She calls Riccardo Tisci her BFF, she hosts parties for Raf Simons, Marc Jacobs, and Alexander Wang, she doesn’t shave her pits (but she assures us they smell fresh and clean), and her name rhymes with gag.
NYC’s own Ladyfag has become one of the most in-demand party promoters the city has ever seen. Every week, gays, their hags, and more flock to one of the queen’s parties, whether it be 11:11 (which just closed), Battle Hymn, or Holy Mountain. As she prepares to move her newest creation Battle Hymn from Sunday to Friday (sigh of relief), we met up with the XX-year old Canadian to discuss how she stays relevant, what gay man she’d life swap with, and what inspired her to become the Queen Bee of NYC nightlife.
Grindr: Battle Hymn just celebrated its one year anniversary. The name suggests it was started as a reaction to something?
Ladyfag: The name Battle Hymn is many things at once. The club itself is built from architectural elements of an old church, and I love the sentiment of electronic music being these modern day devotional prayers and hymns.
It’s a reference to dance, DJ, and voguing, where battles are much a part of the culture. The difference being they’re not negative battles based on war or negative competitiveness, but a shared appreciation for people’s talents and creativity.
The tragic events at Pulse in Orlando happened shortly after we started, and then of course our president was elected, and Battle Hymn has become a sort of refuge from the craziness of the outside world—a place where the only battles are the kind that happen on a dance floor. So in a way, Battle Hymn has become a rallying cry to join together in celebration and solidarity… it’s the gospel of the dance floor.
How do you keep the same party going (almost) every week for one year without it becoming tired in a city like NYC?
Parties are all about the music and people. If they’re excited and happy to be there it will never feel tired. I try to build a family of regular hosts and DJs who can make a party their own, so every week feels like a reunion, while also making everyone feel like it’s their family and home. We also have lots of guest hosts and DJs who bring their own energy to the table. Parties can never be re-created, so week after week feels different and exciting.
You have been throwing parties for a few years now. How do you reinvent yourself to stay relevant?
If you’re growing and changing with the world around you, there’s no need to reinvent to stay relevant. It’s a natural process and a cycle where you feed off the energy of the partygoers. New kids come in all the time and bring new energy with them, and are affected by the current times, and then it’s a circle of inspiration.
What party made you decide on this career path?
I never planned on this “career path”. It just sort of happened organically when I moved to New York. But there is one party that definitely influenced not only my parties, but my entire life. It was called Vazaleen and it was thrown by one of my good friends and heroes: the artist and promoter Will Munro (RIP). His party affected a whole community of queers in Toronto. Until then, all you had was the gay village and circuit parties—which is fine—it just didn’t speak to most of my friends’ identities. Vazaleen was the first party that made it feel cool to be queer and gave a platform and voice to what we were all feeling and doing. He was the first person that threw me up on a stage to go-go dance and MC. He believed in me, and in so many young queer creatives. It was life changing. Every party I do is subconsciously influenced by Will Munro; I hope he’d be proud.
Most people would say you are a New York City legend – mostly due to your parties – but also because of your unique look. What’s your favorite part of yourself?
Wow, thanks… but not sure if I can yet be a legend. I’m not that old yet! I guess my favorite part of myself is the part that I’m only a partial element of, which is the parties I create. Sometimes I look out at a party that’s going off and people having the time of their lives and I think, “Wow I made that happen for everyone and that makes me happy.”
What’s the best outfit you have ever worn?
Probably the one when I wear nothing at all! I was at my hairdresser Brian’s freaking out because I didn’t like my outfits for the night, and he said, “If you have nothing to wear… wear nothing!” He took the track of weave he was going to glue into my hair and just sewed the ends into a long necklace and I wore a piece of hair in a big V covering… well it didn’t cover much! I walked the red carpet at the Life Ball in Vienna like that!
Just one of your signatures is your hairy armpits. Do you feel like they are more welcomed in the LGBTQ community than in the straight community?
It’s something that provides me with endless bafflement and amusement. I moved from Canada to New York, and my armpits were all people could talk about! I was like, really? That’s all it takes to shock New Yorkers? I get a lot of hate mail about it (which I cherish of course) but I think the world is slowly catching on… slowly. The LGBTQ community is obviously a bit more accepting overall, but there’s also lots of bitchy queens who scream about acceptance and then casually throw shade at me. I’m unbothered by it all!
Are they preferred smelly or clean?
CLEAN!! Although I have a lot of internet stalkers with names like @extremehairyrmpits who send me DM’s who would beg to differ!
What’s your scent of choice?
I wear Dsquared2 He Wood. They sent it to me when it first launched and I thought it was a mistake since it was the men’s perfume instead of the women’s. I tried it and loved it. And let’s be honest… know thy audience!
If you could be any (but only one) gay man, who would you be?
Considering I’m Ladyfag I think I get the best of both worlds as it is!