Lady Bunny’s Legendary Drag Party Returns to the High Seas
BY Phil Bessimer
Wigstock, the New York City festival Lady Bunny and Scott Lifshutz founded in 1984, ran for 20 outrageous years in Tompkins Square Park. At its height, it attracted up to 30,000 revelers including drag divas and stars like Debbie Harry, Boy George and RuPaul. Many deemed it a hipper version of Gay Pride Day. It even inspired a film, 1995’s “Wigstock: The Movie,” and a photo book is in the works.
Then, in 2001, after two consecutive years of being rained out, Bunny and Lifshutz pulled the plug on the event, because, as Bunny explains, “Nobody likes to watch a soggy drag queen unless they’re performing MacArthur Park.”
The pair surprised everyone last year when they announced they were launching Wigstock: The Cruise as part of Michael Fesco’s long-running Sea Tea summer series. The party was a tremendous success. In fact, the original cruise sold out so quickly that it had to be upgraded to a larger vessel that held 1,200 people, and that ship sold out immediately, too.
“It was like Mardi Gras on water,” recalls Lifshutz. “Everyone dressed up, danced and cheered on the performers!”
“Last year’s event confirmed that the Wigstock magic is alive,” says Bunny.
This summer, they’re doing it again! Lady Bunny’s Wigstock: The Cruise will set sail on its second voyage on Sunday, August 21, from Pier 40 on NYC’s West Side Highway. Once more, Bunny will bring her twisted brand of comedy to the two-hour show. She’ll be joined by co-host Linda Simpson, and together they will perform and introduce a stellar line-up of downtown favorites including Connie Fleming, Jimmy James, Ebony Jett, Glamamore, Juanita More, John Kelly as Joni Mitchell, Tabboo!, Michael West and Dueling Bankheads. DJs Johnny Dynell and Ed Bailey provide the music.
The cruise may be Bunny wetting her toes! Though she’s previously stated no interest in reviving Wigstock, Bunny now confirms she’s had a change of heart. “We’d love to eventually bring the outdoor festival back. If any sponsors want to be credited with helping to bring an NYC institution of the full-fledged outdoor festival version of Wigstock back, I’m all bunny ears.”
Wigstock: The Cruise starring Lady Bunny takes place Sunday, August 21, from Pier 40 on NYC’s West Side Highway. Boarding begins at 6 p.m., sailing from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Tickets: $40 advance, $50 at the pier. Buffet dinner is included. Tickets are available now at gaypartycruise.com.