In an act of charity for homeless and at-risk LGBT youth, a group of New York City drag queens will come together tonight for a unique kind of auction and practice in queer community culture: a "WIG OFF."
Metropolitan Bar in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood is slated to house tonight's auction, curated by drag queen and Brooklyn Nightlife Awards founder Merrie Cherry. This event is slated to benefit the Ali Forney Center, an organization dedicated to protecting queer youth "from the harms of homelessness and empower[ing] them with the tools needed to live independently" -- a necessary resource in a world where homeless youth disproportionately identify as LGBT.
"As someone who has worked in non-profits for over six years, I have a good understanding of philanthropic work and how important it is for all members [of a community] to help," Merrie Cherry told The Huffington Post. "As a public figure it is important to encourage others to give back. We get caught up with the daily grind and forget about the world outside of our bubble. Sometimes all it takes is a loud mouth on the microphone to shake you up and focus on others. And that is a task that I gladly take on."
Eight drag artists from across the spectrum of queer performance have donated a hand-styled wig for tonight's "WIG OFF," each reflecting the unique framework through which the particular artist approaches their own form of drag: Merrie Cherry, Untitled Queen, Acid Betty, Aja, Elizabeth James, Ruby Roo, Mocha Lite and Misty Meaner.
"It's tough to think about all of those kids out there who are rejected or not able to be themselves amongst their families -- but to not have a place to call home is frightening," Untitled Queen told The Huffington Post. "This auction is all pluses, you help fund an organization to help those homeless youth and you help a needy drag queen/king in search of fabulosity for the top of her/his/their head."
Whether your mode of existing in the world is informed by drag culture or not, this "WIG OFF" is a rare opportunity to simultaneously experience some of NYC's explosive underground drag community while also helping finance an organization dedicated to bettering the world for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Metropolitan Bar will also donate 20 percent of the bar proceeds from "WIG OFF" to the Ali Forney Center.
Check out some more of the queens who donated their hand-styles wigs below, and head here to learn more about the drag and performance community operating within the context of this New York outer borough. All photos in this piece courtesy of Santiago Felipe.
The "Wig Off" will take place tonight, Thursday, Jan. 22 at Metropolitan Bar in Williamsburg off the Lorimer stop on the L train.