Some new faces at the popular drag festival Bushwig 2017
Founded by Horrorchata — a local though now more visible Brooklyn nightlife star and promoter — Bushwig began in 2012. Having doubled in attendance every year since its debut, 2017’s iteration was held at the picturesque Knockdown Center in Queens. The two-day boutique performance and music festival billed nearly 80 performers both known and unknown on the circuit, reaffirming their commitment to “fostering innovation and creativity in performance.”
This year delivered shows from rising stars such as Candy Sterling, Untitled Queen, Wednesday Westwood, Suburbia, and Kandy Muse, to name very few, plus New York City staples like Charlene, Tyler Ashley and Merrie Cherry. Alyssa Edwards, who most recently starred in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 2, headlined Saturday night at the festival. I had many people ask me, “Are you going to Bushwig?” while working GAYLETTER’s table at Printed Matter’s Art Book Fair.
We sent Jason Leavy, who introduced himself at NYC’s DragCon, to Bushwig to photograph some of the standout personas who, though not slated to perform, still came in top-notch looks. “Bushwig proved to be an amazing local event, but somehow still dragged me out of urban New York,” Leavy said. “The Knockdown Center was laid out perfectly, and had ample space for exploring and making friends. My favorite area, known properly as ‘Love Down Low’, boasted tattoos, seriously delicious food, cinema, and gorgeous natural light. I was glad to hear that it seemed like there was a balance of Bushwig first-timers versus returning queens.”
Taking pictures during the earlier portion of the all day event, Leavy captured delicate portraits of knockout Queens on 35mm. …
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. …
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
This event is presented by S.U.C.K. (Stand Up Comedy Klub), which is “a monthly show hosted by a coalition of six of NYC’s most intriguing comics, performers, and weirdos: Hank Browning, Samantha Fontana, Gregory Lotsvin, Shane O'Neill, Jill Pangallo, and David Perez.” From that list we know Shane pretty well, he’s a sweetheart and an a really unique person. Often when people say someone else is “unique” it’s a shady way of saying they’re a weirdo, but we like weirdo’s, so we’d just say that. We just mean that Shane is unlike anyone else, and that’s why we love him. So back to the show, I don’t know how I didn’t lead with this, but for this edition of the show, they have “gay legends Cole Escola and Joel Kim Booster” as their special guests. “Gay Legends” that is a stupid term. Cole Escola is simply a legend. He is brilliant on Difficult People, but even better in his self-produced YouTube videos that NEVER fail to have me rolling on the floor with laughter. Celebrating Christmas in July, sure, why not? Their Facebook page describes this stand-up show as their “transparent excuse to make out under mistletoe…” Ok, work!
This is the most exciting news I have received this week. I am a huge fan of Nina Bonina Brown since the first episode of this season’s Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 9 when she walked down the runway with her head painted like a peach and said “take a bite of this peach.” As far as I’m concerned, Nina should be the winner of this season or at least top 3. I’ve never seen any queen with this approach to makeup and that padding...her looks are just nuts in the best possible way. Again, Frankie Sharp brings us another Rupaul’s Drag Race queen to his party Metro Sensual at Metropolitan. Thank You Frankie. He’s also Djing with La’Fem Ladosha and Dicap. Plus, “$en$ual gent$” Nico, Richard and Teo — they are going to be shaking their asses on stage just so we can have some extra entertainment. I’m hoping that Nina gives us another look with a fruit, an animal, or some other object as her head. It’s Nina Bonina banana fofana Osama Bin Laden Brown boom boom.
Follow the unlikely couple's prom misadventures at Baxxside High
After that god-awful release of Mean Girls 2, it seemed agreeable that the teen-movie prom queen narrative carried itself to the grave, but Chris Harder’s take on the story in his show, Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy…The Secret of the Prom Queen Curse was more than refreshing. Bringing the house down with each and every burlesque performance, the legendary cast of the show includes Nasty Canasta, Pearls Daily, Sapphire Jones, Miz Cracker, and, of course, Chris Harder.
With a cast sexier than MTV’s Teen Wolf (which I didn’t think was possible), we follow Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy as they go back to high school to investigate an alleged prom queen curse at Baxxside High. Along the way, Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy meet the school’s head bitch in charge, Becky, and her loyal sidekick, Candace, who make it very clear that the prom queen title is already taken. Following the formula of high school misadventure, the previously undisputed crowning is jeopardized, and the regularly scheduled high school drama ensues.
Nods to classics like Heathers and The Breakfast Club had me screaming at every reference I could catch and every scrunchie I could spot. Be sure to have a cocktail before and during to ensure you’re rum’d and ready to relive one of the most important moments of the high school experience. Trust, with a sexy troupe like this, it’s way more fun than you remember.
The show returns this weekend at the iconic Laurie Beechman Theatre on May 5 and later in the month on the 19th. …
She got filthy!
On the evening of May 11, 2015, the world watched with gaping mouths and finger-snapping YAAASSS BITCHes as Kennedy Davenport wiped the stage with Katya Zamolodchikova in a lip sync battle for their lives. Katya, the blond, kooky, insecure, Soviet-inspired, mostly pretty, very bendy audience favorite, was sent home from the competition. “Katya, you may doubt yourself sometimes, but I have no doubt that you are a star. And a hammer, and a sickle,” RuPaul said. “Now, sashay away.” Today, Katya is a star — an All Star, actually — but this isn’t about her.
This past winter, we invited one of our favorite collaborators, Slava Mogutin, into the studio for a photoshoot. Born in Siberia, Slava spent his early adult years as an acclaimed writer and journalist in newly post-Soviet Moscow. As one of few openly gay voices in Russian media, he pushed hard on the country’s barely-there tolerance for homosexuality. By 1995, facing threats of criminal convictions and jail time, he was forced to flee, with the United States granting him political asylum.
So we decided to pair Slava with Katya Zamolodchikova. Get it? They speak Russian; they have Soviet roots; they’re gay. Instead, Brian McCook arrived. Brian is the Boston-born performance artist whose life has been linked to his Katya character since her breakout success on RuPaul’s Drag Race. But one of the first things he told us was, “I’m not doing Drag Race drag today, OK?” What followed was a chaotic collaboration between two formidable artists. …
Earlier this week we attended the Ballet Hispánico at the Joyce Theater (that’s running from April 18-23, 2017) and the show slayed. The legendary Latino dance organization founded by dancer and choreographer Tina Ramirez in 1970 carefully celebrates the vibrance of Hispanic dance and the rigor of traditional ballet with their breathtaking performances. Their current showing features all-female choreographers, including Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Michelle Manzanales, and Tania Perez-Salas. “Our Joyce program this year showcases the talents of three exciting Latina choreographic voices,” said Eduardo Vilaro, Artistic Director and CEO of Ballet Hispánico. “Ballet Hispánico’s commitment to presenting diverse perspectives has never been stronger or more necessary.” The Joyce theatre is a fabulous place to unwind and be entertained — the night promises a bold mix of technical precision, thoughtful reflection, raw passion, and irreverent humor, all fitting together to deliver something unique. Expect silky white caftans which flow extra wide with their stilted arm extenders, male on male dancing, slicked back hair and tight buns.
Many of the dances are centered around the drama of Latin fashion — the first of three short but dynamic acts begins with a single female given a powerful presence in a red dress with a long train which she throws from one muscled male dancer to another. We gagged! In another, the performers wear orange and yellow sombreros with a tongue-in-cheek nod to Cheech Marin‘s song Mexican-Americans. The range of the performers is stunning. They effortlessly move from flamenco to contemporary between steps — from one style of movement to another to without hesitation. …
Until you’ve been to the /r/rupaulsdragrace subreddit, you may not know how far a carry can go. These internet children go in really deep to get a gag. As I’m writing this, an image from our Katya story, in the latest issue of GAYLETTER, is trending in the “hot” section. The magazine isn’t even in stores yet and we’re pretty sure we never posted this spread online. Yet, there she is. Every member of the subreddit chooses a queen from the current season to appear next to their username. Before Season 9 began airing, the community was feeling Nina Bonina Brown (duh), Shea Couleé (sure), Sasha Velour (I see it), and, Charlie Hides. These kids clearly know everything, so I’ve been leaning on trust for that last one. However, I’m not confident the show has done her justice. Luckily, this Saturday, Charlie Hides is performing for the second installment of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 Brooklyn Rusidency at Metropolitan Bar. Can’t stand to watch another queen lip sync? That’s fine, gal! Charlie Hides decidedly, defiantly, and demonstrably does not lip sync. She sings live. And she’s funny. And she’s very sweet. I’m excited to shed her edit and meet the Charlie that built up her decades-long reputation. Drag shows at Metro are about as intimate as it gets — you see it all. It’s the perfect chance to begin a reddit career with some exclusive footage of the Dame herself. Then for the rest of the night, Frankie Sharp and La’Fem Ladosha will be DJ’ing. Hopefully the back patio will be open and bumping too. So stay all night, they’ve got what you need.
Every morning CNN accompanies my coffee and at times it can feel like I am watching some kind of theatrical event. Broadcast news in the Trump age is like Weekend Update. Perhaps the strangest aspect of the 24-hour news cycle in 2017 is that the anchors laugh on television — and not at their personal whims — just about the bullshit they have to tell the world. I wonder, then, how profoundly gratifying Not Normal: Intersection, Corporate Double Team & the Orangutan will be. Each title represents a different play that will be performed by various casts at Brooklyn’s Irondale Ensemble Project. I’m sure you’re thinking “meh, I can just pass this off because it’s a bunch of quasi-avant-garde Leftys performing some form of public catharsis,” but we mustn’t forget to hear each other out as we sink further in this shit-pile of a presidency. Maybe theatre is not your cup of tea, but why not try out Irondale’s month-long programming of “Fuck Trump.” GAYLETTER’s friend Chris Tyler wrote Corporate DoubleTeam, where Trump’s at Mar-a-Lago (not untrue) “so Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller and Donald Trump, Jr. decide to jack off together in the Oval Office.” I mean, this might as well be true. It’s important to laugh a little. These kind of directives keep me inspired and sane!