BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
The sleepy, bucolic lawn of Ridgewood’s Vander Ende-Onderdonk House was awash in an array of sequins, sparkles and sky-high wigs as the fourth annual Bushwig drag festival sashayed into town over the weekend.
The festival was founded in 2012 by NYC-based drag queens Babes Trust and Horrorchata in celebration of Bushwick’s growing drag and music scene. Bushwig was originally held at Secret Project Robot on Melrose Street in Bushwick before moving to this year’s venue at the Onderdonk House.
Bushwig was inspired by pioneer drag festival Wigstock, an annual outdoor Labor Day drag festival co-founded in 1984 by Lady Bunny in Manhattan’s Tompkins Square Park. In its 20-year run, Wigstock grew in size and popularity, and was the subject of the 1987 and 1995 documentaries “Wigstock: The Movie.” The festival ended its run in 2005 as part of the Lower East Side’s Howl Festival, but returned for one night only with a Wigstock: The Cruise aboard the Sea Tea in August 2015 after a 10-year hiatus.
Wigstock co-founder and drag icon Lady Bunny was the headliner at this year’s Bushwig festival. In a symbolic gesture during her live performance, Lady Bunny passed an illuminated torch to Bushwig co-founder Horrorchata, praising Bushwig’s success.
The rainy weather did not put a damper on the weekend’s festivities. An impressive roster of 150 drag and musical performers took to the Bushwig stage to perform in front of a packed house. Both performers and festival attendees donned an array of fashions, from Lady Bunny’s retro frock to Lady Quesa’Dilla‘s pink polka dot wiggle dress and towering crimson wig.
2015 Brooklyn Nightlife Drag Queen of the Year and Bushwig host Untitled Queen reigned supreme in a modern white ensemble complete with a mythical horned headdress and sultry black eyeliner. Dancer and performer January Bones was ethereal in white lace and pearls during her riveting performance, while Jojo Lime Green Jello looked fierce in a slinky lavender catsuit during her rendition of an Azealia Banks song.
The picnic area and trees were decorated with bouquets of large tissue paper flowers and handmade patchwork banners as a nod to the outdoor folk festivals of past generations. Festivalgoers sipped glasses of sangria and Pabst Blue Ribbon while browsing through racks of Alotta McGriddles‘ carefully curated unique vintage apparel, otherwise sold at the monthly Alotta Stuff Live Auction at the Metropolitan Bar in Brooklyn.
The 2015 festival kicked off with the glamorous Bushwig Ball at LoveGun, and was also celebrated with a series of after parties at Brooklyn venues Happyfun Hideaway and Metropolitan Bar. Bananas bearing arrows and directions to Bushwig were taped up around the neighborhood as cheeky guides to the Onderdonk House.
Director Nicolas Heller and his film crew from the critically acclaimed “Queens of Kings,” a six-episode documentary web series that follows Brooklyn-based drag queens, were also on hand to film the festivities. Watch the first season of “Queens of Kings” here.