Farts” (Surprise! It was not good).

You can catch Smith every Tuesday night at Amazingtown,  every month heckling House Hunters, or hosting her podcast “Tits and Giggles,” featuring exclusively female comedians. You can also order her E.P. right here, and then on Thursday, May 7, join her and fellow comedians Sara Benincasa, Eliot Glazer, and others to celebrate its release at Over the Eight at 8pm.

I recently spoke with the performer and comedian about the world of HGTV. (more…)

04/10/15 10:00am

Hot Rabbit is a longstanding party that frequents Monster every Friday, Lovegun on Tuesdays, and monthly at Lot 45. Photo: Maro Hagopian


In “New York’s Lesbian Bars Are Disappearing,” Heather Dockray did the math on the number of lesbian bars left in New York and came up with a grand total of four. But while bars are on the decline, the number of parties for queer women remains steady–if you know where to go. This list is a useful start. For information on other events, make sure to check out Project Q: Events for Queer Women on Facebook. (more…)

04/10/15 9:14am

Lola RocknRolla and her band Megababe at Meow Mix bar, late nineties. Photo: Santos J. Arce

Jerre Kalbas is a lifelong New Yorker and a 97-year-old lesbian. When I tell her that there are only four remaining lesbian bars in New York, she literally drops her rice cake. “Four?” she asks. “That’s terrible. When I was growing up, there were so many.” I feel bad telling Jerre this news. I worry that my generation disappoints her. I want her to finish her rice cake.

Jerre was born in 1918, and was active during the 1940s, a time when “drinks were 10 cents” and police conducted raids on New York’s LGBT bars. I was born in 1983, and am active at a time when “Jell-o shots are $10,” and more women identify as queer than ever before. Despite this fact, there are currently only four active lesbian bars left in New York —Henrietta Hudson, The Cubbyhole, Ginger’s Bar, and Bum-Bum Bar. That leaves just two jukeboxes and eight public bathrooms for all of New York’s barhopping lesbians. Philadelphia’s last lesbian bar just died, as did DC’s, and San Francisco’s is on its way out. At just four bars, New York now has the most lesbian bars of anywhere in the country.

While New York is home to many more men’s bars than women’s, the decline has been felt by gay men as well. I estimate there are around 53 remaining queer bars total, in a city that just 30 years ago supported close to 86.  (This number comes from the Gayellow pages, which only includes published listings. The actual amount was very likely higher). That’s a 38% decline, despite a 16% city population increase. It’s even harder to pinpoint the number of women’s bars that used to exist, because some bars were run in basements, and no official statistics were kept. But anecdotal evidence is abundant, and the nationwide pattern is striking.

None of this is new news, and it’s nothing to celebrate. Imagine being the last four polar bears at the bottom of an endangered species list–it’s lonely. (more…)

03/30/15 2:36pm

A while back, I became friends with a young guy who biked around Brooklyn with a bird on his shoulder. For a guy who prized “open communication,” and didn’t own a smartphone (the bravery!), he never–not once–remembered to ask me a question. Still, I was jealous of the ease he seemed enjoy in life: his lack of concern for the future, the beautiful loft apartment he paid nothing for, the stunning girlfriend who liked him even with the bird. He was, down to the height, the spitting image of Jamie, Adam Driver’s character in Noam Baumbach’s While We’re Young. Jamie isn’t alone. Baumbach’s latest comedy is so razor-sharp, so perspicacious, that nearly all of us can spot someone we know–even if that person is ourselves.

“Isn’t it amazing that we can act like this and people will still be attracted to us?” Image: A24 Films

“Isn’t it amazing that we can act like this and people will still be attracted to us?” Image: A24 Films

While We’re Young tells the story of Cornelia (Naomi Watts) and Josh (Ben Stiller), a forty-something married couple from New York, busy watching all their Brooklyn friends give birth to high-maintenance babies. Despite all their stainless steel appliances and Macbook Pros, Josh and Cornelia’s relationship feels stagnant. Cornelia can’t physically conceive a baby, and Josh has been stuck working on the same documentary for a decade. It’s a New York Times Magazine problem for a Sunday Styles demographic, but Baumbach still–magically–allows us to feel empathy for them. It’s a testament both to his impeccable writing and my class status. (more…)

03/06/15 9:00am
One of two rooms in Jennifer’s dungeon. Photo: Heather Dockray

One of two rooms in Jennifer’s dungeon. Photo: Heather Dockray

When Jennifer P.’s roommate moved out earlier this year, the 24-year-old Florida native saw an opportunity. While many people in her situation might choose to get a new roommate, Jennifer, who now had a full house at her complete disposal, decided to go a different route. In the front room of her apartment, she did something she had always dreamed about doing: She built her own dungeon devoted to bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (better known as BDSM).

While living in Florida, Jennifer (whose name has been changed to protect her privacy) had Google searched “How to make money” and landed on a page about BDSM dungeons. She began reading about the business and started operating one part-time. Without a house to call her own, though, her dungeon struggled to turn a profit. Then she moved to Brooklyn, and temporarily gave up the business. But with her roommate now gone—and 1,750 square feet at her disposal—Jennifer decided to capitalize on the opportunity and re-open shop. At the time, she was paying $1,800 a month in rent for a three-bedroom duplex in Park Slope, and she didn’t have a regular source of income.

BDSM dungeons might seem out of place in the Slope—at the local coffee shop where we mostly spoke about dungeons over granola, multiple people kept turning around to stare—but Jennifer assured me that hers is not an anomaly here in New York City where, as long as participants don’t have sexual intercourse, BDSM dungeons are legal. There are multiple clubs in Manhattan (Pandora’s Box and Paddles are the most notorious), and informal kink parties pop up throughout the city. As Jennifer explained it, dungeons like hers are a great opportunity for people looking to make money in the sex industry “without actually having sex.” (more…)

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