Linda Simpson

  • Peter Berlin, Double Self-Portrait with Glowing Pink Background, ca. 1970s, acrylic and masking medium on gelatin silver print, 24 × 20".

    Peter Berlin

    One thing you have to admit about the recent photo exhibition of self-portraits by gay-porn icon Peter Berlin at ClampArt: It was well-hung. Ba-da-bump!

    For those not steeped in horny homo history, Berlin was an underground legend in San Francisco during the hedonistic 1970s pre-AIDS era. Born in Poland and raised in Germany, he was an Aryan fantasy, almost cartoonish in his appearance, with a Popeye silhouette and a blond Dutch-boy haircut, who cruised the streets and bars in skintight sailor uniforms and motorcycle gear. His fame grew as he starred in X-rated films (his most famous is Nights

  • Jayne County, Silver Bastet 46 1/8, 2019, acrylic and ink on canvas, 16 × 20".

    Jayne County

    A pioneering transgender entertainer and one of the high priestesses of punk, Jayne County first made a name for herself in downtown 1970s New York, rocking and rolling onstage at the legendary clubs Max’s Kansas City and CBGB with her signature song “Fuck Off,” and hanging out with the Warhol crowd. She costarred in the Pop artist’s 1971 play Pork, a parody of Factory habitués, and her hell-raising antics and transition from Wayne to Jayne are illuminated in her fascinating 1995 memoir, Man Enough to Be a Woman: The Autobiography of Jayne County.

    While the artist has continued to perform ever

  • Performers Edie Nightcrawler, MF Akynos, and Lil’ Miss Lixx. All photos: Linda Simpson.
    diary October 08, 2019

    Fan Dancers and Marabou Prancers

    AS A DRAG QUEEN, it’s easy for me to relate to the burlesque scene. Both worlds abound with larger-than-life exhibitionists, dazzling musical numbers, campy humor, punny names, and flashy female artifice. The big difference, of course, is that burlesque displays a heck of a lot more bouncing boobs, many of which were on display at the recent New York Burlesque Festival and its climactic Golden Pasties Awards.

    Founded by one of the scene’s most accomplished performers, Angie Pontani, and events promoter Jen Gapay, the festival dates back to 2002, several years after the modern-day burlesque scene

  • Friends and admirers of the late Hattie Hathaway. (All photos: Linda Simpson)
    diary April 11, 2019

    Funeral Parade of Roses

    BACK IN THE 1980s, drag queens worldwide were stuck in a time warp, impersonating all the familiar divas in dowdy gowns. One major exception to this sorry situation was the counterculture of Manhattan’s East Village, where drag was being wildly reinvented. Outfits were pieced together at Salvation Army, and nobody cared if your wig was askew or your lip sync imprecise. What mattered was unleashing your eccentricities and raw talent.

    Among the prominent personalities to emerge during this liberating era was Hattie Hathaway. As tall as a basketball player and with a wry sense of humor, she often

  • Left: IFC Film Center’s Queer/Art/Film guest curator Lady Quesadilla, Sasha Velour, and Linda Simpson. Photos: Linda Simpson.
    diary February 13, 2019

    Unidentified Fabulous Objects

    AS WINNER OF season nine of RuPaul’s Drag Race, in 2017, Sasha Velour distinguished herself as a cerebral contestant, a Vassar graduate who regards drag as an artistic expression. So when she was asked by New York’s Queer/Art/Film screening series to present a movie of her choice, she decided to boldly go where no other drag queen has gone before. On February 4, she arrived at IFC Center in green face paint and a bejeweled headpiece to pay homage to the 1991 cult favorite Vegas in Space. (The event was part of the “Winter’s a Drag” program, which continues through April.)

    “I discovered Vegas in

  • Lady Bunny at Wigstock 2018. Photo: Mark Tusk.
    diary September 13, 2018


    FIRST CAME WOODSTOCK, the legendary 1969 hippie festival. Then came Wigstock, the world’s foremost drag queen festival, which reigned annually in New York City from 1984 to 2003. A few small-scale revivals have followed, but it wasn’t until September 1 that the event got the spectacular comeback it deserved. The seven-hour extravaganza, dubbed Wigstock H.20, was held on the sprawling rooftop of Pier 17, a five-story complex jutting out on the East River and featuring stunning cityscape views.

    As always, the format was a marathon variety show hosted and curated by Wigstock’s figurehead, Lady Bunny,

  • Linda Simpson and Eileen Dover at “Night of 1,000 Stevies.” (All photos: Linda Simpson)
    diary May 10, 2018

    Wouldn’t You Love to Love Her?

    TRUE CONFESSION: I’ve never been a Stevie Nicks fanatic, even though I adore some of the songs she recorded as a member of the iconic rock band Fleetwood Mac. It’s been years since I’ve felt the need to attend “Night of 1,000 Stevies,” the annual NYC love fest for her devoted fan following. The last time I went was when it was at the nightclub known as Mother, located in Manhattan’s then-desolate Meatpacking District. My memories are vague (and I’m showing my age)—Mother closed in 2000 and NOTS just celebrated its twenty-eighth anniversary.

    But I rejoined the fray on May 4, at the old-fashioned