The tHOTlist 2020 #150-101

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150. Amanda Pörq

[Photo: David Serrano]

Here’s a funny and innovative queen who emerged early in 2020 as a force to be reckoned with… then really took the reins with some great virtual programming (including her own weekly IG show) during lockdown. To taste the salty best of Pörq, check out her virtual Halloween show, “The Frocking Dead.”

149. Octavia Anyae

New York and New Jersey’s high kickin’ OG pageant queen maintained a digital presence during lockdown, then returned to Real Life Drag as soon as she was able to with her shows at Suite Bar and The Ritz.

148. Clarice Hart & Tiffany Anne Coke-Hart

The daughters of pageant queen Pattaya Hart teamed up this autumn to co-host a unique weekly Instagram show, with a little help from acclaimed accompanist Danny K. Bernstein. Meanwhile, Clarice continues to be a popular drag designer, while Tiffany’s reign as Miss West Village continues.

147. Lady Bunny 

The world’s most famous drag queen who was never on Drag Race (except for the times that she was, and that spin-off she hosted), Bunny embodies the whole lowbrow clown meets highbrow performance artist phenomenon that made drag queens so iconic in the decades before Instagram. Entirely unapologetic and unfiltered onstage with her trademark towering blonde coifs and legz for days, Bunny has also taken to multimedia as well. When she’s not touring in real life with the RuGirls as the Voss Events house DJ, our Lady is making instantly classic video parodies like her “dry” take on “WAP” with sis Flotilla DeBarge, as well as a faux bitchy newscast with fellow comedienne Bianca Del Rio. Now that last’s year’s HBO documentary Wig (which detailed Bunny’s revival of her famed drag festival Wigstock) has gotten a wider, global release, we can likely look forward to more Bunny on our big and small screens.

146. Victoria Williams

Our current reigning Ms. Rockar and a competitor in this year’s debut cycle of the “Dragaret” singing queen competition, this charming queen from New Mexico’s House of Williams hosted a few socially distant shows at Rockbar following a string of digital performances.

145. The Carry Nation

Arguably NYC’s most popular DJ duo, Nita Aviance and Will Automagic were likely disappointed to not enjoy another year of cultivating amazing dancefloors in venues like Good Room and Le Bain. However, we did get the next best thing: virtual monthly dance parties on Twitch. Also fun: their participation in a 56 hour digital DJ Pride party via Lot Radio in June.

144. Skye Walker

[Photo: Jax]

A rising NYC drag star of intricately geeky and lovely cosplay, our current reigning Miss Barracuda was about to premiere her fourth weekly show in NYC before lockdown happened. Although she largely avoided digital shows during the down period, Skye did reunite with her “Woman Crush Wednesdays” sisters DD Fuego and Elektra Lite for a handful of virtual shows, and joined the cast of “The Poké Ball” in August. Meanwhile, her alter ego Luke boytended at Pieces throughout the shutdown.

143. Geoffrey Mac

Before winning the 18th season of Project: Runway, innovative designer Geoffrey Mac was long associated with NYC nightlife and counterculture. He’s designed for iconic figures like Deborah Harry and Deee-Lite’s Lady Miss Kier, and he’s close friends with many nightlife luminaries, like the great DJ Nashom who’s lost battle with coronavirus Geoffrey tearfully announced to the world. But in a happier moment of 2020, Geoffrey hosted the viewing party of his triumphant Runway season at The Vault, and continues to enjoy successfully dressing Madonna-scale icons.

142. Linda Simpson

Much like how Nelson Sullivan documented queer NYC nightlife folks on videotape in the late 80’s, Linda’s casual photography of her friends in the early 90s scene has become a vital image document library for a historical time and place. The former underground magazine publisher’s personal collection of her drag and drag adjacent friends who paved the way for today’s scene were displayed in Brooklyn’s Tiger Strikes Asteroid NY gallery this year. Meanwhile, Linda’s off-kilter stage presence was in full display as well, albeit digitally, as she hosted a weekly Zoom edition of her popular “Linda Loves Bingo” show, which often featured legendary guest stars you might find in her vintage photos like Michael Musto, Amanda Lepore and Ana Matronic.

141. Pattaya Hart 

One of our city’s most beautiful and lovable queens and our current reigning Miss Gay America, Pattaya taught a digital dance class for a few months on Zoom during lockdown and gave us some drag performances here and there (like for the virtual edition of Queen at Industry, the large and popular weekly revue she’s a castmember of in the real world). But in 2020 she was mostly taking her crown and talents on the road, performing in several cities and venues that were experiencing lockdown differently than NYC.

140. Sherry Poppins & Pussy Willow

These two quirky mainstays of the Astoria scene joined forces for a mesmerizing weekly digital cooking show “Easily Baked” in November. Meanwhile: Pussy (who earlier in the year competed strongly in the truncated “Dragarat” singing queen competition) has her own solo weekly, and Sherry’s made several virtual guest appearances in addition to a few live shows with “STR8 to DVD” sisters Qhrist With a Q and DJ Ten Yards.

139. Aja 

One of Drag Race’s most popular and meme-worthy NYC-based alums (Season 9 and All-Stars 3), Aja has recently put drag aside to focus on performing and recording their original rap music. 2019 was a prolific year for them, thanks to the releases of their EP collaboration with Shilow Nail in the Coffin, as well as their own studio album BOX Office. Rather then resting on their laurels in 2020, Aja participated in several virtual variety shows and dropped featured vocals into singles from artists like Jayse Vegas, curated a popular OnlyFans page, and embraced a non-binary identity as well as the Orisha religion.

138. Ginger Ladd & Dreama Belle

The sweet Virginia showgirl Dreama Belle moved to the Rockaways in 2019, where she befriended that neighborhood’s premiere queen / puppeteer Ginger Ladd. These two commenced to co-host shows in the area, and throughout the city, shortly thereafter. Ginger and Dreama have now been co-hosting Instagram shows these past several months during quarantine; we hope to see them performing together live again somewhere in New York soon enough.

137. Harmonica Sunbeam

One of Jersey’s busiest, most iconic good time queens hosted Zoom bingo throughout quarantine, as well as some socially distanced shows at The Vanguard and the new Headroom.

136. Paris L’Hommie

A truly exciting breakthrough nightlife performer this year, Paris’ androgynous looks and dancer’s athleticism make for a captivating queen–on both stages and screens. A competitor in last year’s Iconic pageant, Paris made several guest performances in drag shows across the city and interwebs, while co-hosting a weekly Instagram show with sis Vylette Tendency.

135. Chelsea Piers

A respected Manhattan showgirl, Chelsea has sang and danced across the stages at Industry Bar and the Laurie Beechman Theatre (home of her GLAM-nominated show she co-created and co-starred in with Jackie Cox, Jackie & Chelsea’s High School Reunion) for all of 2019. This year Chelsea’s served a few digital shows, as well as live shows at Industry and Don’t Tell Mama.

134. Fwee Carter

Ubergeek cosplayer and collector extraordinaire, Fwee is also a vital photographer of queer bodies both in vivid costume and au naturel. Aside from producing gorgeous shots of drag muse Megami, Fwee’s Insta shimmers with recent, vast galleries of sexy outdoorsmen, boys arranged by background color, and a collection of bare torsos that everyone can enjoy.

133. Lilith LeFae

Although we’ll always cherish her as a former Miss Boots & Saddle, Lilith is a beloved Brooklyn queen with a popular Macri Park show prior to quarantine. These past few months, we’ve gotten Live Lilith at venues like Now And Then and 3 Dollar Bill, as well as Virtual Lilith on Twitch and her own YouTube cooking show “Lilith’s Buffet.”

132. Greg Scarnici

The comic and content creator gave us some funny moments with his bearded, Karen-haired drag persona Levonia this year, including her 50th birthday anthem. Meanwhile, DJ Greg presented a few socially distanced summer tea dances at the Ice Palace with his partner-in-crime pornstress Robin Byrd, and published his sexy / funny 70s gay porn magazine parody, Hot Rods.

131. Pierretta Viktori 

So, confession: we always have a hard time figuring exactly where to put designers on these lists–they are quietly creating the visual art that keeps New York drag on the cutting edge–but even the best known designers rarely get the credit they deserve. It gets particularly tricky with designers as prolific as Pierretta, who’s provided dynamic looks for local performers, RuGirls and celebrities beyond the drag world while being a performer themselves as well. Mx. Viktori turned out a digital number for the Lemonade Social Halloween party, and an intensely personal performance they did for sis Sasha Velour’s famous “Nightgowns” resurfaced for the show’s virtual fifth anniversary compilation. All we know is that this enigmatic chessboard clown need to be on here somewhere!

130. Boyish Charm

[Photo: Jax]

Combining a wide variety of looks from businesswoman to stripper to ghoul to clown, Boyish always keeps you guessing; the one thing you know is that you’re gonna be entertained! Digital drag is a great forum for this rising star, whether she’s clowning around with her “Oh Yes!” (originally a Boxers Washington Heights show, later on Instagram) girls or in a variety of virtual revues. These days the Bronx native also keeps it real in her hometown, hosting weekly socially distant bingo at Kirvens.

129. Essence

This neon Texas-born bangie dance freak might be representing the Astoria girls, but this year she was part of a well-received weekly show in Brooklyn’s 3 Dollar Bill alongside sis Jax. Also, with #JusticeForEssence–jokingly bestowed upon her after she lost the “Iconic” drag competition last year–Essence is one of NYC’s only queens with a quotable hashtag, which means everything in 2020.

128. Frankie Sharp 

We’re usually praising event producer / DJ Frankie for setting the nightlife excellence bar so high via the multiple large scale events he juggles yearly. In 2020 though, he deserves praise for doing absolutely nothing; that is, he was one of the first people in the business to recognize the severity of the approaching coronavirus in March, and willingly cancelled all of his events in the name of public safety. Besides a single day of DJing in Fire Island, Frankie’s kept his methods of entertaining us limited to virtual Jedi weapon demonstrations and flexing. We’re not mad!

127. Emi Grate

The live singing, Broadway stardusted Brooklyn queen and event producer brought some interesting events to the virtual stage during lockdown, including digital editions of her monthly “A+” revue featuring ethnically Pan-Asian performers, a Halloween show inspired by CATS, and her own solo showcase.

126. Junior Mint

[Photo: Patrick Arias]

One of Brooklyn’s most prolific, specific (those balloons tied to their hair reveal goodies like glitter and powder when popped), poignant and all around entertaining performers, Mx. Mint was also an important presence during the BLM and BTLM demonstrations this year. While serving us full shows and numbers sporadically, they were a voice of clarity, reason and kindness via their frequent Insta story lectures and anecdotes.

125. Aaliyah Martinez 

A major supporter of the national drag pageant systems Miss Gay United States (she’s a former winner) and Miss Continental, the glamorous live singing Ms. Martinez took to the livestreams with a popular solo weekly show for the duration of lockdown.

124. Casey Caldwell

Known for his vividly voluminous silhouettes and using unconventional materials and shapes in his pieces, the Brooklyn-centric Casey Caldwell (aka Casey Yalater) has become one of drag fashion’s most high profile designers. Whether they’re boasting tendrilous zip-ties, chunky graffiti-colored wave shapes or giant cloth eyeballs, Casey’s designs look like they can leap off the queens they’re made for and win Drag Race all by themselves. Season 12 alone featured numerous Casey looks, and really every queen in NYC (and increasingly on a global scale) knows that some statements just cannot be made without one of his entirely unique garments.

123. Gina Tonic 

[Photo: Fwee Carter]

The classically stylish, ukulele-playing house brunch queen of Chelsea’s The Liberty NYC, Gina was one of the first nightlifers to go digital. But later in the lockdown, she found a very novel venue to conduct social distance-safe live shows: a parking lot in Queens! “Dears In The Headlights” behind the Bel-Aire diner in Astoria was a popular run of live outdoor summer shows featuring a top notch drag cast; perhaps we will see its return on the other side of this pandemic and the cold weather.

122. West Dakota 

[Photo: Savanna Ruedy]

Merrie Cherry’s breathtaking drag daughter is one of the few gals in the business to actually maintain a strong presence in high fashion supermodeling. The former Mx. Brooklyn was a weekly castmember of The Rosemont’s uber-popular OOPS revue pre-lockdown, and during quarantine she balanced a few digital gigs with her the many fashion and product campaigns. Perhaps most notably, West helped organize June’s Brooklyn Liberation march for black trans solidarity in front of the Brooklyn Museum; the event drew a massive (largely masked) crowd of 15,000 people, and received a great deal of vital press coverage.

121. Haireola Grande

The funny, follicly fabulous femme resumed hosting her Sunday “Nips & Sips” bingo at Albatross Barr in autumn, while co-hosting (with podcaster Michael Block) the monthly “Elation” virtual party on Zoom.

120. DJ P_A_T

Brooklyn’s DJ darling did not do much digital spinning, but stayed in the live game at socially distanced venues like Happyfun Hideaway, 3 Dollar Bill, the Rosemont and Farewell.

119. Kristy Blaze 

The essential Jersey dance queen and house mother is also popular in NYC, particularly as the hostess of Stonewall’s “Polish the Queen” weekly competition show. She made a few digital appearances before returning to weekly outdoor shows at Jersey’s Club Feathers.

118. Uncle Freak / Foxy Belle Afriq

The masc and femme sides of the same sexy coin named Henrietta have been quite busy in 2020, with live and digital editions of their drag / burlesque revue “Mad Deep.” Besides this show, both Freak and Foxy have appeared together and separately in a variety of digital revues during lockdown.

117. The Covid Destroyers

Nothing catches public shame faster and heavier than a congregation of homogeneous homos, and when social media started leaking pics of crowds of gay men gathering during lockdown and selfishly / obliviously breaking quarantine, the fallout was positively vicious. Obviously this extended to Fire Island during the summer, where it was pretty mind-blogging to see hundreds of circuit queens gather closely and unmasked on the beach in the hundreds. Enter Daniel Nardicio, a longtime NYC event promoter, producer and Fire Island icon who has always taken an unfiltered and unabashedly sexual approach to parties and problem solving as his brand. Nardicio and his young associate Taylor Shubert founded The Covid Destroyers, a ragtag group of gogo boys, bar staffers and drag queens (particularly Davida Jones and Victoria Falls) underemployed thanks to quarantine whose mission was to pass out masks and sanitizer to people on the Island while educating them about social distancing. Named after a pair of UK pornstars, their effort was met with some scorn by the queer peanut gallery at first, particularly when Daniel crowdsourced to pay the team. But soon the venerable Gay Men’s Health Crisis gave their official seal of approval to the Destroyers, and the crew turned the public narrative about gays in quarantine into something much more positive… even getting a shout-out from daytime TV chat queen Kelly Clarkson.

116. Michael Block

The host of website Theater in the Now and podcast Block Talk, Michael has become an increasingly prolific event producer as well over the years (including three seasons on the challenging “Iconic” drag competition co-produced by Lindsey Kay at Icon Bar, and the new “Dragaret” singing queen competition that got cut short by quarantine during its first cycle at Club Cumming). During lockdown, Michael headlined several interesting shows featuring his Astoria drag sisterhood and other girls, like the monthly “Elation” on Zoom (co-produced by Haireola Grande) and large cast tributes to ABBA and Little Mix.

115. Kareem McJagger

[Photo: Jack Aaronson]

The blue pool cover dress! Masterfully constructed by Viki Villainess, photographed in Fire Island by Jack Aaronson and modeled by the lovely queen and event producer Kareem herself (who also filmed a behind-the-scenes featurette covering the whole process)… it was truly a moment of art and fashion collaboration at it’s finest and most fun. Also in 2020, Kareem produced her own live performance Fire Island digital showcase, appeared in a few virtual revues and segments across the internet (many with sis Honey Davenport), and was profiled in the Times about Jersey living in lockdown. Among other things!

114. DJ Ickarus 

[Photo: Grace Chu]

The essential Brooklyn DJ who moves-and-shakes such massive annual events as Bushwig and the Brooklyn Nightlife Awards popped in and out of social distanced venues and digital showcases this year, while working behind the bar at Happyfun Hideaway.

113. J’royce Jata

[Photo: Sidewalkkilla]

The chill singer / songwriter gives vibes both earthy and dark via several 2020 music drops, including the sultry six song EP Soft. J’royce was all over multimedia in 2020, participating in digital variety shows galore with the likes of Susanne Bartsch, Thee Suburbia and DiDa Ritz; they also released some trippy videos.

112. Angel Elektra & Shay D’Pines

For a while there, these fun Westchester women (a couple on and off stage) had arguably the only live weekly drag show in New York State during lockdown, as they were quick to adapt to their Yonkers venue Guapo’s outdoor setup. After a short run of digital shows (plus some numbers they turned out for Catrina Lovelace and the Haus of Kiki’s virtual showcases), Angel and Shay went right back to live and in person drag as soon as state guidelines allowed, often inviting sisters from NYC to come out and perform with them.

111. Castrata

[Photo: Jax]

Lagoona Bloo’s petite drag daughter is a formidable singer in her own right, channeling the great Mariah Carey in her prime. After nearly winning the “Iconic” drag competition last year, Castrata started performing live sung shows with Lagoona as “Mamasitas,” and they continue to do so there albeit outdoors. Castrata also had a long-running digital live singing show as well, and joined her sisters for several virtual showcases throughout the year.

110. Paisley Fields

Once understood to be a loose-knit urban country band with openly queer lyrics and a dazzling frontperson that toured the country and produced several recordings, “Paisley Fields” is now the moniker of that frontperson (the primary songwriter and only consistent presence of the group). Paisley released the sexy twangy EP Electric Park Ballroom in June, and during lockdown in lieu of touring they hosted several fun installments of a digital variety show that showcased other queer country artists.

109. Peachez Iman Cummings

A relatively new edition to NYC queendom, Peachez has already proven herself to be uniquely funny and a soaring singer with genuine Broadway sparkle. An alum of the Ultimate Drag Pageant at The West End, Peachez got the ball rolling from there as a hostess for a P.O.C. showcase back in February and making several guest and digital appearances since. One of Marti Cummings’ new drag daughters, Peachez currently co-hosts a live dinner show at The Liberty NYC.

108. Magenta

One of Brooklyn’s favorite dance queens and a hostess of Rosemont’s popular weekly OOPS, the chic-bangee-couture Magenta made a few digital appearances in 2020 while slaying any live stage she could–including Bushwig at Maria Hernandez Park.

107. Toni Homperm & Alexis Flame

While most of New York drag had to take a crash course in multimedia to keep the show going at the brink of quarantine, these two Long Island dames were already old pros in giving us onscreen shows. An OG Manhattan queen and Imperial Court aristocrat, the vampiric Alexis was part of the talk show circuit that inspired a generation of drag folks and queer people to embrace nightlife and their own identities. Meanwhile, live singing Toni was the longtime host of Strong Island Radio’s The Toni Homeperm Show, a chatfest that livestreams on Facebook. During lockdown, the pair joined forces to co-host a second recurring livestream, “Naughty or Nice.”

106. Ruby Fox 

It often seems like there are two nightlives in NYC. There’s the world of weekly bar drag-and-DJ shows that is easily accessible to all (and easy for Thotyssey to research and promote). Then there’s the somewhat unpredictable and less accessible VIP realm, where events in non-traditional venues have velvet ropes, celebrity guests, a fancy budget and fashionz with a Z. A ferocious stage performer with dynamic looks, Ruby occupies both those nightlives (she’s a favorite sis of partymaker Ty Sunderland and performs monthly at Playhouse Bar’s “Look Queen” and Bootsie LeFaris’ Pieces show). In addition to adding to her gagworthy Insta gallery, Ms. Fox’s image was also featured in a subway art series tie-in to the VMAs.

105. Mike Borowski & Bubbles D’Boob 

[Photo: Wilson Models]

This DJ and drag queen team famously shuffle their super popular “Showtunes Sundays” (featuring Broadway-themed clips, performances and games) between the Playhouse in Manhattan and the Fire Island Pines seasonally. This year, both versions proved a bit of a challenge thanks to social distancing–but they pulled it off and included some Zoom livestreams as well.

104. Members Only Boylesque

[Photos: Michael Craft]

The sexy troupe of talented men founded by Twinky Boots and Milo Pony were a favorite monthly attraction attraction at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, often with revues hosted by queens Jackie Cox or Coco Taylor. Quarantine brought us “Hard Drive,” digital editions of these monthly revues… and at least one day a month, we were happy to stay home.

103. The Illustrious Blacks

Mystical, musical pair Monstah Black and Manchildblack live the Hype Life on and off the stage, always incorporating spacey fashions and alien visuals to their cosmic sound. Known in nightlife for gigs in such diverse venues as Joe’s Pub and C’Mon Everybody, the Blacks translated their brand of music and visuals pretty seamlessly to the digital spotlight. They served weekly live Instagram shows and a more esoteric series of YouTube presentations, while still finding time to release new music like their interstellar EP Technegrocolor back in June.

102. Corma Kelley

Kizha Carr’s newest drag child (we think? there’s a lot!), the quirky Corma was making waves as a weekly show hostess at The West End before Covid closed the lounge permanently. Seen most recently doing live socially distanced shows at The Liberty NYC, Corma’s also been partaking in virtual drag, and will be a queen to watch on the other side of all this.

101. David Michael

Known for his fan favorite mixes and remixes, the busy DJ was dropping beats across NYC in bars like The Ritz and Monster pre-lockdown and has since moved the party to Twitch.

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