Bushwig, a gender-bending performance event, settles into Ridgewood

By Kevin Zimmerman

The queens are heading to Queens.

After outgrowing its original Brooklyn home, Bushwig, a festival of all things drag, will sashay up the block and over the border into Ridgewood.

Onderdonk House will play host to about 150 gender illusionists during the Bushwig 2015 festival’s celebration of drag culture, music and art Sept. 12-13.

“It will be literally non-stop,” Simon Leahy, Bushwig’s co-founder, said. “There will be one drag queen every five minutes.”

In between performances from the likes of The Countess Mascara, Patti Melt and Louisianna Purchase, musicians and DJs will regale the crowd with a wide range of musical genres.

And because drag is not just for the boys anymore, several drag kings, including Goldie Peacock, K James and members of the mixed group Switch N’ Play, are slated to perform.

Now in its fourth year, Bushwig was born during a drunken conversation between Leahy and co-founder Matthew Mendoza, who performs as Horrorchata.

The two were bemoaning the fact that the long-running East Village drag spectacle Wigstock, founded by legendary performer Lady Bunny in 1984, had been on hiatus for more than a decade. They knew there were plenty of drag performers in the outer boroughs who were just looking for a place to strut their stuff.

So in 2012, the two hooked up with the Secret Project Robot gallery-performance space in Bushwick and presented the first Bushwig.

“I also throw events,” Mendoza said. “I wanted to do a huge event with tons of drag queens.”

The duo had an immediate hit on their hands with about 600 festival-goers circling through the space during each of the previous outings. They quickly outgrew their Bushwick home, but wanted to remain in the neighborhood.

“It was hard to find locations,” Mendoza said. “We’ve been looking for a space for the last three years.”

They found it in the block-long grounds of the Onderdonk House.

Horrorchata, who got her start in drag back in Austin, Texas, serves as emcee for the weekend. She will also be performing, but does not want to give too much away.

“I will be doing a little number,” Horrorchata said. “It’s a secret, but it will be something delicious.”

Along with the performances, audience members will have a chance to check out clothing for sale by various vendors; purchase food, beer and wine; and view artwork on display.

The bigger space means Bushwig will be able to showcase the myriad talents of drag performers to a larger audience, Leahy said. It also makes sense in the development of the festival.

“We are moving to a bigger venue, but we are not growing too big, too fast,” Leahy said.

And the festivities are holding onto a little bit of Brooklyn.

Things get under way Friday at Lovegun, 617 Grand St., Williamsburg, with the Bushwig Ball Warm Up. During the evening, one drag contestant will be crowned Miss Bushwig.

“Sort of the belle of the ball,” Leahy said.

Activities shift to the Onderdonk House Saturday and Sunday, from 2 p.m. – 10 p.m. each day. Day passes are available for $30 each; a weekend ticket will cost $40.

But Saturday night after-parties, which kick off at 10 p.m. and run deep into the night—one will wrap up at 8 a.m. Sunday—will be held at various spots back in Brooklyn.

While Leahy expects to hit some of the late-night activities, he does not think he will still be up and out when the sun rises Sunday.

He will be too busy prepping for Day 2 of the festival and keeping everything organized and on schedule.

“The kids can do that, but I can’t anymore,” Leahy said.

If You Go

Bushwig 2015

When: Saturday, Sept. 12 and Sunday, Sept. 13, 2 pm – 10 pm

Where: Onderdonk House, 18-20 Flushing Ave., Ridgewood

Cost: $30 – $40, tickets are available at bushwig2015.peatix.com

Contact: (917) 257-7780

Website: www.bushwig.com