By Evan Lambert
This past weekend, in an abandoned factory on the outskirts of Brooklyn, a drag queen named Louisianna Purchase pushed a wooden cross up her butthole. Then she deep-throated the cross. Everyone cheered.
It was just one of many boundary-pushing, gender-bending displays of subversiveness at New York’s latest Bushwig festival, a two-day long celebration of drag, creativity, music, and extravagance. Depending on where you turned, you might have seen a sparkly, semi-nude otter, a strutting femme drag goddess, or even a ghostly, white-haired bearded lady with glowing crimson eyes and a tattered, paneled beige wedding dress that appeared to be straight out of a 19th-century horror novel.
Alyssa Edwards and Dida Ritz – both RuPaul’s Drag Race faves – were the de facto headliners, but over 150 queens performed in total throughout the course of the weekend. With names like Lucy Stoole, January Bones, Blake Deadly, Dusty Moorehead, Sassyopathic, and Queef Latina — and acts ranging from ’90s pop lip syncs to spoken word poems accompanied by pickle-throwing — Bushwig served up no shortage of entertainment for its throbbing crowd of queers, genderqueers, genderfuckits, trans folks, and theoretical cis- straight people. Nothing was off-limits: At one point, a performer even brought the house down with a lip-synced opera solo.
The choice of venue — an abandoned factory-cum-multidisciplinary art space called Knockdown Center — was perfect for the occasion. The dark, cavernous building tested perceptions of what constituted a site of conventional joy and celebration, while an outdoor area with a crumbling roofless courtyard (formerly a vibrant wing of the factory, no doubt) contributed to an overall vibe of dysfunctional realness. This vibe was further accentuated by the courtyard’s cracked window panes and a bright red “Danger” sign not too far from the site. Late in the afternoon, a wigless butch queen glided into a dimly lit corridor, floated to the floor, stretched her legs in front of her, and took a selfie — a sliver of waning sunlight tickling the edges of her voluminous feathered black dress.
To add an extra layer of spook to the proceedings, several performers chose to incorporate creepy ethereal techno music or purposefully jarring fits of cross-eyed rage. Perhaps this was a nod to the influence of famous queens like Sharon Needles and Sasha Velour. To top off the gleeful abandon, nudity of all kinds was the name of the game, and a giant disco ball hanging from the epicenter of Knockdown Center’s interior reminded everyone that this event was Queer AF.
(Featured photo: Maro Hagopian, all other images Evan Lambert)
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