“Tip your performer – and be as loud as you want to be,” said a unicorn wearing a blue dress, a  rainbow wig and a golden horn. She described herself as “the hostess with the most ass,” and welcomed the crowd to the latest run of “Bushwick Got Talent,” a somewhat-monthly talent contest that House of Yes has been throwing semi-regularly for the last few years, give or take a global pandemic.

Aerials, musical theater, voice impersonation, pole dancing, burlesque, live singing, lip syncing, voguing, and drag were the arts and skills showcased on one recent night. The shared mission among those on stage: get the best scores from a demanding panel of judges, and make it to a final round and a prize of “222 dollars with 22 cents,” per host Pixel the Drag Jester, a resident performer and producer at House of Yes. Pixel, with her South Park and Bianca del Río inspired comedy invited us to forget it was only a Wednesday, let loose and get a little fucked up.  

The working Bitch of Burlesque Eliza Bettawerk works the stage (top-right), while La Candelaria’s leopard print catwoman fantasy act (above) was something to look at.

Holding court with long entertaining monologues that veered, occasionally into, deep and constructive criticisms, were judges Mini Horrorwitz, Zoe Nightengale and C’était BonTemps. As the trio put it: talent, drama, iconic and cunt were the minimum expected from performers that night. But only one winning act got perfect scores from the whole panel. 

That night’s winner was a Bermudian dancer who goes by the long name “The working Bitch of Burlesque Eliza Bettawerk.” Bettawerk had performed last and landed a ringing line of applause from the audience. Covered by a furry coat that changed into an orange-colored bikini-fantasy, he gave us the kicks and turns, various backflips and a landing on stage with a split that left everyone claiming for more. 

Another favorite was Magnifique L’Emoi, who according to his Instagram account, is a “BROlesque entertainer, goddex of Seduction, Pole & Aerial Hoop Dancer and Fem Dominatrix.” L’Emoi put on the classic “I Put A Spell On You” to command the floor, while stripping down out of a red see-through gown to the scarlet lingerie. In the air, his body drew the lines of what the judges would call “amazing body control and composition.”   

Elsewhere was La Candelaria. Her leopard print catwoman fantasy was something to look at. Her performance was surrounded by an aura of mystery, drama and a bit of humor. Someone in the audience even tipped a huge Hershey’s chocolate bar. Her show did what great drag does – take the audience for an emotional ride, from the beautiful flower in her kitty ear to the faces she made throughout.

Among the judges that night were Mini Horrorwitz (above), as well as the evening’s host, Pixel the Drag Jester (below), a resident performer at the House of Yes.

“The House of Yes is one of the coolest stages in the world,” Pixel told me afterward, over the phone. “Amateur burlesque and ‘Bushwick Got Talent’ are two of the most beautiful events [that] really showcase the ideal of House of Yes.” 

Pixel describes her own drag look as a modern day rainbow, but she also takes inspiration from her mother.

“Drag is a punk rock art.  Drag is meant to up lift queer people but also meant to make people uncomfortable,” she added.

“Bushwick Got Talent” is a free, semi-regular show at the House of Yes at 2 Wyckoff Avenue. The next date is Dec. 7.

All images taken by Juan de Dios Sanchez Jurado.

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