This past weekend, the annual drag festival Bushwig returned to Brooklyn’s The Knockdown Center for the second year in a row.
Celebrating its sixth year, the festival brought out thousands to gawk at the more than 100 queens and artists from all over the world who took to the stage. The audience was a cornucopia of queer beauty, as everyone under the LGBTQ umbrella and then some were out for a gender-bending good time.
Many people see Bushwig as the New York drag event that replaced Wigstock, the annual outdoor drag festival co-created by Lady Bunny in the 1980s in the East Village. Traditionally, that festival would act as the unofficial end-of-the-summer party for New York City’s gay community.
At Bushwig, there’s a bazaar full of merchants and vendors selling all types of wares, from makeup and leather goods to bespoke fashion labels made locally in Brooklyn. Outside there stood a second, smaller stage that played host to some drag shows as well as DJs like Occupy the Disco, Skyshaker and the QPOC dance party Papi Juice.
Inside, the main stage had back-to-back performances by queens hailing from all over the world. On Saturday, RuPaul’s Drag Race favorite Alyssa Edwards headlined. On Sunday, there was a special show curated by the Austin drag troupe Poo Poo Platter.
Bushwig has also traveled for pop-ups in Los Angeles, Austin, New Orleans and Berlin. Bushwig was founded by Horrorchata and Babes Turst, two queens who plan to bring Bushwig to Mexico City this November for the first time ever.
Horrorchata recently told Richard Villeges about the explosion of queer nightlife in Brooklyn:
I used to throw this party named Cumbia Queen a long time ago at TNT. No one came! No one was doing drag back then, and now it’s exploded. I call it the drag explosion and I’m glad I was there to see it and be part of it. I just grabbed on and was like, “Yeah, I’m gonna make a fucking festival out of this.”
“People in New York know how to work, what to do and how to get it done,” she continues. “Most of us don’t have a car or houses or a lot of space for our drag, which a lot of queens often have outside of New York. I think it makes our take on drag a bit more unique and punk and artsy and experimental. We’re the backyard queens, honey!”