I strolled through the door of the Delancey Lounge the other night cameras swinging from my neck and threaded my way through the crowd. There was electricity in the air exacerbated by the uncertainty of whether the blonde with lavender streaks in the shiny shirred purple dress whose crotch just inadvertently brushed against my booty was a tranny or a chick. When I heard the sexy babe was in a band called She-Dick, I still wasn’t sure.
But that’s the kind of amusing blurring of the sexes that often happens at events hosted by New York City’s downtown dauphin Earl Dax. It was his birthday, and he was celebrating it along with dozens of friends and strangers. He was actually pimping his birthday to raise funds for Dixon Place’s 18th annual Hot! Festival, which has been presenting experimental works for New York’s queer community every summer since 1991.
And he’d asked a shitload of edgy performers to provide the fun and games—including Justin Bond, Kenny Mellman, Sherry Vine, Scott Matthew, Ali Wong, Epiphany and Terese Genecco. I wasn’t going to miss the party, no way no how.
You have to admit, “Pussy Faggot” is a catchy title for a party. It pairs male and female, straight and gay, and as an epithet it’s pleasantly jocular. It’s so extreme it’s funny. For some dumb reason I’ve never understood, faggots usually don’t like pussy, so combining the two is nice. Leave it to Dax to go out on a limb like that. His trademark is to think outside the box, bring people together and take some chances. He didn’t coin the phrase himself, however, but he decided it would be the most amusing name for the birthday party/benefit.
It’s very much Dax’s style to reclaim and recycle what’s blowing in the wind, so he adopted the absurd phrase as part of his persona. “I feel a strain of Leslie Gore coming on: ‘It’s my party, and I’ll be a pussy faggot if I want to!’" Dax said in his emailed invitation.
Dax blew into town in 2005 and ever since has been making a name for himself in the downtown queer and alternative performance art scene. The slot was there for the taking, and he stepped in to fill the void. In four years in the big city, he’s curated, produced or been involved in some capacity in hundreds of events like Weimar New York, Tingel Tangel Club, ART JAM at Galapagos, The Hot! Festival at Dixon Place, and lately, he’s been expanding out west to San Francisco.
I saw neither a crumb of birthday cake nor the flicker of candles that night at the Delancey, but there were definitely strippers and burlesque types, what with Darlinda Just Darlinda showing a bit of her lucky charms and Lee Kyle flinging off his dress to reveal ornate tats on his muscular physique barely covered by a skimpy jockstrap. Then there was the raffle for a designer hat, which provoked a mini-fight on stage.
By then, it was 3:30 a.m. The crowd had thinned out but Dax’s nearest and dearest were clustered around. “‘Pussy faggot,’ I own that term,” Earl said. I had to agree, watching the colorful cavalcade of pussies, faggots, she-dicks and other freaks take back the night.