The Subtle Art of Living
By Jerry Portwood
Rather than trash bags of sequined gowns cluttering an artist’s hovel, the sunny studio apartment is a tidy, carefully curated home with tasteful art by friends, a small black piano, and built-in bookcases. Mac lives here with his lover of eight years and jokes that it’s their pied-à-terre in the city, since they often spend time in another home in the Berkshires. “We’re fancy queens!” he quips. His partner, an architectural designer, devised a cozy sleeping area by constructing a shoulder-high, cornflower-blue structure that has a hinged door for easy egress. Responding to my surprise at the lack of drag disorder, Mac says, “I’m not big on keeping things. I really believe strongly that you have to fall in love with verbs more than nouns.
I think, What can I do, not What can I get? All those books will go at some point, and we’ll turn the bed area into something else. I don’t like to hold on to stuff. I like to hold on to people. Those are the nouns that I keep.”
Mac and his partner, Patterson Scarlett, recently scored the studio next door and plan to combine the spaces and create a guest room for friends. His attitude toward his New York City haven is also a conscious lifestyle choice. “What ritual do you go through to become a man? I think at a certain point, especially with queers who aren’t interested in necessarily having kids and living a status quo life, we have to redefine what makes us adults, and oftentimes it becomes our space or our work; you create an environment for yourself, whether it’s your art or career.”
But do his friends give him a hard time for having a comparatively swanky pad? “Yes, this is absolutely a bourgeois life. I’m living in a very bourgeois crisis,” Mac says in mock horror, followed by a sly titter. “I can’t afford to tip the doorman: It’s a bourgeois crisis! Oh well, I’ll tip the doorman. It’s the easiest thing to do.”