This Westchester-based DJ and photographer has been on the frontlines of many NYC nightlife happenings and venues over the years, from Splash to Boots & Saddle to Lady Liberty and beyond. Thomas Trinity catches up with Thotyssey to discuss how he got here, where he’s going… and when he started painting his nails!
Thotyssey: Hello Thomas! Thanks for chatting today! So, hooray, it’s a new dawn and a new day and a new President! How are you feeling about it all?
Thomas Trinity: I’m feeling good. I’m glad that we are starting to heal the country.
Slowly but surely! How have you been passing these many months since quarantine started?
I have watched a lot of YouTube videos. I decided to do a deep clean and organize my house.
That’s productive! You’re somewhere in Westchester, right? Born and raised?
Yes, I live in Westchester. I was actually born in a town in upstate New York, but quickly moved to New York City after I was adopted.
Were you always into music and general fabulosity while growing up?
I was very much into art when I was little. I guess I enjoyed music as well, but needed to do more artistic things to express myself. I mean, my favorite color was pink when I was a little kid.
Of course it was, lol! Your trademarks today include painted nails and lips, as well as hats and frequently colorful hair! Were those always part of your look?
I experimented with painting my nails in summer camp around middle school, but always took it off after camp was over. I started painting them again a few years after I started going out enjoying nightlife events, and I’ll wear lipstick to an event when it seems appropriate. I always enjoyed having fun with my hair; I’ve dyed it in a wide variety of colors. I have a small collection of hats that I enjoy; it’s another way to express myself.
Was photography always one of the visual arts you were into?
YES! I’ve been taking photos since I was seven. My parents gave me a camera on a vacation we were taking to keep me occupied. I apparently took photos way better than my parents, so I became the designated photographer of the family. I would take photos during family reunions and trips. I went to summer art camps that would provide photography classes, and took photography in high school and college.
How did you discover, and then become a part of, New York nightlife?
I found out about Splash, and I thought I would go there for my 21st birthday. I ended up going one night after my birthday, and had such a fun time. I became friends with Dougie Meyer, who ran the parties at Splash. I ended up asking if I could bring my camera to some of the events and was told yes.
You take lots of sharp “on the town” shots and produce some great editorial stuff, but I think you really specialize in action shots, capturing that energy and color of a drag performance and that raw sexuality of gogo boys and shirtless bartenders at work. What’s the key to getting those great shots in dark, packed spaces where everyone is moving fast, pushing you out of the way, being loud and annoying, etc?
Over the years I have figured out what settings to set my camera to go to get the best shots. In the early days my photos weren’t the most dynamic, but they were enjoyable. Now I experiment and have fun. I take hundreds of photos each night. If I’m shooting a drag show or competition I can shoot over 2000 photos, easily.
[All above photos by Thomas Trinity]
DJing is another big passion of mine. I like being able to play new songs people don’t know about yet, and I love finding the perfect remix.
If it were entirely up to you, what would a night of pure Thomas Trinity sound like?
I would want to play music that people could dance to. Some of it would be house, but I also enjoy playing twerk, trap and moombahton. I would probably switch up my style a bit during the night. But when I’m not playing live in a club, I enjoy making pre-made mixes.
As a DJ, you might be best known for working the Lady Liberty drag competitions and one-off showcases over the years. Vincent Cooper produced it, Brita Filter and some rotating co-stars hosted it, Michael Block, Lacy Stoner and myself judged it, and so many competitors have gone on to huge things. It’s kind of become world famous, and recent seasons of Drag Race made it a prime site for casting. Do you have any favorite memories of the Lady Liberty days?
Lady Liberty is the absolute best! I miss it. I remember Aja got up on some chairs and held onto the projector that was on the ceiling, and then jumped into a split. Brita always killed it with any number she did, and the crowd would get so hyped up. You never knew what to expect, because every single performance would be something completely new and creative. Every single competitor brought their own uniqueness to the table. Big shout out to Vincent Cooper for putting together so many successful events!
Digital DJing has been something; I normally just play a bit of music before the show. The show is a pre-recorded video of all of the performances that I have edited together. Kyliemania is a celebration of Kylie Minogue‘s musical works. Make sure you come to the show, It’s always a good time!
Looking forward to it! Lastly, what’s an average daily activity you miss the most, that you can’t wait to do again post-vaccination?
Just walking around without a mask, and people. I miss hanging out with people.
Same! Thanks, Thomas!