What’s the connection between punk and drag?
Chi Dracula Orengo, vocalist for local punk band Anasazi, says they both empower society’s misfits and outcasts. He got involved in the scene visiting leather bars and drag shows as a teenager with a “lust for adventure” and he now organizes the annual Bodega Ball, which had its second installment, themed “Drag Me to Hell,” this past weekend.
The first night at Brooklyn Bazaar included performances from Miss Monoxide The Clown, Ata Racks, and Chola Spears, and featured bands like Orion and Barbed Wire. There was bondage, plenty of fake blood, and lots of attitude. The basement venue was full of young people in varying degrees of dress, wearing everything from BDSM attire to combat boots to normcore sweaters.
Attendees were also encouraged to bring canned food for Streetwork Lower East Side. Mr. Orengo said he collected two crates worth of food at the ball.
Performer Chola Spears, whose real name is Anselmo Martinez, made her debut at the event last year and returned to perform again on her one-year anniversary. “The Bodega Ball is really special to me,” she said.
Miss Monoxide The Clown, whose real name is Anna, performed to Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” while dressed as a goth nun. She said the Bodega Ball is a one-of-a-kind event, even in drag and punk circles. “For drag queen and street punk stuff, this is the only thing that I know of. It’s pretty unique.”
Her advice for newcomers? “Bring your Tinder date. You’ll either know if you’re going to get married or never see each other again…it definitely brings out what people are really into.”
Not all of the performances fit the typical punk mold. Ms. Spears, who went to school for theater, brought down the house to the Broadway classic “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy. In a pink leotard and matching wig, her vibe was more camp than punk, but she says there is an inherent rebelliousness to drag.
“Drag is the punk of the gay scene,” Ms. Spears said. “You can mock things with drag. It can be about beauty, or it can be about ugliness. It can be about what you love to do, or it can be about the things in life that make you upset.”