poses beneath the Bushwig sign for Bushwick Daily (all photos by Scarlett North-Cavanaugh)We think it’s safe to say that the second annual
was a wild success. Featuring over 55 performances running the gamut from very traditional night club drag to highly conceptual gender-jamming performance art, the festival brought in a crowd that packed
for ten hours this past weekend to soak up all of the high-energy dancing, singing, lip-synching, stand-up, fashion, flashing, twerking, primping, vougeing, and everything else in between. Bushwick Daily was on hand and is happy to present some of the event’s sartorial highlights, for those of you who didn’t get to spend your Saturday surrounded by the neighborhood’s hottest queens.
We spoke with these beautiful ladies out on the sidewalk:
From left to right: Ellen Degenerate, Whitney Biennial, Didi Boniva and Manakin GuyStalker.
Name: Ellen Degenerate
Style: “I just wanted my album to sound black” (Miley)
Where can we find you? In the alley.
Name: Whitney Biennial (previously Amber Alert)
Style: Robin Thicke
Where can we find you? On a bonus disc of The Wire.
Name: Didi Boniva
Style Inspiration: Advanced Style Blog
Where can we find you? Art Basel Miami.
Name: Manakin GuyStalker
Style: Real Housewives meets Amy Winehouse
Where can we find you? She’s new to the scene! Keep an eye out!
Although drag culture has been known at times to be a little mean, the overall energy of the festival was surprisingly inclusive, perhaps taking its cues from the House of Bushwig itself, which members describe as very supportive community. “The House of Bushwig is loosely membership-based, and anyone can join—it’s kind of like a church or a cult, if you wish, where we support to each other and we go to each other’s shows and basically promote,” explained Simon Leahy, aka Babes Trust, an organizer of the event and one of the evening’s primary MCs. A queen outside the door who had just been christened with a new drag name that day was congratulated by excited friends, one of whom said she had drag-name envy, and as different MCs took the stage to introduce fellow performers. There was no shortage of the kind of glowing praise that can only come from familiarity with and deep appreciation of the creative work of others. Leahy tells us that “anyone can come here and feel space to express themselves and do anything they want– as long as they’re not hurting anyone else, of course. I’m a hippie.”
These two chatted with us between performances:
Princess Mickey Jaeger (L) and Miranda Lanvin (R)Name: Princess Mickey Jaeger
Style: Rainbow Brite and Bowie
Where can we find you? Wednesdays at Metropolitan bar in Williamsburg for 2 in the Bush
Name: Miranda Lanvin
Style: “I design all my own clothing, so—Lanvin.”
Where can we find you? Sugarland, Bottoms Up, TNT at Metropolitan, Dragnet
Penny Arcade‘s been on the NYC drag scene longer than some of the other performers have been out of diapers, but that didn’t stop her from serving up the tough wit that’s made her a staple of the community. She encouraged the crowd along that vein as well: “Keep it up, because then someday you can be like me and be 63 and still doing it, doing it, doing it!” Decrying the state of New York City today, she played New York, New York on a tiny toy violin after doing an impression of a twenty-something yuppie (which sounded a lot like Shoshanna Shapiro), ending her performance with a whole-hearted exclamation: “Thank god for Bushwig!”
We followed Ruby Roo up to her perch on the edge of a dumpster on the property and got a great shot her surveying the scene:
Ruby Roo takes it all in from the best seat in the house.Name: Ruby Roo
Style Inspiration: Vintage housewives
Where can we find you? Miss Roo is a real Manhattan girl: Wednesdays at Vlada in Hell’s Kitchen, Thursdays at Eastern Bloc in the East Village, Sundays at Sugarland in Williamsburg, and late night Sundays at Duplex in the West Village.
As the evening got under way, things heated up a bit. In addition to drinks at the bar in the courtyard, $3 corn dogs that received rave reviews were made in-house using sausages from a polish butcher in Greenpoint and served with cilantro and several sauce options, including a spicy mayo-based ‘Love Sauce,’ on the side. Secret Project Robot’s main indoor performance area heated up quickly once everyone moved inside and started dancing between performances, and sweet incense burned near the door throughout the evening. The early 1980’s sci-fi film Liquid Sky played at the indoor bar, and over the course of the night, the dance floor became gradually strewn with Swedish Fish, Cheetos, masticated Hot Pocket, confetti, wig clippings, glitter, and the shreds of the Republican Party icon, making for a literal hot sticky mess.
Maddelynn Hatter onstage during her act.Name: Maddelynn Hatter
Style: Edgy Slut
Darlinda Just Darlinda of Bushwick Burlesque in one of the more SFW moments of her performance….Darlinda Just Darlinda, who runs Bushwick Burlesque, did a strip tease to Blood Sweat & Tears’ You’ve Made Me So Very Happy, starting her performance in a red dress and a trio of American flags, one in each hand and one protruding from her posterior.
Adel, a pinball wizardess, strikes a pose for us.Name: Adel [sic]
From: Born and raised in Jordan, but half Romanian; this is my third week in New York!
Style: House of Haunt drag queens, John Waters, Animal Planet: “I’m not interested in female illusion.”
Where can we find you: Here!
Babe Trust, the girl of the hour, stepped out of the limelight to for a quick chat and photo shoot with us; earlier in the festival, she’d been wearing a latex alien mask over the top her head as a wig.
Severely Mame and a friend cuddle up with some stuffed animals in the back of the house.A few other highlights of the event:
Untitled Queen appeared in wicked witch getup and duct-taped herself into a poncho and danced with two umbrellas to Missy Elliot’s The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly); at the end of the song, an audience member doused her in a bucket of water and she transitioned into a lip-synch of the “I’m melting!” shrieks from the Wizard of Oz.
Merrie Cherry in white makeup, a white dress and pearls, started her performance to Rihanna’s Stay, then had black paint poured over her head while her music transitioned into Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black.
Chris of Hur, in a psychedelic bodysuit evocative of a moth out of which peeked an enormous fake bush, incorporated a rainbow-enshrined hot pocket which was chewed up and spat into the audience, into a performance that ended with shrieking and stamping.
Bailey Stiles, with Marlyn-esque hair, started off her performance wrapped in a sheet a la Ariel of Disney’s Little Mermaid, synching to India Arie’s Ready for Love, before disrobing to finish the act in the nude (while ‘tucked’).
Cher Noble, in a modest period costume featuring a red leather bustier and enormous eyelashes, performed to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins, dancing with a twink stand- in for Dick Van Dyke.
Moon Baby did a haunting acapella rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, which evoked the version of the song made famous by Jeff Buckley while referencing the recent appropriation of Chelsea Hotel no. 2, another Cohen classic, by Lana Del Rey; an interlude in the middle of the song featured snatches of Usher’s OMG and Ave Maria before a finish that was performed naked (and untucked).
Shane Shane, sporting a beard and wearing a flowing yellow batik dress and leopard print platform sneakers, performed to the B-52s Give Me Back My Man, snipping off the ends of a blue wig and flinging Swedish fish into the audience from a red sequined fanny pack.
Brian Soigne Wilson, a Wigstock alum and the designer who created the Bushwig logo, did a performance wearing a sandwich board painted with an hourglass figure and a paper spider headpiece, lip-synching to a version of Vanity 6’s Nasty Girl sung in a deep baritone voice.
Bushwig was very well-received last year, and seems to have been equally popular this year. Babes Trust was delighted about the public response, describing her high hopes for the future of the festival: “We hope to make Bushwig a staple of the New York community, like the Mermaid Parade. It’s a celebration of drag and queer culture that’s open to anyone and everyone—and if you’re under twelve you get in for free, although I don’t see many twelve-year-olds here. Last year there were, though!”
Towards the end of the evening, as performers prepared to head over to the official Bushwig After Party at Bizarre (a second after party at Happy Fun Hideaway absorbed those who couldn’t pack into the first one), some got reflective about the experience. Merrie Cherry, whose trajectory to drag stardom skyrocketed about a year ago, told us seriously: “This is a magical moment– and I’m very happy to be a part of something that will be history ten or fifteen years from now….”
See more photos Scarlett took throughout the event here!