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NIGHTGOWNS and VYM Magazine: Brooklyn's Answer to Expanding Drag Communities

Bald-headed glamour queens

Photo courtesy of Dewey McGeoch

There is an unmistakable thoughtfulness in the responses, and paired with the magazine’s edgy, demure, and exacting aesthetic, VYM is a gorgeously textured luxury product. Sasha is the magazine’s artistic director, and from the moment you pick up issue number 1, his background in graphic design and self-publishing is evident. Johnny is the editorial director. Together, House of Velour combines a rigor in all things queer theory with a deep empathy for a range of voices.

Bald-headed glamour queens. Tap-dancing bio kings. Goth princes and vampire princesses, lips alight with crimson glitter lipstick. Last Thursday at Bizarre Bar in Bushwick, a multitude of kings, queens and those who eschew such labels performed to a full house at NIGHTGOWNS, a companion show to the newly launched VYM: the Drag Magazine.

Both NIGHTGOWNS and VYM are the creations of Brooklyn-based couple Sasha and Johnny Velour. If you’re used to expecting just one thing from drag, House of Velour will encourage you to rethink those boundaries—or better yet, to do away with boundaries altogether, particularly where notions of gender are concerned.

“Drag is a cultural necessity,” Sasha says. “Johnny and I wanted to create something with good thought and good politics while also satisfying our universal want for something beautiful.”

House of Velour explores that idea of cultural necessity in the inaugural issue of VYM, in which more than 20 contributors—ranging from drag performers, poets and photographers to makeup artists, comic artists and more—respond to the question, What is drag?

“What is drag? The hyperexpression and deconstruction of gender,” K. James is quoted in a photo essay. “But for me it’s also the expression of my own gender nonconformity.”

Have you picked up issue one of @vymmagazine yet? It's a smart and beautiful exploration of drag, and I was lucky enough to be featured in a spread about transformation by the talented Masha Bogushevsky. Can't wait for issue 2, @hilarityandriot and @ahsasha ! #vym #vymmagazine #switchnplay #drag #dragkings #dragqueens #burlesque #dragking #dragqueen #king #queen #brooklyndrag #queer #boys #gay #lgbt #performance #instagay #instaqueen #instadrag #nycdrag #dragnyc #dragkingshow #lgbtq #bois #boisnight A photo posted by K.James (@k.james_switchnplay) on Oct 4, 2015 at 12:17pm PDT

A photo posted by VYM, The Drag Magazine (@vymmagazine) on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:58am PDT

“All the best writing [on queer theory] is close to impossible to understand,” Sasha says. “I try to bring some of what I do understand to the people who need it…But also this is drag, so it has to stay playful, fun, and personal.” That’s where NIGHTGOWNS comes in. Graced so far by performers like Oliver Fist, Crimson Kitty, Chris of Hur, Glace Chase, Olive D’Nightlife, and more, the show presents a diverse and engaging lineup.

True to form, it’s a highly curated, well thought-out spectacle that feels like a miniature play, complete with intermission, two acts, and a finale. The show began at Bizarre Bar as a launch party for VYM, but the bar liked the show so much they asked House of Velour to come back every month. The show on Thursday, December 10th will mark the event's fifth installment.

“Queer Brooklyn’s heart is in Bushwick,” Johnny says. “Yes, the drag shows in Manhattan are full of great singing and dancing, and yes, the drag shows in Brooklyn are full of intelligent concepts and boundary-pushing aesthetics. But drag should also help us build clever queer communities, ones equipped to stand up to power, resist whitewashing, and hold one another up! This is the drag that VYM magazine and NIGHTGOWNS celebrates.”

A video posted by Oliver Fist (@oliver.fist) on Nov 13, 2015 at 9:11pm PST

What is drag? It is a form of expression that is constantly expanding, transcending pre-conceived realms of masculine/feminine. VYM magazine amplifies the voices of artists working in these non-binary spaces. NIGHTGOWNS provides a stage to communicate, to laugh, and to think through performance.

Catch NIGHTGOWNS, 2nd Thursdays at Bizarre Bar, 12 Jefferson St., Brooklyn (next show: December 10th). Order VYM magazine at their website.

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