Photo via @bushwig / Insta
Plenty of social theorists have discussed the ways that a rise in hate crimes against LGBTQ individuals can be seen as a backlash against the myriad accomplishments in the spheres of social justice, social acceptance, and civil rights. Now, under President Trump (still weird to write that!), sexual minorities face new waves of persecution on the streets and in courts. The phrase “now, more than ever” has been more than abused since November, and yet the direness of our political situation makes it impossible not to speak in hyperbole: but now, more than ever, we need drag.
The history of LGBTQ liberation can’t be told without the drag queens who fought for our rights long before Trump’s disheveled, thinning mane reared it’s ugly head. Drag queens continue to be at the forefront of the fight for queer lives. Few events, aside from a plethora of street protests and demonstrations, showcase this dynamic more than Bushwig, Brooklyn’s iconic drag festival founded by community organizer and icon Horrorchata. Now in it’s 6th year, this grassroots collection of some of the most esteemed gender terrorists and performance artists that our borough (and the entire world, actually) has to offer, is taking place at The Knockdown Center on September 23rd and 24th.
Don’t expect the typical top 40 and Broadway divas commonly associated with the art of drag to be the main attraction at this hyper-political event: Bushwig’s biggest draw is surreal, club kid-inspired art which attacks the gender binary and our increasingly dystopian overlords with a colorful and energetic voraciousness. Although imminently joyous, we’re sure the bright stars of Bushwig, will perform with a new sense of urgency, making sure our queer voices can’t be silenced any time soon.
To help guide you through the event, we’ve curated some things to look out for at the festival. Check out our brief intro to Bushwig, below:
With over 150 artists performing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the immense lineup of talent. Here’s a brief who’s who of the biggest names of the event.
Alyssa Edwards is one of RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s breakout stars, and she’ll be serving as the headliner for the festival. Her unique brand of high-energy dance sets and absurd semi-non-sequitur humor has turned her into one of the biggest runaway successes in the show’s history.
Thorgy Thor is another RPDR queen who walked the main stage representing Brooklyn. Her talent as a musician and eccentric fashion tastes didn’t land her the crown, but she made us all proud.
Horrorchata is the festival’s headmistress and mother. She’s the brains behind all this beauty.
Lady Simon and Hystée Lauder are representatives of a new generation of experimental drag performers who transcend the boundaries of the art form. The former has been on the scene for a while but rarely performs with the exception of her annual appearance at this very festival (which usually winds up being the talk of the town for the entire year) and the latter is a relatively new upstart whose strange body-horror influenced brand of no-theater made them a standout at last year’s show.
Crimson Kitty is New York’s premiere female drag queen, who created a house exclusively for trans, non-binary, and female bodied performers.
Ari Kiki, New York’s biggest and hottest mess, will be representing Manhattan with her idiosyncratic and often snack-oriented talents (you’ll see).
Dance The Night Away
If you get tired of watching the stage, Bushwig’s got an entire dance party out back. Talented DJ’s from around the world are being brought in to keep the girls bumping, grinding, and vogueing all day and night. The legendary Honey Soundsystem and JD Samson (formerly of Le Tigre) are the biggest names on the lineup, but underground aficionados will gladly get down to names like Dicap, Tikka Masala, and the Papi Juice crew. Also of note is Hannah Lou, the drag daughter of Mother ‘Chata and a talented DJ in her own right.
Make Them Eat It
Horrorchata’s an enterprising queen, so aside from the usual hamburgers and hotdogs, watch out for her special taco recipe, exploding under the brand name Taco Queen (of course).
Shop Til You (Death-)Drop
Organized by Alotta McGriddles, Bushwig is now paired with a local vendors market, Bushswag, selling everything from custom nails to haute couture to sexy underwear. Here’s who to look out for:
Ten Yards Clothing is custom fashion seller Sam Branman’s enterprise. He’s got nerd culture inspired jockstraps, playful jewelry, and will be ready to take your custom order if you’ve got anything else in mind.
Tyler Wallach‘s playful, colorful t-shirt designs are reminiscent of Keith Haring, but updated for 2017.
SinfulColors is setting up a free nail bar to help mani-cure you of your troubles.
Casey Caldwell‘s avant-garde ziptie designs have been showcased by Drag Race talent and beyond. They’ll be made available at shockingly reasonable prices.
If the impeccably curated lineup of DJ’s wasn’t enough, Bushwig’s also got a round of live music to keep giving you life. Here’s who you shouldn’t miss.
Cupcakke: The raunchy Chicago rapper who created an anthem to LGBTs is taking the stage to party with her squad.
Macy Rodman: Underground pop sensation and nightlife icon, Rodman’s latest collection of personal music, titled The Lake, will move you to tears.
Boy Radio: This rising star on the scene is marking their territory with energetic jams.
La’fem Ladosha: Pioneers of underground hip-hop, the Ladoshas have been spitting bars since long before this scene exploded.
Keep the party going
After parties abound at the Bushwig queens’ regular haunts. Ruby Fox, Brooklyn’s favorite new drag ingenue, will be hosting follow-up celebrations at The Rosemont on Saturday and The Deep End on Sunday. More details to come on those.
But if you need a break from the Bushwig crew (and don’t want to venture to the straighter parts of Brooklyn), critically acclaimed rapper Jay Boogie is performing his newest album Jesus Loves Me Too at Teatro LATEA on Saturday.
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