PRINT March 2003


1985: Wigstock

Clark Render, Jimmy Paulette, and John Kelly as Joni Mitchell, Wigstock, 1985.

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

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