Just a few years ago, the streets of Miami weren’t nearly as queer as they are today. With each passing month since Counter Corner began flooding the streets of downtown, queer performers have popped up everywhere, from local bars and clubs to improv theaters and art cinemas. As WLRN-TV recently reported, everyone is striving to keep Miami queer, and nothing shows this in a more entertaining and enormous way than Wigwood.
After the success of Wigwood last year in its single-day debut at Gramps, the 2018 edition has become something out of this world: a three-day vacation for the queer aliens of South Florida and beyond to experience a whole lot of Miami. The celebration will kick off at the Scottish Rite Temple Friday night and continue at Gramps Saturday before flooding into the pool at Freehand Miami Sunday.
“For the people who came to Wigwood last year, I encourage you to come to both nights this year,” organizer and drag performer Queef Latina says. “We’ve been working around the clock to make it the best party we can, and we want everyone to come and be themselves. If you want to dress comfortably, do it. If you want to come in a crazy look, we encourage it.
“Wigwood is all-inclusive; you don’t have to be gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer. You can just be someone’s supercool sister or be as crazy or average as you want to be, and you’ll be welcomed and have a great time.”
That kind of inclusivity and visibility has helped Miami queens slowly but surely take over so myriad spots in the city. Wigwood, like other festivals in big cities dedicated to drag, is giving a massive platform to the community, with 75 percent of the performers being local talent.
“I’m so happy to be giving these performers — these kings and these queens — a platform on which they can truly express themselves and be recognized both locally and nationally,” Queef continues. “Miami is opening people’s eyes, and there are performers here doing very creative, strange things and getting a lot of attention from people in New York, Brooklyn, Chicago, L.A., and New Orleans.”
Historically, Miami has been an overlooked capital when it comes to the arts, and local drag fared no better. But events such as Wigwood are helping to change outsiders' minds. “It’s great to finally be put on that same level," Queef explains. "We’re the capital of Latin America and the Caribbean, and I think people are recognizing that we’re a force to be reckoned with. In only our second year, I’ve had people from all over the country begging me to be booked or to come, telling me that they’re going to show up whether they’re performing or not.”
Wigwood’s massive set list covers so much ground, with performers including locals such as Miss Toto, Kunst, Andro Gin, Jupiter Velvet, Ded Cooter, Kat Wilderness, and visiting artists like Evah Destruction, Sateen, Thorgy Thor, and Victoria Elizabeth Black. And the talent isn’t limited to drag. There are DJs such as Gooddroid, Matty Horrorchata, Mystic Bill, and DJ Hottpants; a fashion show featuring Nivero, Caitlin Farradas, Bobby Ray KhasaMarina, Casey Caldwell, and Chaplin Tyler; wigs and empanadas sold by Chacharina ChaCha and Milly’s Empanada Factory, respectively; and live acts like Kurt Fowl & the Fashion Bug Chasers and Poorgrrrl.
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Wigwood organizers promise more surprises and announcements at the event, but these names alone compose a showcase that truly embraces Miami’s unique artistic community, all the way down to the marketing. The creative vision for the theme, "Aliens on Vacation," began with Brian Butler’s gleeful depiction of aliens on vacation in the event's poster design and has even moved into the realm of video art, with Internet Friends creating a series of videos that Queef calls Wig Trek.
She laughs while explaining that the videos, which debuted on social media earlier this year, “were very much just us girls living our lives in space as crazy drag queens.” This, along with all the queer bands, live acts, artists, vendors, visual artists, and even installation artists such as Porn Nails, is a beautiful example of what Miami’s queer art scene looks like year-round.
“Miami is one of the art capitals of the world, and it’s important to realize that actual artists live here and it’s not just during Basel when everyone comes,” Queef says. “There are amazing artists in our city, and what we’re featuring at Wigwood is a culmination of all the different types of art you could find here in Miami.”
Wigwood 2018. Friday, February 2, and Saturday, February 3, at the Scottish Rite Temple, 471 NW Third St., Miami, and Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; facebook.com/wigwood; instagram.com/wigwoodmiami. Ticket prices range from free to $40 depending upon event and can be purchased at wigwoodmiami.com or from Miss Toto in person at Gramps for a discounted price at the bar's weekly Bingo With Miss Toto and Double Stubble events.