TABLE OF CONTENTS

MILESTONES

1985: Wigstock

Clark Render, Jimmy Paulette, and John Kelly as Joni Mitchell, Wigstock, 1985. Photo: Andreas Sterzing.


IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END, or the end of the beginning, depending on which denizen of the then still fabulous East Village you consult. It was also the year of the first Wigstock. Back then—late in the summer of ’85—an afternoon of drag delirium was little more than a predictably eccentric bit of neighborhood fanfare, not the mass public spectacle the celebration would soon become. Relatively more organized than the general chaos native to its Tompkins Square Park locale, the inaugural Wigstock was nonetheless pieced together from the same ragged fabric. It might not even stand out so clearly now from the many other great moments of collective absurdity endemic to that scene, except that at some point during that glorious day, we all shared an epiphanic hallucination: Somehow or other, Joni Mitchell took the stage and performed her 1970 classic, “Woodstock,” an anthem for

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the March 2003 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.