By Aaron Hicklin
The fact that Florent survived and thrived for 23 years is evidence that what makes something hot isn't that it's new but that it has integrity. You can say the same for many of the entries in this year's annual Hot List, quite a few of which go back at least as long as Florent has been in business. Jean Paul Gaultier has been a dominant force in fashion for over two decades and continues to blaze a glorious trail, both with his own line and at the helm of a reinvigorated Herm's. Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke, as Yaz, managed to release only two albums before quietly going their separate ways in 1983, but their reunion tour this summer serves to remind us of their singular brilliance. And although Manvendra Singh Gohil, the impish gay prince whose coming-out rocked the conservative values of India, doesn't appear in the Hot List, he's one hot commodity. A media phenomenon at home and abroad, his profile has brought much-needed attention to the status of gay and transgender Indians who -- in the words of Gohil's boyfriend -- are still waiting for their Stonewall.
Meanwhile -- a stone's throw from the original Stonewall -- you might just make it to Florent for a final drink before it closes. Still there, after all these years, is Darinka in her retro beehive doing the rounds of the tables, and the unmarked maps of cities on the walls (including three imaginary ones), and the numbers at the bottom of the menu board tracking Morellet's T-cell count (he tested positive for HIV in 1987). And as always, an equitable mix of straight and gay, a balance that Florent somehow always gets just right. There are still not enough places you can say that about. After Florent closes there'll be one less.