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HBO’s Wigstock Doc Remembers a Time ‘When Drag Was Punk Rock’

Kevin Aviance performing at Wigstock 2018. (Photo courtesy of HBO)

“A lot of people don’t study their history,” bemoans New York drag pioneer Flotilla Debarge in Wig, the new documentary from Chris Moukarbel premiering tonight on HBO. The film charts the birth, ebb, and recent renaissance of the annual Wigstock drag festival, which had its heyday in New York in the 1980s and ’90s. By the time the festival disappeared in 2001—the final official Wigstock took place in early September of that year, just before the landscape and spirit of the city changed irrevocably—its attendees numbered in the thousands. It had become a scene staple. Wig is a colorful love letter to its subject matter, a suggestion that much of our contemporary drag moment remains indebted to the trailblazers of Wigstock. But in 2019, Moukarbel seems to argue, too few of us know about it. More →

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Dancing in Bodega Bags? These Artist-Activists Call It Trashion

Dancers from the Artichoke Dance Company perform at Gowanus Visions. (Photos: Laura Lee Huttenbach)

On the promenade in front of the Gowanus Canal on Saturday, 16 people wearing costumes made of single-use plastic bags performed a dance routine. On the canal, an EPA Superfund site, a mother and her two children paddled around in a red canoe  and lifejackets belonging to the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club.  A storyteller by the name Sweet Aminata recounted her first impressions of the Gowanus Canal when she moved to the neighborhood 27 years ago. “I can recall the smell,” she said. “A thick stench that followed you down the block.” More →

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Delicious Diversity at the Egg Rolls, Egg Creams and Empanadas Fest

For the 19th year, the Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival brought its namesake treats– and other celebrations of the Lower East Side’s Chinese, Jewish, and Puerto Rican traditions– to the Eldridge Street Synagogue. Watch our video for a look at Sunday’s lion dancing, bomba drumming, and a pretty fierce mahjong match.

Video by Doreen Wang

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New Book Is Letting the Bodega Cat Out of the Bag

(Cover image courtesy of POW! Kids Books)

New York archetypes are not rare in fiction — from the (allegedly) starving Lower East Side artist to the millennial nanny thrust among Upper East Side wealth. However, a children’s book coming out this fall is putting the spotlight on New York literature’s forgotten felines: bodega cats! (noun, sing.: those fuzzy creatures that sit on newspaper piles and Arizona iced tea packages at your local Latinx/Hispanic grocery.) More →

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In a Bushwick Basement, an Inclusive Art Gallery That’s Literally Homegrown

(Photos: Amanda Feinman)

Just blocks from the Knickerbocker / Myrtle M stop, El Sótano Art Space occupies the bottom floor of a residential building. Not much goes on on its quiet street; a small market draws groups of neighbors to the corner, but that’s about it. The gallery’s storefront, to the extent that there is one, is a label on a buzzer. To get down the stairs and into its exhibition space, you have to ring number 1. More →

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Debut Designer Willie Norris Believes in ‘Queer Capital,’ Not Rainbow Capitalism

Willie Norris (Photo: @heathersten)

In high school, Norris designed costumes for every theatrical production, and dreamed of being a fashion designer. And he dreamed of getting out of his homophobic community in Gloucester, Mass., where he desperately “tried to be anything but gay.” As the song goes, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes… More →

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The Gradient Wants You To Eat Vegan and Then Veg Out at Its Parties

(Photos courtesy of Gradient)

Warm weather has come and has taken UpNorth, the Canadian-inspired bar at 17 Wyckoff Ave, with it. Replacing the poutine-packed restaurant is the Gradient, an airy bar with expansive vegetarian options and eccentric entertainment.  The bar initially operated as an event\ venue after its opening this past April, boasting $3 beers, $5 cocktails and $6 beer-and-shot specials at parties. Last month, it expanded, now providing treats by Variety Coffee and a full vegetarian and vegan menu.

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A Street Artist Is Playing Hide-and-Seek With New Yorkers on Instagram

(Photo: @seemetellmenyc)

A Brooklyn street artist is sharing gifts across the city– if you can find them. See Me Tell Me, who prefers to go by this persona, creates miniature collages, sculptures and trinkets and places them in random spots throughout the boroughs. She posts pictures of her work on Instagram with vague locations, inviting her followers to find the art and tell her when they do. More →

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Bicycle Film Fest Off to a Wheel Good Start

Bicycle Film Festival founder Brendt Barbur with the attendees of his opening party, 6/11/19. (Photos: Nick McManus)

The Bicycle Film Festival kicked off its 19th year last night ahead of a week of events that will include a vegan BBQ tonight at Hester Street Fair and a live-scored screening by local experimental mainstays Gang Gang Dance on Thursday and Friday. This year, the festival moves from its longtime home at East Village’s Anthology Film Archives to the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn Heights, where all of the films will be shown on Saturday. More →