Meet Cid Roberts, a New York photographer who has been capturing the city’s essence since 1999. He loves Hell’s Kitchen, fearlessly pursues dreams and creates intimate art. Here is Cid’s West Side Story…
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I came to NYC straight out of high school in August of 1999, with two suitcases so heavy they would never be allowed to fly by today’s standards, packed mostly with my treasured collection of Broadway cast album CDs, $850 cash because I didn’t have a checking account (you didn’t need one then), a brand new cellular telephone that included an extravagant 150 minutes of off-peak talk time (to call mom), and dreams as big as the city itself. I rented a couch to sleep on in Brooklyn, which is where I dropped off my things after arriving at JFK from Los Angeles, my hometown, before hopping on the subway and heading straight for Times Square, where I sat for hours just watching the people go by and thinking how grateful I was that I’d finally made it here.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
Within a week, I’d secured my first job in NYC, working as a receptionist at PPI Recording Studios on W32nd Street. It’s a far cry from my current job reviewing and editing photography in out-of-home advertising for FotoFetch.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
I think my favorite New York moment has to be attending the 2000 NYC Pride March, my first pride. I was living on W63rd Street at the time, and I remember walking down to the village that morning. The weather was gorgeous, everyone was out on the streets, and there was energy in the air unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life. It wasn’t just the overwhelming sense of unity and acceptance that I felt being here amongst so many gay people like me. There was this vibe that at any minute the whole city would just explode because there was so much joy around. Like we (gays), were unstoppable and nothing in the world could tear us down. It was unreal. I still get choked up thinking about that day and how incredible it felt to experience that liberation of spirit for the first time.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I love Hells Kitchen for so many reasons, but I’ve always been most in love with its unique ability to be this arts, food and culture epicenter in the middle of the biggest city in the world, while still having a small-town feel in terms of community where people know their neighbors and small businesses have a home and are celebrated. For someone like me that grew up in a big city like LA, it’s a really cool thing to have in such a big and crazy place.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
That’s really a question to ask the people who know me best, but I guess I’d like to think my superpower is my ability to go after what I want, or what I dream for myself. No matter what it may be, from a project or career move, to who I love and how, I do it with conviction and am unapologetic about it. Despite everything life has thrown at me, and all the challenges we have all faced together not just here in the city but in the world, I’m proud and so grateful to have not lost that.
What else should we know about you?
1. I am an artist. My art is rooted in my photography, which I use to create work born from my unique and deeply intimate love affair with this city, the people in it, and the experiences and ideas it provides me and inspires within and from me. See my work at cidroberts.com.
2. In 24 years of living in NYC, I’ve never been to Fire Island! I know, I know. Don’t judge me! It’s embarrassing and shameful. Lol.
3. I make the best quesadillas you’ll ever taste. And that’s a fact. 😉
4. I love Madonna, Tres Leches Cake, Turquoise, Travel, and falling in love.
5. I’m dad to a feisty 11-year-old Westie named Bastian.
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Cid’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
Delphinium Home — 353 W47th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
There’s always something here that makes me laugh, and I always leave smiling. When you’re in need of a gift, this place has it. Gift-giving and greeting cards are two of my favorite things and are dying practices, which I’m just not ok with. We need more places like this. And it’s gay-owned!
Domus — 413 W44th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
Same as above. But this is like the international version + woman owned!
The Marshal — 628 10th Avenue (bw W44/45th St)
The food is always excellent and they made it through COVID by being versatile and open to change which is something we can all learn from. AND it’s gay-owned. 😉
Sullivan Street Bakery — 533 W47th Street (bw 10th/11th Ave)
I mean, have you had a Bomboloni? Nuff said.
Church of St. Paul The Apostle — 405 W59th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
I’m not a religious man, though I was baptized and raised Catholic, which is perhaps part of the reason why in times of turmoil, when I need to reflect, or when I’m just feeling overwhelmed or lost, I visit the church and just sit for a while to take in the pure beauty and magic of that structure and I breathe in the same air as many people before me in this neighborhood’s rich history. I sit in a pew and I think about all of the artists, thinkers, leaders, creators, heroes, and legends that have lived here and at some point sat in the same church and I always leave feeling stronger and more at peace. Plus the choir on Xmas Eve!!! Just magical.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Come meet me and see some of my work along with 30 other Queer artists at BAN THIS!: Queer Erotic Art Fair at Boxers HK on Saturday June 17, 2pm-8pm. AND Get to know my work and get 42% OFF your purchase at CIDROBERTS.COM exclusively for W42ST readers with code W42ST at checkout!
You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.