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Susanne Bartsch Is Back On Top (Virtually)

THE MIXER

Susanne Bartsch Is Back

On Top (Virtually)

A notorious NYC party producer has taken to the internet to keep the rhythm going despite the coronavirus pandemic

sidewalkkilla

It has been roughly two months now since the unthinkable happened: the city that never sleeps found itself in a veritable coma amid mass shutdowns aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As people fled New York City and countless lives that once thrived on the crowded rituals of urban life were upended by the pandemic, America’s most populous and vibrant metropolis was drastically and perhaps permanently altered. The MTA emptied out, the bright lights of Times Square danced for no one, and the throngs of nocturnal creatures that propelled the working hours of the city around the clock were robbed of their sanctuaries.

It was almost inconceivable in January that the virus that had thrown China into a state of utter panic would ever overwhelm New York City. For many, the alarming early coverage of COVID-19 was simply another online spectacle depicting a catastrophe an ocean away. Six months ago, New York was alive as ever on New Year’s Eve with its usual flurry of raucous parties packed with people hopeful for a new year and a new decade. No one could have known what was coming.

One hundred years ago, America and the rest of the world were gripped by a different pandemic, the Spanish Flu, a virulent influenza virus estimated to have infected approximately 500 million people, a third of the world’s population at the time. From April of 1918 until December of 1920, the virus killed as many as 100 million people, with more people dead in 24 weeks than HIV/AIDS killed in 24 years. The virus came in three waves and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, created the most severe pandemic in history. After the postwar economic boom delivered Americans into a more prosperous era, the virus became a distant memory – until now.

Aquaria, April 23

Top health officials have predicted that COVID-19, much like the Spanish Flu, will come in waves, leaving Americans mired in perpetual uncertainty. For industries such as nightlife that thrive on crowds of people, the ultimatum is clear: adapt or die out. With the virus spreading rapidly worldwide, the internet is the last redoubt. Enter Susanne Bartsch. As downtown queer nightlife’s perennial maven and one of New York City’s most notorious party producers, Bartsch has taken to the internet to keep the rhythm going. This year’s season of On Top, Bartsch’s much-anticipated summer/fall party that usually takes place at the Standard Hotel in Chelsea, was relocated to Zoom, an online video conference platform where club kids and drag artists from all over the world have begun to use their aesthetic tastes to create an extradimensional cyber party under the auspices of Bartschland.

“People at The Standard don’t even know when they’re opening, and it’s already about to be June,”

Bartsch said.

“It’s devastating. It’s very uncertain, very, very uncertain.”

But party producers aren’t the only ones hurting in nightlife. By keeping the party online, DJs, hosts, and entertainers are given another opportunity to make money. Bartsch said her 2020 calendar has been completely wiped clean, an indicator of what so many others in the industry are probably facing as well.

“From Las Vegas to Vienna, I’ve lost every job there is,”

she said.

“Other than bringing together the community and supporting this nightlife community, it’s also to help and pay people so they’re able to buy food for the week.”

This week marks the online party’s seventh Thursday installment after its launch on April 16, and each week brings with it a different set of competitive look themes and a rotating cast of hosts, guest hosts, and entertainers. In addition to the usual staples such as glamour superstar Amanda Lepore, makeup mastermind Ryan Burke, downtown it girl Linux, performance art genius Thee Suburbia, burlesque bombshell Lola Von Rox, and a cast of other provocative personalities (Gottmik, CT Hedden, Jeffrey Scott, Kiss, Candy Warhol, Muffy, Chlamydia, Mateo Palacio, Adventure Dave, and Bob Bottle to name a few), Bartsch also books special guest talent that has already included RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Aquaria, Crystal Methyd, Detox, Nicky Doll née Karlize, Brooke Lynn Hytes, and LA trans idols Gigi Gorgeous and Love Bailey, among others. DJs have included crowd favorites such as Vito Fun, Mazurbate, Tom Peters, Ty Sunderland, Aquaria, Amber Valentine, Tommie Sunshine, and London party impresario Jodie Harsh. This week, Bartsch is adding Trinity the Tuck to the roster, which promises to make for an interesting evening.

Fashion photographer Steven Klein celebrating his Birthday, April 30

Though we are separated by distance together, the remote platform has given artists the opportunity to customize their virtual surroundings in a way that augments their sartorial and cosmetic looks. Bartsch’s parties have always served as a gallery space for artists to showcase work on their bodies, and now that space extends to their virtual presentation as well. Whether it be libertine displays of communal nudity or watching renowned fashion photographer Steven Klein blow out the candles on his birthday cake, each week has brought something fresh in what is quickly becoming a new global age of New York nightlife. There are still online after-parties. People still get high. DJ sets still guide the sonic tempo of the night. The events bring all the trappings of a regular party with none of the crowded congestion one might experience in the Le Bain bathroom (God bless it) during mid-May.

This may be the first online party of its kind – one that took an existing weekly party that became impossible in the face of the pandemic and preserved it in cyberspace, where for the first time anyone with an internet connection can attend from anywhere in the world. Queer nightlife is something special that needs to be preserved during these times of blinding uncertainty. In New York City, which became the pandemic’s epicenter in a meteoric contamination, nightlife will probably be facing a depression for some time to come, especially if the virus moves in unpredictable waves and makes event planning and coordination impossible.

Still we press on. Even though the NYC Pride Parade was cancelled this year, along with the gauntlet of regular Pride events, mark your calendars for June 28. Bartsch is planning an international online Pride party on Zoom titled “On Top of the World: Pride,” featuring a bevy of headliners such as Allie X and talent from cities all over the world, including New York, LA, London, Tokyo, Paris, and Berlin.

“I never even did a FaceTime call before all this,”

Bartsch said.

“I’m going all the way.”

These times are historic, and so the ways that we choose to party and continue to celebrate life will take on a historic significance as well. The relationship between party and partygoer will be more symbiotic than ever. The parties offer respite to those taking quarantine seriously and give glamorous people everywhere a continuing opportunity to show up and show out. In exchange, we have to keep logging in and supporting these endeavors. As we now know well, nothing is promised. But we can still fight for the right to party. 

FULL COVERAGE

On Top | May 21

With Crystal Methyd, Nicky Doll, Miss Toto, Jeffrey Scott & more

On Top | May 14

With Detox, Gott Mik, Dirty Martini, Beau Jangless & more

On Top | May 7

With Brooke Lynne Hytes, Jodie Harsh, Kyle Farmery, Ryan Burke & more

On Top | April 30

With Steven Klein, Linux, Lola Von Rox, CT Hedden & more

On Top | April 23

With Aquaria, Amanda Lepore, Nicky Doll, Love Bailey & more

Mark Minton
Mark Minton

Journalist

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

Categories
EDITORIAL Timeline

CT Hedden’s “QuarantQueen” Ball At The Met

EDITORIAL

CT Hedden’s “QuarantQueen” Ball at The Met

sidewalkkilla

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

Suburbia

Drag Personality

Drag Burlesque Clown 

Glow Job

VENMO @QueenGlowJob

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.

Drag Artist

Jasmine Rice LaBeija

VENMO @jasminericenyc

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

Nikki Exotika

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

Digna

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

Thee Suburbia

VENMO @theesuburbia

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

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NIGHTLIFE

1 night, 10 parties, 10 cities. Highlights from NYC.
Ty Sunderland’s Valentine’s Day party with Aquaria, Slayyyter, Gigi Goode and Symone.
Sidewalkkilla is nominated for two awards.
Horrorchata’s 8th Annual Halloween Bash is back to Littlefield in Gowanus.
Grindr hosts 10 in-person parties all across the US. We covered the one in NYC.

EVENTS

New Yorkers gather at The Stonewall Inn, protesting Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Mixer: Erin Teresa captures Bushwig 2021 and explains her love for The Cake Boys
Horrorchata’s 8th Annual Halloween Bash is back to Littlefield in Gowanus.
2-day coverage

EDITORIAL

Introducing new column by Chase Isbell.
Matvey Cherry explores The Matrix star’s film career.
adam driver illustration painted on ipad with black, light and drak grey tones on cyan background
Matvey Cherry explains why Adam Driver will likely be Oscar-nominated in 2022.
South Carolina-born drag wives Ducky & Patsy create drag family with a team from Japan.
The Mixer: Ryan Rudewicz takes his Polaroid to Bushwig 2021.

VIDEOS

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams speaks.
It’s been 6 months since Brooklyn Liberation- the largest Black Trans Lives Matter march in history.
Watch drag king God Complex succumb to the Bliss of his art via the exclusive video premiere below.
Lucia Fuscia and Benjy Bradshaw sat down with the creators of the HBO series “We’re Here” to talk about the heartwarming reality show.
Glow Job performs “I’ve Seen That Face Before” by Grace Jones for Slave to the Distance – A Grace Jones Tribute Show by the POC Collective.

THE MIXER

Ukraine 2022: “Is This Happening?”
New Yorkers gather at The Stonewall Inn, protesting Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Hysteria, Longing, and the Eros of Open Mouths
Introducing new column by Chase Isbell.
Filmography Portrait of Keanu Reeves
Matvey Cherry explores The Matrix star’s film career.
Oscars Portrait of Adam Driver
Matvey Cherry explains why Adam Driver will likely be Oscar-nominated in 2022.
adam driver illustration painted on ipad with black, light and drak grey tones on cyan background
Team Japan: We Are Family
South Carolina-born drag wives Ducky & Patsy create drag family with a team from Japan.

NIGHTLIFE

1 night, 10 parties, 10 cities. Highlights from NYC.
Ty Sunderland’s Valentine’s Day party with Aquaria, Slayyyter, Gigi Goode and Symone.
Sidewalkkilla is nominated for two awards.
Horrorchata’s 8th Annual Halloween Bash is back to Littlefield in Gowanus.
Grindr hosts 10 in-person parties all across the US. We covered the one in NYC.

EVENTS

New Yorkers gather at The Stonewall Inn, protesting Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Mixer: Erin Teresa captures Bushwig 2021 and explains her love for The Cake Boys
Horrorchata’s 8th Annual Halloween Bash is back to Littlefield in Gowanus.
2-day coverage

EDITORIAL

Introducing new column by Chase Isbell.
Matvey Cherry explores The Matrix star’s film career.
adam driver illustration painted on ipad with black, light and drak grey tones on cyan background
Matvey Cherry explains why Adam Driver will likely be Oscar-nominated in 2022.
South Carolina-born drag wives Ducky & Patsy create drag family with a team from Japan.
The Mixer: Ryan Rudewicz takes his Polaroid to Bushwig 2021.

VIDEOS

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams speaks.
It’s been 6 months since Brooklyn Liberation- the largest Black Trans Lives Matter march in history.
Watch drag king God Complex succumb to the Bliss of his art via the exclusive video premiere below.
Lucia Fuscia and Benjy Bradshaw sat down with the creators of the HBO series “We’re Here” to talk about the heartwarming reality show.
Glow Job performs “I’ve Seen That Face Before” by Grace Jones for Slave to the Distance – A Grace Jones Tribute Show by the POC Collective.

THE MIXER

Ukraine 2022: “Is This Happening?”
New Yorkers gather at The Stonewall Inn, protesting Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Hysteria, Longing, and the Eros of Open Mouths
Introducing new column by Chase Isbell.
Filmography Portrait of Keanu Reeves
Matvey Cherry explores The Matrix star’s film career.
Oscars Portrait of Adam Driver
Matvey Cherry explains why Adam Driver will likely be Oscar-nominated in 2022.
adam driver illustration painted on ipad with black, light and drak grey tones on cyan background
Team Japan: We Are Family
South Carolina-born drag wives Ducky & Patsy create drag family with a team from Japan.

Categories
Bushwig Nightlife

Bushwig Throws Intergalactic NYE Party After a 7-Year Hiatus

EVENTS | NIGHTLIFE


Bushwig Throws Intergalactic NYE Party After a 7-Year Hiatus

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

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

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

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

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

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Alexey Kim

Founder

Categories
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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