Man Repeller’s Guide to Seeking Pleasure in New York

NYC pleasure guide man repeller


will not bore you to tears with a screed on the difficulties of living in New York. I will not attempt to pin down the gut-wrenching terror of stopping in a tunnel on a crowded train suspended between understanding that this is routine and thinking that maybe this is the day you are trapped in a silver subterranean box for hours. I will not counter that idea with the moments of absolute joy, underscoring my point with an anecdote of the singing train conductor bringing together a group of morning commuters. I will not talk about how good it feels to walk around a city where the layers of history are so present, you feel like you are minutes away from stepping in and out of whichever version of  “lost New York” appeals to you most. Instead, I will simply say that this pleasure is often strongest when there’s something to hold it up against. A mirror of agony, if you will!

In that spirit, I asked my coworkers (and seasoned New Yorkers) where they go to find their particular version of pleasure. Hopefully, this guide will lead you to a new source of respite or spark your own pleasure journey.

1. Blank Verse Poetry Workshop

Who are you?: Patty, Head of Partnerships, hi!
How do you define pleasure?: Doing something that feels really good for no other reason than that it feels really good.
Where do you go to find it: Currently I’ve been finding it at a Blank Verse poetry workshop on Sundays from 5-8pm through Brooklyn Poets.
Pro-tips: Bring wine, snacks, and your favorite monosyllabic words.

2. The New York Botanical Gardens

Who are you?: Starling, the Office Coordinator at our [email protected] new HQ
How do you define pleasure?: Surrendering yourself to a moment.
Where do you go to find it?: The New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx
Pro-tips: If you go more than three times a year, a membership to the garden will pay for itself. Raised in the deep woods of Canada, adjusting to life in NYC has been a heck of a project. I learned early on that my mind gets quite lost if I don’t get a weekly dose of greenery (even in the months when greenery is really just mud and naked trees). In the summer, you can find me at the gardens with a baguette in my backpack seeking out the most luxe piece of grass to have a nap on.

3. The Long Island Bar

Who are you?: Your worst nightmare. JK. It’s Haley, Deputy Editor
How do you define pleasure?: Moments that freeze and suspend you in their goodness.
Where do you go to find it?: Long Island Bar in Cobble Hill. It’s one my favorite places in Brooklyn. Not because it’s particularly flashy or memorable (it’s definitely not Instagramable), but because it’s one of those special spots where old New York and present New York palpably commingle. When I’m there I don’t feel like I’m visiting New York, I feel like I live in New York. And I feel warm and content, suspended in that space.
Pro-tips: Take someone you love there when you want to celebrate something (a raise, a promotion, the end of a hard week) but also feel tucked away in a perfect corner of New York. Get a martini and a burger and put your phone away.

4. Renew Day Spa

Who are you?: Jasmin, Director of Partnerships
How do you define pleasure?: The ability to have a very clear and relaxed mind even if it’s for just a short period of time.
Where do you go to find it?: Renew Day Spa on Canal Street for a no-frills, deep massage.
Pro-tips: Don’t go on a full stomach and ask them to really stretch you out, they know what they’re doing!

5. Red Hook Lobster Pound

Who are you?: Emily, Visual Manager
How do you define pleasure?: I define pleasure as something that I do solely for my own happiness and enjoyment — sort of like IRL ASMR: a warm, fuzzy feeling that runs down my spine and makes my head tingle. Pleasure for me comes in the form of food and shopping.
Where do you go to find it?: Red Hook Lobster Pound in Red Hook, Brooklyn
Pro-tips: When the NY winter blues hits you hard, you can still escape to Red Hook to get a taste of New England summer. My go-to’s on the menu are the Connecticut Lobster roll, the blueberry soda, and the funnel cake with fresh blueberry compote on top for the table to share…or for yourself after a rough week, either/or. Oh, and don’t sleep on the “crispy brussels sprouts with Lobster caramel sauce.”

6. The Best Vibrator and Trader Joe’s Mini Cones

Who are you?: Crystal! Manager of Production
How do you define pleasure?: Pleasure is anything (and I do mean anything) that makes me feel warm and tingly on the inside!
Where do you go to find it?: Okay, in no certain order: This is truly the best vibrator in history. These Mini Cones from Trader Joe’s.
Pro-tips: There are no pro-tips for these. I suggest using them separately but also proud of anyone who can multi-task!

7. The Reservoir in Central Park

Who are you?: Harling, Pleasure Czar (JK I’m the Fashion Editor)
How do you define pleasure?: A deep-seated satisfaction that makes me feel kind of exhilarated like I’m in bed tucked under my covers but also jumping on a trampoline at the same time.
Where do you go to find it?: The reservoir in Central Park. I spent a lot of time there as a kid because it’s close to the apartment where I grew up, but it’s even nicer now because they took down the ugly chain-link fence and put up a nice one that actually lets you see the water. It’s my favorite place to stroll/run/think/meditate.
Pro-tips: Go in the springtime when the cherry trees are in bloom.

8. Nitehawk Prospect Park

Who are you?: I’m Amalie, of House Social Media Manager.
How do you define pleasure?: Pleasure is anything that allows me to turn off and get in touch with my five senses.
Where do you go to find it?: NITEHAWK PROSPECT PARK
Pro-tips: Nitehawk Williamsburg, which is the best iteration of a dinner theater concept I’ve ever experienced, has become so popular and overrun that attempting to get tickets on a weekend requires the forethought of someone… much smarter than I. But LO! They opened a new location closer to my neighborhood and it is *not yet* swarming! A dream! Why am I telling you! Get the truffle butter (lol) citrus popcorn; it will take your whole popcorn-loving life and turn it on its head. Beer and wine selection is also tight. It’s a full pleasure town. Sights: hopefully a good movie! Sounds: Also hopefully a good movie successfully drowning out sounds of people crunching! Smell: GOOD FOOD! Taste: GOOD FOOD! Touch: Sensual, buttery popcorn. I’m warm. Are you warm?

9. The Lower East Side Tenement Museum 

Who are you?: Nora (we met in the intro), Managing Editor
How do you define pleasure?: Anything that warms you from the inside out while setting your mind on fire (in a good, non-stressful way).
Where do you go to find it?: The Lower East Side Tenement Museum + a walk over the Manhattan bridge.
Pro-tips: You can’t go wrong at the Tenement Museum. All of the tours are fascinating! I haven’t gone to the dinner yet but I bet it’s fantastic. Walking across the Manhattan bridge can be a little noisy but it is way less crowded than the Brooklyn or Williamsburg bridge and you get such a nice view of Jane’s Carousel.

10. McNally Jackson, Toby’s Estate and Cafe Maman 

Who are you?: Leandra but you can call me Leandroochip, Founder
How do you define pleasure?: Entertainment for joy’s sake! And to be clear, joy by my definition is not at all hedonistic or frivolous but on the contrary v much necessary.
Where do you go to find it?: It depends on the day but most frequently I oscillate between book stores and coffee shops. On especially fateful days, I start at a bookstore and then hit up a coffee shop. The bookstore I go to is McNally Jackson on Prince Street and, depending on the day, choose to lose myself in the magazine section where I am a frequenter of The Paris Review for its fiction, Gentlewoman for its opinion, British fashion magazines for their fashion and Monocle for the inventive way they do spon-con, the non-fiction essay section where I enjoy a range of cultural criticism and personal narrative, and finally: the self-help section because wherever I go, there I am! My chosen coffee spot is any place powered by Toby’s Estate, so that’s either Toby’s Estate or Cafe Maman. Usually, it’s cafe Maman, because it’s closer to home and I really, really like their oatmeal raisin cookie. My coffee order is a large oat milk honey lavender latte.
Pro-tips: If you have kids: McNally Jackson has story time for babies and toddlers on weekends, so you can take them and slip a magazine under your coat to read while they’re playing. If you love coffee but can only drink one a day because more than that is just too much: I like to push up against the boundaries of my thresholds and wait a couple of hours/until I am desperate to have a coffee so that I can feel really dead right before I drink it and experience the pleasure that is a genuine caffeine kick in the tush. Does that make me an extremist? “Everything in moderation,” Oscar Wilde said, “including moderation.”

11. Barano

Who are you?: Elizabeth, Market & Affiliate Strategist
How do you define pleasure?: Where I feel safe, familiar and secure. When I feel inspired and excited.
Where do you go to find it?: Barano in Williamsburg is my favorite restaurant to go to with my boyfriend. In general, cozy happy restaurants with people I love for good inspiring conversation about my current state and about the future bring me a lot of pleasure.
Pro-tips: Get a dessert with espresso as the finale and make sure you cheers it with your loved one.

12. Angelika Film Center & Café

Who are you?: Matt, Head of Business Development
How do you define pleasure?: Anything that elicits a smile or pleasing sigh (preferably both).
Where do you go to find it?: Angelika Film Center & Café
Pro-tips: There’s a great little cafe in the lobby at Angelika if you’re into scones and what not, but if you’re looking for the classics (popcorn, share-size kit kats, etc.) don’t fret, there’s a proper concession stand on the lower floor where the theaters are.

13. Pasquale Jones

Who are you?: Dasha Faires. I’m Director of Product Development for Repeller, Man Repeller’s accessories collection.
How do you define pleasure?: Tiny little intimate moments of interaction with the world around me that increase my dopamine levels.
Where do you go to find it?: Pasquale Jones, where I sit at the bar and eat clam pizza and drink a glass of red wine out of their Zalto glasses with a handblown glass stem that is so delicate it feels like my fingertips are going to snap it in half.
Pro-tips: Sit at the bar and let the flames from the brick oven warm you down to the depths of your soul.

Illustrations by Joanne Ho

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor is the Editor of Clever. She can frequently be found knocking things over in the greater New York City area.

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