Bushwig, which is fast becoming the premier annual event for forward-thinking drag performances, culture and camaraderie, returned to the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens for the first of two days on Saturday (Sept. 7). And naturally, in today’s political climate, boundary-pushing art rarely pops up without progressive politics following close behind.
After a blistering performance of Tina Turner’s roof-raising take on “Proud Mary,” drag queen/activist Marti Gould Cummings reminded everyone that it was on the Bushwig stage one year ago that he stated his intention to enter politics — and just days ago, Cummings announced he’s officially running for Manhattan’s District 7 City Council seat in the 2021 election.
“I’m so excited to be a queer candidate — we need LGBTQ representation on all levels of government,” Cummings said to cheers. “We need to take down the patriarchy and take back the country — it’s our obligation to fight back,” he added before leading the crowd in a chant of his campaign website, www.martiformanhattan.com.
Brooklyn-born artist and rapper Aja, a veteran of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 and All Stars 3, spoke to the existence of Bushwig as a political act in and of itself (in addition to tearing up the mic alongside some backup dancers with fiercely tight choreography). “Thank you for creating a safe space for people of color, trans people and people like me,” they said, shouting out founders Horrorchata and Babes Trust and noting they’ve been coming to Bushwig each year since the first one.
Another Drag Race breakout, season 11 Miss Congeniality winner Nina West, gave an impassioned address after delivering a Disney lip-sync medley with so many costume changes the crowd was left with whiplash when she wrapped.
“This is where the art happens, this is where the fucking movement is right now, in Brooklyn,” West said. “Your community here is so strong and incredible and so vibrant — all of us, all over the country, are envious of you. Thank you for allowing a little country boy from Ohio to come on stage tonight and have her little Disney fantasy while people were getting fisted just 10 minutes ago on this stage.”
Earlier this summer, Bushwig expanded into Europe with the inaugural Bushwig Berlin.