Winner of The Cake Boys’ massive “Takes the Cake” king and thing drag competition, the compelling Klondyke’s drag repertoire often involves untraditional song choices, burlesque elements and detail-obsessed cosplay costuming. This year they performed quite frequently in Brooklyn, Queens and the East Village, and even turned a number at Bushwig.
249. Gigi Deetz
The creatively costumed and quaffed comedy queen screened a Drag Race viewing party and movie night at Sanger Hall with Aria Derci, and later joined Lauren Ordair and Catrina Lovelace as the larger than life hosts of new bar Hush’s weekly “Big Girls Club.”
Keeping it sexy both in front of and behind the camera, photographer and GLAM-nominated gogo dancer Adam Ross aka Gaystrychef (that’s from their IG handle created while working as a pastry chef) is helping to keep that fine line between sleaze and sensuality throbbing through queer nightlife.
247. Kevin Aviance
New York nightlife suffered several losses these past few years, both in venues that never reopened and more importantly in lives lost. The recent passing of Kevin’s best friend Sir Ari Gold, a trailblazer of queer pop getting mainstream play, was a particularly harsh blow to the community. But loss also helps us appreciate what we still have more, and Kevin Aviance is a living legend of music, style and joie de vivre that we can celebrate. Kevin DJ’ed digitally throughout the pandemic, and now regularly spins finely-curated sets of deep house at The Q every weekend, among other DJ and performance gigs.
246. Freeda Kulo
Premiering her drag on a digital stage during lockdown, it’s been fascinating to watch this extravagant Mexican-American beauty carve a place for herself in the real world in 2021. Freeda’s performed in several shows around the city and now the country as well, but for a home base you can catch her hosting weekly karaoke at Albatross in Astoria.
245. Brie Bordeaux
Choreographer Chris Cardelia produced the hot burlesque-inspired revue “Foreplay” at Cherry’s on Fire Island this summer. It was a hit, and rather than let the show fade away Chris and friends revamped it into a weekly showcase “Climax” at Playhouse in the West Village. Now co-hosting the show as Brie alongside Nick Gaga, it’s a perfect stage to showcase all this performer’s skills.
244. Susan Levine
While known to many as a Stonewall girl, Queen Levine has been a fan favorite DJ at Fire Island for many consecutive summers now — both as a resident at Cherry’s and the one-off annual event Women’s Pride at the Pines. But now she has a popular weekly night in Manhattan as well: the GLAM-nominated “FUQBOI” Fridays at Rebar Chelsea, which also features an army of hot gogo dudes and host AndrogyNY.
243. Dave Mizzoni
Standup comedy is a heavily criticized performance art in 2021–not just for the much discussed “cancel culture” factor, but because it requires a certain amount of patience and social comfort from the audience that’s growing increasingly more scarce. So for comic Mizzoni, who hosts a funny cooking segment on Logo’s YouTube page called Fixed, the fact that he gets laughs and keeps his name out there shows how good he is at his craft, and how skillfully he can navigate the new social media demands of comedy. New mega-hotspot The Q, with all its diverse programming, became the perfect forum for Dave to bring queer comics together for the weekly showcase “Juicy,” and it’s earned him a GLAM nom for Best Comedy Performer.
242. Cissy Walken
With her trademark giant grin and quirky humor, Cissy and a troupe of similar-minded queens found the perfect vehicle for their brand of entertainment in The Simsinz, a surreal cartoon parody using soundbites, ironic song choices and lots of yellow makeup to sendup America’s favorite cartoon family. In 2021, Cissy–who still wears the current Miss Stonewall crown–also hosted brunch at Brooklyn’s Rusty Nail and bingo at Sycmore Bar, as well as a delightful benefit for her longtime sis Jae W.B. at Rockbar.
At the top of their game in the drag scene of Philadelphia (aka the sixth borough, remember?), Iris and Vinchelle began their New York occupation as rotating guests of Tina Burner’s Industry Bar show; this eventually evolved into their own weekly “Turnout Tuesday” there. We’d rather not imagine that commute, but watching these two funny, strong ladies with their unique perspectives bring the house down is always a pleasure.
240. Isabella Rio
The stunning hostess is part of a growing squad of Brazilian beauties in NYC nightlife, making a name for herself during lockdown with digital shows that had her donating much of her Venmo tips to underemployed drag queens back in Brazil. Although she’s now a favorite addition to the host committees of various Latin and circuit parties in New York and New Jersey, you’re most likely catch Isabella hosting the popular Monday night “A Taste of Rio” at The Ritz with fellow Brazilian hottie DJ Vallber.
A frenzy of dance and fashion, Lady Gaga enthusiast and hostess extraordinaire VinnyGaga is a welcome presence at Hardware Bar’s “Super Size Queen Fridays” alongside the lofty likes of DJ Borowski and Bootsie LeFaris.
238. Victoria Williams
The former reigning Miss Rockbar hosted this year’s pageant to crown her successor. Victoria also showed off some musical chops when she released a few fun music videos, including those for her original songs “Blaqnificent” (featuring Honey Davenport) and “Lemonade” (GLAM-nominated for Best Video).
237. James Oblak
The handsome and charming ivory tickler and recording artist helmed a big following this summer on Fire Island’s Cherry’s on the Bay, and his success continues with a new gig at The Q and a GLAM nomination for Best Male Artist.
236. Champagne Bubbles
Considering she’s a tireless medical professional by day–during one of the city’s largest ever ongoing health crises, no less–you have to give Champagne tons of credit for finding time to celebrate joy, beauty and fun with drag. This year the divinely costumed queen became a regular presence at Fire Island and Lips, and hosts her own popular weekly drag brunch at Seamore’s Nolita.
A beloved NYC nightlife power couple, Krys (a photographer known for his annual sexy-spooky Halloween galleries and starring on the latest season of Hulu’s Exposure photographer competition series) and Matty (a longtime DJ in the scene and co-creator of popular Club Cumming’s party/show “Femme”) co-host the ghoul-chic, GLAM-nominated horror podcast “Dirty Pillows.”
234. Pietra Parker
Another Brazilian bombshell blowing up in NYC in recent years, Pietra is showing a penchant for true Broadway Meets Vegas flare in several of her numbers incorporating dance, sparkling fashions and showgirlship. It’s made for some memorable moments in the Lady Liberty competition and in the several parties at The Ritz and Rebar Chelsea which she often hosts. Pietra’s also developed a sizeable internet presence thanks to a gorgeous Instagram layout and far reaching videos on YouTube. She’s even featured on popular Brazilian-American recording artist Leopold Nunan’s recent “Ballin’ in Beverly Hills” song and video.
The Girl with a Thousand Voices probably got to sing with every one of them during this monumentally busy summer at The Ice Palace, where she’s long been hailed as the performer you to need to see to complete your authentic Fire Island experience. Off-season, Porsche’s been commonly found tearing the house down at Stonewall and Sayville’s Station Pub alongside partner-in-crime DJ Chuck McTague.
232. She’Knead ThisGig
What do you get when you combine an off-kilter and surreal sense of humor, a love of all things ratchet and filthy, a superb craftsmanship, a knack for using animation and multimedia in hilariously bizarre ways including a shout-out to this very list, a skinny-ass body and an East Village bohemian allure? Well obvs you get She’Knead, but you also get one of the most unique performers around (and one of our personal favorties to boot, *shhh*). And while the rest of the City is still too-slowly trying to figure out quite what to do with She’knead, the rest of the world is catching on to her strange gifts thanks to a memorable run on the YouTube-only (for now!) third season of Hamburger Mary’s charming comedy queen / physical competition series Camp Wannakiki.
For a culture that worships female vocalists and Broadway divas, there aren’t many of them working directly in queer spaces. Enter The Q, which brings us two weeklies from two of our favorite ladies of the stage! The magnetic cabaret and Broadway star Natalie (KinkyBoots! Legally Blonde!) has long been on everyone’s radar thanks to her powerhouse vocals and funny takes on pop songs and showtunes, and now she’s Saturday’s piano-side chanteuse. Meanwhile the compelling and big-voiced Michelle, who embodied the role of Tracy Turnblad in Broadway’s Hairspray which is forever iconic, riles up the fans on her own Sunday night show at The Q as well (and we hear, something new from her is about to premiere at Rise Bar). Hey ladies, we love you!
230. Jessica Rose
This young stunner’s profile is ever on the rise as she regales us with gorgeous Insta looks and performances all over Manhattan in Brooklyn. In 2021, Jessica hosted a weekly show in the now defunct XOXO Bar, as well as brunches at Cheeseboat and Toro Loco.
229. Jae W. B.
The stunning cabaret crooner and recording artist graced the stages of venues like The Q, Club Cumming, 3 Dollar Bill and the legendary Birdland Jazz Club this year. She was also the star of a Rockbar benefit in her honor which helped her raise funds for her affirming surgeries; the night brought out a large showing of supporters and friends from the local bear and leather community. Jae’s also part of the cast of William Angel Bailey’s upcoming musical Where You’ll Find Me.
The strong, sultry and sassy fashion model catwalked her way right into a popular weekly hosting gig at The Rosemont (Thursday night’s “Chaotica”), where she continues to turn it out today.
227. Alexis Michelle
While we anxiously await news of whether Alexis’ fun “fairy dragmother” reality series Dragnificent on TLC is returning or not, we’ve been able to enjoy some special performances from brassy Broadway belter, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum and Best Cabaret GLAM nominee Alexis around town (notably showcases at Feinstein’s 54 Below and Green Room 42). She’s also a Broadway World Cabaret Award winner for her Pride at 54 showcase.
226. Virginia Thicc
This rather fierce, young queen has been turning out dynamic looks left, right and center this year, all while becoming an established showgirl thanks to a gig early in the year at the now-closed XOXO Bar and a newer one at HUSH that teams her with Missleidy and Neon Calypso… not to mention several turns at spots in bars like The Ritz and The Rosemont.
225. Sean McMahill
Long known as the creator of Nowhere Bar’s hit monthly ginger worshipfest “Fire in the Hole,” DJ Sean retired that party this year and switched his focus to his nights at Brooklyn’s C’mon Everybody. That venue already hosted Sean’s nights for years, yet suddenly became one of Brooklyn’s most important post-lockdown destinations in 2021. Now at C’mon Sean presides over “Yes Homo,” an early evening monthly throwback dance party with drag pop-ups that usually segues into Horrorchata’s own “Yas Mama.”
Drag in Long Island is not as easy to find on a nightly basis as it is in NYC, obviously. But the queens there work hard to entertain mixed crowds, and worked safely and consistently through lockdown thanks to the Island’s outdoor venues. Post-lockdown, they’ve become more prolific then they’ve been in a long time, and the scene is busier now than in recent years prior with shows in pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and even cat cafes. Pictured above left to right: Ivy Stalls, Annie Manildoo, Bella Noche, LaBelle and Jazzie Royal Miranda. Other noteworthy Strong Island drag warriors include Danity Powers, Frida Cox, Madison Mansfield, Makon Mayhem, Olivia London, Stella Virgin, Syn and Toni Homeperm.
223. Sierra Misst
Honing her drag first as a musical theater star and later as a Tik Tok sensation with ferocious makeup skills, Sierra joined the House of Cummings and The Q’s weekly entertainment roster in 2021 while also winning the Halloween season of Lady Liberty. Here is a quadruple threat who will no doubt become an important star of this city in no time.
222. Amber Valentine
A favorite among queer New York’s underground DJ secene, fetching fashionista and disco diva Amber continues spinning her popular Misster at The Woods weekly while often occupying the booth for Susanne Bartsch soirees, House of Yes kikis and the monthly PAT Party.
221. Madame Vivien V
This longtime Brooklyn-based bohemian drag queen and designer is constantly marching to the beat of her own drum… right before setting that drum on fire. When she’s not busy with design commissions, you can catch Viv hosting discos and elaborate variety shows at House of Yes, 3 Dollar Bill and Joyface.
220. Lola Von Rox
The voluptuously GLAM-nominated burlesque artist is also the ideal emcee for Susanne Bartsch’s massive “New York, New York” variety showcase and afterparty (itself a GLAM-nominated event) at Sony Hall.
219. Victoria Chase
Arguably New York’s favorite drag karaoke hostess, Victoria keeps the kids singing at Suite Bar uptown three nights a week, and once a week at True Colors Bar in Jackson Heights. Known for turning new patrons into regulars thanks to her engaging warmth, Ms. Chase also slayed our Night of 5000 Thots in July with a surprise performance, and even had a rare turn as a Hell’s Kitchen karaoke hostess with a weekly night at XOXO Bar before it closed this autumn.
218. Brandon James Gwinn
2021 was huge for Brandon, who’s been a writer of original musicals, a popular piano bar attraction and a collaborator with the eminent Trixie Mattel. This year he released his second album BULLIT, and received both a GLAM award nomination for Best Male Artist and and Broadway World Cabaret Award for music directing Alexis Michelle: Pride at 54.
Maddelynn Hatter’s sexy, sinful child Blue and rising star of burlesque-inspired drag Rayne are thick as thieves, and have collabed on several shows in all the gayborhoods together. Perhaps most notably of these is their steamy showcase “Kama Sutra” held monthly in the underbelly of Queens lingerie shop Astoria’s Secret.
216. Occupy The Disco
The popular deep house DJ trio (Josh Appelbaum, RuBot and Tad Haes) resumed their fan favorite seasonal residence at Le Bain, “Paradisco,” and also turned out venues like the Pines Pavilion and Good Room in 2021.
NYC’s mean, green Horticulture Queen (actually she’s super sweet and smart, but we digress) made a name for herself with a series of plant care YouTube videos during lockdown, and was the colorful subject of a PAPER Magazine article. She’s since become a favorite performer in Brooklyn drag shows, and is now the co-host of the weekly “Red Light Special” at HUSH in Hell’s Kitchen alongside Neon Calypso and Virgina Thicc.
214. Kristy Blaze
Also one of Jersey’s most ferociously entertaining dance queens and the mother of that state’s House of Blaze, Kristy was the longtime co-host of Manhattan’s “Polish the Queen” drag competition and currently continues to turn it out in bars on either side of the river. You can most likely find her these days at her home base Club Feathers in River Edge, NJ.
Both sporting high fashion looks and glorious Instagrams, it’s no wonder these two came together to become hosts of Brooklyn’s “Fabulous Mx. Metal” drag competition, now at Our Wicked Lady. Extra kudos to Lucia, who was sashed Entertainer of the Year at this summer’s Miss Fire Island pageant.
Here’s a good time gal who is constantly guest performing in shows across all the boroughs, and hosting a number of parties as well. This year Roqué was particularly busy as a frequent host of the Wednesday night “It’s Bananas” party at 3 Dollar Bill for several months, as well a drag brunch in Astoria’s Savage Sicko.
211. Zenon TeaVee
Rebar Chelsea’s Monday night bingo hostess is an eclectic performer who’s had a long and fascinating journey from Bernie Sanders’ campaigner to Denver drag queen Vivica Galactica to Camp Wannaki’s second season Miss Congeniality to New York show hostess Zenon. Specializing in producing and hosting variety shows that promote positivity and good vibes, Zenon co-hosted (with Anddy Egan-Thorpe) the “Fruit Basket” comedy variety showcase at Sid Gold’s Request Room, produced and hosted “The Queer Ole Opry” at Stonewall, The Brick and Caveat as well as her one woman show Zenon With a Z at Wild Project and The Brick. She’s also been generously public and awesomely inspirational regarding her efforts towards better health and weight loss.
210. Lance Horne
The musical cabaret virtuoso has been hosting “Mondays at The Club with Lance” at Club Cumming in the East Village for perhaps as long as the venue’s been there (don’t quote us on that, we haven’t interviewed him yet) as well as at Joe’s Pub; the night incorporates a vast musical lexicon, guest stars, and of course sexiness. All of that followed him to his second weekly this year, Tuesdays at the main floor’s piano bar of The Q.
209. Evita Loca
The former Jersey Boy put her rich singing voice and theatrical flare to good use via a digital show that streamed to a large audience during lockdown, and afterwards was a fixture of Stonewall’s weekly “Diva” singing drag queen showcase. Evita’s currently a cast member of HUSH’s weekly “Schmoozical Mondays” off-Broadway revue.
208. Mel 4Ever
Brooklyn drag legend Charlene Incarnate’s kid sister Mel came into town and was immediately embraced by that borough’s nightlife scene as a person of interest. Then in rapid speed she started writing and performing original pop tunes with an electropunk vibe and the fuzzy-noise thrash that many might equate with late iconic EDM composer and trans icon Sophie. Then before you could blink, Mel’s incredible EP Tranic Attack dropped in November. We can’t wait to see what comes next for this meteoric trailblazer.
207. Corma Kelley
Combining classically vintage fashions and silhouettes with sharply modern comedic timing, this drag daughter of Kizha Carr knows how to put on a show and is a true star on the rise. These days you can find her co-hosting drag brunch at The Liberty NYC in Chelsea with Fancy Drew, and hosting weekly karaoke at Phoenix Bar in the East Village.
Since becoming a fan favorite on RuPaul’s Drag Race thanks to her fierce dancing skills and bullshit-free persona, Aja’s proved themselves increasingly fearless and thoughtful when it comes to reinvention and living authentically. They’ve quit drag and dropped a few well-produced rap EPs, they’ve engaged more deeply in West African-originating religion, and then later re-embraced drag and a femme identity while joining the legendary ballroom House of LaBeija (whom she honored back in 2018 during the “Snatch Game” segment of Drag Race All-Stars by portraying house founder Crystal LaBeija). In recent months, Aja’s also become a favorite guest co-host of Brita Filter at The Q’s Liberty drag competition.
Former Coyote Ugly choreographer Jacqui Squatriglia had a brilliantly simple business model when she opened Flaming Saddles in HK: cute boy bartenders with dancing backgrounds and well-fitting jeans two-stepping on the bar (not to oversimplify their showmanship–the choreo is as tight as the denim). Years later, the conceit is showing no signs of overstaying it’s welcome, and the Saloon quickly bounced back post-lockdown and re-ignited its status as one of queer NYC’s most visited and name dropped destinations.
204. Soo Intoit
Coming to us from South Carolina, this fairly new edition to Brooklyn nightlife got their start in the scene as a DJ and occasional performer for more off-kilter, fringe shows and parties. Soo has also recently become a fixture of the new experimental, trans / femme-centric rave scene in Ridgewood. There Soo spins high-BPM, hyperpop and experimental thrashers sponsored by kiki machines Discakes and Club Carry as well as their own residency event at Trans-Pecos, “Critical Hit.”
203. Mitch Ferrino
A longtime local bartender turned DJ turned music and event producer in NYC, Mitch created the popular “Look Queen” drag competition with Bob the Drag Queen and produced her song “Purse First” as well as several of her other music and video projects. he went on to produce hits for many other RuGirls, both original numbers and remixed soundbites from the show–most recently this hilarious ode to the annoyed eccentricity of Tamisha Iman. He’s also now a resident DJ for The Q’s popular weekly smutfest, “Qruisers.”
We’ve likely seen a bit more of the suavely pimptastic draglesquer Uncle Freak in 2021 then his flipside sister Foxy, both played by a performer named Henrietta. We’ll take what we can get, and hope to see more of either / both at their regular venues Wow Cafe and Freddy’s Bar, or any of the other many places they pop up in.
201. Angela Mansberry
Taking over Albatross’ popular Sunday bingo night from Haireola Grande was this enthusiast of Broadway, murder mysteries and all things Jessica Fletcher. Angela, aka Sutton Lee Seymour’s drag daughter, keeps the balls rolling and the kids coming back for more.