Wigstock 1988 Press

New York Times 09/11/1988

Village Voice 09/20/1988

 

September 11, 1988

September 11, 1988

photographs for The New York Times by Bill Cunningham 

photographs for The New York Times by Bill Cunningham 

Made You Look

by Bill Cunningham

Lately it has made news for other reasons, but Tompkins Square Park has long been a place for freewheeling fashion expression. It remains so, in spite of recent troubles. In Tompkins Square the dress reflects good-natured anarchy. And at Wigstock, the exuberant group that troops through the park may be giving a collective thumb to more conventional styles, but it’s done with a smile, not a smirk. These clothes are frequently outlandish, and almost always wonderful.

Some of the clothes look as if they’re put regularly through a blender instead of a washing machine. This group’s outfits exhibit a distinctive torn and shredded quality, with tattered edges and loose threads dangling. Then there are all the patterns on display – plaids and checks and polka dots; the underlying philosophy seems to be, if it sticks out, wear it. And if there’s a predominant color in Tompkins Square, it’s black, which can be found on crinolines and halter-tops, many of them skimpy. Rules for hair are also out the window, though floor-length wigs appear to be catching on.

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September 20, 1988

September 20, 1988

La Dolce Musto

by Michael Musto

Monumental: Bunny, Hapi, Sister D, and Tabboo! Mount Rushmore by Harold M. Lambert Faces by Catherine McGrath

Monumental: Bunny, Hapi, Sister D, and Tabboo!
Mount Rushmore by Harold M. Lambert
Faces by Catherine McGrath

Drag, drag, drag – everybody wants it, everybody’s got it. Crazily enough, as times get increasingly repressed, more people are digging into their girlfriends’ closets and getting high on heels. I swear it. 

Take Obsessions – by day a deli/restaurant called the Fabric Factory, by (Friday and Saturday) night a hangout for married men with razor stubble and football shoulders who hide the salami and deviously slip into gowns before sneaking off from their wives. Also spicing up the crowd are married men with razor stubble and football shoulders who wear suits and go to meet these lovelies for encounters you can’t find at Adam’s Apple (though most of the “ladies” here have one). The night I went, a man sat outside in a car “touching” himself as the gals passed by. Inside, a guy in a business suit tried to pick one of them up in hopes of dressing in drag, too, and having girl talk – safe, I guess, if illin’. Obsessions is the only club in New York owned by a transvestite (Wayne/Cindy) and his wife. And the only drag club next to a Bible school!

Meanwhile, Pyramid – the original meeting ground of testosterone and lip-gloss – hosted a Diana Ross marathon they called “Ross – the Party.”Miss Diandra (as Diana) ruled as usual, Mr. Fashion (as Diana) said, “It’s lonely at the top, but that’s because it’s so crowded at the bottom,” Peter Kwaloff (as Diana) lip-synched her down to the catch in her throat, and there were dozens of other beaming, loving Dianas – enough to make you wonder just how inimitable she really is.

Of course this was a mere speck of drag next to the giant clump of it known as the fourth annual Wigstock – basically Woodstock with more height. This Aquanet festival was another regular riot in Tompkins Square Park, but it never became Pigstock thanks to the abundance of peace and gloves. Starting at 2 p.m. on Labor Day, thousands of wigged wonders gathered around the bandshell to catch act after act of demented self-love, and it never got that painful; the great thing about Wigstock is that if someone’s terrible, hold your breath and someone else will come out very soon.

This year, positive traumas were induced by the Boy Bar Beauties’ nutty rendition of “Afternoon Delight,” andInternational Chrysis announcing her backup band, Buns ‘n’ Hoses, which included her “sons” (“He’s just like his mother. He has a big dick, too”).

Of course the centerpieces were the four Pyramid divas who comprise the Mount Rushmore of drag: the event’s organizer/hostess Lady Bunny, who brought a tear to her own eye, “as you can well imagine,” singing a Tammy Faye Baker song in which a mother instructs her child that there’ll be “no charge” for all her copious love; the beauteous Hapi Phace, who said, “Thanks, Kitty Carlisle Hart. These are your tax dollars at work,” before leading the Hummingbirds, a kazoo-toting drag army, in an inspiring version of “What the World Needs Now”; the otherworldly Sister Dimension, who did a poem about the evolution of Wigstock (at least I hear she did – I had to leave after the first six hours of the show); and Tabboo!, who, in the midst of a performance by her hydrochloric-acid-rock group, the People Tree, announced, “I’m not a faggot, I’m a draggot.” The unqualified high point was an audience member screaming, “I love you, Bunny,” to which Bunny asked him to list each and every reason why. I understand that the parks department cut Dean Johnson’s finale down to one song. If they hadn’t, the crowd would still be there, grinning like Cheshire cats.

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