new york nightlife queen ladyfag has been killing the dancefloor for 15 years
We speak to the party royalty behind Shade, Holy Mountain, 11:11 and Lowbrow Despicable.
Whether you're a Brooklyn club kid or a Manhattan party veteran, there's one famously hairy arm-pitted woman you're bound to know in NYC: Ladyfag. She's the promoter behind weekly East Village party 11:11, irregular warehouse rave Shade, and midtown reviver Holy Mountain, as well as Lowbrow Despicable, Pacino in Paris and Pop Souk. Her parties pull in regulars (including Amanda Lepore) as well as passing international stars (Riccardo Tisci stops by when he's in town). Her nights are a thrilling mashup of people, regardless of age, sexuality, gender and race.
Ladyfag's continued success comes down to the variety of her nights, her combination of private hard graft and mysterious public glamour and her parties' buzzy brand of easy familiarity and the sense of a serious happening. But above all, it's about the music, from her go-to DJ Michael Magnan, as well as Physical Therapy, Honey Dijon, Ryan Smith, Juliana Huxtable, Anthony Du Cap, Total Freedom, A Village Raid and special guests.
With her partner and fellow party pioneer, Seva Granik (he works with her on Shade and Lowbrow and produces events for the likes of Alexander Wang), she's New York nightlife royalty — and she knows she comes from a long line: "I think it's good to know your history and respect it. There are so many amazing people, and not the Studio 54 legends or club kids like Michael Alig. There are people like Eric Konrad who make up the core of the downtown community. I've just started working with Scott Yule, the artist, for our Holy Mountain posters and he's an encyclopedia of New York nightlife history and underground. I love hearing him talk about people like Karen Black and Julie Atlas Mews, amazing people who aren't promoters or a famous group, but real downtown characters."
But Ladyfag's not one for nostalgia. "If I hear one more person from New York say, 'It was better in my day'!" she threatens. "Ugh! You sound like people's mothers! Just because it's not fresh for you, doesn't mean it's not fresh. You have all these Manhattan people who sound to me like bitter old fogeys. Every era has its moments and it usually takes the people in it to appreciate it."
Whilst it's rude to ask a Lady(fag) her age, she's by no means new to the party circuit — but neither is she showing signs of diminishing passion. "I recently found a photo of me in an old adidas bathing suit at a gay hip hop party and it's from 15 years ago. I'm grinding with someone in this full-on look. I was like, 'Wow, I've been on a dancefloor for 15 years and I still love it.' Just going to parties is a part of who I am. That feeling when you walk into a club and you first hear the music and the lights are going and you're with your friends. That feeling; to me, that's church."
Text Stuart Brumfitt
Photography Cyle Suesz