All photos courtesy of Santiago Felipe/Bushwig
New York drag queen Horrorchata was shopping for a wig when she was struck by an idea: why not throw a music festival for Brooklyn's thriving queer drag scene? Thus, Bushwig was born, and since its beginnings in 2012, the festival (which is also co-run by drag queen Babes Trust) has become a crucial place where drag queens of every stripe can come together as a community, while shocking each other with crazy performances and partying until their heels crack off.
This year, the festival is moving from its home at DIY venue Secret Project Robot to a large outdoor garden at Onderdonk House, and will feature the likes of drag star Lady Bunny and gay punk band Bottoms. We pulled Horrorchata and Babes Trust away from the pre-festival madness to chat about what the festival means for the drag community, its new location, and which acts to look out for this year.
THUMP: What do you do in the nightlife scene, and how did Bushwig get its start?
Babes Trust: I'm an event curator, a drag queen, and musician. All my time is spent working in clubs.
Horrorchata: I am Horrorchata and I am a international drag superstar. I also DJ, throw a monthly party called "Be Cute," and help promote events around New York City.
How did Bushwig get its start?
BT: Bushwig came around after a drunken evening at Secret Project Robot. Both mine and Horrorchata's intentions are to create a larger platform for the thriving drag and performance communities in [New York]. So we came together and created Bushwig!
H: I was shopping for a wig off Broadway under the JMZ train and the idea just hit me! That's also when I decided that my yellow wig was going to be my trademark.
Can you tell me more about Wigstock, the original drag festival that inspired Bushwig? How does your festival differ from Wigstock?
H: Bushwig is the new Wigstock. Back in the day, it was all about the East Village freaks. Now, the freaks live in Bushwick. I hope we grow strong just like Wigstock did back in the day. By throwing this festival we bring the community together and celebrating the art of drag!
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BT: Bushwig is different because of the gentrification of Manhattan, the influx of young artists to Bushwick, and the fact that the queens who were doing it in the 90s are older now. But I think our overall values are very similar.
Most young people experiment with drag for a few years and then stop. I find the seasoned drag queens that keep going and manage to forge a career out of it incredible, such as Pepper Labajia, Lady Bunny, Jonny Woo, Horrorchata and Merrie Cherry. Could you imagine dressing in drag up to seven nights a week, never seeing the sunlight, and performing in dive bars for decades? The seasoned queens have an aura of knowledge about them. They have literally seen it and felt it all.
You're moving this year from Secret Project Robot to the garden of Onderdonk House. What prompted the move? How do you think the new outdoor location will change the festival?
BT: Secret Project Robot will be forever with us. However, we wanted to fly out of the nest and move into a bigger space. Onderdonk House is a huge field with a massive tent—it is such a treasure just waiting for us!
H: A backyard full of homos in drag—well, you can't really find that anywhere.
Which musical acts are you most excited for this year?
BT: Im really excited to see Chae Buttuh, who is coming in from North Carolina. Lady Bunny is blessing us with her presence. I always love seeing Juliana Huxtable DJ—she recently did a 3AM afterparty at the Spectrum. I should mention my own band Bottoms are playing Saturday at 9 PM.
H: You know, my first year I told myself, one day Lady Bunny has to perform, and now it's happening. Oh so many queens I know are going to turn it out. Also, Charlene, Chris of Hur, and Thorgy Thor.
What else happens at Bushwig around the musical performances?
H: Horrorchata changing looks every two hours. Food and art vendors. And four afterparties at Lovegun, Spectrum, and Lot 45, and Happy Fun Hideaway that all start at 10 PM.
BT: It's like a big love affair! Everyone gets tipsy and celebrates each others' differences while watching the most insane performances!
What does Bushwig represent to you, the local drag community, and the world?
BT: Bushwig represents a space in which smaller artists can be presented to a larger audience alongside seasoned artists. We try our best to make it non-hierarchical and invite everyone to witness the creative explosion happening in Bushwick and beyond. It's like a queer family!
H: I'm just little girl from Texas who moved to New York with a one-way ticket and bag full of clothes. So Bushwig and what I'm doing in Brooklyn means the world to me. We are like a big family here in Brooklyn. Never in 1000 years did I think I would be making history.
Bushwig is happening this weekend, September 11-13, 2015
Michelle Lhooq will be turning it out on Twitter