The tHOTlist 2021 # 50-1


50. The Rosemont

Not all venues jumped back into full capacity business post-lockdown like Covid never happened; bars in the outer boroughs especially struggled with trying to draw back their clientele, staff and programming. The Rosemont was Brooklyn’s favorite hotspot pre-Covid, housing many of the neighborhood’s top parties and drag shows — but it took the bar a while to rebuild all that hard earned momentum after reopening. They are definitely on the right track, though: favorite weekend parties like “Fake Nudes” and “Princess Crush” are back, and new events like the Sunday “ZOO” party featuring top DJs, and the “RoseMart” indie vendor marketplace (see pic) are drawing in new and prior clientele alike.

49. Merrie Cherry 

While we didn’t get to see as much of this Brooklyn drag pioneer as we’d have liked on the latest season of Dragula, we should definitely be proud of her for being true to herself and properly representing the drag scene of her kingdom. Merrie’s always been first and foremost a great hostess and producer, and those skills don’t always shine through in a highly edited TV competition where everyone else is covered in ectoplasm and eating cat shit. At any rate, we’re happy that Ms. Cherry is back in the Big Apple, hosting shows like her own monthly competition “DRAGnet” and no doubt planting the seeds of her next fruitful movements.

48. Dahlia Sin & Lucas Skywalker

[Photo: Jeff Eason]

Her Drag Race air time wasn’t very long, and much of it had her dressed as broccoli for a recuring gag. But the true trade of Season 12 Dahlia Sin has recently established herself as the producer of one of queer NYC’s biggest new weekly parties, “Hard Serve” at The Q. Dahlia’s joined in that role by sexy newcomer Lucas, and together the pair work their hot asses off filling this night with top talent (and often other Drag Race stars) week after week, and the children are hard up for it all.

47. Kiki Ball-Change

A theatrically-trained, singing dancer with campy comedy chops and vampy fashions, Kiki is a young queen who is definitely proving herself to be a contender in it for the long haul. She’s nominated this year for Breakthrough Artist in the GLAMs (also nominated for Best Cabaret is her 60’s era musical tribute “Summer of Love,” by the way). That’s well-deserved, but “Breakout” might be a better description of Kiki’s post-lockdown career… girl is everywhere! Her weekly shows at Pieces, Hush and Playhouse (that last one, “Yas And,” is fully improvised), are quickly becoming New York drag destination viewing.

46. Hibiscus 

[Photo: JY]

They always say that the best things come in small packages, but when it comes to talent this girl walks (and flips, and dips) with giants. Although she performs with a natural athleticism that most folks won’t ever be able to achieve, baby queens should still be taking notes on Hibiscus’ professionalism, hard work and good nature to see that those are the real traits you kind of need to make it in this town. And make it she has: You can regularly see Hibiscus do her high-flying thing at Stonewall, Fresco’s Cantina, Playhouse, HUSH and The Cauldron. Also, cheers to her “Best Dancer” GLAM nomination!

45. Ruby Roo

[Photo: JJ Mack]

When one of Brooklyn’s OG deadpan comedy queens becomes one of Manhattan’s top show hostesses and drag bartenders, where could she possibly go next? She becomes the boss, bitch! Ruby is now a manager of Christopher Street’s long popular, always packed Pieces Bar, where she also co-hosts “Frisky Fridays” (most recently with sis Elektra Lite). You can also catch Ruby at Pieces’ sister bar down the street, Playhouse, for “Ruby Tuesdays” in a “full circle” situation that has her joined onstage each week by Brooklyn queens both new and seasoned.

44. Chelsea Piers 

[Photo: Michael Hull]

Although this queen is known for graceful dancing and a musical theater repertoire, Chelsea has always had a bit of an edge to her style. Now in post-lockdown Manhattan, it seems like partygoers have more chances then ever to behold all sides of Miss Piers: at Industry she hosts the Saturday party and twirls with the girls of QUEEN, at The Q she shares the stage with up-and-comer Sierra Misst, and at Barracuda she’s a solo act.

43. Olivia Lux 

[Photo: Gavin Calais]

Newly crowned as Miss Paradise in Asbury Park before sneaking off to LA to film Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Olivia is now back in the Tri-State (for now!) unchanged in all the right ways while still elevated into an even greater beauty and star. On the Race, Ms. Lux had to prove to all — especially her hometown sisters competing beside her, Rosé, Tina Burner and Kandy Muse — that she was more than a pretty face and infectious grin, worthy of being in the workroom despite her relative newness to drag. But prove that she did in short time, thanks to her wide array of skills (singing, piano, acting… even miming) and creative runway looks. Now having done her fair share of touring with more dates to come, Olivia will no doubt be on everyone’s wishlist for an All-Star return down the road.

42. Zeta Jones 

Beauty and body-ody perfection are her signature traits, but Zeta’s proven time and again that she’s one of New York’s great performers, most engaging hostesses and hardest working self-promoters as well. 2021 saw her busier than ever, moving from her long-running Tuesday show at Rebar to a more coveted Wednesday slot there while also taking up shows at The Spot, Rise Bar, Atlas Social Club and brunches at Savage Sicko and Crispin’s.

41. Izzy Uncut 

2021 was a watershed year for this increasingly popular queen, who’s known for broad humor and deft physicality. This queen is Drag Race ready, babe, and you can see that for yourself via her many weekly shows at Pieces, Playhouse, Hardware, Barracuda and HUSH.

40. Holly Box-Springs 

Crowned Miss Big Adam’s Apple Comedy Queen in October, Holly inherited the title from her predecessor and drag auntie Tina Burner — one of NYC’s most vital queens. But the quick witted and charming Miss Box-Springs’ comedy chops and performing style are all her own. Of course, what she’s best known for (besides being a frequent Kathy Griffin impersonator and stan) are her wardrobe reveals, which can come as often as half a dozen times a night and are now as effortless for her as slight of hand is for any magician. She may take an hour or so longer than the average queen to get ready, but it’s all quite worth it at showtime — which for Holly is at Hardware, Playhouse, Barracuda, Rise, The Spot and The Cauldron.

39. Jada Valenciaga 

[Photo: Jeff Eason]

Truly one of Manhattan drag’s greatest singers with a strong background in musical theater, Jada is quite busy these days putting the finishing touches on an original musical called Where You’ll Find Me — she’s already previewed the show’s music with the cast in a November concert. Meanwhile, she’s producing and starring in one of the city’s most ambitious weekly bar shows, “Curtains Up” at Monster, which features full musical production tributes with guest singers, dancers and musicians. She’s also part of one of the largest scale drag shows in town, “QUEEN” at Industry, and will soon premiere her own weekly cabaret at The Q. We have no doubt that in 2022, everything will be coming up Jada.

38. Tina Burner

It was fun to see this essential figure of New York drag on Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, just because we know how much she wanted to be there and how she deserved all the success in the world. But we also suspected that the masses wouldn’t get her quintessential “New York Dragness,” which means scene stealing and being a ham on fire and throwing everything you can into the mix to get a laugh or a rise from an audience. We think our girl suspected that as well and held back a bit, letting other large personalities steamroll past her onto the screen. But Tina certainly has a lifetime of performing and show producing that those other girls didn’t, so she was able to use her newfound fame to promote fully realized shows (like her current touring cabaret Maybe This Time) after the season ended. She’s been back in New York several times: for fun shows with sisters Bootsie LeFaris and Tammy Spanx at The Q, for her usual hit summer gigs at Fire Island, to host and produce the Miss Barracuda pageant in October, and to finally step down as Miss Big Adam’s Apple Comedy Queen in November.

37. Rify Royalty

[Photo: Diva Soria]

Nobody does “hot dude who’s also a gorgeous woman” better than Rify, who continues to become a more prolific performer while producing major Brooklyn events like the monthly “Straight Acting” at Metropolitan. 2021 also saw Rify teaming up with fellow Brooklyn icon Charlene to create the “Trish” experience at 3 Dollar Bill, which was sometimes a drag show and sometimes a pageant, but always a crowd pleaser. Other Rify highlights from the year include weeklies at The Ritz and The Q, a Bushwig set, and partaking in several large cast revues at C’mon Everybody.

36. The Ritz

Still an essential spot for dance and drag in Hell’s Kitchen, Tommy Greco’s Ritz has a lot more “competition” now thanks to new large venues like The Q and HUSH. But this two-floor lounge is still quite committed to keeping nights varied and fresh, with highlights including queen Digna’s two weekly shows (one solo, one with three other sisters), Holly Dae’s “Open Call” drag competition and Sunday nights with Octavia Anyae, Lady Celestina and DJ Steve Sidewalk. Also, their Latin parties probably draw HK’s largest crowds on Mondays and Tuesdays.

35. Rosé

Coming to set with all of the polished perfectionism and musical theater-flexed showmanship of her fellow Stephanie’s Child singer and RuGirl Jan, Rosé was also able to portray her wild, fun-loving, slightly messy side during her own run at RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 13). It was a good mix for both the show’s decision makers and viewing audiences, landing her with the top three finalists and giving us some memorable and enjoyable moments throughout the season (Mary Queen of Scots needs her own HBO Max show). Since then, Rosé’s toured and dropped some tracks (we enjoy “Devil in the Details,” produced by SixFoot 5 with a video shot a 3 Dollar Bill). We have no idea what Rosé’s next act will be. She seems to be one of the few RuGirls who we can realistically see shedding drag to be a successful singer or actor, if that’s what she wanted. But we kinda hope it isn’t… at least, not yet!

34. Kimmi Moore 

[Photo: Matthew Mills]

GLAM nominee for Best Dance Performer Kimmi’s moves and lip syncs are ferocious, and she’s got stunts and fashions and personality for days… she must be an Assassin! She’s one half of the founding pair, in fact, alongside sis Boudoir LeFleur with whom she does shows with now at Pieces and Hardware (and slayed a Fire Island summer with at Cherry’s). All four Assassins are collectively a Best Group GLAM nominee, and host a new show together at Playhouse where you can really see those witchy family dynamics in action. Kimmi’s also a recording artist with a few great singles in her discography… we’re looking forward to hearing and seeing more from Miss Moore in 2022.

33. Jacklynn Hyde 

[Photo: Jeff Eason]

Few performers today have that classic, dry yet raucous comedic timing that we associate with drag queens and funny ladies from a different era, but Jacklynn definitely has all that with a twist of modernity. In a nutshell, da bitch is funny! NYC knows this, and can’t get enough of her… even though there’s a lot of Jacklynn to get right now. She’s at Haswell Green’s in HK (Saturday and Sunday bingo brunch), Hardware (Sunday and Monday) and The Cauldron (Thursday). And we strongly suspect that 2022 will bring us even more Jacklynn… the demand for Ms. Hyde is higher than ever.

32. Maddelynn Hatter

New York’s true Queen of the Night and fan favorite Dragula alum has become a mother to many drag demons in recent years, and now has two great forums for them to cast their black magic onto the public: the GLAM-nominated “Madd Mondays” at Metro which features the busiest open drag stage in NYC, and the new “Mother” drag competition at HUSH. For solo shadowy mischief from Maddeylnn, check out her Friday night “Madd Hour” at Brooklyn’s Good Judy.

31. Kandy Muse 

Say whatever you want about Brooklyn queen turned Drag Race Season 13 finalist Ms. Muse (and of course, the fandom did just that) — she has personality for miles, and it made for some damn good TV. Actually, many assumed that she would be the drama of the season, but the only real altercation we can recall her having was with Tamisha Iman aka the drama of All Seasons. With her quick humor and confessionals that revealed just the right combo of confidence and humility, viewers saw themselves in Kandy — and that was a beautiful thing. We’ve only seen Kandy give a few local nightlife appearances since Drag Race… it’ll be interesting to see what her next act will be.

30. Metropolitan

We know it’s probably not where what we could call “the current Brooklyn drag movement” was born… that might be the late TNT. But Metro does feel like it played a huge role in the origins of the scene. Certainly, anyone who was anyone from Brooklyn nightlife had a show or made at least an appearance there. And as the bar carefully held on during lockdown and then gradually and safely reopened when possible (while their kid sister bar Macri Park still sadly remains shuttered), it became evident that it was still an important epicenter of Brooklyn nightlife. And all of nightlife, really: Steven McEnrue’s Metropolitan is GLAM-nominated for Best Bar, and its “Madd Mondays” has a nom of its own for Best Bar Party. Besides drag (and there’s lots of drag), Metro’s also got jazz, comedy, karaoke, open mics, dance parties, and barbeques on the best outdoor porch in the borough during the warmer months. OMG, why aren’t we at Metro right now?

29. FiFi DuBois

[Photo: David Serrano]

Our favorite graceful ballet clown of NYC drag had arguably the biggest year of her drag career in 2021: she hosted another year of the GLAM-nominated “Polish the Queen” competition at Playhouse, became the Queen-In-Charge of “The Uptown Drag Brunch” at The Cecil Steakhouse in Harlem, took up co-hosting duties at Monster’s Sunday night show with Brenda Dharling, and finally officially joined the cast of Industry’s all-important revue “QUEEN.” Oh, and she was crowned Miss Fire Island and Miss Gay Sin City America, and competed in the Miss Gay America finals. We’re so proud of our girl!

28. Pissi Myles

This longtime comedy queen is a walking master class in what makes drag great: she’s hilarious, she’s campy, she sings, and she delivers. In 2021 Pissi did a fun fundraiser for The Tevor Project with Thrillist, shared the stage with Kim Petras, and appeared in Vogue, all while hosting shows both long-running and brand new at Pieces, Rise, The Spot and The Q. And lest we forget, all the things that make Pissi a great performer also make her a great podcaster: her horror comedy show My Spooky Gay Family was GLAM-nominated this year.

27. Egypt

Ask around, and you’ll find that this girl is a lot of gay bargoers’ favorite queen. And why wouldn’t she be? She’s an incredible dancer with increasingly elaborate fashions, and with all her new shows (at Monster, Hardware, Barracuda, Industry, HUSH and The Spot) she has become an impressive mic queen as well. Also, this year she did her mentor Tina Burner proud when she was crowned the newest Miss Barracuda, which requires a mastery of both costuming and performance. Long live the queen!

26. 2Face

NYC gathered in droves to show love and support for one of the scene’s most popular (and best-dressed) DJs after he experienced personal tragedy in 2021. Since then he has much more reasonable work week… but is still somehow one of the busiest people in the business. Catch DJ 2Face spinning shows for the girls at Pieces and Rise Bar, and the Tito Murphy’s Saturday brunch. And on Friday and Saturday nights, 2Face’s DJing takes center stage at Playhouse and Hardware respectively.

25. Rise Bar & The Spot

The circuit meets Broadway meets chill happy hour vibe of Rise Bar has been a pretty big staple of Hell’s Kitchen nightlife for a few years now, and it’s been a good place to experience a great variety of drag shows (they were the only bar that gave pre-Drag Race Aquaria a weekly) and DJ dance parties. So… why not make more of the same? Ted Arenas and his partners opened The Spot in HK in 2021, bringing along many well-known queens and DJs that made Rise a hit… along with a healthy sampling of sexy bar staffers, of course. And in early 2022, Rise Bar itself expanded with the opening of its cocktail lounge. You now have two hot new places to see and be seen in!

24. Ladyfag

The impossibly chic producer of numerous world famous nightlife events like the current “Battle Hymn” in Chelsea, Ladyfag spent much of 2021 pregnant — and very visibly at that, with outfits that celebrated rather than hid her state. It’s something that’s been rarely seen in queer nightlife, but with Lady being the Boss she is and the symbolic mother to so many baby scene queens already, it felt right. In addition to Battle Hymn and appearing in a Burberry campaign, Lady killed us all when she announced that Christina Aguilera would be performing at this past summer’s “Ladyland” festival that Ladyfag herself helmed, and that it would be the same weekend as Bushwig. It was a wild success, and the new mom remains a vital player in the grand game of nightlife.

23. The Dragon Sisters

Sometimes a performer just has such a striking look, such potent stage presence and such an undefinable spark that you just have to step back and let them take over. Now times that by two, and you just barely crack the surface of why The Dragon Sisters exploded in 2021. To be clear, the performing pair aren’t exactly mirror images of each other — but do compliment each other perfectly. Odessa and Issa Dragon, with their sharp style and fluid movements and engaging emceeing, have become a Thing and the Moment very quickly… and it’s probably just what New York nightlife needed. Thotyssey chose them to host our “Night of 5000 Thots” anniversary show in July, and we’re pretty sure that’s why the event got a GLAM nomination… the Dragons made it special. Also a GLAM nominated duo this year, you can find the Dragon Sisters hosting new shows all over town: 3 Dollar Bill, C’mon Everybody, HUSH, The Q, Industry and Rebar.

22. Janelle No. 5

[Photo: Diva Soria]

A glamor girl of both Brooklyn and Manhattan, hostess and producer Janelle has risen high in the world of drag these past few years. If you like your queens gorge with a fierce and funny edge, this sister of Kandy Muse is your girl. You can have your Janelle Experience at Pieces, Hardware, Playhouse, Metropolitan… and Brooklyn eatery Aura Cocina, which Janelle has basically single-handedly made into a Brooklyn drag hub of its own thanks to the “Shut Up, Bitch” brunch and the “Are You The Next Diva” drag competition.

21. Shequida 

[Photo: Jeff Eason]

New York’s OG glamor girl was appearing on TV and making headlines long before Drag Race, and both “The Shequida Show” Thursdays at Hardware and “Shequida’s Drag Wars” Mondays at Pieces continue to be the two drag experiences that anyone who cares about the artform really can’t miss on a trip to this city. The classically trained opera singer Shequida’s ability to charm and entertain an audience while still giving room for guest queens to shine seems effortless, but in reality she likely puts tons of thought into every sequin, word and note. In 2021 Shequida also partook in large scale events produced by Voss Events and Bartschland, two wise parties who know that the fun Insta beat-and-dance girls can come and go, but a great hostess is immortal and essential for any night in this town to succeed.

20. Marti Gould Cummings 

This is a musical comedy queen and businessperson who knows how to both Work and WERQ. The staunch queer activist and Hell’s kitchen Democrats founder didn’t win their bid for City Counsel, but certainly gained even more admirers and backers (including AOC!) in the election process. And rather than just go back to hosting all their popular bar shows afterwards, Marti decided to apply their evolved skillset differently and became the entertainment director of the city’s newest hotspots The Q and HUSH. That’s a full time job unto itself, but Marti was able to host occasional shows of their own in both venues (at The Q, several such shows were with a live rock band). Mx. Cummings also brought delight to fans while enraging right wingers across the land by competing in the popular televised Worst Cooks In America alongside one of their many successful drag daughters, Peachez.

19. Horrorchata 

[Photo: Izzy Berdan]

One of the most welcome returns to New York nightlife post-lockdown was Bushwig, the massive drag festival with a roster that gets bigger both is size and scale every year. 2021 was no different, with what seemed like hundreds of performers (including the controversial yet undeniably fascinating Azealia Banks) turning it out onstage. Horrorchata — one of Brooklyn nightlife’s founding mothers — has always been the main driving forces behind Bushwig, and 2021 must have been a particularly challenging year for the festival. But she pulled it off! Chata also both performed in and DJed her Brooklyn monthlies “Be Cute” and “Yas Mama” throughout the year, not to mention her annual Selena Festival and several other appearances.

18. Jasmine Rice LaBeija

[Photo: Cole Saladino]

New York’s amazing, classy, bougie, savage drag diva with the most golden voice and dazzling fashions in town was making a fabulous statement wherever she was in 2021 — whether it was performing digitally for the official Pride Island showcase this past June, or being a Cosmo Queen, or hosting her weekly and monthly shows at Pieces, Hardware, Playhouse, Rise Bar, The Q and C’mon Everybody. Ms. Rice is one of the queens every drag fan in New York must experience before she gets too big for all of us.

17. Boudoir LeFleur

[Photo: Nick Gaga]

The current reigning GLAM winner of Entertainer of the Year may very well snatch up the title once again in January, and that would make perfect sense. Answering the question “What if Stevie Nicks joined AC/DC” with both her witch rocker look and slinky-hard moves as well as her occasional pyrotechnic sparks, Boudoir and her Haus of Assassins have done their part to change what drag can look and feel like in Manhattan. Behold her casting her dark magic at Pieces, Hardware and Playhouse.

16. Brita Filter

By far one of New York’s favorite overall comedy hostesses, Brita didn’t really get a chance to enjoy her Drag Race Season 12 fame thanks to Covid and Drag Race’s shitty online fanbase. But when restrictions started to ease in 2021, she finally got her chance to enjoy some of those great Away Gigs, and meet up with fans outside NYC. Brita’s gradually making herself more available for those gigs, but in the past year she still managed to keep up with her shows at Pieces, Hardware and the new HUSH, as well as hosting the famous Lady Liberty drag competition at The Q, and becoming a more visible activist for groups like Drag Out the Vote. Whatever Brita’s next stage will be, prepare yourselves for fabulousness.

15. Pixie Aventura

When the new West Side Story was released, New York drag fans immediately wondered what Pixie thought of it and what she would do with it in her stage numbers. That speaks more to her star power and talent then anything else. And with popular shows at Industry, Barracuda, Playhouse and Hardware, the dancing funny drama queen of Manhattan continues to share with masses of people the art of drag at its most elevated.

14. Frankie Sharp 

The genius DJ, promoter and producer had tons of popular parties all over the city, but in 2021 he dropped them all to create programming at new venue The Q. Frankie picked the best DJs, pianists, drag performers, hosts and promoters for the multi-faceted fledgling venue, and ensured that the buzz surrounding The Q and how it would be a forever-game changer was potent. Much of the venue’s success is owed to Frankie’s vision and taste, and it was no surprise that he was recruited to promote the opening of another new hotspot and sister venue to The Q, HUSH. But through all that promoting and showrunning, it’s also nice to just see him in his element DJing cute sexy parties like The Q’s orgasmic Thursday night “Qruisers.”

13. Brenda Dharling

[Photo: David Serrano]

The toast of Manhattan and one of The Ice Palace on Fire Island’s main attractions, Brenda’s been long-celebrated as a dancer — which is perhaps best seen on the nights she twirls with the girls of “QUEEN” at Industry — while really coming into her own as an engaging, funny hostess, like at Monster or her newest show “BrendaVision” at The Spot. But of course Ms. Dharling is also a pageant girl, and handily won the Miss Gay New York America preliminary round of the Miss Gay America nationals, where she ultimately was (this just in!) sashed third alternate. A delightful start to a Dharling Year!

12. Bootsie LeFaris 

[Photo: JJ Mack]

Bootsie’s been doing her thing for a minute now and has gradually asserted herself as one of the city’s great comedy drag hostesses, who can make any room laugh whether it’s filled with bitter bitch locals or wide eyed tourists. It feels like 2021 is the year that NYC’s nightlife aficionados really took note of that fact, nominating Bootsie for Entertainer of the Year. Come see what all the fuss is about re: The LeFaris experience at Pieces, Hardware, Playhouse and Rise Bar.

11. C’mon Everybody

[Photo: PIPE & Julian Diaz]

This Brooklyn venue was not a place we would have identified specifically as “queer” a few years ago, although it’s diverse programming did include Horrorchata’s long running monthly “Yas Mama” as well as parties produced by “Yes Homo’s” DJ Sean McMahill. We’re still not sure if C’mon identifies this way or not, but since the post-lockdown reopenings, it’s become a major hub of Brooklyn drag and LGBT+ nightlife. Even the Manhattan girls have been getting in on the action. The shift can be attributed to several things: its just-right size and its excellent acoustics and lighting being some, and its mandatory ticket sales to events that actually helped with crowd control and adding both prestige and profit for the performers is another. Nowadays the venue’s daily calendar looks pretty queer indeed, and all of Brooklyn is better for it. P.S.: C’mon Everybody’s kid sister bar Good Judy is also noteworthy in the scene, particularly as a weekly home for drag monstress Maddelynn Hatter.

10. Holly Dae

[Photo: Jeff Eason]

We remember back in the Dae when she was just a baby queen, but Best Host GLAM nominee Holly is now both the showrunner of New York’s biggest weekly drag revue “QUEEN” at Industry as well as the Drag Mama of Monster Bar and the queen of choice to emcee events with gogo squad Spunk. Holly’s one of the city’s best physical comedy queens, and a surrogate mom to many girls on the rise thanks to her role hosting the weekly “Open Call” drag competition at The Ritz. And they love her at The Ice Palace and in Key West, too!

9. Lagoona Bloo

For a queen who’s never been on Drag Race (yet), Ms. Bloo has one of New York drag’s largest fanbases. This can be attributed to TV shows she did appear on — with much wider reaches than anything from the RuStudio — shows like The Voice, America’s Got Talent and Nailed It. Other factors leading to her success are that she’s just super gorge and also one of the most versatile drag vocalists in the realm, both as one third of the singing group Stephanie’s Child (alongside sisters-for-life Jan and Rosé, both RuGirls) and increasingly more so as a solo artist. In 2021 Lagoona released her EP of glossy, soaring originals AQUA, and the Bloo Crew gulped it all down greedily. Lagoona was also one of the busiest show hostess in the city, with multiple gigs at Hardware, Playhouse, The Q and HUSH. And with two GLAM nominations including Entertainer of the Year, she no doubt is one of the most vital and fascinating queens in NYC today.

8. Kizha Carr 

Kizha’s known for a few things: 1. having some of the most impeccable beats and looks in the business, 2. adopting what seems like dozens of drag children, 3. serving us a wide repertoire of performance numbers that showcase her Broadway pedigree (she was in Book of Mormon), all the new pop hits and throwbacks, hilarious reference-filled mixes and even social commentary, 4. apparently never auditioning for Drag Race, and 5. being That Bearded Bitch, which is a pretty unique statement for Manhattan drag. All of these traits make Ms. Carr one of the most beloved drag queens in the city as well as one of the busiest (Industry, Barracuda, The Q, HUSH), and a favorite nominee for Entertainer of the Year at the GLAMs. She kinda feels like the Mama of all Manhattan drag at the moment, while still being a continuously innovative trailblazer for the crazy nights ahead with her own fantastic art.

7. Jake Resnicow

The veteran party maker is best known the world over for creating some of the most popular circuit events out there, and with many of his regular business partners now pursuing their own projects it’s his name that resonates on the scene. In New York alone there’s the monthly “M.E.A.T.” at 3 Dollar Bill and “U-NITE” at HK Hall, and there were also rooftop tea dances in Brooklyn’s Superior Ingredients and a Halloween festival “Zombieland” in Jersey. But really the Resnicow brand is global these days, and it’s known for featuring the best DJs in the best possible venues. If you’re a circuit queen, your whole life revolves around the Resnicow calendar of events… and that’s not gonna change any time soon, especially as nightlife continues to thrive past its post-lockdown recovery.

6. Barracuda & Industry

While Chelsea is less of a gayborhood than it was in its glory days, Bob Pontarelli’s Barracuda Bar continues to thrive there. In fact, it just celebrated its 25th Anniversary that brought many of its now-famous former resident performers back to it’s recently remodeled stage, proving that Barracuda remains a place of importance both historically and contemporarily. Meanwhile, its swanky kid sister bar Industry in Hell’s Kitchen has now been around long enough to become an institution in its own right, housing such all important shows as Pixie and Kizha’s “The Help” and the huge drag revue “QUEEN” (which itself turned 11 this year).

5. Ty Sunderland

The disco pop DJ put together a simple party for some friends a few years ago to honor a Britney Spears album anniversary… this evolved into the super chic “Heaven on Earth” at China Chalet. After that venue closed, Ty brought new parties to huge venues like Webster Hall and became a favorite DJ of Susanne Bartsch (he was already a bestie of popular folks in the scene like Drag Race winner Aquaria). From there the Cult of Ty really started to become a big deal. Now he’s known for producing hugely successful parties at 3 Dollar Bill like “Love Prism” “Ty Tea” and “Gayzebo,” while constantly being written about in magazines and websites looking for a “what’s cool in New York nightlife” angle. And with his trademark glasses, hat and black and white wardrobe, he’s become that rare thing — the Face and Image of a whole subculture.

4. 3 Dollar Bill

[Photo: Jeff Eason]

What do you get when you cross a sexy dungeon warehouse with a top notch theater, a dance floor with good tech, a great kitchen and a cute hipster patio? Brooklyn’s most vital venue of the past few years, which has featured drag shows, circuit parties, fringe kikis, immersive theater, shadowcasts, dark sexscapes, circuses and flea markets among other stuff. Its versatility is a big key to its success, particularly during lockdown when it’s outdoor patio was one of the only spaces in the whole city that could still safely pull off full drag shows. Although Brooklyn has a lot more options now in regards to nightlife venues than it has in a long while, 3DB just fits so many different aesthetic and space needs, and likely will continue to do so for some time.

3. Susanne Bartsch

Susanne and her kingdom of Bartschland have always been the creative force behind the art, style and sound of New York City nightlife. This of course means constant exploration and evolution, and it only takes a few scrolls down Susanne’s social media to see that she has infinite style personas, as do the club kids and performers and DJs she surrounds herself with. Like all conglomerates in the hospitality and living art installation business, Bartschland had to lock its gates during Covid… although they did keep the dream alive with some interesting online programming. Once lockdown receded though, it was back to business with the returns of signature Bartsch kikis “On Top” at Le Bain and “Kunst” at Elsewhere, but also something entirely new: Sony Hall’s “New York, New York,” a hybrid of variety show and dance party showcasing some of the best talent in Bartsch’s circle that won her a ton of new fans and followers (and GLAM nominations, of course). What will the future hold for New York nightlife? The answer likely lies, as it often has, within the gates of Bartschland.

2. The Q

An obvious instant game changer, the three story club (some call either the balcony above the top floor or the sub-level bathroom / sex cave a fourth floor) opened as a fresh new hotspot in 2021, in the midst of more stablished venues struggling to roll back into their routines — and thus The Q was a huge, buzzworthy success. A lot of that success is also owed to the efforts of producer / promoter maestro Frankie Sharp, who co-owns the enterprise with Boxers’ Bob Fluet and longtime nightlife producer Alan Picus with the help of some high profile celebrity investors. The venue’s ground floor offers a cool cabaret club with live pianists and more intimate performances; the second is where the old school smut and carnality goes down, complete with dark corners and secret rooms and a mural of Ned Flanders with a huge hard-on; and the third floor offers a good sized dance floor with brilliant soundscapes and lighting designs, for the bigger kikis and performing acts. So basically, there is literally something here for everyone… and that’s kind of a first for queer New York venues. Also, perhaps more than any other venue, DJs are elevated to superstars like they were in a past era of nightlife; frankly, that is where they deserve to be. It’s too early to predict how The Q will evolve over time and what it will need to do stay relevant during this very unpredictable mess of a moment, but they’ve already pulled off one of the greatest first acts of nightlife history. We wish The Q all the best, because it already feels like we need it here on the frontlines.

  1. Pieces, Hardware & Playhouse

We barely had time to enjoy the brand new, gorgeous, subterreanian venue Playhouse in the West Village in 2020, with its slick boho vibe and lush stage, before Miss Rona came out and cancelled nightlife. Built in the location of the abruptly closed institution Boots & Saddle Lounge, it really felt like a genuine gift from owners Eric Einstein and Justin Buchanan to the Christopher Street community after losing that bar. But instead of just being Boots II, Playhouse has its own vibe going while respecting the patrons and performers of the former venue’s past. Playhouse is the baby sister of three Eric and Justin enterprises. Pieces Bar up the street has been a West Village institution since the early 90s, packing in very young crowds into the narrow space for shows with the city’s top drag queens and infamous celebrity sighting publicity moments. Middle sis Hardware Bar features many of these same queens in a swankier Hell’s Kitchen environment, housing a bit more space for the kid’s to dance on weekends. For years, Pieces et al has been a sort of standard in deciding who the big names are in nightlife, what the right way to run a business is and how to weather a crisis as potent as Covid legally and smartly. The owners and staff are running a for-profit business and treat it as such, but in order to succeed as a business in this realm you must respect your queer community and history… and these guys do that. It’s a weird time for nightlife… the promise of prosperity and the threat of hardship are both looming. But there is a certain comfort in seeing Pieces, Hardware and Playhouse thriving, evolving, and leading the community. As long as they’re all still here doing their damn thing fabulously, we’re all gonna be okay.



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