Photo: Fred Attenborough; Collage: Chiquitita
“New York City is becoming itself again: crowded, busy, and competitive,” Matthew Schneier wrote earlier this month in his exploration of the return of FOMO across the city. It’s true, but for queer and trans people of color in Brooklyn, a recovering city also means a reunited community — a chance to pack into a dingy bar, embrace each other, and throw dollars at the drag kings, queens, and performance artists baring it all on a real-life stage.
To celebrate, Latinx transgender drag artist Chiquitita orchestrated a photo shoot with over 80 Brooklyn-based performers (full disclosure: me included.) “After a year of being apart, I wanted to find a fun and safe way to reunite,” she told the Cut. “Photographer Fred Attenborough and I spent weeks conceptualizing a way to showcase everyone’s individuality, and I gave everyone freedom to come up with their own cut-outs, so everyone’s image is truly unique to them.”
The print is now on sale for $60 to benefit For the Gworls, a collective that fundraises money to help Black transgender people pay for their rent, gender-affirming surgeries, medical co-pays, and travel.
The Cut asked each performer, “What are you most looking forward to in nightlife post-pandemic?” Below, a round up of the best responses, which range from political to sentimental to downright horny.
“I’m interested in seeing the collaborations that the lockdown birthed. Because we were forced to go fully online, our creative juices had to change course for months, and I’m curious to see how that will manifest in the physical world.” — Xunami Muse, Drag Performer
Clockwise from bottom left: Horrorchata, Mother of Bushwig; Chiquitita, Transgender Drag Artist; Laurel Charleston, Makeup Artist; JAX, Drag Performer
“I’m looking forward to the feeling that engulfs me as I get ready to go out. It starts when I begin my makeup — a mix of anticipation and anxiety. Then it multiplies into exhilaration when I put on my look. It all comes to a head when I walk into the venue and see the beautiful faces and outfits of all my friends. What a fucking rush.” — Panthera Lush, Elusive Executant
“I’m looking forward to some goddamned Gatsby-style soirées. I’m talking about opulent themed parties, funded and fueled by government stimulus money. We deserve it! And so do you!” — Adele Computer, Drag Queen
Clockwise from bottom left: Scarlet Envy, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11; Elle McQueen, Drag Queen; Vena Cava, Drag Superstar; Patti Spliff, Drag Queen
“I’m looking forward to normalcy. Also bathroom sex.” — Alotta McGriddles, Drag Queen
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at once. A magical thing happens when queers gather in a crowd: The love we feel for each other is magnified 1000 fold. Part of being a performer is focusing and channelling that love back to the audience, with purpose, devotion, and vision for what you want a queer future to look like.” — The Illustrious Pearl, Poet & Drag Performer
Clockwise from bottom left: Zenobia, Drag Princess; Janelle No. 5, Drag Queen, The Dragon Sisters, Drag Duo; Essa Noche, Drag Queen
“I’ve missed the live audience, yes, but what I’m looking forward to most are the post-show festivities. I want to get out of makeup and outfits in a rush and leave the cramped basement dressing room to make a mad dash for whatever restaurant or diner remains open so I can sit down, eat, talk shop, recap the night, and kiki with my drag family.” — Emi Grate, Drag Artist
“Post-pandemic, I am most looking forward to a nightlife scene that is Black trans-centered and -focused in all aspects — on the stage, in the audience, and in the production team. We’ve all had a lot of time to focus on our own well-being, and now that we can congregate again, I hope that same attention can be channeled outwardly into mutual and community aid.” — Junior Mintt, Drag Preacher
Clockwise from bottom left: Kandy Muse, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13; Angelica Sundae, Mother Corpse; Merrie Cherry, International Performer & Mother of Brooklyn Drag; Ruby Roo, Drag Queen
“I’m so excited to be able to return to live performances. I mostly sing live at my shows, and I’ve missed belting at the top of my lungs without worrying that my neighbors hate me.” — Virgil III, Drag Queen
“I moved here from the Middle East two months before the pandemic, so I cannot wait to bring a taste of queer Beirut to good old BK. Oh, and getting in drag from the waist down. No more Zoom drag, habibis!” — Anya Kneez, Arab Drag Pioneer
Clockwise from bottom left: Tyler Ashley, Performer; Basit, Co-founder of Legacy: A Black Queer Production Collective; C’etait BonTemps, Drag Witch; Madame Vivien V, Drag Queen
“We can’t wait to be reunited with our drag family and to perform in a small, packed back room of a bar again. In an intimate space like that, you can really feel the energy of the audience.” — Miss Malice and K.James
“I’m ready to show everybody what I’ve been working on. I will continue to take up space for my Latinx and Caribbean community and look fucking beautiful doing it.” — Victoria Holiday, Drag Queen
Clockwise from bottom left: Thee Suburbia, Drag Queen; Dahlia Sin, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12; Uncle Freak, Drag King; Magenta, Drag Queen
Photographs by Fred Attenborough