• 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

    Read more
  • Dear World

    Part I. Youth Climate Strike in NYC

    September 19

     “Fossil fuel to the climate strike? We should take public transport.”

     “We have a drag queen in heels in a forty-pound wig. Tell her that.”

    STRIKING WITH GRETA’S MOM requires its own hair and makeup detail. Aside from Greta, only New York’s reigning drag queen Lady Bunny could part the sea of young strikers during last week’s blistering Friday, when #ClimateStrikeNYC protesters marched from Foley Square to Battery Park. It was as if Bunny’s presence completed the unfinished third act of Moses and Aaron by Arnold Schoenberg, who laconically noted

    Read more
  • Desperately Seeking Sublimation


    Sex, like going out, carries the risk of the anticipation being a more visceral experience than consummation. Art is supposed to save us from this sad gambit, but when you mix all three—as at the opening of the Pornhub-sponsored exhibition “The Pleasure Principle” at Maccarone in Boyle Heights—you may end up sitting in your car for twenty minutes, wearing a strapless top that smooshes your boobs, waiting for the place to fill up, trying to feel the vibe.

    I had a sexting appointment with Karen Finley, one of the original NEA Four, as part of her Sext Me If You Can performance,

    Read more
  • Coup de Graz

    “STYRIAN AUTUMN SOUNDS LIKE BEER TENTS AND NATIONALISM,” a bike messenger said to me upon my return to Vienna from Graz, where I attended the Fifty-Second Steirischer Herbst, Europe’s oldest contemporary art festival. “It’s precisely the opposite,” I retorted. “Think cool graphic design and radical leftist politics—you can add quotes around ‘radical,’ depending on your temperament.” But is this time-honored event actually so incongruent with its rustic surroundings, the undeniably progressive typeface aside? Graz is a place where everything, including Ekaterina Degot’s program, walks the line

    Read more
  • Blurred Lines

    WHERE IS THE LINE between ideas and feelings? I dwelled on this blur when I arrived in Bogotá—an eleven-hour hop from London—to plunge straight into ARTBO 2019, the city’s fifteenth international art fair. The short-circuiting effects of jet lag, plus Bogotá’s infamous soroche, left me drifting between the booths, yet I quickly found this porousness mirrored in the fair itself, which showcased contemporary art from across South America. Certain themes began to emerge across the Corferias convention center: border crossings, loopholes in consensual reality (both political and bodily), counter-narratives

    Read more
  • Wings of Desire

    “THE LIGHT FROM THIS SCULPTURE IS PERFECT FOR SELFIES,” crooned Nicolas Endlicher, a DJ and cofounder of Herrensauna, a monthly queer techno party (its name translates to “male sauna”) at Tresor. It was the opening night of Berlin Art Week. We were at Julia Stoschek Collection, where WangShui debuted video installations intended to activate the “hallucinatory spaces” of transitional architectures. Around the corner at FRAGILE, I swapped notes with artist Dr. Lakra and dealer Ida Yang about the corporeal afterimage of techno—that midweek sensation of muscles still pulsing to the weekend’s BPM—as

    Read more
  • General Assembly

    THE BERGEN ASSEMBLY marked my first trip to Scandinavia, and as a Henry James fan I hope I may be forgiven if I play a bit of the wide-eyed American abroad, marveling at the tall Nordics with their precise beards and high-tech outerwear. Meanwhile, I had brought no umbrella to literally the rainiest city in Europe and shivered constantly under a dampening white denim jacket. It was also, for me, a rare trip to an international biennial, which (Venice notwithstanding) tends to come in different flavors than our American festival exhibitions—more discursive, more searching, more ragged, more

    Read more
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread

    I WAS A TOUCH DISPIRITED, then thwacked by nausea—and that was before New York Fashion Week started. It was not an auspicious beginning to what’s supposed to be the most . . . perhaps not wonderful, but certainly most telling time of the year, especially for those in touch with Virginia Woolf’s frock consciousness and harboring a serious concern for the soul’s window dressing—aka “fits”—or for those who just really personally identify with their place in a seating arrangement. As RuPaul once noted in his autobiography, “We’re all born naked, and the rest is drag.” So, what guises for cloaking

    Read more
  • Playful Slash Erotic

    IT BEGINS IN UTTER BLACKNESS. A Pierre Soulages kind of blackness, that is, uptown at Lévy Gorvy, where the nonagenarian French painter is being celebrated in advance of a major to-do at the Louvre later this year. I’m always impressed with, and a little confused by, the stamina of any artist who can find a winning formula and stick to it—Soulages has been making black abstractions exclusively since 1979—without succumbing to some deep boredom or soul-despair. The artist, says senior director Emilio Steinberger during press remarks, “is a bit of a unicorn”—in that he knew just about everyone,

    Read more
  • Counter Culture

    “IT’S AN INTERESTING MOMENT FOR REGIONALISM,” writer-curator Leah Triplett Harrington remarked one night at dinner. We were catching a breather after Nic Kay’s moving, sinuous concluding procession through the predominantly black and Latinx neighborhood that hosted the inaugural edition of Saint Louis’s Counterpublic triennial. A ravey closing party followed in the stained-glass church turned punk club that housed Cauleen Smith’s Sky Will Learn Sky, a stunning video and banner installation. Harrington was referring to the spate of new biennials in American cities such as Cleveland, Atlanta, and

    Read more
  • Memento Morra

    “MUSEUMS ARE DEAD,” said Andrea Viliani, artistic director of the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, over dinner on my first night in Naples. “White cubes are devouring white cubes.” It was a daring declaration coming from a longtime museum curator who is collaborating on art projects sited among the ruins of Pompeii. We were at the raucous Ristorante Europeo Mattozzi with curator Milovan Farronato and artist Maria Loboda, both in town casting for “Death,” this summer’s Stromboli Volcano Extravaganza. Here for the reopening of the Morra Greco Foundation, I thought my own days would end in

    Read more
  • The Custom of the Country

    IN EDITH WHARTON’S THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, society girl Lily Bart spends the “long gilded hours of the day” moving from one Hamptons estate to another, venturing out occasionally to a Monte Carlo hotel. Though impeccably trained to move among nineteenth-century New York’s upper crust, Lily cannot afford her lifestyle independently and must rely on the goodwill of better-endowed friends and sponsors. They, of course, expect certain favors in return, whether it’s writing letters or keeping a bothersome husband amused.

    Lily falls from society’s grace when she ceases to be useful and overstays her welcome,

    Read more