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Events Timeline

NYC’s Biggest Drag Festival Sort of Just Happened in Spite of Corona

EVENTS | FESTIVALS

Bushwig 2020:

Corona Edition

One of the world’s biggest drag performance festivals, just kind of happened on Saturday, October 3, in spite of coronavirus.

10-03-20

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.

Horrorchata

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 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.

Charlene

Chiquitita

La Zavaleta

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.

Performers of Brooklyn

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.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
Activisim Events Pride Timeline

Bushwig Celebrates Pride & Rides In Solidarity With BLM

Bushwig Pride x BLM

EVENTS | PRIDE | ACTIVISM

06-26-20

It seems that the only acceptable way of celebrating Pride in 2020 is if you are doing it in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Bushwig drag festival organizers did just that on Friday, June 26. The event started off with a three-mile bike ride from Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick and ended at McCarren Park in Williamsburg. In Buswhig’s style, attendees were encouraged to wear wigs. Drag performer Merrie Cherry led the horde of colorful bikers in a red convertible. A few hundred people ended up gathering on the lawns of McCarren Park, listening to the evening’s speakers, watching performances by The Dragon Sisters, Magenta, Jette Grey, C’etait BonTemps, and more. The donations provided during the event were to be split between the performers and a grassroots non-profit organization, G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living In a Transgender Society), that houses homeless Black trans people. Amongst the highlights of the evening was the event’s speaker and performer Jette Grey, a Black trans sex worker, asking people to donate money to her Venmo account, so that she could help other trans people in need. In just a couple of hours she announced that she has collected over $7,000, with the donations going over $10K by the next day. The event finished off with a fiery speech by Samuel Nemir Olivares – a progressive Latinx, queer state committee candidate – and a dance party that was eventually ended by police intervention.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
Events Festivals Timeline

Wigwood III: Disrupting Miami’s Gay Tourist Scene

EVENTS | FESTIVALS


Wigwood Festival: Disrupting Miami’s Gay Tourist Scene


Miami, FL

Even though Miami’s queer history dates as far back as 1930s, there has been a shift within its LGBTQ+ community in more recent years. A new crop of local drag talent started emerging, taking the local drag scene commercialized by tourism to more of a DIY route.

The way I discovered and got close to Miami’s LGBTQ+ community can only be described as fate. During one of my visits to South Florida in late 2018, where I usually visit my mom and my brother, I came out to my father as gay.

It was an intense exchange and a pivotal moment in my life, so the next day after what happened I headed over to a bougie hotel in South Beach where my friend was staying, in order to share the news about what happened. I told my friend that we needed to go out that night to celebrate my freedom and dragged him to the Lemon City Day School in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, to a party that I stumbled on in my Instagram feed earlier in the day.

The party was called “Build A Boi” and it seemed that it was a fundraiser for a local drag king, Sage, at that time known as King Femme. The fundraiser’s purpose was to raise money for Sage’s breast removal surgery and there seemed to be a lot of performers scheduled to appear. (Sage is still short of his goal, so if you’d like to help, click here.)

The moment we got there, we realized we were not in Miami anymore, it felt like we somehow magically transported to a DIY queer space somewhere in Bushwick. This was the first time that I encountered the local Miami drag scene in such an intimate way.

I was shaken by the performances I witnessed that night and was curious to find out more about Miami’s, what seemed to me a burgeoning, new drag scene. I ran into another flyer on my feed about a month later, but this time for a 3-day festival called Wigwood that was going to be taking place in the beginning of next year.

This was definitely my chance to dive a little deeper and learn more about this local queer community that I was so out of touch with.

I got in touch with the event’s organizer Queef Latina, and asked if I could attend as press. A couple of months later I was on my way to Miami, to the third annual installment of a festival that would eventually turn my life in an unexpected direction.

Day 1

The first day of Wigwood was on a boat. The check-in line was long and I didn’t see anyone I knew. It is a sight to be seen: it looks like the second coming of Noah, only sea monsters and queer creatures are allowed to board this time. I’m desperately thinking about where I should stuff my edibles in case they might be spotted in my bag and thrown into the marina. I finally see a couple of people I know: Remy Black is passing by me, who I interviewed for “Conversations” just the day before, and Violencia Exclamation Point, who I had previously met at Bushwig and DragCon.

I got inside of the boat to scope out the surroundings first. There was not much happening on the first level, but it looked like the second floor was where people would eventually be dancing. The top floor of the boat was open and several cabanas were on either side, covered in turquoise tinsel curtains blowing in the air.

I made my way to the front of the boat and ran into a drag queen who was wearing her own fabulous version of standard diving dress. We struck up a conversation, she told me her name was Didi and that she lived in Jacksonville. I confessed that I had no idea about the thriving Miami drag scene; in turn, she mentioned that I should look into Taipei’s drag scene as well, and to get in contact with the island’s local drag queen Popcorn. Incredibly, this quick conversations became the stimulus for me taking a trip to Taipei later the same year for their Pride celebration.

Didi

I asked a couple of people who Queef Latina was and they pointed me to a vision dressed in orange, with big puffy hair and a beard to match. I came up to her to introduce myself and thanked her for having me. “She’s awfully nice,” I thought and moved on to explore what more the boat had to offer.

Shortly after takeoff, a slew of shows started on the second floor. The first performer of the night was Karla Croqueta, who lip-synced to “My Heart Will Go On,” whipping out “the heart of the ocean” from her bra and throwing it through the window, bringing about a wild frenzy. “Titanic is one of my favorite movies and when I was told we were going to be on a yacht, I was like, I am sinking this yacht. I’ve always wanted to perform that and I always wanted to throw ‘the heart of the ocean’ into the ocean, so I did,” Karla said during our interview a few months after the festival.

The night was followed by performances from Yoko Oso, Abhora, MTHR TRSA, Regina Black, Apollo Infiniti, Dasha Dix, Bebe Deluxe, Adelaide and DJ sets by Get Face, Gami, and Keanu Orange.

To my disappointment, it seemed like the boat pulled over to the dock way too soon and everyone had to disembark. Thankfully, there were two more days planned ahead.

Day 2

The second day of Wigwood took place at Gramp’s bar in Wynwood. Milk from RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 and All Stars season 3 was the headliner for the party. Milk was taking photos with fans in the smaller room of the venue, before performing twice later on during the night.

It seemed like the performances would never stop. I’d never seen so many scheduled acts performing onstage right after the other, except at Bushwig. What was most surprising is that everything ran right on time. I shared this sentiment with Milk later on in New York, when I ran into her at Aquaria’s birthday party. “It was so beautiful, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this festival before this year. Everything ran so smoothly and the energy was incredible,” she went on to say.

Lady Paraiso

That night I witnessed some of the best performances I’ve seen to date. Andro Gin, during his rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” showed off his villainous side along with his prowess in improv and comedic timing; Lady Paraiso undressed at the end of her performance, triumphantly revealing “Perfectly Imperfect” written as a cross on her bare torso; Kat Wilderness crowdsurfed; The Abhora scared everyone shitless performing on her stilts; Opulenceeeee scared everyone shitless once again, performing as a post-apocalyptic trash mermaid covered in blood; Queef Latina showed everyone how to deal with a breakup; Mama Celeste made a huge ham sandwich right onstage and shamelessly devoured it; Remy Black and Lana Summers shut the house down (they literally closed the show) with their spot-on lip-sync rendition of Eminem and Joyner Lucas’ “Lucky You.”

Day 3

And on the third day, Wigwood created a pool party. It was relaxed and glorious. The event was held during the day, going into the evening at the Broken Shaker bar at the Freehand hotel. Most of the people showed up in their best pool attire, ditching wigs and makeup from the previous days.

Several performance slots were scheduled throughout the day, where Abhora purposefully fell into the pool, filling it with dozens of floating balloons that were released from underneath her outfit; Celia Booze, covered in LV print head to toe, took a baby out of her purse just to throw it into the crowd; Adora gave Jinkx Monsoon and Detox a run for their money with her lip-sync to “Malambo No. 1” by Yma Sumac.

Adora

Queef Latina with Sleeper, one of the co-founders of Miami’s legendary The Counter Corner party

Wigwood Origin

“I was always connected to Miami, this is my home. There were many key people that were already doing the work before I moved back from New York. There was Sleeper, who was putting together queer parties, there was Juleisy y Karla that were already doing stuff and I kind of just jumped on board. I never did drag when I lived in NY, but I was always around drag queens in the Brooklyn scene,” says Queef Latina on sprouting her roots in the Miami drag scene. “So when I moved back, I was like OK, we need to get this moving, we need queer spaces, safe spaces, events to look forward to, and slowly but surely we started to build it out.” She says that Wigwood evolved organically, because there was a need for creating spaces for local queer communities, outside of just the tourist gay scene, which dominated Miami for quite a while. 

“I lived in NY for a long time, and I went to Bushwig in the early days. I didn’t go to the first one, but I did go to the second one and the third one, when it was very family. It still is very family, but it just evolved organically and naturally, and I still remember that sense of family and community in those early days there. When I moved back to Miami I definitely used it kind of as a blueprint, but I completely changed it in the sense that Miami is so unique when it comes to certain cultures and the way we do things, especially with music. I wasn’t just copying Bushwig, I wasn’t trying to recreate it, I was really trying to create our own version of what a queer festival would be,” says Queef on coming up with the idea of creating the 3-day festival, which started off as a 1-day party during its first year.

Sidewalkkilla is beyond excited to be attending the fourth Wigwood Miami festival at the beginning of February and seeing what Queef has up her sleeve this time around. The first day of the festival is slated to happen on Friday, February 7, at the world’s famous Club Space

Alexey Kim

Founder

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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