Bushwig Festival celebrates the increasingly broad and inclusive definition of drag

Bushwig Festival celebrates the increasingly broad and inclusive definition of drag
Mic
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 BunnySource: Emily Watson/Mic
Lady Bunny  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 HorowitzSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Minnie Horowitz  Emily Watson/Mic
Hucklefaery KenSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Hucklefaery Ken  Emily Watson/Mic
Viv RedSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Viv Red  Emily Watson/Mic
Viv RedSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Viv Red  Emily Watson/Mic
Steven Love MenendezSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Steven Love Menendez  Emily Watson/Mic
Adele ComputerSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Adele Computer  Emily Watson/Mic
Lee SuburbiaSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Lee Suburbia  Emily Watson/Mic
Malestia ChildSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Malestia Child  Emily Watson/Mic
Defacto ObsoleteSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Defacto Obsolete  Emily Watson/Mic
Mr. FrankSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Mr. Frank  Emily Watson/Mic
David SerotteSource: Emily Watson/Mic
David Serotte  Emily Watson/Mic
Monroe LilySource: Emily Watson/Mic
Monroe Lily  Emily Watson/Mic
Miscellaneous Dom TopSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Miscellaneous Dom Top  Emily Watson/Mic
Ms TerSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Ms Ter  Emily Watson/Mic
LuluSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Lulu  Emily Watson/Mic
UnknownSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Unknown  Emily Watson/Mic
Daphne SumtimezSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Daphne Sumtimez  Emily Watson/Mic
Bea HollywoodSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Bea Hollywood  Emily Watson/Mic
Lady QuesadillaSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Lady Quesadilla  Emily Watson/Mic
Rify RoyaltySource: Emily Watson/Mic
Rify Royalty  Emily Watson/Mic
SpacebabeSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Spacebabe  Emily Watson/Mic
Reggi ReginaSource: Emily Watson/Mic
Reggi Regina  Emily Watson/Mic