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Brian Butterick (1956–2019)

Brian Butterick, aka Hattie Hathaway, one of New York City’s most illustrious drag queens and a staple in the city’s downtown demimonde as a performer, poet, and club runner, has died. He was sixty-two years old.

In addition to shaping the East Village’s queer nightlife as a producer and performer at venues such as the Mudd Club and Mother, Butterick was an early collaborator with and lover of artist David Wojnarowicz. With Wojnarowicz, he was a member of the band 3 Teens Kill 4. In the late 1970s, Butterick posed for several of the artist’s iconic “Arthur Rimbaud in New York” photographs.

Around that same time, Butterick got a job doing security at the influential queer cabaret and nightclub Pyramid, eventually becoming its creative director. He also coauthored a history of the club, titled Secrets of the Great Pyramid: The Pyramid Cocktail Lounge as Cultural Laboratory, in 2015. It was there, in the early 1990s, that Butterick developed his Hattie Hathaway alter ego, named for his grandmother and Nancy Kulp’s Miss Jane Hathaway character on the CBS sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies.    

In the mid-’90s, Butterick became a coproducer of Jackie 60, a weekly party at Mother, a nightclub in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. He also coproduced—with Mother’s Chi Chi Valenti and Johnny Dynell—and performed at Night of 1,000 Stevies, the enduring annual festival where partygoers celebrate and dress as Stevie Nicks. With Lady Bunny, Butterick cofounded the outdoor drag extravaganza Wigstock. He also served on the board of Howl Arts, a nonprofit focused on preserving and maintaining the underground culture of the East Village.

“There was such a beautiful cross section of people [at Mother],” Butterick told Paper magazine in 2016. “And don’t forget the ’90s is when everything started to get compartmentalized—‘this is a gay club, black club, tranny cub, goth club, club for people with short hair, long hair.’ We never did that at Jackie. It was very old school that way.”