TripAdvisor review of the pool area of the Empress Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ

I received notice the other day from TripAdvisor that my review of the Broadway show Wicked now has had 559 viewers, four –FOUR! –of whom found it “helpful.” Therefore, in the spirit of helping gays and their allies choose their entertainments, I have reviewed the pool area of the Empress Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ. I will post the link as soon as The Man reviews my words.

Nice in a 1999 sort of way…

As the vast majority of our homosexual niche were raptured up to Provincetown for Bear Week, several Leftover friends and I took one of NJ Transit’s vintage throwback 1970s express trains down to Asbury Park. After about a 20 minute walk from the train station, the Empress Hotel’s curiously fonted sign beckoned us to continue across the vacant nether-lands between downtown Asbury Park and the beach.


We entered the resort through their restaurant, Tabú. Luckily we had already brunched –I have reservations about the food at a place named for practices, people, or things that cannot be discussed for any reason. It just makes you wonder what could possibly be in the jalapeño poppers that we can’t talk about. Is it actual poppers?

In the tradition of fine gay resorts everywhere, the pool area at the Empress was clearly last updated 15 years ago. This is not to slight the Empress. When I want a gay resort done up like it’s 2014, I’ll pull a Laurie Anderson and accidentally lock myself in my hyperbaric chamber, awakening in 2029.

But I came to the Empress for the pool, not for the odd glass block pillars that must’ve seemed such a good idea in 1999. And if I’m spending my hard-earned gay afternoon at the gay pool, I’m certainly not wasting valuable retina space on odd glass block pillars, as odd glass block pillars do not have butts. The pool deck was resplendent with the finest in package-enhancing swimwear available from Cherry Hill to Paramus. I felt like I was reliving the ballet scene from Top Secret if it were done in neon zebra print square-cuts. Yet, despite the in-your-face nature of their swimbriefs, everyone was quite affable. Maybe it was the homeopathic amounts of tropicalia that the four –FOUR! –potted palms and near-constant AC drip from the balconies above provided everyone, mellowing them out.

The best thing about the pool at the Empress is that there only were as many of the gays as there were lounge chairs. At many gay resorts –looking at you Provincetown Inn –crafty gays start placing Havaianas and towels on lounges at what must be 7am, forcing the rest of us to put their put their stuff behind a bee-soaked trash can. There was so much extra space in the pool that I could frolick with the abandon for which my people are so renown. The only instance of Unplanned Human Contact (UHC) that befell me was the one time I almost got hit by a professional-grade hula hoop being wielded by a swinger-wife in porn pumps the shade of Windex. Besides her, there was so much room that I went the entire afternoon without having a single crowd-based panic attack. This is a record.

Helping ensure this panic-free afternoon was a near-constant stream of a piña-colada-ish frozen drinks. I say “near-constant” because our cocktail waiter seemed less interested in keeping a bear hydrated than canoodling with prettier patrons bent on feeling his tiny, tiny abs. Luckily, the proper bartender had no problem slinging drinks for someone who might not actually be his type.

Is it an infinity pool on Mykonos overlooking the Aegean? No, but there’s an abandoned carousel you can see from the upper deck. Will the music disavow you of the notion that you should shove a rusty ice-pick in your ear to escape the unce-unce-unce? No, but I can’t hear underwater. Was it good idea to walk barefoot into the bathroom when I went to change? No, probably not; I’m a tad itchy now.

Did I have a great time, and will I be back? Yes.


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