Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Art Matters Blog

Meet the queen of New York nightlife

October 23rd, 2017

Image courtesy of the artist.

For one night only, the queen of New York City nightlife is coming to Toronto. On the Day of the Dead (November 2), First Thursday: Museum of the Macabre will turn the AGO into a playground for the ghouls, ghosts and goblins of the GTA.

November’s First Thursday is guest-curated by Ladyfag, the Toronto-born, New York City-based party legend who has been profiled in The New York Times, Paper Magazine, and i-D, and never fails to credit Toronto as the place where she got her start – and her moniker. Her program includes a mainstage performance in Walker Court by New York performance and punk legend Kembra Pfahler, performance artist Desi Santiago, video work by Leo Herrera, and “coiffurist” Charlie Le Mindu, who uses hair as his artistic medium of choice.

This will truly be a First Thursday like no other (tickets are on sale now), so to get the scoop we spoke to Ladyfag herself.

AGO: Can you describe your legendary New York parties, Battle Hymn and Holy Mountain (and the former 11:11), in 3 words?
Ladyfag: The three parties are all so different & hard to sum up in a sentence let alone three words! Holy Mountain is a DARK TWISTED LABYRINTH, Battle Hymn is THE DANCEFLOOR’S GOSPEL, and 11:11 is where you MAKE A WISH & your darkest, dirtiest wishes often came true! 

AGO: What is about the night-time atmosphere that draws you to it?
Ladyfag: All the good things (or naughty things, depends on how you look at it!) happen at night. Nights are filled with glamour and sexiness. Night-time inherently adds a layer of mystery, hypnotizing you so you feel like anything can happen in its dark embrace.

AGO: You don’t do VIP sections, and you say “everyone is equal” at your parties. Why is it important for you to embrace everyone who wants to come to your events?
Ladyfag: That’s how I live my life, so the same should go for my parties. When someone is under my roof, I want them to feel fabulous and free of all the bullshit of the outside world. Everyone knows when they come to my parties that there will be drag queens dancing with supermodels, leather daddies dancing with fashion editors, club kids dancing with voguers, young, old, from all walks of life. That’s the New York I know and love, and my parties are an extension of that.

AGO: Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters is all about celebrating the icons of horror and sci-fi in art, film, and literature. What are your major influences in your fashion and parties?
Ladyfag: To me fashion and parties have a major thing in common and that’s the power to make people dream. I’m a romantic. I love creating worlds of darkness, fantasy, sex and glamour that people can get lost in, discovering new sides to them. Nightlife is the nexus for youth culture where art, music, fashion, dance, and performance are all being born. In a way, dance floors are big shared stages or runways to perform on.

Most of the designers I love are or were club kids. Riccardo Tisci, Galliano, Gaultier, and McQueen don’t just make clothes, they tell stories that can unlock your wildest imagination.

I learned the power of a party as something much deeper than mere hedonism through [Toronto artist and promoter] Will Munro. His Vazaleen parties gave us queers not just a home, but encouragement to express ourselves and revel in our freakiness. It was activism, family, community and artistic expression; suddenly it all made sense. It was like how I imagine the euphoria people feel when they think found god or some higher calling. This was before you could look anything up on the Internet, he called us all together. Will used to have a neon sign in his house that said “No tears for the creatures of the night” and because of him I believe that’s true.

AGO: Do you have any dress code advice for First Thursday attendees?
Ladyfag: A great man (named Morrissey!) did say: “I wear black on the outside, ’cause black is how I feel on the inside.”

AGO: How does it feel to be hosting a party back in Toronto?
Ladyfag: I’m really excited to come home… after all, Toronto is where a little Ladyfag learned to party!

Are you an AGOinsider yet? If not, sign up to have stories like these delivered straight to your inbox every week.

First Thursday supporters:

Comments are closed.