Lady Bunny and Neil Patrick Harris teamed up to bring back the iconic drag festival Wigstock, this time located at Pier 17 at the South Seaport in New York City. Wigstock began in 1984 and was made famous in the 1995 movie of the same name, although it has not existed for several years. The all-day festival included over 8 hours of drag performances, ranging from veteran queens from the original Wigstock days to girls from RuPaul’s Drag Race, to new performers. Although the show featured queens from all over, New York City local performers were featured most heavily.
Among the many many notable performers were Bianca del Rio, Sherry Vine, Lypsinka, Alaska Thunderfuck, Willam, Jinkx Monsoon, Sharon Needles, Peppermint, Pixie Aventurra, Marti Gold Cummings, Tina Burner, Latrice Royale, Scarlet Envy, Amanda Lepore, Jackie Beat, Alex Newell, Bob the Drag Queen, Heklina, Dina Martina, Jada Valenciaga, Kevin Aviance, Linda Simpson, Shequida Hall, and more.
The acts ranged from lip-synching to ballroom dance, to a drum core, to live opera, to performance art, to house music dancing, to poetry readings–there was something for everyone. Throughout the show, Lady Bunny (who changed outfits and wigs almost ten times) and Bianca del Rio acted as hosts, with Neil Patrick Harris and his family shooting wig canons into the audience. Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall also performed a medley from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
Unlike DragCon, where you get to meet famous queens but don’t get to see them perform, this event was all about the performance, which is exactly what drag is all about, according to Lady Bunny. She noted that many people only experience drag through RuPaul’s Drag Race, and on the show, the only time the girls perform is when they are about to be sent home, and it lip syncing to a song they don’t know well. Unlike that, Wigstock features a massive array of queens all performing at their best, doing their favorite routines in their best outfits and wigs. At the start of the show, Lady Bunny said that drag has become mainstream, but that does not mean we should stop having festivals like this, to honor and praise all the types of drag that don’t make it on television.
Wigstock has not happened for years, but with drag more popular than ever, this was a perfect time to bring it back. In a country filled with so much hate and discrimination, now is the moment to have an entire day devoted to celebrating queerness and performance. For many, the event felt historic: older queens were proud to be performing at Wigstock again, and young queens were thrilled to be fulfilling their fantasy of being at the legendary event. Hopefully, Wigstock will become an annual tradition once more.