EDITORIAL

CT Hedden's "QuarantQueen" Ball at The Met

sidewalkkilla

Met Gala is postponed, but some NYC queens held their own social distancing inspired ball at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the most-anticipated fashion events of the year, the Met Gala helmed by Anna Wintour, has been postponed. Leave it up to the NYC drag queens to take matters into their own hands and keep the fantasy alive.


CT Hedden, one of New York City’s prominent drag nightlife personas, came up with an idea to throw his own version of the Gala, inspired by social distancing. 

“I feel like as an entertainer, it's our job to entertain even in tough times,”

says CT on the idea of throwing an apocalyptic homage to the actual Gala,

“people look to us to lift their spirits. I’ve been doing live shows and I had this woman talk about how she was going to have elective surgery for cancer, and she’s been watching my shows and laughing about it. It’s about expressing art and just making people smile.”

During the 5-hour shoot on the steps of The Met, countless numbers of people stopped by to say hello to the queens dressed in their best “QuarantQueen” looks and thank them for brightening up their day.


Since the end of April, at least 21 US states started partially reopening, just a month and a half after the nation’s implementation of stay-at-home orders. Meanwhile, New York remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, with the quarantine still going strong. 

After the government’s orders to shut down all non-essential businesses back in the middle of March, a lot of freelance workers found themselves stuck at home with nothing but time. All over social media people are talking about ways to stay sane during the quarantine, and one thing everyone swears by is “staying creative.” Many artists have dug deeper into exploring their passions and have found ways to acclimate to the new reality quickly.

“It’s just adapting – that’s what we do as human beings, and if anyone knows how to adapt, it’s drag queens. We are constantly adapting, we don’t fit in a social norm – I don’t care how big a television show gets. We are still ridiculed, we are still a minority, but it never stops us. That’s the thing – we are resilient people,”

says CT.

In 2019, the first people to attend the Met Gala in drag were Violet Chachki and Aquaria, both winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Just a few years ago that would have been an unimaginable feat for any drag queen (possibly besides RuPaul himself) to be invited to the world’s most elite fashion event like the Met Gala. Instead of waiting for his turn to be invited, CT decided to involve some of New York’s most notable trans and drag personalities to create their own version of the event.

“I think we are really creating a moment this morning and that’s really what it’s about,”

says CT on his way to the steps of the Metropolitan Museum.

“It’s so important,”

he goes on,

"when you see a garment on someone, it touches you. Fashion is an emotion, whether it's good or bad. And this is about having that inner happiness. You gotta know that life is still happening.”

See all of the attending queens’ quarantine couture below and find out how they “stay creative.”

NOTE: All of the queens were scheduled for separate shoot times, were advised to wear a mask during the shooting, and keep appropriate social distance.

Meet The QuarantQueens

Glow Job

Drag Burlesque Clown

Jasmine Rice

Drag Artist

Nikki Exotika

Pop Singer/Actor

Digna

Drag Personality

Suburbia

Drag Personality

Drag Burlesque Clown 

Glow Job

VENMO @QueenGlowJob

What inspired your “QuarantQueen” Ball look?

The theme for the Met Gala this year was supposed to be “About Time: Fashion and Duration” and I was kind of playing off that, thinking about different ways that I could reflect different time periods. There’s a bit of Victorian in my outfit, a bit of futuristic, post-apocalyptic. The feather in the cap kind of represents victory – getting through and surviving this whole ordeal.

How do you stay creative during these times?

I stay creative by listening to myself and my spirit. Honestly, in the first 4 weeks of this, I wasn’t being creative, I wasn’t feeling my creative juices and it actually kind of terrified me. Then last week I took a deep breath, allowed myself to sleep, wasn’t being so hard on myself, and things just kind of started coming back to me.

Why did you accept the invitation to the “QuarantQueen” Ball?

I accepted the invitation because I needed to do something. Being invited to today’s Ball was a big inspiration, it got me to feel creative again, artistic again, alive again.

Drag Artist

Jasmine Rice LaBeija

VENMO @jasminericenyc

What inspired your “QuarantQueen” Ball look?

The inspiration for my garment came from hanbok, which is a traditional Korean women’s garment, and I just wanted to pay tribute to Korea, because they are doing such an amazing job with COVID-19.

How do you stay creative during these times?

I try staying creative during these times just by having fun with life. Not taking anything so serious even though what's going on in the world right now is so serious, you have to find joy, love, and happiness.

Why did you accept the invitation to the “QuarantQueen” Ball?

I did this to bring back hope. I feel like people are losing hope especially in New York City and in the US, because of what our current government is doing and how they are handling this situation. So I came out to spread some joy, some love and light, and that’s what LaBeija is all about – spreading la sunshine. We need more hope in our lives today, so that’s why I came out with my sisters.

Pop Singer/Actor

Nikki Exotika

Cash App $TrueLifeDoll

What inspired your “QuarantQueen” Ball look?

I’ve always had a fascination with Maleficent, I feel like this outfit is very inspired by the movie. Plus I’m into domination, S&M, and BDSM, so this is the perfect outfit for it.

How do you stay creative during these times?

I’m the queen of Halloween. I create everything. I can be in my house and just make amazing outfits, I bling things out, work on my YouTube, social media, record music, I’m always busy.

Why did you accept the invitation to the “QuarantQueen” Ball?

I think it’s for a good cause. A lot of people have been stuck quarantined in their house for so long, that they are about to lose their minds and I needed to leave the house.

Drag Persona

Digna

VENMO @dignanyc

What inspired your “QuarantQueen” Ball look?

Today I am feeling a little pretty, very fluffy. The Met Gala is always so extravagant, I want to show the simplicity of my style. I am a minimalist, for me this is actually a lot. Normally I am in the bodysuit, but today I wanted to do something pretty, something cute. Also I haven’t been out, so why not show off?

How do you stay creative during these times?

I found that doing a lot more makeup has been my creative outlet during the quarantine. It’s pushed my limits to the next level in terms of what I’m capable of doing with makeup.

Why did you accept the invitation to the “QuarantQueen” Ball?

I was supposed to be doing makeup this Monday for a client of mine that goes to the Met Gala and obviously it’s not going to happen, so I decided to put makeup on myself and attend the Ball myself.

Drag Persona

Thee Suburbia

VENMO @theesuburbia

What inspired your “QuarantQueen” Ball look?

Well, I had an old roommate, their name is Mint Fuel, you can find them online. They are Acid Betty’s drag son – they make all this stuff out of insulated foam. I lived with them long enough to be put in hell with insulated foam. To the point that I started making things with insulated foam. I kind of wanted to make something out of hair. All of this is made with hair, the insulated foam was just a structure. Then I surrounded it with the hair from this supplier called RastAfri, it’s called mood braid hair and it changes color in the sun. It goes from blue to purple and now we are getting a purple moment. 

How do you stay creative during these times?

Every day I wake up and I pick something new to create, whether it’s hair or an outfit or a number. I’m a drag queen, so I do a lot of those. Yesterday I curled out a long mane and this morning I revived this look a little bit, so that and the virtual shows is what keeps me going.

Why did you accept the invitation to the “QuarantQueen” Ball?

What made me accept the invitation to the Ball today were all these people that wanted to get a  vision and I had a vision to give. I really wanted to get out of the house and I know everyone else wants to get out of the house, so I figured hey let's all have a water hair fantasy moment together.

Alexey Kim

Founder

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