Meet Nick Sterling, the sexy Black Party promoter who makes sure everything about it is NSFW

South Harlem resident Nick Sterling, 34, has been one of the organizers of The Black Party for the past decade. On April 21st, Nick will join party boys from around the world in Brooklyn for PIGTOPIA, this year’s Black Party.

In anticipation of the NSFW event that began 39 years ago in New York, we talked to Nick about the best NYC shops for leather gear, where to pre-party before the wild night, and why this is a good party for “lost boys.”

Here’s a rundown of what to expect from the NSFW event that’s got us gearing up for leather and body paint.

What can party-goers expect at The Black Party?

Take a breath before you enter. Expect an entirely immersive experience where every sense is stimulated and some are occasionally overloaded.

Where did the theme “I Want to Break Free” come from?

The original byline for the theme was “Lipstick on a Pig.” You can dress something up all you want, but you can’t disguise its true nature. Pigs are people, too. Bears, Pups, Otters, etc. The community is constantly expanding with identity modifiers and Black Party is the place where you can really let your inner pig out to run wild and be proud of it.

How did this party get started 39 years ago?

The Black Party started at The Saint nightclub built inside the old Fillmore East rock club, which was the most amazing, architecturally sophisticated gay club ever built. Black Party celebrates leather subculture and identity empowerment in our young developing community, the masculinity and confidence it embodied, and a darker, hidden sexuality.

What are some shops party goers should visit gear up for the event?

Personally, my favorite part of Black Party is creating my own costume. I love making amalgamations from lots of different places and DIY mini crafting projects. The Leather Man on Christopher Street has some amazing gear. Also, Nasty Pig on 19th, just east of Eighth Avenue, Tagg in Hell’s Kitchen, Purple Passion/DV8 has amazing fetish gear, leather, latex, and toys.

Where would you recommend visitors pre-party before the big night?

Xstasy Bar & Lounge, Excelsior, and Ginger’s Bar are not too far from our venue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. And our friends at Furball are throwing a party at Analog that same night, also in Brooklyn, a great place to check out earlier on in the evening.

If someone is visiting the area, which hotels would you recommend for them?

You’ll find hotels in Brooklyn where group rates are available, not super fancy but extremely convenient. And if you prefer something in Manhattan, some of my favorites are the Ace Hotel, The Nomad, The Grace Hotel, and the Dream Hotel in Chelsea is pretty spectacular.

Where would you stop to eat before the party?

In Sunset Park you can get great dim sum at Pacifican and Chi Ken is famous for their fried chicken. In Manhattan, Grey Dog is casual affordable and delicious. And for something with amazing ambience, my favorite choice is the The Smith.

Is there a place you’d recommend for after the event?

Sunset Park Diner and Donuts and Ines Bakery. And on the East Side, L’Express is an awesome boulangerie that’s open 24 hours.

What are your favorite hangouts in NYC?

My apartment, definitely LOL. In Brooklyn: Metropolitan (one of the boroughs oldest gay bars), the Dreamhouse art installation, funky dance, circus, theater/cabaret club, the House of Yes, and the live performance collective, Hybrid Movement Company are all really cool. In Manhattan: Rebar in Chelsea is a great casual leather bar, Flaming Saddles in Hell’s Kitchen (’cause who doesn’t love step dancing cowboys in extra tight jeans tearing it up on the bar?) And The Cock in the East Village is great if you are looking for something down and dirty.

Do you have any upcoming vacations planned?

Heading to Short Mountain in Tennessee for some R&R with the Radical Faeries and to take part in their beautiful and powerful May Day Ritual. And Fire Island Pines is always my go-to favorite during the summer. 

What’s your favorite Pride town?

New York. I love that it’s held so close to the summer solstice; everyone is usually in a great mood, alive with the energy of the sun, and ready for the official start of summer. We literally take over the entire city for a day or two and have impunity to be as fabulous and audacious as we could possibly dream. It’s wildly intoxicating.

What’s your bucket list “Gay City” to visit?

Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica is stunning. I have been once, and I dream of wintering there when I get older.  Also, Key West, Madrid, Tel Aviv, and obviously, Atlantis. (The sunken lost magical one, not the tourist monstrosity in the Caribbean)

Anything else we should know about you?

I take great pride in being a part of the legacy that the Saint at Large and Black Party represent. Ten years ago, my first Black Party changed my life and that everything that has happened to me since has been informed by it in some way. Everything I now do for the party is to help create and re-create such an environment where that kind of extraordinary life altering experience is possible for other lost boys desperate for real adventure, as I once was.

Follow Nick Sterling on Instagram and get your tickets to Black Party!

Check out the GayCities guide to New York

(Photo credits: Falcon Studios, BunnyZ, and Wilson Models. Photos used by permission.)

h/t: Queerty