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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

Categories
Events Festivals Nightlife Timeline

Wigwood IV: Contributing to Miami’s LGBTQ+ History

EVENTS | FESTIVALS

WIGWOOD 2020

Wigwood is a 3-day, biggest South Florida queer performance festival.

sidewalkkilla

Queef Latina (Day 2)

Wigwood Miami celebrated its fourth installment at the beginning of the new decade (February 7-9). The festival usually takes place the first weekend of February and, in our point of view, serves as the official opener for the must-attend LGBTQ+ events of the year. The reasoning for Wigwood taking place at this particular time of the year is actually very sound. A bearded drag queen Queef Latina, who is also a tailoring and sewing instructor and the winner of Miami New Times Best Drag Performer of 2019, is the creator and director of the festival.

She half-jokes,

“The reason why I decided to start Wigwood in early February is because I don’t want to be hot in drag. This is the perfect time to be in Miami weather-wise.”

It couldn’t be more true: in January everyone is still getting over their New Year’s blues and slumber, while in February people start to become more alive and look for things to get themselves into, especially if it warrants them to get out of the colder parts of the US and head over down to South Florida’s biggest queer performance festival. The flights to Miami in February are also very affordable, even though this time of the year is considered to be the high season. I purchased a one-way ticket from New York for less than $100.

Wigwood festival became Queef Latina’s brainchild when she moved back to South Florida, after 6 years of living in NYC. Queef cites the early years of the Bushwig festival as an inspiration. She loved how intimate it felt and she wanted to carry over the sentiment to her found-again home in South Florida. She approached Adam Gersten of Gramps about creating Miami’s own event that would mostly cater to the local queer community, and the rest is history.

Queef gives credit to her “drag husband” and best friend, local artist Sleeper, for inspiring her to keep on creating more safe spaces for Miami queers. Sleeper started the legendary Counter Corner party back in 2014, alongside Juleisy y Karla, creating the first queer space which “made people feel comfortable.”

In 2019, HistoryMiami Museum held an exhibition named “Queer Miami,” curated by Miami native Julio Capó Jr., purposefully coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The exhibit went back a century to showcase the pivotal moments in Miami’s LGBTQ history. 

“In 1930s Miami was called the Magic City, you could come here and see drag shows, they would be even advertised in the paper,”

Queef mentioned what she learned from the “Queer Miami” exhibit.

In the ‘70s, Miami’s queer progress was stunted by a powerful adversary – Florida Orange juice spokesperson and singer Anita Bryant, who started a campaign named “Save The Children” opposing Metro-Dade County’s new anti-discrimination ordinance.

She famously referred to gay people as “human garbage” and stated that,

“If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail-biters.”

“When South Beach was kind of crumbling and falling apart in the ‘80s and 90s and it was very dangerous, that was the queer hub. That’s when Adora started doing drag, there would be foam parties, and there was Warsaw and all these other great clubs, but then, as South Beach started becoming gentrified and developed, there was a big push, especially by a lot of rich sports people that were trying to kick out all the gays from South Beach. The reason Wilton Manors exists and is so gay, is because all these gays that were kicked out from South Beach relocated there. South Beach still has a gay scene, but it’s not as cool as what we do. For many years we would get a lot of hatred from the South Beach scene and the South Beach queens. And now, we’ve actually booked some South Beach girls. I tried to book them ever since the first year, and every year they either didn’t respond or they didn’t want to do it,”

says Queef, inadvertently weaving Wigwood’s history into Miami’s.

Miss Toto & FKA Twink (Day 1)

Glam Hag (Day 2)

Vex The Thing (pink face) shares excitement with friends after being kissed by Landon Cider (Day 1)

“It’s this old school mentality, where they are like ‘We are professionals, because we are entertainers and you are just a bunch of kids running around and you don’t look like a woman, you look like a monster.’ Eventually I started not giving a fuck and being like ‘Well we don’t want to be you, we want you to be with us, because we are inclusive, but I am not trying to look like a woman, I have a beard. I want to look glamorous, I want to look beautiful, but I am not trying to pass.’”

Maybe all the press and recognition that Wigwood received over the course of its existence served as a catalyst for South Beach girls to finally partake in the Miami festival. Two days before the first day of Wigwood, a new issue of Miami New Times came out with Queef gracing its cover, pouting seductively, while striking a high-fashion pose. The article’s headline, “Queer & Here!,” jumps out from the front page.

“A few years ago, if you would have told me that a bearded drag queen … forget it, a drag queen period … would be on the cover of a Miami newspaper that can reach anyone’s household, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

It seems that the “monsters” are rapidly taking over Miami’s gay scene and making it queer as fuck – hence the “Invasive Species” theme of this year’s festival.

“In Miami there’s surprisingly no queer bars and there’s very few gay bars. All of the queer parties that we have are in straight venues,”

Queef says, noting that her friend and hairstylist Patrick came up with that concept.

“Queers in Miami are the invasive species, because we are constantly invading these non-queer, non-gay spaces.”

Queef Latina is also adamant about calling Wigwood a queer party, not a gay party,

“We are trying to show that this isn’t a gay party, it’s a queer party – there is a difference. At a queer party you have a lot more transgender, non-binary people, a lot of people in drag. If you go in drag to a gay party, you are going to be hated on. It’s pretentious and not very welcoming, that’s what a gay party for me is … A queer party is come how you are, whether you are big, hairy, super skinny, or missing an arm – you are accepted. It’s a different mentality. What I like about queer parties is there’s a lot of women. It doesn’t have to be gay. I like that there’s women – all my girl cousins come to Wigwood, they feel safe, comfortable, they have fun. It’s basically about inclusivity.”

Topatio (Day 2)

When Queef says inclusive, she means it. Even from a monetary standpoint, the 3-day weekend pass cost only $35 this year. She says that she’s never turned away someone who couldn’t afford the ticket.

“Honestly I just do this for my friends. I have yet to make money from this, I barely even break even. But it’s not even about making money. I try to keep it accessible, cuz I know all the queers are broke,” she laughs, “If it’s too expensive, people are not going to come, or the people that I want to come aren’t going to come. I’m not trying to throw a party for people I don’t know. I throw this party for my friends, and I want all of my friends to come and hang out with me.”

In comparison, the Afropunk festival that first started in 2005 as a block party and was free to attend, in 2019 charged a whopping $180 for a Saturday VIP ticket during its Brooklyn edition. Queef Latina refuses to hike up the ticket prices, sell VIP tickets, or sell bottles. Making money is not the goal; making everyone feel equal is the priority.

Unquestionably, Queef is beloved in the community, and a bunch of people make a beeline to greet her on the first day of the event at Club Space. She says that if next year her friends don’t want to do the party, she simply won’t do it.

At some point during the night she walks out on stage, clutching the microphone, and humbly says,

“I just wanted to say that this party is for you guys.”

Love is in the air and it’s palpable. Is this what Queef was referring to when speaking of the first few years of Bushwig?

Someone’s adorable child (Day 3)

After the last day of Wigwood, a relaxing hotel pool party, a bunch of event attendees and performers ended up at Queef’s house, dubbed “The House of Shame,” for the after-party.

“Oh, so she wasn’t lying, she does know all these people,”

I thought.

A few drag performers that flew in for the festival from other cities in the US felt welcome and right at home, some of them even crashing at Queef’s pad.

“So Queef, how many drag children do you have?”

I lost count of the people clinging to her figurative skirt over the course of the house afterparty.

“I have 7 drag children, I told you I really am queer Miami’s mommy,”

she smiles.

Can it be that Queef Latina is one of the pioneers rewriting or adding to LGBTQ+ history in South Florida? Who knows, but it is highly likely she is already on her way in doing so. 

FULL COVERAGE

Wigwood 2020: Portraits

Portraits from Day 1 with Queef Latina, Amanda Lepore, Lady Paraiso, Opal Am Rah, Sleeper and more.

Wigwood 2020: Day 1

Day 1 with performances by Amanda Lepore, Landon Cider, MTHR TRSA, TP Lords and more.

Wigwood 2020: Day 2

Day 2 with performances by Queef Latina, Jupiter Velvet, Daisy Deadpetals, Serena ChaCha and more.

Wigwood 2020: Day 3

Day 3 with performances by Abhora, Yoko Oso, Moxie Mopp, Vex The Thing and more.

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
Nightlife Timeline

Miami’s Legendary Counter Corner Party Celebrates 5 Years

NIGHTLIFE


Miami’s Counter Corner Party That Has Changed The Landscape Of The City’s Queer Nightlife Is Turning 5

Counter Corner, a monthly Miami drag party that has achieved legendary status in the queer nightlife scene, is celebrating its fifth year anniversary this Sunday.

Lady Paraiso with Chaplin Tyler, Jae Bucci and Chloe Martini

Five years ago, Miami was a very different place for Queers, there were no spaces for us. A friend and co-worker Kesiah and I decided to change that and approached Juleisy y Karla to help flesh out a space where everyone could feel comfortable in their own skin. The goal was to create a space for Queer people who might not have felt comfortable or welcome in Miami’s traditional gay scene,” says Sleeper, who is one of the founders of the party held at The Corner bar

Counter Corner has served as a platform for many talented performers who have since achieved a sort of celebrity status in the local queer community. Queef Latina, the organizer of Wigwood festival – a Miami equivalent to Bushwig – and the winner of Miami New Times Best Drag Performer of 2019, is one of them. She cites Counter Corner as the birthplace of her humble beginnings as a drag performer.

Karla Croqueta, the winner of Miami’s Ultimate Drag Queen 2019 and one of the party’s originators, still hosts the event and also acts as Sleeper’s only co-producer.

The Corner welcomed us with open arms and not only provided us with a venue but also the freedom to curate and express ourselves on our terms. In a time where a lot of us felt undesired or unwelcome, it was such a treasure to have found a place that embraced us. Five years later a lot has changed but our purpose remains the same. We work to not only create a safe space for everyone, but to provide a curated full range survey of Drag in Miami. We hold space for alternative forms of Drag and Performance. We want our guests to live and express themselves without prejudice. We are here for the locals,” Sleeper goes on about his party.

Karla Croqueta seeking refuge from the heat

Comrade Kunst enjoying a smoke before going on stage

When my cab first pulled up to The Corner bar, Lady Paraiso – one of the local drag performers – was about to jump onstage. She was HIM, while three local transgender women – Chaplin Tyler, Jae Bucci and Chloe Martini – were The Powerpuff Girls. In the middle of the performance Paraiso takes off lobster claws to reveal her ectrodactyly to the roaring crowd. At the end of the performance she takes out a confetti cannon and defeats the Powerpuffs with a sparkly blast. Being known for her conceptual showings, Lady Paraiso “spares no expense” when it comes to her numbers. Sitting on a sidewalk and posing for photos with the Powerpuffs behind her, Paraiso quips out several quotes from the cartoon, then follows it up with laughter: “I don’t want to stop, I practiced this for way too long!

Sleeper is right – I recognized many of the local talent either performing or simply hanging out that night. Persephone Von Lips was in boy drag, glued to the palm print-stained glass of the bar, during the performance of Miami drag king Julian the Buttler. Opulence With 6 Es was drinking what looked like a Manhattan on the curb. Juanita LaBanjee was in full drag, even though she wasn’t performing that night, while Kunst was smoking a cigarette before going on stage.

That vibe was the core energy of the night – nothing was too serious, just a bunch of friends hanging out at a corner bar, occasionally getting onstage and slaying the shit out of it.

Wishing Counter Corner many more years to come.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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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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