Alonzo Maciel

Bushwick Daily Photo Editor

Loris Jones-Randolph

Bushwick Daily Reporter

The art form known as drag originated as a necessity, a creative escape for members of a queer community who lived and loved before the modern cultural infrastructure of legal rights and acronyms developled. For early queens, it was a vital outlet for living their truths.They sculpted hips from foam and explored any style that made them more Junoesque.

Photo:  Ophelia Nightbird in regal, stately drag. Photo by Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily.

As drag became more mainstream, many arbiters of the practice popularized the notion that in order to be in drag, one must look as feminine as possible, a convention that dominated conversations about the art form for decades.

Byfprds sporting two very different bobs: at left, an Anna Wintour look; at right, a 60’s-inspired dayglo aesethic. Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily

But there has always been a community of queens who have flouted these precepts about femininity, and masculinity, in drag. Gender fluidity reigns supreme at Bushwig, the huge, glorious celebration of drag in of all its forms that was born in Bushwick in 2011.

Now in its fifth year, Bushwick 2016 featured a lineup of over 100 performers, making for a drag experience that was as immense as it was eye-popping. “When you go to a drag show, you usually have [a maximum of] 5 performers. Here, it’s like eating too much ice cream—which can be a good thing!”, says queen and multimedia artist Edgar Mosa, who attended the fest attired in a skirt and chains.

Edgar Mosa, pretty in pink and pretty in chains. Photo by Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily.

Bushwig is the brainchild of queens Babes Trust and Horrorchata, both performers who are more interested in drag’s own aesthetic than in a womanly aesethic. Horrorchata, the mother of the house of Bushwig, had the idea for Bushwig six years ago while on a walk.

“It was just kind of this drag explosion happening around Brooklyn, and everyone was coming out of the woodwork, girl! It was a lot of art experimental and creative stuff happening in Brooklyn. I was already producing events when I saw this wig and said ‘I need a festival called Bushwig.'”

Horrorchata saw how many people were flocking to Bushwig and wasn’t about to turn anyone away because they didn’t conform to the conventions of commercial drag. “There’s more to drag than just a boy putting on a wig and a dress. We’re about genderfucking, and that’s what I love about this community, we’re all family.”

Horrorchata reigns over Bushwick 2016. Photo by Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily.

Dylan Walbola dressed flawlessly in a flowy gown shows off his soft face while his friend D Tucker donned a floral print dress and beard. “We came here last year and loved it. We were fans of Wigstock back in the nineties, and this is a continuation of that, but what sets Bushwig apart is that it’s not so much about femininity, it’s about gender fluidity.”

A queen in a radiant headdress. Photo by Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily.

Performer Malestia Child agrees. “If I wanted to be a woman, I’d be a woman. Right now I’m trying to look like a fungus dipped in LSD.” Another local queen, Chelsea Haggard, was among the queens opting  for something more mansexual: “it just looks better with the outfit.” After a politically charged performance, queen Cameron Cooper said “I think the beauty of Bushwig is that it gives you the platform to do anything, whether it’s a fun expression, a beautiful drag piece, something more political, something about gender.”

Cameron Cooper’s performance made creative use of Old Glory. Photo by Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily.

Bushwig encourages bio queens to perform as well. Creators of Drag Coven Courtney Conquers and Ja’mie Queen West follow drag shows from their home in Canada to shows like Bushwig. “Drag encompasses everything we love,” says Courtney. “In drag now, it’s a lot more about ‘what is drag?’ and very post gender.” A graduate with a degree in gender and identity studies, Conquers is excited about the shift, though West notes that “Everything is still valid and everything is still a form of drag no matter what someone else says!”

From left: Conquers & West. Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily.

Bushwig even had some drag kings in attendance. First timer Alena Buterena was enticed by the star-studded line up and came to Bushwick from Washington, DC. “The Brooklyn attitude of drag queens is a lot more fluid and open. You can fuck with gender a lot more. I felt like I had to [come out in drag]. On the gender identity spectrum, I’m not super fem, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to come as a drag queen. Bushwig is an accepting environment and I feel okay being a drag king here.”

A crew poses together. Photo by Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily.

Here, drag isn’t about approximating conventional femininity, but rather a way to explore one’s truest gender identity. Rify Royalty is a queen who is always for blurring the lines. “My drag isn’t female impersonating, but a boy who enjoys feminine aesthetic. I don’t contour or wear pads because I’m not trying to make that illusion. I’m trying to challenge my audience, by trying to mix boy and girl together.”

A smartly styled Bushwig look. Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily.

Daisy GlamourHammour is more than grateful for the inclusive surroundings. “I’ve always watched Bushwig on Youtube, and now I’m living this reality! I would say thank you for Horrorchata and Babes Trust creating this space for weirdos to get together.”

Daisy GlamourHammour’s singular, earth-toned Bushwig look. Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily.

Horrorchata hopes to see Bushwig go international after seeing such a great event. “We have girls coming from London, Berlin, Florida, and more! All you queens, come to the House of Bushwig, the doors never close and we take everyone!”

A queen in heels faces the audience. Alonzo Maciel for Bushwick Daily.

For More Photos from Bushwig, Click Through Our Gallery Below!