The big outdoor sign greeted me last Sunday with “Hi Queen!” And my smile opened as wide as the Bushwig logo. Gal pal Sharon and I dodged a few raindrops and darted inside the giant tent centered on a block-long field at Onerdonk House in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. Hundreds of happy people were already inside where the late-afternoon energy of celebration was electric.
Wigstock, the outdoor drag and music festival created by drag icon Lady Bunny in the 1980s, inspired Bushwig, that launched its annual fun-filled weekend in 2012. This was my third time at Bushwig, and as the number of performers grew – over 150 this year – so did the love, extravagance and sass.
My 25-year-old offspring Amber Alert (a.k.a. Harry) wasn’t scheduled to go on for another two hours. So Sharon and I – both huge fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race – cheered all of the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent that Bushwig queens and performers had to offer.
Mrs. Smith, rocked her Chanel suit, blue eye shadow and guitar while a volunteer from the audience displayed her “Please Help!” sign in search of kitty Carlyle, who’s been missing for two and a half years.
Kimberly Clark, a fave of this Wisconsin girl, held onto the mike while hanging off her bar stool.
Cherry Pepsi carbonated her performance with bubbles.
Bushwig co-founder Horrochata’s wig and wit were as big as ever.
Gold-covered queen Raul de Nieves shared a bit of her glam and glitter with the audience.
And natural regal beauty Charlene owned the stage and the audience between acts.
I’d warned Sharon that even though Amber had lip-synched Whitney Houston’s a cappella version of “How Will I Know” two years ago, Pink Flamingos star Divine was still her drag idol. I wasn’t sure how else to prepare my friend for Amber’s act, that featured a kiddie pool, lots of water, instant lemonade and hidden catheter bags as props. What can I say? My kid goes for shock value. And Amber Alert, always a crowd favorite, did not disappoint with Danity Kane’s “Lemonade.”
After four hours of over-the-top exuberance, Sharon and I passed the sign on our way out that read “Goodbye, Queen!” With ears ringing and covered in a dusting of gold glitter, I felt like one. In real life, though, I knew I was just the mother of one amazing and awesome queen. Bring it, Bushwig 2016! I’ll be there.
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