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Events Pride The Mixer Timeline

Life in the Bubble: Celebrating Pride in a COVID Free Country

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

Life In The Bubble:

Celebrating Pride In A

COVID Free Country

Foreword by Alexey Kim

06-28-20

On October 31 of 2020, over 130,000 people took to the streets of Taipei to celebrate Pride, making it the world’s largest in-person Pride celebration that year. Taiwan has been extremely successful at curbing its COVID-19 infections and on October 30, 2020, just one day before the 18th annual Taipei Pride, the island hit a milestone of 200 days without any locally transmitted cases of the disease.  

A local photographer Kuan-Lun Chang set out to capture this year’s festivities.

“The theme for this year is ‘Beauty, My Own Way (成人之美)’, and it has a double meaning,“

he says,

“‘成’ means ‘adult.’ On the other hand, ‘成’ could be ‘成全,’ which means ‘consent’ or ‘help.’ Therefore it symbolizes helping others to accomplish their own beauty. This is very important. Everyone is different in their gestures, personalities, feelings, humility, and this is why we are similar but different. We have to find our own beauty and respect ourselves and others who might be different from us.”

In May 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Kuan-Lun shares that he saw many families taking part in this year’s parade,

“It’s a great chance to tell their children that there are many people in the world, everyone is different, but unique and beautiful in their own way. After last year’s legalization of same-sex marriage, conservative members who oppose it always say they have no idea how to teach their kids about it; the parents who took their kids to the parade provide a perfect example of how to do this.”

Take a look at Kuan-Lun’s photos from Taiwan’s 18th Annual Pride Parade below and find out what it is like to live in a coronavirus-free country from Taipei-based drag artist Taipei Popcorn.


Life in the Bubble:

Celebrating Pride

in a COVID Free Country

My name is Nick, but I also go by my drag name Taipei Popcorn. I’m originally from New Zealand but I’ve been living in Taipei, the bustling capital of Taiwan, for three years now. I live here with my New Zealand-Taiwanese husband Henry, and I teach English and do a lot of drag. It has been an absolutely surreal experience to experience living here during this time of global turmoil. Taiwan’s COVID response has without a doubt been the best in the world. Despite this exemplary response, it is still barred from participating in the WHO due to pressure from China.

Due to rigorous preemptive measures, Taiwan has experienced no lockdown, just over 600 coronavirus cases and seven deaths, and zero community spread for over 230 days. This is all the more impressive when you consider Taiwan’s population of 23 million (more than Florida) concentrated in several dense cities on an island the size of Maryland. Additionally, it is only a hundred miles from China, the epicenter of the outbreak. Over a million Taiwanese live and work there, flying back and forth from cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Owing to their complicated historic relationship, Taiwan has a deep distrust of China and their government. This meant they began doing medical checks on flights from Wuhan in late December 2019 already, and were one of the first countries to ban flights from China altogether. Mask wearing was quickly introduced, and is still compulsory in most indoor spaces. Taiwan’s digital minister Audrey Tang (who is from a hacker background and also happens to be trans) rolled out a highly efficient digital mask rationing system in a matter of days, while domestic mask production was ramped up over several weeks through government support of factories. The government also instituted a system of phone geo-tracking for incoming travellers undergoing compulsory two week hotel or home quarantine, ensuring they don’t break quarantine. This tracking automatically ends after two weeks and is subject to strict data privacy laws. 

Giant rainbow flag unfurled in front of Taipei City Hall

It is important to mention that these are not the draconian measures of an authoritarian nation. Taiwan is a multi-party democracy with a vigorous culture of protest, open internet, highly active human rights movements, healthy criticism of government, and a thriving queer scene. It is these very qualities that are the reason my husband and I chose to live here and get married here.This openness and transparency has been vital in Taiwan’s decisive and well coordinated national COVID response, and has allowed its citizens to enjoy freedoms which are presently unimaginable in other places. The same can be said of New Zealand and some Nordic states, while the opposite applies to countries under populist, anti-science leadership like the UK, the US and Brazil, which have seen confused public communication, internal political division, soaring death rates and economies in freefall. In Taiwan, restaurants, bars, schools and workplaces are operating at full capacity, people feel safe, and the economy is forecast to grow at a slower but still healthy 2.5% this year. The sense of dread and pity we get from reading the international news feels like something far removed from our daily reality.

Taipei Popcorn

It is with this backdrop that we celebrated Pride in October. It was a month of packed nightclubs, sold out circuit parties, extravagant drag shows, in person LGBT rights conferences and passionate political rallies. Taipei held its second annual Trans Rights March, which was attended by politicians and celebrities, and major companies like Tinder, Gap and Google sponsored floats in the main Pride event. The huge parade culminated in a city wide party which went on all weekend. Taipei was jammed with ubers, taxis and scooters as partygoers, drag performers, DJs and gogo boys hopped from one event to the next, temperature checkers worked overtime at nightclubs doors, outdoors stages blared music to roaring crowds, and countless Taiwanese dollars flowed. Not many people are aware that Taipei is secretly one of the wealthiest cities in the world, and the business elite and local government were surely rubbing their hands at the surge of consumer activity this injection of pink dollars provided. Taipei’s city council promoted Pride heavily, and major magazines like Vogue and Marie Claire invited queer celebrities and drag performers (including me!) to feature in special Pride month editions. 

The reason I recount the month through such a capitalist lens, is that I am increasingly aware of a growing disconnect between this COVID free haven and the rest of the world. The unprecedented and wrenching impact of mass death and economic depression that so many countries are currently experiencing have coincided with massive social movements and calls for radical change. There is a growing awareness that the system was fundamentally broken, and the huge cultural, economic and political shifts that COVID has unleashed will change the world forever. From the Black Lives Matter movement, to calls for a Universal Basic Income, taxes on the wealthy, and expansion of welfare and access to affordable healthcare, the world seems to be questioning the exploitative capitalist systems which are the root of so many of the social ills that COVID merely exacerbated. 

It is this radical political component which I feel was missing from our Pride. As they say, the first Pride was a riot. I believe it should be a fundamentally radical event which embraces protest and anticapitalist values. I am guilty of flouting these myself this year, as I was paid by a major brand to ride on their float and promote them on social media, which led me down this train of thought. Of course, we are extremely privileged and blessed to be living in our bubble of safety and prosperity. We are privileged to be able to gather with our local queer community and party while our queer family abroad remain isolated at home, afraid to go outside and not knowing where their next paycheck will come from. 

I can’t help but feel that among the circuit parties and the corporate sponsorship, safe in our island paradise, we are oblivious to the extent of the rapid changes occurring in the outside world. We will never truly understand what the rest of the world is going through, and I fear we will always lack a certain empathy for the anxieties they faced. I hope that lessons can be shared both ways as the world reopens, that the deep social shifts occurring overseas reach Taiwan’s shores. I would also like Taiwan to share its advanced medical expertise and exemplary pandemic response with the rest of the world, even if that means going outside of the WHO system.

This pandemic has resulted in unprecedented international isolation, and as we gradually begin to open up to one another again, I feel we will be surprised how much we have all diverged and changed forever. How we bridge these new differences will be crucial for our shared futures. 

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Nick Van Halderen

Artist

Kuan-Lun Chang

designer


Categories
Videos

CT Hedden’s “QuarantQueen” Ball At The Met

CT Hedden’s “QuarantQueen”

Ball at The Met

06-14-20

Even though The Met Gala has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, an NYC drag nightlife persona CT Hedden came up with an idea to throw his own version of the Gala, inspired by social distancing. Meet all the queens that attended “QuarantQueen” Ball. Attendees: Nikki Exotika, Glow Job, Jasmine Rice LaBeija, Thee Suburbia & Digna.

Alexey Kim

Founder

Felix Santos

Co-Founder


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EDITORIAL Timeline

CT Hedden’s “QuarantQueen” Ball At The Met

EDITORIAL

CT Hedden’s “QuarantQueen”

Ball at The Met

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

Thee Suburbia

Drag Personality

Drag Burlesque Clown 

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.

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

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

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

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

Felix Santos

Co-Founder


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EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

In Isolation

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL


In Isolation

by Jesse Alvior

03-29-20

As I write this, the US has just surpassed China as having more cases of COVID-19 than any other country in the world. The epicenter is right here in New York City. I’ve lived here in the Lower East Side for 17 years, and I’ve seen the neighborhood transform and gentrify. Galleries and shops replaced bargain clothing stores. Hotels and condominiums sprung up alongside tenements with rent-controlled apartments. Bars and clubs made it a rowdy night spot. Equinox and Soho House spelled the end of what was once a gritty neighborhood where drugs were openly peddled at night.

During the day it’s become busy in a subdued, downtown kind of way, but this morning, when I went to the supermarket, all the shops had their gates rolled down. The streets are virtually empty, and there’s nothing but bad graffiti in the cold light of day. The intersection of Broome and Orchard, normally buzzing with activity, is deserted. The popular café at the corner is closed, and on this beautiful, sunny spring weekday, it’s surreal to see chairs turned over the tables. I’ve seen the neighborhood through calamities like the 2003 blackout and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but I’ve never seen anything like this.

I love walking around the neighborhood, and while we’re still allowed to run or take short walks as long as we keep our distance from each other, doing so only contributes to my growing paranoia. So much about the disease is unknown. Who has the virus? Is six feet enough? Why isn’t everyone wearing a mask? It’s deeply frightening, but it’s even more dismaying to see some people openly defying the guidelines.

Three friends enjoy an unusually warm spring evening. It’s the largest group I’ve seen so far. I’m pretty sure they, too, marvel at the city’s silence – save for the sound of sirens.

  1. This is the roof of a big tenement building on Orchard. There’s a variety of people I see there every now and then, but of all the activities I’ve seen on that roof this is perhaps the most emblematic of our time – a haircut. Hair salons are not considered essential businesses, but we must get a haircut at some point.
  2. I do wonder how many of those cigarette butts are from the time shelter in place began.
  3. The iconic water towers are a distinctly New York feature. This one’s my favorite, but I’ve never seen anyone on top of it until recently. There was a couple who spent about an hour enjoying the view, and later, this man set up a picnic blanket right at the foot of it. He spent the rest of the afternoon up there reading, and when the sun began to set, stood to have a drink. 
  4. This young musician lives in the attic right below where he stands. On sunny days he comes out of that window to sit on top of the dormer. Most of the time he simply faces the sun and closes his eyes. On the second day of shelter in place, he spent the entire afternoon perched on the dormer, and at one point came out to play his guitar.

As the number of cases surge, I deem it safer to simply never leave our apartment. Luckily, we have access to the roof of our building, a common space for everyone who lives here. Up there I exercise, catch the sun, or get some fresh air. Since the shelter-in-place order took effect, most of the residents fled to their Long Island homes, and more often than not I have it to myself. However, I’m not alone. All around me I see New Yorkers also taking refuge on their roofs. Most of them are solitary.

This is by no means a new phenomenon, but with recent events there seems to be a different color to these scenes. Whether they’re trying to do some work or taking a breather from the confines of their apartments, from a distance I seem to observe a common thread with all of them. They tend to be more pensive than before, and rather melancholic, as if reluctantly having made peace with the new normal. In these series of photos I try to capture this mood in this strange time we’re in, the myriad feelings of distance, isolation, and uncertainty. Even in the most mundane of activities, like walking a pet or even getting a haircut—things I’ve never witnessed on a roof—I get the sense of longing to connect.

  1. The area above Delancey is famous for its night time commotions. Dubbed “Hell’s Square,” it has the highest concentration of liquor licenses in the country. For years the neighborhood has been at odds with many of the bars and clubs for disturbing the peace, but has been largely unsuccessful in reducing unruly noise and behavior throughout the night. Now the area is virtually dead. Who would have thought a pandemic would bring it down to its knees?
  2. Broome between Ludlow and Allen is a busy section of the Lower East Side during the day. On an otherwise normal Tuesday, it’s eerie to see no one but a UPS delivery guy on the block.
  3. We live in front of a big old school, and since the stay-at-home order we no longer hear the cacophony of teenagers in the afternoon when school’s out. Nowadays we only see a smattering of pedestrians walking on the wide pavement in front of it, mostly wearing masks and gloves. Should there be more than one person at a time, they distance themselves from each other – even pet owners whose dogs want to greet each other.

On a particular sunny afternoon while on the roof, I catch up on the phone with a friend who lives only two doors down. She lives by herself and finds shelter in place especially tough. Not too long ago she walked everyday to Tribeca, went for a run every night, and ran errands whenever she wanted. She now works from home and the loneliness is inescapable. I tell her it would do her good to connect.

“I don’t even want to video chat with anyone because I’ll be doing it in the same room I’ve been in the whole day,”

she says.

But I tell her it’s not just her. That’s pretty much everyone unless you’re an essential worker. Everyone has just been at home and when they call someone they will be calling from the same place where they’ve been at the whole day. It’s almost trite, but it’s been a common thing to say we’re in this together, and never is it more true than in isolation. This is what I clearly see on the roof. It’s that strange and fascinating dynamic: isolated and apart from each other but not truly alone. 

We’re still weeks from the peak of the curve, and the worst is yet to come. We’re at least a year away from a possible vaccine. When we come out of this, our world will surely have changed. Whatever lessons we learn, whether we make better use of social media, or treasure physical contact with loved ones, or place importance on the quality and sincerity of our connection to others, it all begins in the simplest and most fundamental way – our relationship with ourselves.

Jesse Alvior

Photographer/Writer

Categories
EDITORIAL Timeline

The New Normal, Or How Creatives Stay Creative

EDITORIAL

The New Normal,

or How Creatives Stay Creative

Coronavirus kills, but life streams.

03-30-22

According to a March 24 article in The Guardian, around 20% of the world’s population is currently under some form of a lockdown due to COVID-19, or coronavirus. With the disease quickly spreading and affecting the entire world, as of March 25, 2020, around 2.6 billion people (about one-third of the world’s population) are under government-mandated lockdowns and quarantines, with half of those people being in India, according to data provided by Statista. Some countries are implementing stricter lockdown laws than others: Jordan’s residents are not allowed to take walks or even grocery shop – anyone caught outside could face a jail term of up to one year; while in Italy, which quickly became the epicenter of the pandemic after China and currently has the highest death toll from the virus, people are still allowed outside for a limited time and only when necessary; Puerto Rico, one of the unincorporated US territories, implemented a mandatory curfew until April 12, from 9 PM–5 AM – certain professionals are excluded from the curfew, and others can only leave their home during that time for emergency purposes only; anyone who breaks the curfew and doesn’t meet the mandated criteria will face a fine of $5,000.

While the US was ranked #1 in Global Pandemic Preparedness, according to a pre-COVID-19 report, the 2019 Global Health Security Index, the Trump administration’s dismantling of the team in charge of pandemic responses in early 2018, and downplaying the coronavirus threat from the very beginning, didn’t do us any favors. WHO’s morbid prediction on March 24 about the United States possibly becoming the next coronavirus hot spot has now in a matter of days become the reality – as of today (March 31), the number of COVID-19 infections in the United States has surpassed China and Italy, with over 171,684 confirmed cases (live numbers here) and counting, with the death toll quickly approaching ,4000.

With over 172 million people currently under an at least partly enforced lockdown within the US, and with the virus that is well on its way to 1 million officially confirmed infections all over the world, Trump’s initial plan to get back to usual business by Easter was very ambitious, if not laughable. On Sunday, March 29, Trump announced extension of federal guidance on social distancing through April, with the peak death toll still two weeks away. In their turn, infectious-disease researchers recommend that the public continue to practice social distancing until some genius invents a vaccine, which could take 18 months.

A large number of people who have been laid off or simply not allowed to go to work due to closures of all non-essential businesses have found themselves wondering how the fuck they can afford to live another day. The recently approved unprecedented $2 trillion relief package aimed to help affected individuals with a one-time payment of $1,200 at most (based on a sliding scale) will also be used to expand unemployment benefits and help small businesses stay afloat. Even though the stimulus package can greatly help a certain chunk of the population (good luck getting through the unemployment call center), many freelancers and artists who depend on odd jobs are left in the dark about their own future. For many creatives, $1,200 can only go so far (forget about seeing this money if you are an immigrant without a social security number); with many businesses closed indefinitely and with the US stock market almost failing every other day, there is no telling when freelancers will get any commissioned jobs even when we are past the days of quarantine.

But leave it up to the artistic community to make the best out of a shitty situation, keep themselves busy and, hopefully, paid. Livestreamed shows have become as ubiquitous as the absence of toilet paper in supermarkets. These days it’s impossible to turn on your Instagram and not see at least half a dozen livestreams happening at the same moment. After only a matter of a few days into quarantine, people figured out that they could use the very available livestreaming services that a myriad of platforms offer for free to share their art with digital fans and, in some cases, earn a coin.

Amongst the first few live shows that we were able to catch were Charlene Incarnate and Tyler Ashleys Baby Tea Brunch that was livestreamed from a rooftop in Brooklyn instead of from its usual site, lesbian-owned farm-to-table Superfine restaurant; Miami’s Counter Corner party that was hosted by the Ultimate Miami Drag Queen 2019 Karla Croqueta from the comfort of her home; and The Rosemont’s Oops! that was livestreamed right from the living rooms of the party’s creators, Juku and West Dakota.

Just before Juku’s and West Dakota’s first number, the pair expressed how this was already their biggest Oops! showing, with around 300 people tuning in to what the girls had in store for the night. The girls, known for their sharp wit and out-of-the-box creative performances, kept the viewers captivated, and the performance garnered a write-up in Vice magazine.

Biqtch Puddiń, the winner of Dragula Season 2, came up with the very first Digital Drag show, livestreamed on Twitch, the world’s leading platform for gamers. During the streaming of the show’s first installment, at some point during the night the viewership went up as high as 10,000 people watching the stream at the same time. During the broadcast Biqtch Puddiń confessed that she didn’t expect her Digital Drag show to gain such momentum on social media.

During these digital drag shows, a performer’s preferred payment information is displayed and the viewers are free to tip if they wish to support. It seems that for many drag performers, this has become their livelihood now that no more bar and club appearances are being booked. Biqtch Puddiń stated that the reason she wanted to do the Digital Drag show was to help out performers in trouble. All of the tips donated to the general account were promised to be distributed evenly between the performers, but everyone was encouraged to tip their favorites personally as well.

Within the first week of the closure of all non-essential businesses, Sidewalkkilla started a fundraiser on its Instagram page, inspired by queer writer and speaker Fran Tirado’s tweet. After receiving a few donations, we decided to split the total donated amount into $50 payments to people who have provided their payment info in the comments under our Instagram post. To our surprise, one of the randomly chosen benefactors, Laurel Charleston, passed up the donation in favor of another trans performer. She expressed that she received a good amount of donations from performing on Biqtch Puddiń’s first airing of the Digital Drag show, which helped her get out of a “fucked” situation. In turn, Laurel was inspired to give back to the community herself and is hosting her own first livestream drag brunch show on Sunday, March 29.

MTHR TRSAs Hole Pics made its digital debut on Saturday, March 21, with an almost half-hour long opening performance that involved a lot of weed, drama, and clever camera work.

“What happens when we get back to actual clubs, like it’s gonna be live, but not on our phones, it’s gonna be so weird,”

MTHR TRSA, also known as New York-based artist Dylan Thomas, exclaimed at the end of the 2-hour livestream.

Not all creatives use livestreaming for drag shows. There are makeup tutorials, gossip, DJing, games, Q&As, yoga, workouts, and meditation – you name it, you will find it.

One of NYC’s drag staples CT Hedden started a live show called Makeup Hour, inviting all the high-profile people he knows for a quick beat and tea-spilling. His guests so far have been supermodel Winnie Harlow, actress-turned-activist Rose McGowan, American Ballet Theater prima ballerina Misty Copeland, and an indie pop star Allie X.

CT Hedden with Rose McGowan during Makeup Hour

“I think it’s gonna last a lot longer than people think,”

said Rose McGowan during her Makeup Hour with CT.

At the time of the stream Rose was quarantined at her friend’s place in Atlanta, saying that she would be leaving soon to wait out the pandemic in Mexico.

“A couple of days ago DOJ was seeking to suspend constitutional rights. I’m not staying in this country during a military coup,”

Rose went on,

“this is like a cultural reset, a lot more people will understand what refugees go through.”

Miley Cyrus during Bright Minded IG show with Alicia Keys

MTHR TRSA drowning in weed during

Hole Pics

Juku as a top and West Dakota as a bottom during Oops!

Just a couple of days before LA ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses and mandated social distancing by the public, Miley Cyrus started a talk show named Bright Minded with the help of her own Instagram account. From Monday to Friday, Miley hosts special (all of them obviously famous) guests to talk about “staying LIT in dark times.”

In the latest episode, Miley had a question for her special guest Alicia Keys:

“How do we come out of this? We don’t want to come back to the pre-COVID-19 world, we want to go back to a better world, one that’s more connected, one that’s more compassionate. Right now everyone is stopping everything that they got going on just to protect the vulnerable and we don’t always do that, that’s not a part of our everyday routine. So we actually might be becoming better people through the virus. Or actually even saying, ‘Hey what we got going on in our life isn’t actually worth jeopardizing someone else’s health’ and we don’t always do that – we drive in big cars and pollute the environment. . . What positive effect would you like to come out of this experience and what world do you wanna step back into?”

This was a deep question, throwing Alicia off for a minute, but undoubtedly making everyone watching contemplate on it as well.

In the current climate it seems that everything is pointing towards people spending more time inside their homes in the near future, whether because Netflix just dropped all 10 seasons of your favorite show, you are afraid of being blown up to bits at a crowded place, or simply because you are living in the current reality of World War III with the invisible and, at least for now, invincible enemy that is COVID-19.

Without a lie, this stay-at-home directive was sort of fun in the beginning, it was almost like someone let you play hookie and relieved you of all adult responsibilities, well, like going to work for example. Queef Latina, the creator and director of South Florida’s biggest queer performance festival Wigwood, expressed that she was happy to sleep and relax.

When we suggested that maybe, nowhere to spend = no need to earn, she retorted,

“Very true, except we still need to eat.”

Damn, forgot about that one…

Paris-based fashion photographer Michele Yong shared,

“I stay in so often that there is not much difference to me. We need a document to go outside just in case of police checks, but I haven’t been checked yet, because I mostly go out to walk my dog. It’s nowhere as strict as China. People are still allowed to be outside an hour a day or exercise.”

Even if we do turn into couch potatoes in the near future and have robots serving us freshly baked pizza out of their ass, most people are eager to be freed from this lockdown, if not for the love of socializing, then at least for the sake of earning money to pay the rent and buy canned tuna for their cat.

Nightlife photographer Mark Minton losing it, after moving to Tennessee and narrowly escaping the virus in NYC.

One of the questions that begs the answer is, will the livestream shows continue its momentum after the coronavirus is a thing of the past?

Dynasty, an eclectic Asian drag queen and writer for The Cut and New York Magazine, doesn’t think so:

“I don’t think streaming will continue after quarantine because they’ve sprung up out of necessity. Drag relies so much on a live audience and being with the community in real life. So I think everyone will be super excited to get back into real-life shows and being able to experience that together again.”

Dynasty’s close friend that shared the stage with her many a time, West Dakota, seems to be in the middle,

“I think that quarantine is forcing us to explore how we are connecting with our audiences and is going to open up new avenues for us to do so. Our weekly show that we’ve taken digital since the quarantine is reaching a lot more people than our physical space can accommodate. That being said I think that sharing space, intimacy, and touch are all irreplaceable parts of performing. I don’t think things will ever return to ‘normal’ but we’ll have new understandings of what it means to connect.”

“Having an audience is always nice to feed off the energy of the room. I think after quarantine the girls, myself included, will definitely consider more online shows, but I will be so excited to be back in a bar,”

says MTHR TRSA.

Even though most people are adapting to “the new normal” or the current reality, some performers seem to have a hard time imagining digital communication as humanity’s future fate.

Brooklyn-based trans self-appointed “post-drag priestess” Charlene Incarnate shared in one of her Facebook posts, just after Baby Tea’s rooftop livestream performance,

“I’m seeing the narrative being woven of the resilience and adaptability of drag queens to take their shows online, that video and streaming is ‘the future’ etc. and that happy hour with your friends on Zoom isn’t so bad. BUT I have to say that it’s a completely untenable and unsustainable practice – for my art and for me personally. I can deal with change, I have my whole life. I can deal with stock markets crashing, an impending ‘next great depression,’ the end of the world as we know it – hell, I’ve been turning nothing into something for a decade. But a world without live gathering is truly, truly not one I care to be a part of.”

Whichever way this is headed, only time will tell, but for now it looks like we will have to assimilate into the new reality and stay in contact mostly through the digital medium. As nightlife photographer and Sidewalkkilla contributor Mark Minton, who moved to Tennessee right before the shit hit the fan, simply put it,

“I just want to work without killing my parents.”

Alexey Kim

Founder