The Q Note – July 14, 2011

On a Boat
By JOANNA ENG
Read the original here.

The Rockaways adventure continues with Constance Hockaday’s
Boggsville Boatel and Boat-In Theater.

Nancy Boggs was clever. To keep authorities at bay, the Victorian-era madam ran her floating bordello on the Willamette River in Portland, OR, easy to move to the opposite side at the first hint of a potential raid. It was this 19th century legend that inspired artist and boat builder Constance Hockaday – she spent time nurturing her passion for the aquatic life with the Floating Neutrinos, the intrepid family who lived on rafts of recycled junk – to create the Boggsville Boatel and Boat-In Theater in Far Rockaway, a flotilla of refashioned vintage vessels that had been abandoned at Marina 59.

“I’ve always been interested in water and its ambiguities,” shares Hockaday, the daughter of a marine biologist. “It’s so cool to use water to create a world and destination outside the law. But I’m not a sex worker, so I made a hotel instead.”

Hockaday unveiled the ambitious boatel – four circa ‘70s and ‘80s leisure fishing crafts and a 1967 houseboat – earlier this month, backed by Long Island City art collective, Flux Factory. Despite the constant roar of planes taking off at JFK overhead and having to sign a liability waiver, the $50-$100-a-night rate proved so popular among the curious, the boatel, only open on weekends, instantly sold out through its Labor Day run. “I’m surprised. I didn’t expect people to be that excited,” Hockaday points out. The good news is, because so many others are clamoring for a night on a 30-foot yacht or rustic floating cabin, today Hockaday will announce the boatel is expanding its schedule to Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the season.

There may not be Frette linens at this boatel, but guests will find a ready-to-please concierge in artist TJ Hospodar. Hospodar has not only drafted a two-sided map showing a detailed section of the peninsula and pointing out Jamaica Bay highlights, but he offers guided tours and a car service as well. “I also have loaner bicycles for self-exploration, because my intent is that guests see and love the area and that they have an overwhelmingly pleasant experience while on-site and also nearby. Simply put, hospitality is my primary concern.” In particular, Hospodar is thrilled to be involved in Hockaday’s project because “I invest in work that finds the audience actively engaged, whether that includes my performance as tour guide or taxi driver or just the simple fact that the guests have ventured past the galleries and museums of New York to the eastern edge in their effort to find far more rewarding a time.”

For those who can’t slot in a night on deck or require a rain shower, the Boat-In Theater provides water-themed entertainment such as viewings of Jacques Cousteau’s Clipperton: The Island Time Forgot, Porter Fox’s lecture on trekking Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, and Thursday night seafood boils. “I’m excited about sharing ideas on water and its presentation of inspiration and freedom,” Hockaday notes.

Marina 59, the five-acre waterfront marina and event space helmed by Ari Zablozki, was a choice spot for Hockaday’s project, but until she found out about it through Flux, she had never investigated Rockaway’s burgeoning arts scene. Having grown up on a barrier island in Texas, however, she is familiar with Far Rockaway’s distinct landscape. It’s the surge of Brooklyn hipsters who now make The Rockaways their weekend playground juxtaposed with the long-time locals that is proving to be Hockaday’s most eye-opening experience. “Rockaway’s a really interesting place; the marina is right by the projects. But I want to make that part of the conversation.”

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