Wigstock 1994 Press
A Good Hair Day
by Michael Musto
Practically every notable person who’s ever worn a wig, short of Burt Reynolds, has appeared at Wigstock, the annual Labor Day drag festival that brings love and hairpeace
To New York’s great unruly outdoors. The all day fest’s 10 year anniversary this year should provide an extra special beautician ready blow out, with organizers Lady Bunny and Scott Lifshutz planning more craziness, arm gestures, and hair height than ever before. It’ll be a veritable Six Flags Over Drag.
Usually held in the East Village’s Tompkins Square Park, the cross-dress a thon has gotten so damned big – it attracted some 20,000 folks last year, according to Bunny – that it’s being forced to sashay to larger location. While Central Park’s been considered, Bunny would like to keep it closer to her home turf, maybe the West side piers that she knows so well.” The Central Park Ramble is a lovely spot though.” she remarks, meaning the wooded gay sex area. ‘The beauty of it has brought me to my knees more than once.”
Wigstock’s even thornier beginnings involved a spirited, if pretty ramshackle, show attended by a few hundred well informed stragglers, with the emphasis more on Wood-stock-like rock’n’roll. Now it’s a much slicker and more eclectic revue, with glossy-lipped performances by the likes of RuPaul, stand up comic Babara Patterson-Lloyd, life size singing doll Frida, performance artist John Kelly as Joni Mitchell, and a trio called Peter , Paul and Big Mary. The acts come and go quickly, leaving their imprint of comic dementia, fashion ultra-expression, and in some cases real vocal talent (the late Donna Giles for example) though it’s basically wonderfully synching ship. There are even non drag performers from Deborah Harry to Deee-Lite, presumably because they would be in drag if they could. “We have top notch entertainment,” cracks bunny, “And Linda Simpson.”
A Wigstock concert movie is being directed by Barry Shils, and could turn out to be Paris Is Burning without the pathos, Woodstock without the bad hair.
And the event, like Bunny’s Bouffant, keeps growing. Does she consider it at all political? “I don’t think we’re out to make a statement.” She says. “Someone last wanted to do a song called you have to fight for your right to be queer’, but I nixed the idea. You’re here at a drag festival with thousands of adoring fans, with a borough president giving us a proclamation. What are you fighting for?”
Is she nuts? In her own words, “if it weren’t nuts, it wouldn’t be Wigstock.”