Wigstock, the Drop-Dead Amazing NYC Drag Festival, Is Coming Back Next Month
If you’ve ever seen the 1995 documentary Wigstock: The Movie, all of the drag glitz, glamor and over-the-top wigs are almost enough to make you cry over the fact that the annual drag music festival in New York City‘s East Village basically went defunct in 2001. But dry those tears, young queers, because there’s gonna be a Wigstock revival. Wigstock 2018 is gonna happen Labor Day weekend, Saturday, Sept. 1 at the South Street Seaport’s newly rebranded Pier 17, according to The New York Times.
The original Wigstock originally started in 1984 as an informal end-of-summer party for New York City gay folks. Its name alluded to the Woodstock Festival, the iconic 1969 music festival whose tagline touted “Peace, Love and Music.”
But, for two years in a row it rained on the day of Wigstock, discouraging performers and would-be attendees from coming to the show. Thus, Wigstock took a big financial hit. The poor weather, combined with then-mayor Rudy Giuliani’s quality-of-life initiatives discouraging local nightlife, helped kill interest in the festival.
Here’s the trailer to Wigstock: The Movie
Its last year was in 2001, though Lady Bunny, the famous drag queen and Wigstock co-founder, continued to host a smaller version of the event as part of the HOWL! Festival commemorating gay beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s mid-’50s poem “Howl.”
The idea for a Wigstock revival actually came from gay actor Neil Patrick Harris and his husband David Burtka. Neither attended the original Wigstock, but the both own a townhouse in Harlem and Harris heard a lot Wigstock during his time starring in the titular role of the queer musical comedy, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
So Harris and Burtka contacted Lady Bunny and persuaded him to throw Wigstock 2018. Other partners in the venture include Bruce Cohen, the Oscar-winning producer behind American Beauty and Milk; Matador, the production company behind Banksy Does New York; the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the queer health center; and others.
The New York Times reports “The tentative performance list includes: Alaska Thunderfuck, Alex Newell, Amanda Lepore, Barbara Tucker, Basil, Bianca Del Rio, Bob the Drag Queen, Candis Cayne, Charlene Incarnate, Darnelle XV, Desmond Is Amazing, Dina Martina, Dita Von Teese, Heklina, Jackie Beat, Jada Valenciaga, Jinkx Monsoon, Joey Arias, Justin Vivian Bond, Kevin Aviance, Latrice Royale, Lina Bradford, Linda Simpson, Lypsinka, Murray Hill, Peaches Christ, Peppermint, Raven O, Sherry Vine, Taylor Mac, Varla Jean Merman and Willam.”
The lineup reflects the renewed interest in drag, thanks largely in part to the success of RuPaul’s Drag Race.