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. …
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.
Okay queens, it’s that time. DragCon! So this is actually my first ever DragCon and, since this is the first year the event is being held in NYC, it’s the first time for all of us at GAYLETTER. I’m lit af for it. GAYLETTER’s Summer Internship Program, being the well rounded comprehensive program that it is, exposed me to the world of drag and an appreciation for all things gaggy (as well as some other...skills). I’m so glad to have had this crucial education because I now understand the pomp and circumstance surrounding queens and the races they run — or, more accurately, that they sashay. DragCon is presented by RuPaul and World of Wonder Productions. According to the event’s press release, “The two-day convention...will welcome fans from around the globe to the first DragCon held in the Big Apple. RuPaul’s DragCon NYC was announced after a record breaking 40,000+ fans attended the third annual DragCon held in Los Angeles earlier this year. RuPaul’s DragCon NYC will feature vendors and exhibitors, exclusive merchandise, panel and Q&A sessions, autograph and photo opportunities with drag stars — including many from the Emmy award winning series ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ — with more to be announced!” In the words of my fellow Summer 2017 alumni of the GL Internship Program, James Linacre, “Yes god!!” Furthermore, our fabulous asses will be at Booth 858 in Artist Alley (the area sorta near the Tr*mp Rat and lounge). You can come and kiki with us, buy some recent issues of the magazine, window shop (or real shop!) our merch, or just say hello. But don’t lurk! This ain’t the ocean and you ain’t a shark. I’ll be circulating around taking photos, so peep me with the camera rubbing shoulders with all the baddest bitches. If you ask nicely or gag me, I just might take your photo too.
At Printed Matter’s NY Art Book fair in 2014, a cute little Mickey Aloisio approached our table and immediately complimented our magazine then got right to the point: He had images of men he had been photographing, specifically members of the bear community, and he wanted us to publish them. Subtle! We don’t really take submissions but his photos were refreshing and pretty sexy, so we printed them a year later in GAYLETTER Issue 5. I interviewed Mickey just as he had returned from an excursion along the west coast photographing the many men that make up the bear-community landscape. He told me he wanted to travel across America and photograph as many bears as he could find — he did, and the results are a series that is myriad in tone, but as a whole is totally tender.
He considers himself a member of the bear community, and has recently added his yummy Cub body into some frames, much to our delight. “I think because these guys have found this community, they’re living such a better life than maybe they would be if they were straight and had to deal with their bodies in the straight world.” Signed copies of Mickey’s book will be on sale at the launch on Septmember 8th at BGSQD at The Center and he will be in conversation with curator and writer, Efrem Zeloney-Mindell. When his images went to print in Issue 5, American Wildlife was just starting to take shape. …
The official meaning of “Afropunk” goes as follows: “AfroPunk refers to the participation of African Americans and other black people in the punk and alternative music cultures, especially in the United States, where this scene had been overwhelmingly white.”
Most people, when they hear the term AfroPunk think of the Afropunk Music Festival which “was founded in 2005 by director James Spooner and Matthew Morgan.” The festival has quickly grown to include one of the best line-ups of musical acts and this year is not exception. Taking place at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, this year’s headliners included: Solange, Anderson .Paak, Thundercat, Kaytranada, Gary Clark Jr., Macy Gray, Michael Kiwanuka, Soul II Soul, Dizzee Rascal and SZA.
I shared an Uber Pool this weekend with two well-dressed attendees who had flown all the way from L.A. for the festival. I was telling them that our photographer Myles Loftin would be taking street style photos at the event and that they should look out for him. “How will we recognize him?” they asked. “That’s easy, he has bright orange hair and a polaroid camera, you can’t miss him!” I replied.
Please enjoy a few of Myles shots from the weekend, below:
You never know what you may find in another queen’s closet, if you’re lucky it could be a cute jacket — if you’re not, it could be a body (looking at you, Dorian Corey). I always feel the need to update my own wardrobe as summer winds down, probably a habit developed out of years of back-to-school shopping, and if you’re like me you start looking for your staple fall pieces now. Hosted by Acid Betty and Alotta McGriddles (pictured), this live auction event is sure to satisfy all your vintage/thrift/swap needs. Most items have a starting bid price of $1. GAG. Besides the incredible prices and scream-worthy hosts, the auction will be offering “Costumes, Vintage, Men’s, Women’s, Questioning’s, Jewelry, DRAG Fantasies, Spandex, Designer Apparel, Furs, Accessories and MORE!” I’ve never been to a live auction because the fast talking stresses me out, but this certainly seems to be a night not to miss.