Categories
Events Pride Timeline

Looking Back At Miami’s First Controversial Wynwood Pride

EVENTS | PRIDE

Looking Back At Miami’s First Controversial Wynwood Pride

In 2019, Miami’s first Wynwood Pride split local talent into two opposing camps. In 2020, the festival is back in digital form.

In 2020 Miami-based Wynwood Pride came back for its second year, but this time, virtually. While local artists comprised the bulk of last year’s 3-day lineup, heavyweights such as Pabllo Vittar, Ivy Queen, and Poppy were each day’s respective headliners. The festival split the local talent into different camps: local drag artists Yoko Oso and Kunst called on people to boycott the festival organized by local for-profit company SWARM, criticizing them for using the Pride label for “what essentially is, a Gay Pop Music Festival,” while also enlisting AT&T as one of the event’s biggest sponsors – AT&T reportedly donated $2.7 million to 193 anti-gay politicians in 2017 and 2018.

Queef Latina, the organizer of South Florida’s biggest queer performance festival Wigwood, found herself caught in the middle. In one of her Instagram posts she called for peace:

“At times we get so caught up in the politics and drama that we forget that we should not be fighting fellow queers, but should be channelling those efforts to fight the real oppressors.”

Karla Croqueta (right) with their partner Jonny

Karla Croqueta, another drag staple of Miami who doubled as an MC during the second day of the festival, said she was grateful that she was able to participate and pay her bills,

“You should care about it [representation of the LGBTQIA+ community], but be wise about how you represent it… I had 4 cameras and a drone floating in front of me, with two giant screens the size of buildings bigger than I’ve lived in, with my face planted on them, with my message about queer representation and trans representation being spewed out to 5,000 people that were in front of me. I just feel like, get on a bigger soap box.”

This year, on June 13, Wynwood collaborated with a nonprofit, PLUS1, to benefit The Bail Project, Impact Justice, Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, Contigo Fund, and Equal Justice Initiative, raising $18,796 in total.

Wynwood Pride is back this coming weekend (June 26 – 27) to their Twitch channel in hopes of raising more funds for the above mentioned organizations. This is a chance to get familiar with local superstars like Kat Wilderness, Morphine Love, Sensitive Black Hottie, Vex The Thing, Opal Am Rah, Mami Issues, Aeon Hues and FKA Twink. Big Freedia and Orville Peck are still listed as headliners, while Kali Uchis, and Sofi Tukker will be missed this time around. Check out the event’s set list HERE.

FULL COVERAGE

Wynwood Pride Day 1

With Pabllo Vittar, Aja, Carmen Carrera, Dorian Electra & more

Wynwood Pride Day 2

With Ivy Queen, Aurora Whorealis, Petty Boop, Gami, Patent Pending & more

Wynwood Pride Day 3

With Poppy, Khasamarina, Khasamartini, Chiyna Sparks & more

Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
Ball Culture EDITORIAL Events Timeline

How Taipei’s Drag And Ballroom Scenes Are Fusing Two Cultures Into One

EDITORIALS


How Taipei’s Drag And Ballroom Scenes Are Fusing Two Cultures Into One And Making It Work

Taipei’s rapidly blooming queer culture is a sight to be seen. With last year’s same-sex marriage legalization, the island of Taiwan is becoming one of the friendliest queer destinations in the world. The same year’s Taipei’s 19th Annual Pride was the biggest one yet, attracting an estimated 200,000 attendees.

Many events and parties were organized all through the week, leading up to Sunday’s parade, one of the most-anticipated ones being “Pose,” which was headlined by Aja and Kim Chi of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and which was supposed to be hosted by one of Taipei’s most prominent Ballroom culture figures Big Ninja. The event was organized by C.U.M. (Create Ur Mmagic) party collective and was poised to be held at the historic queer space in Taipei called The Red House.

I was invited to the party by Big Ninja himself, who was one of the first Taiwanese people to ever walk in a voguing Ball in New York City and who is currently the father of the voguing House of Ninja in Taipei. I was introduced to him by my friend Melanie Ninja Extravaganza, who is an iconic figure in the NYC Ballroom scene and knows many voguers all over the World.

On the day of the event Big sent me the night’s performance schedule, and I could see that it was supposed to start off with several Ballroom categories.

The Ballroom rules are simple, even though they might seem confusing to someone who has never witnessed a voguing Ball before. Ballroom culture always has the same set of categories, in which people from the Ballroom community or anyone from the audience is welcome to compete / walk in. The categories might have a slight twist to them depending on whether the Ball has a theme, and not all of the existing categories in the history of Ballroom are always utilized. For example, the categories could be anything from “Sex Siren,” where you are supposed to show off your sex appeal, to “Realness With a Twist,” where you are expected to pass as heterosexual during the first stage, then return to the competition to vogue like a femme queen. To pass the first round you must receive “10s across the board” (highest rating from all the judges), after which you can move on to the next stage of the competition, where you battle it out with another contestant who has reached that stage along with you, usually for a trophy or a cash prize, or both. The battle goes on until there is only one person left standing.

Viral pole dancer Quan Bui was flown in from Thailand to perform at the event

Big came out on stage and started introducing the prominent figures in the Ballroom community that were present at the event (a necessary practice in order to pay respects). We shortly moved on to the first category, which was “Face” (usually a category about who has a classically beautiful face with minimal makeup). Instead of the expected call to get in the queue for anyone who wants to compete, several drag queens congregated in the center of the stage and started a choreographed lip-sync performance.

“This is unusual,”

I thought.

The categories that followed next were “Runway,” “Female Figure,” and “Sex Siren.“ They all featured a similar format, where groups of drag queens (in the case of the “Sex Siren” category, dance collective Slutty Pomi performed) would come out onstage and start performing to a mix of songs with choreographed routines, sprinkled with voguing elements. It was far removed from what Ballroom is about; nonetheless it was still enjoyable, as everyone who performed put tremendous work into their numbers.

Several days later when I met Big for dinner, the first thing he asked me was my opinion about the “Pose” party.

“Ah, well it was different,”

I said.

He expressed that his Ballroom friends told him it wasn’t Ballroom at all, but he didn’t have any control over the way organizers wanted this to go.

On my last day in Taipei, I met up with Popcorn (one of the drag queens who performed during the “Face” segment) and her husband Henry. Henry told me that now in Taipei almost every party wants to combine drag with Ballroom. Both communities are pretty small and have just started being mainstream in Taipei’s nightlife, but both are becoming equally popular, inarguably due to the phenomena of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the hit show about Ballroom Pose.

“So most of the organizers want both now and we are finding ways to work together,”

Henry said.

Big Ninja judging “Bizarre” category at Spectrum Formosus festival

Indeed, during the techno queer festival “Spectrum Formosus“ that took place a week after the “Pose” party, Big Ninja, Popcorn, and her husband Henry joined forces to put together a mini-Ball.

“Since we were afraid that no one from the crowd would walk for the categories, we invited anyone we knew from the Ballroom and the drag scene so that they could walk and put on a show,”

Henry said.

The mini-Ball went on for over two hours and, surprisingly, many people from the crowd joined in certain categories. The Ball was entertaining as hell and I found myself walking for the “Sex Siren” category, being egged on by Big right before it started:

“You betta work it kitty girl.”

These days it’s pretty rare for the two cultures to mix in the same space, due to the different nature of the respective performance elements. But in Taipei, both communities focus not on their differences and occupying separate spaces, but rather about finding ways to work together in order to help each other’s cultures thrive.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
Events Festivals The Mixer Timeline

My First Time At Bushwig

THE MIXER | EVENTS


09-07-19

My First Time At Bushwig Festival

You are definitely in for a treat if this is your first time attending Buswhig. Read about Mark Minton’s experience.

The first time I even heard of Bushwig was just before it started last year. I had just moved to New York less than a month prior and was paying rent to sleep on a couch in a one-bedroom in the South Bronx. Trekking to Brooklyn usually took me longer than an hour, and at the time I was so rattled by the impulsive decision to quit my job in Kansas and move to NYC with minimal savings and no income that I decided to stay home and cry instead of going to what is arguably the best drag fest in New York City.

I now live a 30-minute walk and a seven-minute Uber ride from Knockdown Center, the event space that hosts Bushwig. So this year staying home really wasn’t an option. I had already secured a press pass after accosting Horrorchata at the Bushwig On Top takeover a few days prior at Le Bain, and I was ready to attend a festival dedicated entirely to the art of drag for the first time in my life. 

Molestia Child

The weird thing about Bushwig is that it starts early in the afternoon at around 1 p.m. So when I got out of my Uber five hours later at the corner of Flushing and 55th St., wearing Puma sneakers, a short golden dress I got at a thrift store down the street for eight bucks, no makeup, and the signature patent leather tufted beret I rescued from a stock room at Bloomingdale’s in Soho, I felt strange. There was a draft between my legs. The evening light had not yet waned. Shadowy drivers catcalled as they passed me in their cars. Pedestrians whistled at me from across Flushing Ave. I didn’t want to wear pants to a drag fest, so I wore a dress, but to me that was the bare minimum. I thought I would get out of my Uber, disappear into a swarm of drag queens and kings and in-betweens, and reemerge into the comfort of a moonlit darkness where social norms seem to disappear, or at least sleep. 

It took a moment before I even saw Knockdown Center. I started walking the wrong way, and then I turned around. As people waved and whistled I smiled bashfully and wrapped my arms around my waist to hug myself in reassurance as I crossed the street. The smile said, “I’m in on the joke,” but the body language said, “Holy fuck why does this shit start at 1 p.m.?” But just as soon as I was lost, I found myself in that magical crowd of people in full face and look in the day’s last, gloaming light — wigs down to the ankles, lips overdrawn to the cheek, pads and bodysuits and choruses of “Hey sis!” I had found safety, but now the embarrassment was less that I stood out too much and more that I didn’t measure up to the legions of drag artists who had all shown up with something to show.

Charity Kase

Bimini

Georgia Tasda

After I feverishly gulped down a pair of diminutive $15 tequila sunrises, I lingered by the stage and watched from the back of the crowd as the “London Takeover” segment of the festival got underway. The first artist I watched was Georgia Tasda, who walked the stage with a giant white flag graffiti’d “Fuck Brexit.” My favorite picture of the performance only got the “Fuck” part of the message. The silhouette of the crowd obscured the rest. But “Fuck” to me said it all perfectly enough. “Fuck.” It felt right. Other queens in the act such as Bimini and Charity Kase gave some of my favorite performances of the night and got me thinking about a trip to the UK (feel free to book me for any big upcoming events, London ladies). It was a reminder that drag is like a universal language, bringing people together from all over the planet.

Most of what I do is photograph parties and, more specifically, the attendees of parties. The performances at Bushwig were nonstop, back to back, and after standing stageside for what must have been at least two hours, I felt sated by some of the amazing numbers by artists such as Blake Deadly, God Complex, Violencia Exclamation Point, and Tammie Brown.

Violencia Exclamation Point

I decided it was time to get some food, so I followed some friends to the food trucks in the outdoor commons. The lines were long, the turnaround times were long, and I’d been drinking for about 30 hours straight and had neglected to feed myself. So I left Knockdown with Willie Page and found a cluster of bodegas a few blocks away. On the way we passed a big white clown face built into a white wooden wall. Bushwig felt like it extended beyond Knockdown Center. It somehow seemed like all of Brooklyn, maybe even all of New York City, was eclipsed by the happening of Bushwig. Cashiers asked if there was a party going on. Somehow it was a hard question to answer.

When we got back, I milled through the crowd and found a few friends. Luka Ghost wore his quintessential white Deer Goddess regalia and crouched in a creepy nook I couldn’t divine the purpose of. Basit Shittu and Kylie Smith from the first fully queer season eight cast of Are You The One? just so happened to be wearing neon-green spaghetti-strapped garments that perfectly matched a neon-green spaghetti strap dress that West Dakota wore. They posed for a photo together and talked like old friends, but I think it was truly a coincidence that they were all wearing neon-green outfits with green spaghetti straps. It might have been planned though. I might have been drunk(er) by then. 

Candy Sterling looked hot. Her dancers looked hot. They all posed against a wall with their asses out. It was hot. Serena Tea was dressed like cocktail fish and I snapped a photo of her on the metal stairs of a storage (barn?) unit. She didn’t know and I didn’t know and nobody else knew (I don’t think) that the next night she would be crowned Miss Bushwig 2019. I didn’t know anyone was going to be crowned Miss Bushwig, though. I’m learning more every day.

Luka Ghost

Kylie Smith, Basit Shittu & West Dakota

Candy Sterling and dancers

J Rosa

When we got back, I milled through the crowd and found a few friends. Luka Ghost wore his quintessential white Deer Goddess regalia and crouched in a creepy nook I couldn’t divine the purpose of. Basit Shittu and Kylie Smith from the first fully queer season eight cast of Are You The One? just so happened to be wearing neon-green spaghetti-strapped garments that perfectly matched a neon-green spaghetti strap dress that West Dakota wore. They posed for a photo together and talked like old friends, but I think it was truly a coincidence that they were all wearing neon-green outfits with green spaghetti straps. It might have been planned though. I might have been drunk(er) by then. 

Candy Sterling looked hot. Her dancers looked hot. They all posed against a wall with their asses out. It was hot. Serena Tea was dressed like cocktail fish and I snapped a photo of her on the metal stairs of a storage (barn?) unit. She didn’t know and I didn’t know and nobody else knew (I don’t think) that the next night she would be crowned Miss Bushwig 2019. I didn’t know anyone was going to be crowned Miss Bushwig, though. I’m learning more every day.

MTHR TRSA

Overall, the first night of Bushwig was a night I’ll never forget. As I left, MTHR TRSA (pronounced “Mother Theresa”) was lying in the parking lot eating pretzels with her mouth full, the sharp signature contour of her cheeks dancing to the motions of her insatiable masticating maw. We left Knockdown and J Rosa posed next to corrugated sheet metal and a graffiti’d rape van in a long-sleeved black Calvin Klein shirt and a clown beat. All the way home, Bushwig kept going and going. 

I didn’t make it to the final night of Bushwig because I foolishly decided to stay in Manhattan, and I also didn’t know a Miss Bushwig 2019 crowning was a thing, but throughout the weekend I was amazed by the talent and bravery I witnessed both online and in person at that festival. It was such an amazing space for so many drag artists to come together and show how wide-ranging, diverse, and intrepid the art of drag really is. Let’s just say it’s the actual NYC DragCon.

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Categories
Events Festivals The Mixer Timeline

Bushwig 2019: Portraits And Performances With Slayyyter, Aja, Florida Maniac And More

THE MIXER | EVENTS


Bushwig 2019: Portraits And Performances

Bushwig festival has celebrated eight years! This was only our second year even knowing about it. Kind of sucks, because we’ve missed so many years of awesomeness. 

It was first started in 2012 by two local drag queens- Horrorchata and Babe Trust. Now, it has gone international. Berlin is the other hosting city at the moment. We are sure it will only keep growing.

There were many incredible performers this year. Lady BunnySlayyyter, Nina West, Scarlet Envy and Tammie Brown– just to name a few. One of the best things that happened this year was Serena Tea’s performance. She transformed into a human from a car on stage. An amazing homage to Bumblebee from the “Transformers” movie franchise.

Another notable moment of the night was Serena Tea’s crowning as the new Mx. Bushwig. Two previously reigning queens Charlene and Juku oversaw the ceremony. To sum it up, we can’t wait for the next year’s Bushwig festival already. Furthermore, we can’t wait to attend it in Berlin.

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Categories
Events Festivals Timeline

Throwback: RuPaul’s DragCon 2018 with RuPaul, Aquaria, Alyssa Edwards And More

EVENTS | FESTIVALS


Throwback: RuPaul’s DragCon 2018 With RuPaul, Alyssa Edwards, Aquaria & More

Ornacia was the first thing I saw once I got to RuPauls DragCon 2018. She was comfortably propped up on top of Vivacious’ head. Vivacious was moving about the floor with her signature strut.

At one point I’ve noticed a sudden commotion. RuPaul was walking through the crowd and everyone went bananas. Mama Ru got on stage and was shortly joined by Alyssa Edwards. Alyssa sashayed on stage to enlist RuPaul to help promote her then upcoming Netflix show “Dancing Queen.

The rest happened in a blur. Aquaria is in front of us. She is blinded by her white-out contacts. Marti Gould Cummings is prompting her with lines. The famous drag queen is adorably not able to keep up.

Next thing you know, Monét X Change’s manager is telling us not to take photos while she is chewing gum, even though I all admit its hilarious. Then Vanessa Vanjie Mateo reads us for filth for taking her pictures from below. Which is totally awesome.

After that, Alyssa Edwards is done shooting for press for the day. Which I totally ignore and just do it from the distance anyway. Swear she knew she was being photographed though, just look at her pics.

Our favorite moment of the day though, was when Abhora was walking around on her stilts and scaring the crap out of everyone. Then all of a sudden Nicole Paige Brooks calls her over. The stilted scary drag queen transformed into a puppy in a matter of seconds. In other words, it was one of the most touching moments I’ve ever witnessed.

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Alexey Kim

Founder