PHOTOS: Reminisce About The Startling Drag Scene From Late ’80s NYC

ru paul and willie ninjaWe are transfixed by these photographs of late ’80s/early ’90s New York drag. Linda Simpson had the foresight to carry a camera around those days, and captured snapshots of a world that made drag what it is today. Some noteworthy highlights:

There’s Lady Bunny looking svelte and young! A photo of her hosting Wigstock 2 shows a muted outfit and some Mork-and-Mindy-looking hair. Early Wigstock was a welcome relief from the standard-issue drag routines of the day, which were mostly Hollywood diva style. Lady Bunny’s event drew an unpredictable, racy, convention-challenging crowd of young performers, and you never knew what you were going to get. It was super-popular with a few elite tastemakers, but in general the public was like “WHAT” and stayed away at first.

pyramid club girlsAnother photo shows some Pyramid Club gals, including Anna Conda, lately of San Francisco. We previously wrote about efforts to make the Pyramid Club a historic landmark.

And hey, who’s that glamorous beauty with the cute nose, sitting next to the fancy man in stripes? Oh, just some lady named RuPaul and her friend Willie Ninja. No big deal.

Some photos from the mid-’90s bask in the city’s drag renaissance, featuring a triumphant quote from drag thought leader Charles Busch. For a little while, everyone was crazy for queens, but then the trend faded and nightlife’s attention shifted.