Horrorchata, as many of us know, is one of those innovative artists who helped shape the Brooklyn nightlife we know today. This is most evident in Bushwig, the drag festival she co-created in 2012, which pulled many of the kooky/ creative Brooklyn performance artists from the dark corners of their hip venues, and dropped them onto an open stage for all of us to gawk at and fall in love with. Horrorchata gigs and deejays all over the city, the state, and the world, and despite how busy she keeps herself, she still manages to retain her quirky style and coy sensibility. Lets gave praise now to Queen Horrorchata of Bushwick, who grants us this precious moment of her time during her busiest month ever!
Thotyssey: Hello, Horrorchata! Thanks for finding time to chat with us during these last few days before Bushwig. I can’t imagine how much work it takes to organize a huge event like this… can it get overwhelming?
Horrorchata: Hee hee! You know, every year it gets easier. You figure out what works and what does not. I would say the most overwhelming part is what wigs I’m going to wear–setting up meetings with my team that will design my looks.
Also, I always put 100% into this festival, and forget that I am a showgirl. I love to perform. Then with doing so much, I lose the spark. I’m just so busy worrying about other things and working the festival, making sure everyone is happy. So I hope I can give a good show this year! And that part can be overwhelming.
Yeah, we started at the backyard of Secret Project Robot–now the Knockdown center. This is our first year here.
So, technically the festival has moved to Queens! Does this mark the beginning of Brooklyn’s takeover of The Other Outer Borough?
No, it just means Bushwick is changing, and everyone is getting push back. Rent is going up, and the spaces are closing and moving further out.
The landscape is ever-changing. So, in March, BK Mag listed you as one of the 100 most influential people in Brooklyn, in regards to Bushwig and all the other events you had a hand in creating. That must give you a great sense of pride!
Yes, being Top 100 for Bk Mag was amazing. I moved to New York from Texas with a one-way ticket, ready to take on the world! It just shows that hard work pays off.
You’re from San Antonio?
Yes, I’m from San Antonio. But I lived in Austin before I moved to NYC. That’s where I started my drag: doing club kid looks in Austin, feeding the children, doing events.
Do Austin drag queens do something specific/unique that attracted you?
I think Austin drag Is very similar to Brooklyn. Very punk rock. Art drag.
And you get back to Texas pretty often.
Yes. I always do a Bushwig Invasion every year. It’s always the highlight event to be at that weekend. I get all my Texas girls involved.
You were at the Austin International Drag Festival, and then DragCon in L.A. back-to-back this year, right? What were some highlights for you from those events?
Maddelynn Hatter just did a Dragula. I feel like, aesthetically, you two have some similarities. Did you ever get that before?
[Laughs] Yeah! I used to host WestGay and I got that a lot, with people coming up to me always thinking it’s her.
Why did you come to New York, by the way?
Honestly, I came to NYC for two weeks on vacation. I went back to Austin to find out that my job at the time had fired me. I was working the front desk for a rock-n-roll salon. I guess I was too punk for them! So I moved to NYC – one way ticket, baby!
That’s a great story. When you first got to Brooklyn, what were you originally seeing there, as far as nightlife?
When I first got to Brooklyn I was parting with all the Bushwick kids. We would go to house parties a lot- see my boos, the House of Ladosha, perform everywhere. I did GHE20G0TH1K, Clump, Hey Queen, Judy… that was my nightlife, back in the day.
So, there was already that art-meets-party scene there.
There was, but the drag explosion did not come until later. Now there is a drag show every night. Back then, it was not like that.
How were you first able to get known?
After doing shows in Bushwick and Bed-Stuy for like two years, I started doing shows at Metro and DJing more. Around that time is when I came up with the idea for Bushwig. It was just the right timing.
Do you remember how you were able to get all those folks on board with Bushwig back then?
I honestly did not think anyone was going to come to Bushwig the first year. It was a crazy idea that I had. But people turned it out, and the queens gave the best shows!
Wigstock is a big part [of Bushwig’s story], for sure. I love Lady Bunny, and she is happy we’re doing this. She is like the mother of drag. She handed my the torch last year. I guess I’m doing something right [laughs]!
Did I see that you were on the Wigstock cruise this year?
I went last year, it was fun. That was my drag daughter Hannah Lou in my dress this year!
What a striking family resemblance! Is Hannah your only official drag child?
Yeah, I adopted her, like, three months ago [laughs].
Holden Bucy is kinda your own Brooklyn drag mom, right? Is she still in town?
Yes, Holden is still in Brooklyn. We kinda parted ways, though. We’re both so busy.
Do you still get to actually perform a lot, or are you mostly producing and DJing these days?
I’m pretty much getting booked to DJ more now. It’s kinda the path I’ve been going these last couple of years. Once in awhile I’ll do shows, or when I’m feeling that itch. I probably perform once or twice a month. Summer kinda sucks for me–I hate drag in the summer. But when winter comes, I’m doing shows every week.
When you do perform, and I guess when you DJ also, what are your musical go-tos?
Selena is my go-to. But I love anything that has a good beat and people can boogie down to. Freestyle 90s/hip hop/pop, just depends on the mood.
How was Disco Taco, a new party of yours at Metro?
Disco Taco was fun. That event was cool because people got to taste my food. I love to cook, and kinda mixing nightlife with food is really cool. I hope to do more in future. There is talk about another one in the winter.
Also, Disco Taco came from an idea from some friends in Stockholm–I did a show in Sweden. Their event was called Disco Dumplings, thrown by my friend DJ City. I kinda stole his idea, but I put my Mexican twist to it!
Making food for everybody at the party kinda reinforces the idea that all the Brooklyn kids are like one big family and you’re the Mama.
That’s a cute way to put it.
It’s a shame that One Last Shag closed, and Macri Park got re-purposed into a video bar. Those closings have displaced a bunch of Brooklyn shows, including some of your own. Are there any spots in Brooklyn now that you think have potential to become cute new places for parties and shows?
So sad One last Shag closed. I first started doing drag shows there six years ago, and that’s where I first learned how to DJ. Haruka Salt was my DJ mother. I think right now, Happyfun Hideaway is the spot to be at. And you can find me bartending there every Friday.
I didn’t know you did that! Is that fun?
That’s cool–and I see you’re hosting a Bushwig pre-party there this Friday!
I’m actually hosting for a minute, going to come say Hi and stuff. But I’m [mostly] DJing at Metro for GAG Friday night, another Bushwig pre-party.
Be Cute started at One last Shag. It was meant for a one-off party, and I did not know what to call it. And it just was a hit. Line around the corner. It just got so big, I had to move it to a bigger space. Be Cute brings a lot of queers together to just dance! Booty shaking dance party! Also, Be Cute is a good spot to find a boo [laughs].
We need more of those! Do you think Grindr and the apps are hurting Brooklyn nightlife the same way they hurt Manhattan?
I don’t think so. Funny, the founder of Scruff went to Be Cute last year!
That’s quite an endorsement!
Yes, we do an ass contest–winner gets $50 cash. It’s wild! I got this idea from this crazy club I went to in London, but they got naked there. We [just] do ass at Cakes [laughs].
I’ll take it! Didn’t you used to host an event in London called Tranny Olympics?
Yes, I did that for three years with my partner Babes Trust. Now we do Bushwig together. It was so much fun, so crazy!
Is Babes still involved in Bushwig every year?
Yes. Every year.
How were those Bushwig Europe shows that you and some of the other performing queens did in Berlin and London this summer? Any crazy adventures?
Europe is always a wild trip for me. People [there] eat it up. I love performing and DJing in Europe. Crazy adventures? I mean, there are so many stories–it’s kinda like, what happens in Europe stays in Europe [laughs]. I do love seeing different drag out there, and all the shows.
Back to Bushwig, do you get to actually watch any of the performances, or are you too busy running around pulling queens out of dressing rooms?
I have interns that take care of that. Just kidding! No, I think this year I will get to finally see the shows. And really hang out. We have a really good team this year, and a lot of volunteers. But I will be running around like a crazy person!
Who are you most excited to (maybe/hopefully) see perform this year?
Latrice is going to slay. And I can’t wait to see Bunny and April Carrion. We do have a surprise performer Saturday night, closing out the first day of Bushwig. Really pumped to see them perform. And no one knows who it is! So it will be fun.
I totally know who it is! Just kidding, I have no idea, but surprises are wonderful. What’s the coolest thing that’s being sold by the Bushswag festival vendors this time?
Other then the food at Bushwig, I’m excited to see what the vendors bring. We have over 20 venders and local designers coming to sell stuff. I’ll definitely be shopping!
So you always have a million things going on, what have I missed?
And October 2nd, Bushwig is hosting a brunch at El Cortez for the BOOM Festival. BOOM, which stands for Bushwick Organizers + Owners Movement, is a new–and free–community arts series set to take over the Brooklyn neighborhood from September 29 to October 2. It will highlight New York artists through a variety of live music sets and art performances and installations.
That all sounds exciting! Okay last question… In honor of your namesake, where in NYC can I get the best horchata?
AT El Folgon in Bushwick!
Thank you! Good luck with everything Bushwig and beyond, Horrorchata!
Horrorchata will host the Bushwig Pre-Party at Happyfun Hideaway and DJ the other other pre-party at Metropolitan Bar on September 9th, and she will manage the main Bushwig event at the Knockdown Center on September 10th and 11th (2pm-10pm both days). She DJs Cakes at Metropolitan Bar on Wednesdays (10pm) and Be Cute at littlefield monthly, usually on second Saturdays (10pm). She’ll DJ YAS Mama at C’Mon Everybody monthly on first Saturdays beginning October 1st, and on October 2nd she’ll perform for a special Bushwig fundraising brunch at El Cortez (noon-8pm).
On most Fridays, she bartends at Happyfun Hideaways.