Categories
Bushwig Nightlife

Bushwig Throws Intergalactic NYE Party After a 7-Year Hiatus

EVENTS | NIGHTLIFE


Bushwig Throws Intergalactic NYE Party After a 7-Year Hiatus

It’s been 7 whole years since Bushwig celebrated New Year’s Eve. The last one was so epic, people were trying to bum rush through security to get themselves into the venue. One of Bushwig’s co-founders, Babes Trust, says that there was no major reason why another NYE party hasn’t been thrown since 2012.

This year’s event took over the entire multi-floor complex The Sultan Room, The Turks Inn & The Roof, providing plenty of room to play hide-and-seek or awaken your inner Dora the Explorer. The idea of hosting the party at the venue came when Babes was visiting The Sultan Room and found out that they were free on NYE. “So I just thought, I’m in town, Horrochata is in town, so let’s just fucking do it.” Horrochata is the second founding half of Bushwig.

With the EXTRAterrestrial theme, many came dressed in interplanetary attire, but no one felt alienated – Bushwig has always been known for creating safe space for queer creatives, letting them explore their sometimes unidentified identities.

“I think after this NYE we should definitely do it more. Also we are kind of into making it a super affordable, dope, fun Brooklyn party, which is just easy. I think that everyone is always super dramatic over New Year’s and it’s always this expensive anti-climax and we just want to keep it cute,” says Babes.

Peep a few moments below, starring Bushwig muses: Miz Jade, Baby Love as sexy baby Yoda, Juku, Thee Suburbia, and The PoC Collective, Sweaty Eddie, Charlene, Neon Calypso, and more.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
Activisim EDITORIAL Events Nightlife Timeline

Opinion: What Is Your Responsibility When Representing Your Community?

EVENTS | ACTIVISM


Opinion: What Is Your Responsibility When Representing Your Community?

A non-binary drag fixture in the Brooklyn queer community, Thee Suburbia, held a fundraiser for the Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC), a nonprofit organization based out of Washington, DC, and helmed by black trans activist Dr. Lourdes Ashley Hunter. What was meant to be a supportive and uplifting event took a sudden turn due to unexpected hostility and verbal abuse directed towards the attendees by Dr. Hunter throughout most of the night. 

Thee Suburbia living for one of the performers

The fundraiser’s lineup included over 30 performers, most of whom were trans women of color. Thee Suburbia had the idea of starting The PoC Drag Art Collective for a while, and it took  physical shape in Suburbia’s home, during Thanksgiving dinner, when she invited fellow queer creatives and announced her intention of holding the first PoC Drag Art Collective. “She just kind of posted up a sign-up sheet and told us to sign our names if we wanted to perform,” one of the night’s performers J Rosa reminisced about that evening. 

Before we even figured out who we wanted to give money to, we were already creating awareness to support trans women of color, hence why the event’s lineup was mostly comprised of trans women,” Thee Suburbia stated in explaining the importance of creating this project. “We wanted to show how much we cared about people who might need more help; we also wanted people to experience the connection we are creating for each other.”

The event was held at a DIY space called Hartstop, located in the Bed-Stuy (short for Bedford-Stuyvesant) neighborhood of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn queer community is not new in creating DIY spaces to hold events – those are the spaces where everyone feels the safest, it seems: the Casa Diva party that used to be held at Charlene Incarnate’s industrial loft has achieved almost legendary status, while the Brooklyn Nightlife Awards 2019 winner for “Best Party,” Oops!, takes over The Rosemont bar every Wednesday to do whatever the creators Juku, West Dakota, and Magenta desire. 

Thee Suburbia reached out a week prior to the event, asking me to attend her first fundraiser she worked so hard to arrange. It took me over an hour to get to Bed-Stuy from Harlem, but I didn’t dare miss an event with such an amazing lineup that also was supporting a good cause. The performances were scheduled to start at 6 pm and go on until 12 am. 

I was about an hour late, but I got there just in time to catch a few performers from the earlier lineup. Dr. Lourdes Ashley Hunter showed up just a few moments after me, wearing a yellow African print dress. Soon after that, Suburbia invited Dr. Hunter to the microphone to introduce herself. Dr. Hunter started off her speech by advertising a book that was made for her by “a white woman” who wanted all of the proceeds from the book’s sales to benefit the TWOCC. “I got books for sale and I am not taking any of them home with me, so all of you hoes will purchase a book tonight…” Dr. Hunter proclaimed to the crowd’s cheers and laughter. She wrapped up her speech by noting that a black trans woman was murdered in DC “three days ago,” and that on the way to New York she learned that another trans woman had been murdered two days ago “three miles away from here.” “And it’s a bit much,” she continued, “so we are here to celebrate black trans women.”

During the first break between the performances, I wandered over to the side of the room where Dr. Hunter had set up a poster with photos and a quote that read, “I don’t want to be visible because I am trans. I want to be seen, affirmed and celebrated as a whole damn person… I want to wake up without a threat of violence! I want to fall in love, raise a family and pass down traditions my grandma and mom passed to me. I want to thrive without fear! I don’t want to have to tell you all about my pain for you to then journey towards an understanding that trans folk deserve to breathe, to live and thrive in a world that celebrates all of who we are… Humans.”

Dr. Lourdes Ashley Hunter

Moved by the inspiring quote, I turned around to find Dr. Hunter standing right in front of me. “Are you buying the book?” she inquired, to which I replied: “Sure, but I will get it a little bit later.” 

Dr. Hunter looked me dead in the eye and said, “So you are not buying the book?

I will, but I wanted to ask you a couple of questions first about the work that you do.” I perceived an immediate shift in her attitude the moment I said I wasn’t going to buy the book on the spot.

Why are you asking me this, do you wanna date me?” – which she didn’t say in a funny way; it felt like I had asked someone a question that I had no business asking. 

No… I just wanted to find out a bit more about your work,” I proceeded cautiously. 

She made a frustrated puffing sound, simultaneously flipping up her hair and pointing both of her upper extremities to the poster behind me: “Well, go to my website and you can read what you need to know there.”

I prefer to hear it directly from the source…,” I continued, even though I could feel the ground was getting shaky.

Well then, you should have already known what this event was about before coming here, this event is for me!” she said, starting to lose her cool. 

I made a mental check that she emphasized that the event was for her and not for her non-profit, but I went on: “Well, I am writing an article about this, so I thought…” 

I don’t give a fuck what you do! This event is about raising money! I don’t have time to explain! Black trans women are dying! We don’t have time to explain shit!” – she went berzerk.

I started shaking. This was so unexpected and the exchange was making me feel uneasy and unwelcome, all at once.

Junior Mintt

I withdrew myself from the argument and stood to the side. One of the performers of the night, Junior Mintt, a Black trans woman known for her funny yet politically charged performances, approached Dr. Hunter at that moment to chat, only to be met with: “Tell him sis! We ain’t got time to explain shit! Black trans women are dying!” At that moment I just got really pissed off and couldn’t stay quiet. I turned to Dr. Hunter and asked her if she really thought it was wise to shut someone down when they come to her with a question about her cause, to which she became even more unravelled, screaming: “You are a cis gay man! Don’t start with me! I’m a Black trans woman!

With that statement I felt like she had just invalidated my entire existence. It made me feel small and unimportant, almost like an outsider that dared to invade a space that wasn’t built for me. At that moment I was ready to leave. I had gone to the event with the aim of uplifting the work that Suburbia and TWOCC were doing together. What was I supposed to write about the event now?

I went up to the rooftop to catch some fresh air. Thee Suburbia was standing there talking to a couple of other performers. She turned to me and asked me how I was doing. I told her what had just transpired. She showed instant concern and a flicker of a shadow appeared on her face. “I’m so sorry that happened,” she said. “It’s not your fault, maybe she is just drunk,” I responded.

After staying up on the roof for a bit, I decided to stay for the rest of the talent that was slated to perform later in the evening.

Zenobia, Charlene, Islaya, MTHR TRSA, Dai Burger

Throughout the night, over 30 queer PoC performers have taken the stage: Jayse Vegas, Dezi5, Showdolliana, Junior Mint, Robert Garcia, Xtain, La Candelaria, J Rosa, John Mateo, Zenobia, Charlene, IslayaMTHR TRSA, Senerio, Foxy Belle Afriq, Sir Charles, Juniper Juicy, Kenzi Coulee, Denime The Queen, Xunami Muse, Paris L’Hommie, Caribu Vague, DJ Hard Candy, Thee Suburba herself, Dancer On Probation, Tina Twirler, Glow Job, Onyma, Skittlez, J’Royce Jata, Dévo Monique, Jypsy Jeyfree, Marcel, B Hawk Snipes, Mojo Disco, and the headliner of the night Dai Burger.

Even though Dr. Hunter was living for everyone’s performances, she kept on sprinkling the crowd with violent verbal outbursts. At one point she snatched the mic from MTHR TRSA, the second host of the night, and asked for a chair. When the person manning the mix board moved a stool towards her, she commanded: “Bring its height up, white person!” The audience responded with uncomfortable laughter. At another point of the night, she snatched the mic from MTHR TRSA again while she was in the middle of introducing the next performer, responding to the host’s polite protest: “I don’t give a fuck about the next performance! Listen to me!

Several times throughout the night she grabbed the tip bucket and ran around the room demanding that people put money into it: “I know you got coins, cuz I see you buying drinks at the bar!,” “Come on you white motherfuckers, I know you got money!,” “If you are not donating money, then why the fuck are you here!?” The barrage of verbal abuse towards the crowd went on incessantly. Right before Charlene was about to perform, Dr. Hunter misgendered her: “You are a white cis woman, what are you doing here?” By this point, no one was trying to cover up the uncomfortable situation with laughter any more, and many people were leaving. Finally, during one of Dr. Hunter’s attempts to extort the crowd, in a sign of defeat she rested her elbow on MTHR TRSA’s shoulder and pronounced: “You know what, I don’t need this.”

Eventually Suburbia came up to me and told me that she and a group of other people staged an intervention and asked Dr. Hunter to leave. The atmosphere significantly lightened up after that, and the people who showed up after this point were clueless about the night’s earlier episode.

Suburbia said: ”We just told her that this is the party we are putting together, we don’t know how many people were going to come or what it was going to look like, we just knew that we wanted to give her something and quickly it turned into her saying that we agreed to pay her.” I asked why the PoC Drag Art Collective chose this specific organization as a beneficiary. “I looked her up,” Suburbia responded, “I read about things she was doing, I read a lot about her collective. That night, a lot of people came because of her workshops. It really looked great on paper. In the beginning a part of me wanted to give to the Ali Forney Center, The Trevor Project, Audre Lorde, something like that, but I wanted to do something for someone that’s smaller, someone who could actually appreciate that we do something for them.”

It didn’t feel like Dr. Hunter was appreciative of anything. She treated the entire event with a palpable sense of entitlement, like everyone in attendance owed her something and was supposed to shower her with money at the ready. For her, if you were not a trans woman of color, you didn’t exist.

The insensitive and hurtful approach exhibited by Dr. Lourdes Hunter, regarded as a representative of Black trans women, raises many questions and concerns. Should we be more mindful of people that we invite into the safety of our communities? Should people that represent a certain group be accountable for their actions? Just because someone is passionate about an issue, does that mean they are properly equipped with the right tools to represent their community?

Glow Job

As one of the night’s performers Glow Job perfectly summed it up: “I was giving Suburbia a pep talk upstairs cause she was pretty devastated. But we all still showed up, and we were all there because we wanted to be a part of this and do some good, so that when we do it again and then again, it’ll get bigger and better and we’ll look back on this first one that started it all, and reflect on its craziness. It’s epicness in a way. There is an opportunity to grow and to come together stronger as a group that really drives that conversation even within the community. There was a lot of energy, attention, and time that people put into this night, and I personally hope it could keep going and should only be bigger and better from this point on. If anything, there is more drive to protect this group and make it something worth fighting for for next time.

It’s almost impossible not to compare the two completely opposite approaches taken by Dr. Hunter and by Thee Suburbia. At the end of the day, we have to be accountable for our actions when we take on the responsibility of representing a group or a community, and we must make sure that our approach doesn’t hurt the message. The wrong delivery can push people further away or tune them off completely, even possibly perpetuating stigmas about your community.

No one wants to be belittled or made to feel bad based on ignorant assumptions that you’ve had it so much better based on your race, sexual preference, experience, or gender. Love, kindness, openness, and willingness to educate will always be the only right approach to getting your message across and drawing people in to care about it. Thee Suburbia exhibited all these qualities masterfully, and I cannot wait for the next PoC Drag Art Collective gathering and to support her in her incredible work. 

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Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
EDITORIAL The Mixer

Gaystrychef Celebrates 1 Year Anniversary Of Living In NYC

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL


Adam Ross AKA Gaystrychef Celebrates

1 Year In NYC, 2019

Whenever I used to think about living in New York, it was Manhattan that I imagined. I would picture myself working some job in one of the many buildings that line the claustrophobic streets of the city, going home to my partner of many years in our midtown apartment, raising a family of our own; it was the very heteronormative fantasy that I had been told was the life I should plan for. Funny how quickly things can change.

It was after my husband and I had separated (yes, I was married) that I found myself living in Provincetown, aimless but happy. That little town by the sea is a beautiful escapist dream from real life. It’s easy to live there and work like crazy during the summer, and relax all winter with the other year-rounders. It is much harder, though, to find a stable living situation, and a job with growth potential; the best thing about living in Provincetown though, wasn’t the busy summer or the downtime of winter, but the strong sense of queerness that is ever-present there, and the way that the people who live there support one another and form a small, tight-knit community. When I made the decision to leave town and move to New York, it was this sense of community that I feared losing most. 

Adam with Gizmo

I had been to Bushwick once before moving here; I only knew one person who lived there (we had become close friends over the summer in Ptown) and they had invited me to come visit Brooklyn for my birthday. Over that weekend, I met the people who would become my family here, and they introduced me to queer spaces that opened my eyes to what a queer community looks like that wasn’t insulated, as Ptown is, from the real world but rather flaunts its queerness and loudly dares the world to question it. I danced all night at Spectrum, I sat on the Rosemont patio quietly observing the interactions, I walked the streets in a look and felt safe stomping down Wyckoff in heels – and I was welcomed warmly by everyone I met. I felt a need to live and immerse myself in Bushwick, and more importantly to me, to document the queer scene and culture that is so wonderfully present. I moved here two months later with my dog, my camera, and my desire to dive headfirst into the community comprised of performers, artists, queers, faeries, sex workers, and nightlife organizers that called out to me so strongly.

Since moving here I have become (what I see as affectionately) known as “You with the camera.” I bring my camera with me everywhere, and it feels like there is always some aspect of queer life that justifies documentation; nightlife, specifically, has been my focus. The drag scene in Bushwick is unique and weird and alive in a way that drag never has been to my eyes… it’s more than a solid lip-sync, but the way the performers here fully embody the art of drag. 

I was lucky enough to be at the last party hosted by Casa Diva (yes, I know it wasn’t technically in Bushwick) at which performers owned the floor passionately with reverence for the space that was apparent to me even without knowing them, the crowd emotionally responsive. Boy Radio gave me life as Jack Skellington in his shadowcast of Nightmare Before Christmas (earlier in the year, his Rocky Horror Picture Show party Frank II was one of the first shows I attended, and it was revelatory… I even joined the cast as Eddie for Frank III recently). I was introduced to Oops! (my favorite Wednesday night party, hands down), where Juku, Magenta, and West Dakota shine a light on what drag can be in its most giddily stripped-down (in Juku’s case, usually in a literal sense) form. Sad Songs, hosted by Patti Spliff and her iconic braids, is an outlet for drag performers who embrace the emotion and ennui that is often lacking in nightlife. Untitled Queen is another performer who emotes completely in their art, whether on stage or on paper, and uses their platform to highlight others who might not have a stage (they use ASL in many of their performances, for one example). At Unforgivable Emotional Carnivore, Menthol, Pinwheel, God Complex, and a rotating cast of guest performers do what seems to be stream-of-consciousness drag… it’s disjointed, weird, and utterly captivating.

Mary Con at Dragnet

Tiny Tiger at The Violators Exhibition

Dynasty at Bushwig

Gemma and Lauren at Riis Beach

Serena Tea at Dragnet

Willie Norris

Events such as Dragnet and, on a much larger scale, Bushwig, give performers a chance to showcase their own style of drag. One of my favorite pictures of Serena Tea, who would go on to snatch both the Dragnet and Bushwig crowns, is of her quietly smoking a cigarette before performing at Dragnet, surrounded by the bustling crowd oblivious to the fact that she would burst out shortly in a skintight body suit with the head of a velociraptor. The community goes beyond nightlife and performing though. One of the first exhibits I attended was The Violators, which showcased queer art that had been banned from Instagram (a platform on which queer censorship has been an increasingly noticeable and disheartening reality). During summer, Riis Beach is a safe haven for scantily clad queers of all shapes, sizes, bodies, genders, and colors; the sense of community there is intense and palpable. I found that same community strongly present at the debut runway for designer Willie Norris, who cast his show entirely with queer bodies; the show was uproariously celebratory, and left Norris (snapped here looking tense minutes before opening the doors to the public) emotional and overjoyed.

Patti Spliff

There is so much magic in Bushwick that it’s hard to pin down one aspect that has been the most meaningful to me. It makes me so proud – and so happy – to be a member of the community here and to get to observe, document, and preserve it from behind the lens of my camera; I am continuously overwhelmed by the artistry on display, and by the way the community constantly comes together to support and uplift each other.

I cannot wait to see what the next year living here will bring.

gaystrychef
Adam Ross

Photographer

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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