Homo Dish (excerpts)
By Marc and Mathew
Somehow we got up bright and early (early afternoon that is) for Wigstock ’98, where bid hair ruled. We got what we came for; drag queens galore! With her trademark wit and charm, founder/hostess Lady Bunny kept the traffic moving onstage, which ain’t easy when you’ve got every dragazon in New York panting for the spotlight. Highlights included Jackie Beat as a drag robot from planet Hideous; Jayne County singing a techno remix of her song “Fuck Off”; Justin Bond crooning a jazz version of the punk classic “institutionalized”; Kevin Aviance doing his new single, a cover of “Join In The Chant”; and Candis Cayne, who performed a lively dance number from West Side Story. We also saw some of the hottest dance music artists around: Kristine W, Ultra Nate, Joi Cardwell, Barbara Tucker, Sandy B, Byron Stingly, Taana Gardner, and CeCe Peniston. Our wigs held up, despite the heat and wind that blew over the piers – or was it the breeze coming from under Bunny’s dress?
by Bill Cunningham
After bouncing around the city for several years, Wigstock-New York's annual Labor Day weekend outdoor drag-fest-has put down roots on Pier 54 on the Hudson River. The performers, who always include a few dewigged guys and biological females, dazzle the enthusiastic audience with a marathon show of song, dance, costumes and snappy one-liners. Snappiest of them: Lady Bunny, Wigstock's grand dame and laugh-a-minute raunchy hostess.
by Maria Fernandez
Some faux-hair fans think paying to get into Wigstock is a real drag.
The Annual gender-bending festival celebrating music, dance and the drag queen lifestyle is once agin setting up shop on the 12th street Piers. And the question is whether fans will be wigging out over the $15 price of admission or if they’ll happily shell out the cash for tomorrow’s eight-hour fair.
Pedro Pena, a 27 year old student who attended Wigstock when it was a free party, is one drag devotee who won’t be going because of the admission price.
I don’t like the way they’re doing it now where we have to pay to get in,” he moaned. “They make money with the vendors.”
Karl Schwabauer, 24 also has trouble accepting the price tag. “I went a few years ago when it was free, and there was a great energy about it,” he said. “It was very natural. There wasn’t anything commercial about it. That’s what made it so much fun.”
Others feel that the festival, which kicks off at 2 PM, is one of the best deals going. “People don’t realize how much it costs to put together.” Says Dorian Bryant aka Harmonica Sunbeam, a 27 year old comedian who performed at last year’s festival. “None of the performers get paid and the organizer, Lady Bunny doesn’t make a dime either.”
Wigstock was started in 1985 as a free event in Tompkins Square Park by Lady Bunny. “It was inspired by quite a few beers at the Pyramid Club, which at that time was very vibrant rock and drag scene,” said Lady Bunny. “The Pyramid scene was so dynamite that I thought it could be brought to everyone. I never thought I’d be a festival promoter. With my looks, a model would’ve been a more natural choice.”
That following Labor Day Weekend, the first ever Wigstock – loosely modeled after the hippie rock fest Woodstock, sans the mud baths – took place in the east Village’s Tompkins Square Park.
The carnival attracted hundreds of drag queens and spectators, and word spread faster than a run in a diva’s diamond studded panty hose. Eventually, the party mushroomed into a cross-dressing spectacle attracting thousands. With dozens of drag queens decked out in outrageous colorful costumes and a line up of dance music performers, the vent was one of the city’s best freebies. In 1991 the event was moved to Union Square, followed by two more years at Tompkins Square. In 1994 the glam gala was dragged to its present home at the west side piers.
The festival was moved from its original location because the park could no longer accommodate the growing festival. With the cost if putting the festival together – not to mention the inflated price of press on nails and Louis XIV style wigs – the show’s organizers, led by lady Bunny, began charging Admission last year.
“I hate to charge,” said Lady Bunny,” but what can I do? Water even costs money these days.” This year lady Bunny and crew are trying to justify the admission price with a stellar lineup of performers and a cast of fabulous drag queens.
Performers include Deborah Harry, lead singer of the rock group Blondie; Tony Award winning actress Lillias White; disco pop singers Deee-Lite and Crystal Waters; Cindy Wilson of The B-52’s; salsa singer La India and the leggy crossdressing radio and TV personality Ru Paul.
“There’s 50 or 60 acts,” boasted Lady Bunny. “It’s most exciting at night because that’s when the sequins start to sizzle.”