Author and sales rep Dale Corvino moved to Hell’s Kitchen in 2010 and feels right at home in this “noisy and convenient” neighborhood. Here is Dale’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I was born in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. My family had already moved out to Long Island, but my mom drove herself in to deliver me with the family doctor, Dr Mussio, who had delivered her. I was raised on the South Shore of Long Island but ran back to the city at 18 to attend Cooper Union. Ah, the East Village in the 80s! I moved to W34th Street (Lower Hell? Hudson Yards adjacent?) in 2010. I love being at this nexus of movement. Noisy, but convenient.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
First job was at a Country Club down the street from my house. It didn’t last. They wanted me to work on Easter Sunday and that was out of the question — it wasn’t that we were that religious, it’s just that family dinners on Sundays were central to my upbringing. My grandma pulled together Italian feasts from the dual bounties of her kitchen garden and the creek that ran behind her house, where we dug for clams, picked mussels and trapped crabs.
Today I’m a sales representative for Harley-Davidson licensed merchandise in the northeast. I’m not a biker, I just sell biker stuff. I’ve been at it for the past decade, traveling the Northeast. This month marks a turn: my debut collection of short stories is being published by Rebel Satori Press. It may not earn me a living, but it’s a start! It’s called Bonds & Boundaries. The collection examines bonds, boundaries and queer longing. In the first section, Beacons, characters grapple with the pull of families, biological and chosen. The sex workers depicted in Vectors ride the raw edges of boundaries set, crossed and broken. Characters in the final section, Afterlives, bear displacement, loss and digital estrangement.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
Walking home from a friend’s party with a group of fellow guests, reminiscing about a memorable performance at the Pyramid Club where a drag queen dressed as an opera singer was lip-syncing to an aria and on the high note she rose up to double her height (she was on the shoulders of someone under her long gown) and a person I was walking with turned to me and said, “That was me.” It was Chicklet.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I love the raucous and libidinous Hell’s Kitchen, artists and working people side-by-side, the feast along 9th Avenue, the walk-ups and the brownstone blocks, the small theaters, the ferry terminal, the escorts, the actors, the musicians.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I’ve been writing while on the road for the past decade and while I love a good coffee bar, I’ve found that I can write in subways, trains, ferries, airplanes and hotel rooms.
What else should we know about you?
I met my husband JP in Boston while on the road and in 2019 we got married at the Marriage Bureau down on Worth Street. We had a girlfriend come along as a witness and afterwards we all went to Wo Hop.
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Dale’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
Tabata — 540 9th Avenue (bw W39/40th St)
This is our go-to on nights we don’t feel like cooking. Love the gyoza and the ramen. We dine in or order for pick-up.
Playwrights Horizons — 416 W42nd Street (bw 9th/Dyer Ave)
I saw A Strange Loop in preview in 2019 and it was an absolute marvel. I raved about its queer inventiveness and the performances, especially of my friend John-Andrew Morrison. Was not surprised to see it move on to a Broadway run and a Pulitzer. That’s the power and potential of our generative “off” stages.
Frances Perkins Place — W46th Street & 9th Avenue
I’m so glad that the amazing Frances Perkins was recognized in this way and was proud to write the letter in support when serving on Manhattan Community Board 4‘s Transportation Planning Committee: “Frances Perkins was a lifelong advocate for social justice, economic security, and the rights of working people. She lived for a time in Hell’s Kitchen and initiated her career in service to the public good at Hartley House.”
Poseidon Bakery — 629 9th Avenue (bw W44/45th St)
This place has been here forever, and sometimes for a party the easiest thing to do is to order a tray of spanakopita and another of baklava.
Stiles Farmers Market — 476 9th Avenue (bw W36/37th St)
This a small but well-run market with a surprisingly good and well-priced selection of fresh produce and staples.
Signature Theatre — 480 W42nd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
Signature Theatre also stages amazing, original productions — and their lobby/coffee bar area is my favorite spot for one-on-one meetings. I also do a lot of writing there.
Frankie’s Pub — 692 10th Avenue (bw W48/49th St)
A new LGBTQ bar in HK. I hope it becomes a favorite after I read there earlier in October as part of a revival of the “Reading for Filth” literary salon, which was started by my late friend Dean Johnson in the 2000s in the East Village.
You can follow Dale on Instagram @dalecorvino. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form — w42st.info/WSSnominations
You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.