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Lady Bunny and other performers during Wigstock 2000 at Pier 54, New York City. Photo by Jerome Albertini.

Wigstock was an annual outdoor drag festival that began in the 1980s in Manhattan's East Village that took place on Labor Day. Traditionally the festival would act as the unofficial end to the summer for the gay community of New York City. The name refers to the 1969 Woodstock Festival. The festival was revived by Lady Bunny and Neil Patrick Harris on September 1, 2018 at Pier 17 of the South Street Seaport in New York City.[1][2][3]


Hosted by co-creator Lady Bunny, the festival was held in its first years in Tompkins Square Park. According to Lady Bunny, the event began spontaneously in 1984 after a group of drag queens (along with Scott Lifshutz, Wendy Wild and a couple of Fleshtones) became inebriated at the nearby Pyramid Club and decided to put on a show in the park. In the mid 90s the Giuliani administration prohibited the festival being in Tompkins Square and Union Square and moved it to the Hudson River so the event would lose its grassroots activist appeal. Lady Bunny said that 2001's Wigstock would be the last, but in 2003, 2004, and 2005, Wigstock and Bunny returned to Tompkins Square, this time under the auspices of the Howl Festival.


In 1987, video artist Tom Rubnitz filmed a 20-minute documentary titled Wigstock: The Movie. Rubnitz's film captures the event's early improvised atmosphere; early years of Wigstock often made direct reference to Woodstock (including performance artist John Kelly's send-up of Joni Mitchell and her song "Woodstock"), and Rubnitz's film mimics aspects of the famous Woodstock documentary.

In 1995, a second documentary, also titled Wigstock: The Movie, was released.[4] The festivals captured in the 1994 Wigstock documentary are larger and more polished, with rock music largely supplanted by house music and the influence of the original Woodstock festival is less evident.

Lady Bunny, Wigstock 2001, Pier 54, NYC. Photo by Tai Seef.

The 1995 film gained greater attention and was distributed across the country and on video and DVD.


  1. ^ Bernstein, Jacob (15 August 2018). "Wigstock Returns From the Dead". Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  2. ^ Helmore, Edward (2 September 2018). "Wigstock: New York's drag festival of sequins, stilettos and big hair is back". the Guardian. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  3. ^ Nett, Danny (4 October 2018). "Wigstock, 'An Iconic Piece of Drag History,' Lets Its Roots Show At 2018 Revival". NPR. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  4. ^ James, Caryn (9 June 1995). "Eyelashes Sufficient To Be Wigs". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2018.

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