Brooklyn-based photographer Gustavo Lopes documents Riis Beach in the midst of summer.
About an hour’s train ride from Lower Manhattan is the iconic (if not well-kept secret) Riis Beach. Named after Jacob Riis (the 19th century “muckraker” journalist and photographer), the beach is just west of Rockaway Park in Queens. At some point or another in the last century or so, Jacob Riis Park has hosted a children’s hospital, WWI naval air station, Art Deco bathhouse, and softball field. And now it’s a cute destination for a delightful day trip with your friend, boo, sibling, or self.
The first time I heard about Riis Beach was one Wednesday evening in June when Abi and I were laying out GAYLETTER’s weekly newsletter (No. 404). Upon looking for a photo to pair with that Sunday’s “Do: Riis Beach” post, Abi found this wacky photo of a guy wearing this Tina-Turner-Meets-Dragon-Ball-Z wig and said that it fit the personality of the beach perfectly. I knew I needed to see it for myself.
Last month, my best friend Ahmad and I hopped on the 2 train and headed out to Riis. If you’ve never been, the first thing you need to know is that there are two parts to it: there’s the straight side (near where the Q22 and Q35 buses drop you off) and a gay side, which is to the left, in front of the abandoned hospital. That’s where Ahmad and I went, and that’s where Ahmad met Gustavo Lopes. We just happened to go while Gustavo was documenting the beach that day. …
The fans who nearly stole the show at RuPaul's DragCon NYC
You are probably wondering what queens of the pink carpet are. Well, let us explain this to you right away. For those of you who haven’t attended RuPaul’s DragCon, upon entering, your day is made all the more fierce by a pink hand-tufted carpet that doubles as both a runway and a stage and is the length of a football field. Yeah, it’s gaggy!
While we were excited to see so many familiar Drag Race faces within our midst, the queens of the pink carpet are those who arrived in full looks and wore determined expressions on their painted faces. Traveling from all over the northeast corridor and some from across the globe, these girls nearly stole the show from the queens we’ve come to love and hate from their time on TV.
Violet Chachki, Miss Fame, Vander Von Odd, the Boulet Brothers, Trixie Mattel, Michelle Visage and T.S. Madison were all in attendance, plus RuPaul Charles himself and reigning Miss Drag Superstar, Sasha Velour. Queens offered photos, merchandise, or limited edition products at their booth, and though we were really impressed by the many talented artists exhibiting and selling at DragCon, we were most impressed by some looks.
New York has a large drag community, with countless hometown girls having walked their tucks onto Ru’s runway, so for the convention to finally touch down in the city was — for many attendees – a toot. After taking an hour or two to see who was hot and who was not, plus a brief run in with our favorite punk from season 8, Laila McQueen, we hit the convention grounds with our photographer Connor Atkins to stop a few queens of the pink carpet and pick at their brain beneath the wig to see what was up in their wonderful, international world of drag. …
This podcast is must for everyone, and I mean everyone. Call your mom, call your dad, call your senator. Making Gay History is compulsory listening for those who want to learn about the history of our fight for equality (and that should be everyone). The podcast is hosted, and created by Eric Marcus who has authored over of a dozen books, “including Making Gay History, Is It A Choice?, Why Suicide?, and Breaking the Surface, the #1 New York Times bestselling autobiography of Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis.” The series mines Eric’s “decades old audio archive of rare interviews — conducted for his award-winning oral history of the LGBTQ civil rights movement — to create intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history.” I just listened to the Marsha P. Johnson interview. From what I can tell is the only recorded interview with the LGBT advocate who sparked the Stonewall riot that launched the modern gay rights movement — it was fascinating. Season 3 of the podcast starts soon. Before it does, catch up on the first two seasons. They contain interviews with such legends as Sylvia Rivera, Dear Abby and Vito Russo among many others.
With performance by The Babes of Bushwig
She’s back! She wasn’t gone for that long, but she’s back and she's brand new. I am referring to the venue at 505 East 6th. If you read our newsletter you know that Eastern Bloc closed it’s door, but another bar is reopening called Club Cumming. It’s not a sex club full of cum, it’s called that because the actor Alan Cumming is involved. This is the grand opening of Haus of Cumming at Club Cumming. Hosted by Alan himself, Daniel Nardicio — music by Darren Dryden and performances by Daphne Sumtimez, Miz Jade and Nyx Nocturne. Also, expect “men on blocks in jocks.” I kind of like the sound of that. I am so excited to check it out, for those of you that don’t know this location has been a queer space for over 30 years, one of the first times I went out and blacked out was there, it was called Wonderbra at that time… I will tell you how the new place is after I go, I have a feeling that this is not the last time I am going to be writing about an event at this new bar! They are saying that it’s “downtown debauchery at its finest...” Ok. I am down with that.
The event gathered a huge crowd of young gender non-conforming Brazilians for a Vogue Ball and performance by afro-Brazilian trans artist Linn da Quebrada
Every once in awhile the trove of really stupid events promoted on Facebook will offer up something sweet. Writing the copy for events is important, because besides flyers and names, the way you describe your shindig will surely make or break someone’s decision to go. “Darkroom is a monthly queer dance party that supports electronic DJs and emerging artists working in the fields of photography, film, and animation.” You might be thinking: That’s vague, or, this sounds like everything else. If you disagree, point me to another party doing the same and we can cover it! Most popular parties start out with this ethos, yeah, but more often than not, the successful ones are subverted into some part of the megamachine that is “NYC Nightlife” and become severely unaccessible to most of our community because not everyone can afford to party at a spot that charges $13 for a Vodka. Don’t get me wrong, those parties are fun, I yasss them, I go to them, but sometimes a night out should be less about being seen and more about letting loose. This is a brand new party, and that means new faces, new music and something that is, at it’s root, a real celebration. For the launch, Darkroom has Lauren Flax on the decks, which is major, plus their featured artist is Bunny Michaels, a popular fixture on Instagram for their cross-genre poetry/meme/selfie posts. Fashion week is finally over, and once again I feel like the LGBTQ world was robbed of their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent (I’m looking at you, Coach). Put your money where your mouth is and get to the dance floor. Winter is coming!
I’ve always been drawn to documentary photography. It’s what I studied in college and, for the most part, it’s the type of photography that I focus on in my own work. There are so many things to be said for artistically cataloging and documenting people, places, events, society, and politics in a visual way for everyone else present and future to have. Tom Bianchi is not necessarily known as a documentary photographer in the ways that Nan Goldin or the members of Magnum may be; rather, Bianchi’s approach is subtle and seemingly more un-self aware (which, in my opinion, kind of makes the work more poignant). All of this is to say that there is an upcoming talk and tour (on September 14th) by Bianchi as his exhibition FIRE ISLAND PINES: POLAROIDS 1975-1983 comes to a close. The exhibition consists of dozens of Polaroids documenting the gay community in Fire Island Pines, one of the few places that people could be openly gay in that era. In addition to the photos being “whimsical and playful,” they also “harken to the long tradition in art of celebrating the male physique.” If you’re queer, into history, and/or love artful documentary photography, this exhibition and talk with the artist is not to be missed.