This Brooklyn art collective is reviving the post-pandemic drag scene

In late June, near the corner of Clifton Place and Franklin Avenue in Bed-Stuy, two contractors crossed the street in front of me. I took a picture and we exchanged contact information. “We’re coming in here!” They pointed to a colorful sign that read “Come on all,” and day after day the sight of it accompanied me as I walked home in the evening. Two weeks later, at a party on Fire Island, I connected with actor and drag artist Travis Battle, aka Ella Fartzgerald, who belongs to The POC Drag Art Collective. A few days later I learned that the collective was coming to my block for The Collection Bowl, a weekly event that raises funds for various organizations – that night it was for the Silvia Rivera Legal Project, next week for the Caribbean Equality Project, and then the councils would go to the New Jersey organization TGNC Bridges 4 Life.

I met Travis at a coffee shop on Bedford Avenue, where he offered insight into the post-pandemic drag scene: “There’s a shift toward more ticketed events, trying to get people to support more cabaret-style drag shows. It was a challenge to keep getting people to come out and support. Before COVID it was sustainable because more people went out and were comfortable. As a collective, we realized that we can’t just wait for people to come; we have to tell them exactly what to do. So a show like this has multiple purposes: first of all it’s fundraising, but our mission is also to support the artists, both the performers and those who work behind the scenes – we want to give them space to build what they’re trying to represent. It’s nice to have this format where we can accomplish anything. The series started in the city of [the club] silence We thought it was going to be a Manhattan project, but we landed at C’Mon after a controversy erupted at the second place we went to, called The Q Club. Now this is his perfect home.”

Nicky O and Joe Disco on a late June evening en route to C’Mon Everybody, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, June 29, 2022.

Eric Sosa, Co-Owner and Program Director at C’Mon further commented, “Our goal at C’mon Everybody is to provide a platform for queer, POC and QTPOC artists to showcase their work. When Thee Suburbia approached me about The Collection Bowl, I immediately said yes. Giving back to the community is important to us, and The Collection Bowl’s goal of giving back to QTPOC community organizations aligns with our own mission.”

Thee Suburbia, the artist who founded the organization, chimes in: “I’m so excited and honored that, come on, everyone has welcomed us with open arms. Past events have been very successful, raising over $300 each time. We can’t wait for the next one and hope you’ll join us.”

Ella Fartzgerald and JD Richardson before Second Act, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, August 2, 2022.
A patron enters C’Mon Everybody, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, August 2, 2022.
Julie J during Act Two, C’Mon Everybody, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, August 2, 2022.
Thee Suburbia, C’Mon Everybody, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, August 2, 2022.
Paris L’Hommie, C’Mon Everybody, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, August 2, 2022.
Robyn Marsz leaves the stage, C’Mon Everybody, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, August 2, 2022.
Maljo Blu, C’Mon Everybody, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, August 2, 2022.
Dev Doee, C’Mon Everybody, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, August 2, 2022.
Ella Fartzgerald, C’Mon Everybody, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, August 2, 2022.
The Seal as Lipstick for the Night, C’Mon Everybody, Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, August 2, 2022.

The collection bowlpresented by Thee Suburbia and The POC Drag Art Collective, takes place at C’Mon Everybody (325 Franklin Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn) on August 31st. Tickets are $5.

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