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Bushwig 2017

Bushwig

 Festival of Power Drag

Wise cracks and cocktails

All photos by Iory Allison

I went to a marvelous party! It was billed as Bushwig and it took place at the Knockdown Center in the Maspeth neighborhood of Queens, NYC. Being at Bushwig was sortta like falling into a Toulouse Lautrec painting depicting the shenanigans at the Moulin Rouge. I loved the name Knockdown Center which sounded to me like the third round of a prize fight between the lunatic fringe and beyond the pale but it turned out to have a more prosaic etymology.

“The Knockdown Center features programming of diverse formats and media, aiming to create a radical cross-disciplinary environment.” This 50,000 square-foot building was the former Manhattan Door factory. It is named for the Knock-Down door frame that was invented here in 1956 by Samuel Sklar. The frame could be shipped in pieces or “knocked down.” The property is still owned by the Sklar family and is again a site for innovation. Having undergone an extensive renovation, the Knockdown Center now produces and hosts cultural events and exhibitions that respond to its unique architecture.

Bushwig is the annual festival of Drag, queer performance & music in New York City. It was founded in 2012 by Horrorchata (Matty Beats) & Babes Trust (Simon Leahy) to celebrate the queer drag and music now thriving in Brooklyn and the hinterlands of Maspeth. Its stated intention is to “serve you the ultimate poo-poo platter of cutting edge drag & music in the world”

 Bushwig was inspired by the original drag festival, Wigstock, which took place in Tomkins Square Park in The East Village and was founded by the notorious Lady Bunny in 1984. According to Lady Bunny Wigstock began spontaneously after a group of drag queens (along with Wendy Wild and a couple of Fleshtones) became inebriated at the nearby Pyramid Club and decided to put on a show in the park.

 

When I first arrived at Knockdown I fully intended to ask for names and email contacts so I could tell you what’s up but… after snapping numerous shots of the Princes above, the joint began to hop with streams of fantastic revelers pouring in from all sides. It was all that I could do to put my camera on speed burst and catch as much as I could of the kaleidoscope of humanity and otherworldly creatures twinkling on the razor’s edge of Bushwig. So play bill credits went by the wayside. This jolly couple, however, facilitated my original intention with a handy address card including all their pertinent info; so here we have Danny and Tommy, “Born to be Kings: Princes of the Universe” F B, @danyandtommy. 

After Danny and Tommy your guess is as good as mine as to the identity of the characters in question and since none had any ambition of “true Identity” I think I will just make it all up based on what their “look” told me. 

See what I mean about a Toulouse Lautrec painting? As you can see all too well, this cabaret creature is caught in a web of her own making. 

Here we have the man with big hair vamping on the runway and causing the crowd of rapacious shutterbugs to snap madly, justifying his moon halo which marks him as a celestial diva!

I absolutely adore this cute guy with his bejeweled palm frond perched at such a rakish angle.

 

As far as I’m concerned this is a perfect moment of Bushwig! The pagan bride and Lips McGrew pause from admiring the moody performer on stage for an alluring moment with my camera.

Oh Yes, there was ghastly horror represented too. These two tongue wagglers were perched next to me on bar stools in the exclusive VIP “Ready Room” At first sight of these arresting creatures, I took a big swig of my Manhattan and asked the bartender to get them one on me. After imbibing a while and chatting back and forth, they proceeded to launch into this lip smacking routine and whereas they gave me goose bumps the camera ate them up.

Don’cha just love the expressive qualities of a fan? Photography is all about the moment and when natural light lends a helping hand interesting effects can occur. Here we are in one of the outdoor courtyard spaces of Knockdown when the sun was setting and the party was beginning to sizzle.

And then there are moments when the sun kisses the subject, illuminating the intricacies of magnificence. What else can I say except; when was the last time you saw a divine revelation smoking a cigarette? 

Throwing caution to the wind is a snap when you’re clad from head to foot in haute couture

There are purists among us who shine like stars.

The Mesmerist commands all our attention.

Summer beauty in full bloom is oblivious to the coming autumn. Her gaze reaches beyond the present into places of distant memory.

This alarming creature looked to me something between a praying mantis and a late night shadow. It turns out #Rockalash, the artificial eyelash company, was a sponsor of Bushwig.

I doubt that this tightly curled girl was advertising anything except the general existential question: “Wha’da Fuck?!

Click here to go to the meat of the matter and see all of Iory’s Bushwig photos

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PTown 2017

Photo by Anita Baglaneas, Rowes Wharf Sea Grille, Boston Aug 23

Mr. Iory blasted off from his home port in Boston’s famed Fenway neighborhood and boogied on down the road for a week of nonsense in Ptown. I timed my visit to coincide with that notorious celebratory conflagration called Carnival; this year’s theme was Gods and Godesses.

But every day of my precious week before all that La La transpired I trundled over to Herring Cove Beach and dove into the watery embrace of Aphrodite, paddled around and listened to the Mermaids sing. Another big adventure for me was peddling my bike on the trails through the green forests of the Province Lands. I  huffed and puffed up some of the steeper climbs and if truth be known I had to walk the bike up heart break hill but you know what, at age 68, that’s ok.  Once at the top, the view is sublime, looking out at the pitch pines and the dense oak groves parading over the undulating landscape stretching all the way to the surrounding shore with the  ocean reaching out to the distant horizon. Because of plenty of rain this year – Thank you Goddess – the shad bushes were in full bloom and their perfumed scent mixed with the briny clean air that can only come from being sixty  miles out to sea.  

I stayed at the charming Shire Max Inn, the last affordable guest house in Ptown, thank you Dr. Bob and Denis, where I met or re-met a friendly bunch a boys – that’s sort of a stretch but hey, we are still young at heart – who wisely frequent that delightful  hostelry. Since I was a boy in the fifties I have loved the carnival crowds of Ptown dancing on the razor edge of the ridiculous and the sublime. One example of which, this year, was a tattered and hastily constructed booth plopped down amidst the benches in front of Town Hall. This improvised venue sported a sign with a scrawl reading, “Bad Advice.” For a mere pittance, two motley creatures were dispensing just that, outrageous suggestions, to anyone brave enough to consult them. Depending on the whim of the moment they suggested, “Empty out your purse and hand over all your drugs.” or, “Dump the wife and run away with me to Las Vegas.” This advice may sound a bit lame but the first victim was a grandmother from Boise and the second an enormous lug who looked to be a truck driver from the Bronx, NYC.

Anyway, the big event of Carnival is the parade and this riveting subject is the body of my report and what a bunch ‘a bodies that was! There is only one way to proceed from here and that is to present you with the visual facts of the matter. But remember it was not La Trump who invented alternative facts, no, that distinction falls squarely on the broad shoulders of the Broads who ain’t, as in drag queens and all the fantasy figures of Gaydom who wanna put on a costume and become a different man, woman or child.

As a disclaimer – I did not gather the names or data of the subjects of any of my pictures, so I have filled in the blanks with my own suppositions as to their identity, occupation or species of the folks in question.

Captain Jack’s Wharf, August 17, the calm before all the hoopla of “Gods and Goddesses” Carnival 2017

All Photos by Iory Allison

Many old wharfs of Ptown used to extend out into the bay all along the long curve of the inward shore, now only a few of these still exist. Captain Jack’s Wharf, seen here against the jumble of “cottages” of the west end, was first constructed by Jackson Williams in 1897 and since then has survived both natural and human storms throughout its long history while providing joy, delight and shelter for a variety of owners and tenants  

Arjyra Stedman’s 1986 article in the Cape Cod Compass tells us that Capt. Jack’s was developed by Manuel Williams, Jackson’s eldest son. Manuel used the pier to unload, smoke and pickle the various kinds of fish caught by his small fleet of fishing boats. His boats gathered their catch in the weirs or net traps that were strung on poles sunk into Province Town bay. Some of the shacks were also used by the related fishing businesses of: caulkers, blacksmiths, spar carpenters, riggers, painters, etc.

After the decline of weir trap fishing in the 1920’s and ‘30’s Capt. Jack’s slowly evolved into rental studios catering to artists and summer visitors. During this time it went through a checkered history harboring several nefarious enterprises such as Sally Nye’s bar “The Circus Room” also rumored to be a brothel.

In 1935 Dr. Hiebert bought Capt. Jack’s and after a scornful and censorious three years his wife Emily, dramatically transformed “Whoopee Wharf” with  the no plumbing, no electricity, rooms into charming rental cabins  maintaining and embellishing  the haphazard jumble of its architecture.

One of the more famous writers to reside at Capt. Jack’s was Tennessee Williams who is said to have worked on “The Glass Menagerie” there in the early 1940’s. Tennessee’s lament is entirely appropriate to the place considering the play’s repeated reference to “gentleman callers” of mythic proportions who inevitable “got away” – not so different from the circumstance of cruising and dating in Ptown today.    

The Fire float standing ready to convey the gym toned Gods and Goddesses of Carnival 2017 through the crowds of cheering revelers up to Mt. Absurdity where all will slosh down the sauce and breathe fire! Oh my god / dess!!

Pinning the monkeys to the bar, a place to recover from the Doom Temple next door

Don’cha just love a man with a beard? Watch out or he’ll catch you on his trident and serve you up to his entourage of Mer-people who know no bounds.

See I didn’t make it up, they actually had the balls to call this event “Gods and Goddesses” go figure, the results, which you are about to experience, are sizzling in the extreme. 

A corner of Province Town Hall with the Pilgrim Monument in the background snagging wisps of morning fog before the heat of the day burns away the evening’s veils of modesty.

Here is the trooper of all time. This handsome darling was fully dressed, well sort of; his net body stocking revealed every nuance of his silver painted hunkiness. I snapped him setting up Café Bubala at ‘bout 10: am and after all was said and done, I returned to have some grub ‘bout 8:00 pm when he was still charming the crowds, slinging the hash and delivering unspilt cocktails! This boy deserves the waiters Oscar for superb service!!

Why is it that the only glamourous people left on the globe earth are Drag Queens? Thank you Goddess for sending us your Daughters of Grace!

Love these boys’ hairy pecks. Don’cha know sparks fly when these minions of Neptune rub together. Can you see that their net / scale shoulder make-up is actually iridescent, WOW. I especially love their scrolling and spiked crowns.

Here we have La Grande Medusa of the three Gorgon Sisters fame. Wait ‘till you see her sibilant siblings slithering down the byways. But watch out ‘cause this girl will make you stiff as a board but not bored stiff ‘cause after just one glance – when you are rock hard – she has her way with all wayward wanderers.

 Sibling number two of the Gorgon Sisters, the lady Stheno. Don’t look directly at her or she’ll give you a perpetual hard-on. Of course, some of the Ptowner’s must have stared long ‘cause those boys are pole vaulting all over town!

The lady Euryale may look calm and serene but boy does she pack a powerful wallop!  Hand on tummy, who has she devoured?

And here they are in all their glory, the three gorgon sisters, Medusa, Stheno and Euryale. Tongues wag when they go by. Behind them is the stone tower said to have been their first victim in Ptown, a pilgrim father whose proportions were mighty.

The Lady Euryale licks her lips in anticipation of chowing down on her flanking boy-toys while Wonder Boy / Woman foolishly pauses to pose for Popper-Ozzie, shirking his duties to arrest and quell the forces of evil.

Whatever the short comings of Wonder Boy / Woman it ain’t in the looks department, have you ever seen a cuter smile, not to mention the pumped, pecs, biceps and thighs, Ooo-la-la!

Mata-Hairy spies on the carnival carousers from his sequestered nook at Patio Café gathering beautifying secrets for Sephora on Rodeo Drive where he is the cosmetician to the stars.  

A bunch a’ bruisers in leather straps and glitter, now there’s a combo!

Feathers, skulls, shells and pearls make these two beauties shine!

Darling! Too cute for words!

You go Mama! Knock’em dead and leave ‘em laughing.

Athena with her sphinx and attendant centurion – I‘m sure if the Roman legions had had sun glasses we would still all be speaking Latin.

I’ll have the Cab Sauv, please.

Snakes were a popular theme at Carnival this year. These guys are oiled up and ready to go.

These three beauties are the graces of Carnival, now, which one is the face that launched a thousand ships?

Mom and the kids rock and roll with the best of ‘em

I wish his hunkiness would look at me like this when I was without my camera. This is definitely his, “promise me the world look” and I for one would believe anything he told me. The answer is yes! 

Boy does he look great in swirls and feathers!

Pumped Daddies spread their wings. Fly me to the Moon…

So this is what Tutankhamun looks like in the flesh, no wonder they gave him such a swell send off.

Now that’s great make-up! A little bit of glamour can cause a big bunch a joy!!

Here we see a few of the Trojan horse contingent, part of their hiding horse can be glimpsed in the background – all made from tongue depressors – those Gay boys and girls are so handy and clever!

And this is how it was in Olympus by the Sea; everybody’s in on the act.

What can I say except, Va-va-voom!!

Isn’t it amazing how leopard never goes out of fashion? But what’s with the raven perched on her head?  With that hairy chest she looks to me like Bette Midler after whore moan therapy.

The guy in black sortta reminds me of Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein (guess it’s the hood) but he is actually Kevin Devaney on his national tour (Instagram.com/kevindevaneypoet) and as his address reads he’s a poet. I found him on my early morning tour all set up in front of Town hall way before the crush. Kevin creates “custom written street poems” plunked out on his compact vintage Corona perched on a folding office that all ingeniously folds up and packs away in his van when he is of a mind to trundle on down the road.

Kevin writes “Custom Written Street Poems” right there in front of you or you can buy one of his “published” books. I bought a match book edition, four in a box, 2 x 1 ½” entitled, “A Collection of tiny poem books about sea creatures.”

A manatee poem book.

for Eland,

Can you imagine how odd it would be

to be the first to see a sea bound manatee?

if you saw one for the first time, what thought might cross your mind:

would you think them cruel or kind, this rare & wonderful nautical find,

Or would you nab your sailor pals and leaning hard against the bow

yell out: “MERMAID” clear and loud?

Kevin Devaney 10 -7- 15

It takes two jesters to mitigate Melania Trump’s scowl. It will take an army of outrage to can the husband.

My vote for perfection goes to the man in gold and feathers

It takes two to tango and I like to see’em at it!

This is what’cha call “looking askance.” The fellow on the left looks to me like the notorious Voodoo priest “Mmalcatdd” or  “meet me after last call at the dick dock .” and although he is hard to resist, watch out ‘cause “Meet Me” had so many tricks up his sleeves the authorities now  only allow him to wear feathers.  

With withering hauteur the green faced Montezuma guards his gaggle of innocents from the prying eye of the camera. 

Eyes right! Ready front, Sir! A salute to the beauty of youth

Leopard Lizzy has snagged two more handsome hunks on her relentless prowl ‘round the parade

Can you see beyond the pink glitter beard into his sparkling green eyes?   But who is the creature in the background? 

Love this crew of Kon Tiki warrior gods. When I was a boy in the fifties, I was fascinated by the beatnik street artists of Ptown carving wooden Tiki charms, stringing them on leather straps to hang around your neck and selling these mojos to mystified tourists, a sortta Thor Woldson Kon Tiki phenomenon. 

Ah the salad days of youth, this boy will get no dressing down from me for his dressing up, au contraire I say hip hip hooray! But which god is he? Wish Bone, Green Goddess dressing, of course. 

Anibus, jackal of the necropolis, guardian of the dead, weighs the hearts of deceased souls against the feather of Ma’at. If ancient Egyptians had iridescent cellophane they would have wrapped their mummies in the stuff!

Ta ta, ciao for now!

Miss Richfield gets the last word – why are we not surprised?

If you haven’t had enough click here to go to the full photo shoot

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Arlington Street Church

Except where noted all Photos are by Iory Allison

MADONNA OF THE FLOWERS

In this window, the central female figure or Madonna, tenderly embraces her child. But here she is intended to be more than the character of the biblical Mary; she also symbolizes the universal qualities of the feminine and motherhood. At her feet a host of flowers spring to life with abundance. By the Madonna’s right foot is a blossoming stalk of a pure white lily, symbolizing both the annunciation of Archangel Gabriel and the resurrection of Christ. On the Madonna’s left, entwined around a tree is a blue passionflower vine with all its references to the passion of Christ crucified. The tree on which the passionflower grows is itself in blossom, supporting and protecting the Madonna and her child, symbolizing the resilience and eternal aspect of spiritual awareness. Two attendants flank the central figures, they are playing a violin and lyre and they symbolize the harmony of universal bliss.    

The stained glass windows of the Arlington Street, Unitarian Universalist, Church in Boston were designed, made and installed over a period of 31 years from 1899 to 1930 by the Tiffany Glass Studios of New York. There are 14 main “story” windows and two of ornamental design. Each window employs richly colored iridescent glass, painted / enameled glass and layered opalescent glass using “jewels” to further enliven the borders. The overall effect of the highly chromatic windows in the all white neo-classical interior architecture is dramatically sumptuous.

The central oval and diamond “jewels” used in the borders of a window

The Arlington Street Church was the first public building built in Boston’s Back Bay, completed and dedicated in 1861.The building was designed by Boston architect, Arthur Gilman. The exterior is inspired by the famous church of St. Martin in the Fields in London.

 The interior is divided into a nave with two side aisles by a range of twenty-five foot high Corinthian columns set on plinths elevating them to the height of the tops of the pews. The pews are made from chestnut wood with black walnut rails with silver/gray brocaded upholstery. The spectacular stained glass windows and the red carpet running down the central aisle are in glorious color contrast to the rest of the pristine white interior. A barrel vaulted ceiling rises 68 feet to the apex of its five arches and is decorated with foliated rosettes.

Photo from the website of The Boston Organ Studio

Interior of Arlington Street Church

Each window is dedicated to the memory of various members of the parish who were also prominent Bostonians of their time. The iconography of the windows reference Christian biblical stories and a variety of spiritual concepts.

The Wigglesworth Memorial Window 1922

The angel in the center has a lyre resting on her shoulder and the two flanking cherubs play different instruments. The cherub on the left plays the ancient Greek instrument, a double aulos, which was instrument like a modern oboe. It was held in place by a leather strap. The aulos had a shrill, piercing tone  like a bagpipe and therefore had a compelling and strong sound.  The cherub on the right plays the cymbals.

The message here is a jubilant promise of the afterlife, the window is inscribed on the arch above the group, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in Heaven.” I would say my reward is seeing this astoundingly beautiful work of art right here and now. The wings of the cherubs have sculpted, three dimensional passages of iridescent glass while the face is enameled.

Playing the double aulos

The Osgood memorial window (1930)

This window is entitled, “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you.” At face value, this is not a sentiment that I share, nor am I fond of the bellicose weapons and armor. I shy away from the depiction of philosophic or religious beliefs with knights or warriors smacking of  – “onward Christian Soldiers.”  I believe that true invulnerability against the forces of evil is to learn to deflect such competitive discord, such as a master of Judo will deflect the force of attack by turning it back on itself. That said, I have to admit to an irresistible fascination for the allure of body armor and helmets because of the stylized and enhancing decorative aspects of polished steel following the contours of the body. In this case, the central angel wears a long chain mail skirt which drapes beneath her breast plate. I suspect this representation is accomplished by painting the design on with enamels on the back side of the glass.

Chain mail skirt

The Brown memorial window (1900)

This window depicts an angel telling a group of shepherds of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Now here is a theme I can thoroughly admire, revelation. I believe that the alignments of the physical structures of our world are a constant “revelation” and within that miraculous discovery is the great joy of true love.

 Whereas I no longer identify as a Christian, I do believe in the divinity of the universe and in its infinite expansive evolution there is collective super intelligence, design and harmony. This divine presence can be seen and felt in the “murmuration” of fast flying birds that, in concert and rapid movement, swerve and divide, reunite and spin off again creating patterns of flight that are seemingly gone before they form. Never once, in a host of thousands the birds, will a single individual collide with another. This is an example of collective intelligence and  is only one  infinitesimal example of the design for living that animates even the spiraling “arms” of our own galaxy, “The Milky Way.”   These are miracles, not the magician’s sleight of hand turning wine into water. It is cooperation not competition that powers evolution! 


“These beautiful starlings were filmed in Israel – thousands of starlings fly in a massive murmuration in the skies above Rahat,” Zoo. (Sorry about the pop-ups you may have to endure or click out of, but in this case these distractions are worth tolerating because the clip is an amazing revelation. )

The next three windows illustrate three of the “beatitudes,” quotes from the book of Mathew in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The beatitudes are from the Sermon on the Mount that was preached by Jesus and is a probable compilation of his overall teachings. 

The astounding beauty of the colored glass and the extreme quality of the craftsmanship paired with the innovative technology of the Tiffany Glass Studios are revelations in themselves, ever reminding us of the truth in beauty.  The Peacemakers, The Meek and The Merciful, in my mind, embody wise individuals who can deflect and sidestep negativity in order to preserve harmony. 

The Wheeler Memorial window (1907),

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”

 

The Greene memorial window (1908),

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

The Estabrook memorial window (1920),

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”

To see more photos click here