Bushwig Festival celebrates the increasingly broad and inclusive definition of drag

Bushwig Festival celebrates the increasingly broad and inclusive definition of drag
Source: Mic
Source: Mic

This weekend was an epic drag. Cherry-topped by a long-overdue Emmy win for famed drag queen RuPaul Charles, the real fun kicked off during a weekendlong festival of drag, queer performance and music known as Bushwig.

Headliners at the 2016 festival included Lady Bunny and the Boulet Brothers, as well as RuPaul's Drag Race alums Latrice Royale, Thorgy Thor and April Carrion.

"As large clubs continue to die out, these one-off festival events like Bushwig or the Wigstock Cruise, Drag Race launch parties, gay pride events or even Hallowe'en and New Year's Eve parties take on a new importance," Lady Bunny said in an interview. "Since there aren't many regular parties in larger spaces anymore, we need bashes like Bushwig."

Lady Bunny
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic

Asked what differentiates the Brooklyn, New York City, drag scene, Lady Bunny had this to say:

It's alt-drag, where you may see queens with beards, in half-drag or in simply bizarrely creative drag. The Manhattan drag scene can skew towards predictable, with an emphasis on top 40, celeb impersonations, show tunes and Disney. So Manhattan, once the hotbed of creative drag, has now dulled in comparison to Bushwig.

This community has its own drag stars and recording artists. There is also a decidedly new age-y feel, so the event features free acupuncture, vegan tacos and a dark room. I got so into the community spirit of it that after my show, I offered free HIV testing in my ass. I am positive that they'll be pleased with the results.

Founded in 2012 by Matty Horrorchata and Babes Trust, the two-day festival is a sprawling playground of queer creative energy brought to life in 150-plus performances that this year ranged from irreverent to spooky to smutty to cover-your-eyes, but with a vulcan salute for safe peeking. 

"It's like going to a concert venue to see your favorite musician, but instead of your favorite musician it's 150 drag performances," Sam Banks, a drag performer and yoga teacher who performed Chvrches' "Clearest Blue" during his first-ever appearance at the festival, said in an interview.

"It was body and legs and a buildup and a climax," he said when asked to describe his interpretation of the song. "The song crescendos very much like an orgasm, so that's what I was giving."

A photo posted by (@) on

For Dream, a Brooklyn-based artist and co-director of The Culture Whore, it's about togetherness. "It's one of the only times of the year that everyone in our scene is together," she said in an interview. "The whole founding idea of Bushwig is about gagging your sisters — and that's fun."

For her third year performing, she did just that, baiting the audience with the first four seconds of Lady Gaga's "Perfect Illusion" on loop before transitioning into Avril Lavigne's classic "I'm With You."

A photo posted by (@) on

Mic was on-hand to capture some of the legendary lewks on display at the Knockdown Center. 

Take a peek at some of our favorites below.

Minnie Horowitz
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Hucklefaery Ken
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Viv Red
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic


Viv Red
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic


Steven Love Menendez
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Adele Computer
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Lee Suburbia
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Malestia Child
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Defacto Obsolete
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Mr. Frank
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
David Serotte
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Monroe Lily
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Miscellaneous Dom Top
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Ms Ter
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Lulu
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Unknown
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Daphne Sumtimez
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Bea Hollywood
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Lady Quesadilla
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Rify Royalty
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Spacebabe
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic
Reggi Regina
Source: 
Emily Watson/Mic

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Evan Ross Katz

Evan Ross Katz is Mic's style editor. He previously served as managing editor for Logo's NewNowNext. Bylines: The Advocate, Refinery29, Men's Health, Thrillist, Out, Men's Fitness, Instinct, F*cking Young, Schön, Essential Homme, The Manual, and WetPaint.

MORE FROM

Reports: Sean Spicer resigns from post as White House press secretary

Spicer is out, the 'New York Times' reported.

Trump’s legal team spokesman resigns after just two months on the job

Mark Corallo is out after just two months as spokesman.

German president signs legislation legalizing same-sex marriage

According to the German president's office, the bill will come into effect on Oct. 1 at the earliest.

‘New York Times’ interview sparks latest wave of GOP frustration with Trump

The President’s “disturbing” comments on Jeff Sessions and Special Counsel Robert Mueller drew sharp rebukes from his own party.

Jordan Edwards’ mother speaks out after Monday’s indictment of the officer who killed her son

“We will not allow Jordan’s death to be another statistic.”

Reports: Sean Spicer resigns from post as White House press secretary

Spicer is out, the 'New York Times' reported.

Trump’s legal team spokesman resigns after just two months on the job

Mark Corallo is out after just two months as spokesman.

German president signs legislation legalizing same-sex marriage

According to the German president's office, the bill will come into effect on Oct. 1 at the earliest.

‘New York Times’ interview sparks latest wave of GOP frustration with Trump

The President’s “disturbing” comments on Jeff Sessions and Special Counsel Robert Mueller drew sharp rebukes from his own party.

Jordan Edwards’ mother speaks out after Monday’s indictment of the officer who killed her son

“We will not allow Jordan’s death to be another statistic.”