Bushwig, one of the world’s biggest drag performance festivals, originating in Brooklyn in 2011, just kind of happened on Saturday, October 3, in spite of coronavirus. The official three days of the festival that usually happen at Brooklyn’s Knockdown Center around this time of the year, were scrapped just a couple of months ago, when the prospects of opening up New York spaces that could accommodate large crowds were slim to none.
The social-distancing event happened over the course of a Saturday evening in Maria Hernandez Park in Brooklyn. The official Bushwig IG page posted a flyer about the event just a few days before it happened, giving unusually short notice to the festival’s fans. The post advised everyone to wear a mask and a wig, and to keep 6 feet apart. Instead of the usual 300+ performers that would have been scheduled over the course of the three days at the Knockdown Center, only 12 performer names were featured on the flyer. Amongst the night’s slated performers were Bushwig’s old-timer Charlene, Ms. Bushwig 2018 Chiquitita (née Harajuku and then Juku), Sasha Velour’s NightGowns show’s regular Neon Calypso, the self-proclaimed mother of Brooklyn drag, Merrie Cherry, and Bushwig’s co-founder Horrorchata herself.
The Dragon Sisters
Merrue Cherry & Horrorchata
The crowd warmed up with the DJ set from Babes Trust, the second co-founder of the festival, who eventually came out onstage to start off the shows and tell everyone that the idea to throw the event was very last minute, and that all of the proceeds would go to the performers and the Bushwig organization team “to survive and strive.” The evening’s shows were split in two parts with a 10-minute intermission. Lady Quesa’Dilla opened and MC’d the first part of the evening, with Rify Royalty and drag king Myster E Mel Kiki following right after. Chiquitita, formerly Juku, debuted her new stage name to Sade’s “Is It A Crime,” sensuously embodying her womanhood in front of the large crowd; Neon Calypso followed up with poem “Capitalism” by Porsha Olayiwola, a 2014 Individual World Poetry Champion, breaking into “Bitch Better Have My Money” with her signature flips and splits; Merrie Cherry and Horrorchata closed out the first half of the performances with a joyous duet.
Merrie Cherry took over the MC duties for the second half of the evening and attempted to thank the NYPD for not kicking everyone out of the park. Most of the crowd booed and several people screamed out, “Fuck NYPD!” To which Merrie Cherry conceded and said that she was just grateful that everyone could come together and celebrate Bushwig.
The larger-than-life Dragon Sisters opened up the second act with a bang, while the multi-talented opera singing aerialist Marcy Richardson showered them with a thick stash of dollar bills; Charlene followed up with a fierce hairography thanks to her signature portable fan, her unruly bosom continually popping out of her deeply V-necked ensemble; Zavaleta kicked off her heels, one of which managed to hit someone in the crowd in the head, at the start of her performance and then cried bloody tears through plastic tubes attached to a pump; Miz Jade introduced everyone to a “Toxic” X “WAP” mashup; the last two performances belonged to Magenta and then Horrorchata’s duet with Charlene.
The night wrapped up with an iconic photo op of all the Brooklyn-based performers in attendance and a DJ set by mrjpatt. The organizers of the event are already setting their eyes on next year. In Bushwig’s most recent IG post, part of the comment reads, “See you September 11th & 12th 2021 at @knockdowncenter ~ Tickets on sale soon“. Here’s to hoping that things will go back to somewhat normal in the upcoming year and the Brooklyn LGBTQIA+ community will be able to celebrate with each other once again under the roof of the Knockdown Center.
Performers of Brooklyn