Ladyfag knows when there's a hole that needs to be filled -- "No gay innuendo intended, but it's totally appropriate." As one of the top producers of gay nightlife in New York City and a bona fide international party girl, Ladyfag knows what works and what doesn't, and she also knows what's missing from queer nightlife in New York. "If there's something I want to go to and it doesn't exist, or there's different worlds that I think need to be combined that aren't combined yet, I'll at least try to do it." While there are gay musical festivals around the globe, New York City doesn't have a queer music festival of it's own.
That was the inspiration behind the creation of LadyLand, which will takeover the Brooklyn Mirage during Pride weekend. With a lineup of exciting queer acts like SOPHIE, Kim Petras, CupcakKe, SSION, 070 Shake and Drag Race's Aquaria -- not to mention Eve, hello! -- LadyLand is part music festival, part Pride bash, part big gay dance party. While the sun is up Ladyfag's beloved urban marketplace Pop Souk will house booths from artists and designers, and after the live acts finish for the evening the festival becomes a rave, with sets by Michael Magnan, Total Freedom, JD Samson, Oscar Nn and more. Queer youth volunteers from the Ali Forney Center will also represent Gays Against Guns in a vogue competition, NRA Sashay Away.
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We caught up with Ladyfag about the extreme amount of blood, sweat, tears and love that have gone into creating New York City's first queer music festival.
OUT: A lot of festivals are very much the province of bros.
Ladyfag: That's a big problem, because there's a lot of [artists] you want to go see. I wanted to do that for my friends. You don't have to be gay -- it helps -- but you don't have to be gay to come to this festival. It's supposed to feel like a safe space, as best as it can. There's no such things as a safe space, but you want people to not have to think about anything except enjoying themselves and with the crowd that I'm bringing in, overall that's what you get. No matter who comes, this is an intentional queer space.
Was there ever a thought to not do it during Pride, or did you always want it to be a Pride moment?
In the future, I would be open to doing them again and not during Pride, but I think, especially for the beginning, I wanted it to intentionally feel like a celebration of queerness. Pride weekend is the best weekend to do that. I also felt like there's so many amazing things to do during Pride, but this is a hole that's lacking. Sometimes on Pride, everyone is split up between so many things. Here, you do everything, and just hang out all day with your friends and just chill out. That really appealed to me about doing it during Pride as a way that everyone can be together as much as possible.
Talk to me about the lineup. How did you figure that out, and what was important to you when booking for Pride?
When booking for Pride and when booking for my parties overall, I'm personally someone who has so many different groups of friends and so many different interests. Some people have a specific thing. They just like going to drag bars, or they just hearing hip hop or techno. That's totally fine. I'm just not one of those peoples. For me, I wanted to have something for everyone, almost -- you can't please them all -- and nothing that was too alienating of one group for too long. It was really trying to make sure everyone felt as represented as possible without killing myself trying to make it happen, and also things that I liked. I wanted it to also be a mix of people that were a little bit more well-known and a little bit up and coming.
LadyLand 2018 from Ladyfag on Vimeo.
I feel like you're always creating parties that you want to actually goto.
Is that selfish?
No, I don't think so. You know what makes a good party. You're the queen.
Well, I don't know about being a queen, but I know what makes a good party. I've had bad parties, too. My friend Erich Conrad always says the best thing about throwing a bad party is no one's going to remember it, and that's what I do, just take risks because sometimes you're just going to have a doozy. Things like this you plan out much more. I go to people's parties and I'm like, "They should've just dimmed the lights at this hour. Oh, god, can you believe they only have one person on the door?" I walk into a room, and I scan it automatically. It's not always the most fun going to a party with me because it's hard for me to relax even if it's not my party, and if it's my party...I'm definitely not relaxed.
Are you getting better at relaxing your own parties?
I do have a lot of fun at my parties. I've learnt more and more to have fun, and I think that's also a testament to how amazing my team is because I trust them so much that I can relax a little bit more. I'm a Virgo -- it's a very difficult thing -- but I've given up more control because I have to. Everyone's got their strengths, and that allows me to now actually have fun with my friends more at my parties. Even though they've gotten bigger, I actually have more fun, and I've gotten strangely more relaxed.
During Pride, why do you think it's important to have a moment like the thing you're trying to create here where everyone can be together at one event all day and all night.
Besides visibility on the outside being important, but we should have our own cool festivals. I remember when I used to go to Vazalleen [in Toronto] when I was younger, I was like finally, this is a party I'm proud of. I'm fucking cool. I think that, not to bring up the gay wedding cake controversy because people have different feelings about that -- some people would say this is like the gay wedding cake. Why do we need those heteronormative things? Well, people have festivals because they're fucking fun. People want to go to a bakery and have a fucking wedding cake because they want fucking get married and they want be able and have that fucking goddamn cake.
LadyLand takes place at the Brooklyn Mirage on Friday June 22, get tickets here.