It's another loss for gay 8th Avenue. After 21 years in Chelsea, The Unicorn, a gay XXX video and toy shop, is closing this Sunday night at 2:00AM.
Thanks to reader Albert for pointing us to the news, posted to the shop's Google reviews page. The manager writes that the closure is "due to a huge rent increase." The building was sold and the new owners have other plans for the space.
The Unicorn is like a secret spot, around the corner off 8th Avenue on West 22nd Street. It has no neon signs and no rainbow flags, just a purple door topped by a small, faded awning. Walking in, you feel rather furtive, like you've slipped away from the everyday world.
In the back is a dimly lit lounge, outfitted with couches and video booths where men linger in the shadows. It costs $12 to go in through the turnstile and there is decidedly no readmission.
The shop itself is clean and well-lit, run by a couple of friendly guys who might engage you in a chat about the changes that have come to Chelsea, how all the gay businesses are being pushed out, forced away from 8th Avenue.
In recent years, as Chelsea has hyper-gentrified, the city tried to close The Unicorn, along with the other gay adult shops nearby. They failed, but there's nothing you can do when your building's been sold to a new owner who wants you out.
The shop will be moving their merchandise uptown, to their other store, Les Hommes at 217 West 80th Street. Les Hommes has been in business since at least 1985, when it weathered the AIDS crisis and the city crackdown on gay sex shops.
Through this weekend, the Unicorn is having a Valentine's Day/closing sale. Everything--except the poppers and pills--are 50% off.
"Fleshlights and Fleshjacks half off? You can't find that price anywhere."
More lost gay 8th Avenue:
Rainbows & Triangles