There’s no contest. Last Saturday and Sunday, September 12 and 13, hundreds of festival goers convened in a grassy outdoor space on the Bushwick/Ridgewood border to take part in Bushwig, an annual celebration of irreverent queer performance and drag.
It was the fourth year of the festival and the first at its new home — the spacious outdoor grounds of The Onderdonk House. I arrived early Saturday afternoon and instantly felt like Dorothy in Oz: transported to a world of subverted rules and uncharted royalty. On and off the stage, drag kings and queens beat their faces and pretty much turned it out.
If you got inspired, there was a clothing rack on hand to help you quickly don new looks. If you needed sustenance, snacks and booze were for sale. And if you wanted to take a breather, you could step into the “Sober Sanctuary” and have a “No Party Party” with your pals.
So, what all happened? K James took off his shirt and served Justin Bieber realness. Our friends at the Culture Whore put on strange and beautiful performances. And Thorgy Thor, of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 8 rumors, graced the stage as well. Through it all, Qween Amor walked unclothed throughout the crowd and cleansed us all of our very sinful sins with a handheld cross (till Sunday, when Qween reappeared as an apple-bearing devil):
The legendary queen, who founded the erstwhile NYC drag fest Wigstock, took the stage early on Saturday and addressed Horrorchata, one of Bushwig’s co-creators. In a moment that felt pivotal, almost historic, Lady Bunny “passed the torch” to the younger queen. No, really – she passed Horrorchata a foam, store-bought Statue of Liberty torch and congratulated her for her work showcasing a kind of drag that will never be mainstream.
And if that leaves you unmoved, in her next performance Lady Bunny proceeded to simultaneously lip sync and deep throat a liquid-spurting sex toy. Yes, people in the crowd were doused.
Crowned Bushwick’s Drag Queen of the Year in March, Untitled Queen wasn’t just a mean emcee. She also pulled on the crowd’s heartstrings with her slow performance of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Who ever realized just how delightfully queer Artie’s voice can be?
We have to give this queen props for her mashup of Ariana Grande’s nonsensical masterpiece “Break Free” and clips from the 1962 camp classic film, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” Pure genius.
Finally, congratulations are in order to the new Mz. Bushwig – well-deserved for all those golden nights she serves at TNT and elsewhere. More, please!
To year 5 of Bushwig, and beyond!