One of the gay mainstays along Sydney's bustling Oxford Street bar strip, the Stonewall Hotel (175 Oxford St., 02-9360-1963) tends toward the younger, A-list set and consistently draws big crowds to its bars and dance floor, thanks to some of the top DJs in town, super-campy drag shows by the likes of Polly's Follies girls, Penny Tration, and Maxi Shield, and some very hot male dancers. In addition to weekends, the Monday Madness camp shows have a big following, as does Wednesday's legendary Malebox dating/hookup party.
Imperial Hotel, Sydney, Australia
Although it was shuttered for a few years, Sydney's legendary drag cabaret, the Imperial Hotel (35 Erskineville Rd., Erskineville, Sydney, 02-9519-9899) reopened recently and has quickly returned to being one of the city's hot spots for 2011. The historic building, which opened in 1880 in the now GLBT-popular neighborhood of Erskineville, became a hub of the city's drag scene in the 1980s and earned international fame as the inspiration for the camp classic, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (parts of the movie were filmed inside the Imperial in October 1994). It's undergone a major renovation, after having undergone numerous legal battles with city officials, and is now looking better than ever.
Oxford Hotel, Sydney, Australia
The quintessential leather-and-bear cruise bar on busy Oxford Street in the Darlinghurst section of Sydney, the Oxford Hotel has undergone a natty makeover since I snapped this photo and visited in 2005. Still, it's basically a laid-back, friendly spot drawing a somewhat rough-and-tumble bunch of regular guys, mostly in their 30s to 50s. The Oxford Hotel (134 Oxford St., 9331-3467) is right in the heart of Sydney's main gay nightlife hub, close to Stonewall, the Colombian, Midnight Shift, and others. The Oxford is also the host to numerous cabaret, comedy, and other theme events throughout Sydney Mardi Gras each year.
Taxi Club, Sydney, Australia
Established in 1956 and known originally as the Grosvenor Club, the now legendary Taxi Club (40 Flinders St., 02-9331-4256) comprises three floors of gay nightlife entertainment in the heart of Darlinghurst, Sydney's gay bar district. There's a restaurant on one floor, but its the club's outrageously funny, sometimes brilliant, and occasionally awful (in a good way) drag shows that make this place special. The "Make Me A Drag Queen" amateur competitions on Fridays nights are especially fun.
Bodyline Sauna, Sydney, Australia
Opened in 1991 as the first legal gay bathhouse in Sydney, Bodyline (10 Taylor St., 61-2-9360-1006) remains the top gay sex venue in the city, if not in Australia - a definitive cruising and hooking-up spot on a quiet side street just off the main gay nightlife, Oxford Street. Beyond the unassuming exterior, you'll find a nicely laid-out, clean, and pleasantly staffed four-story facility that includes a top-floor sundeck, a well-traveled maze of private rooms showing the latest gay porn flicks, a full gym with pool and steam room, and a movie cinema located on the main floor, where guests check-in, dress and undress in the clean locker area, and can even grab a coffee or snacks in a small lounge. It's a nice operation, and with a $23 admission, it's not cheap either for one-time visitors - but be sure to check the club's website for news of deals and discounts.