Turns out you don’t have to sashay to the city to experience one of New York’s best emerging drag scenes. Due in part to the increasing popularity of the VH1 reality show Ru Paul’s Drag Race, queens are now legitimate stars, earning millions of dollars and countless fans across the globe.
Westchester boasts its own bit of cross-dressing culture with “Gagged Thursdays,” which take place each Thursday night at Ireland’s 32 in Yonkers. The outrageous evenings are the brainchild of local style director Philip Faulkner.
“We started off on a snowy winter night last February in the very Irish community of Woodlawn in Yonkers,” says Faulkner. “My co-organizer and Irish-bar owner Aidan Loughran both felt we needed to do something different in our neighborhood. We were tired of constantly having to go the city just to attend a ‘gay night’ or see a drag show.”
Faulkner and Loughran had the idea to hold their own drag performances here in Westchester, but they were initially not so sure the concept would take off. “We had no idea at the time how much traction the event would get. But little by little, every Thursday, the bar was getting busier and busier,” recalls Faulkner. “Eventually, we needed three bartenders and more queens to perform.”
The show was a hit, and nowadays Faulkner says the event incorporates lighthearted games, including bingo and palm readings.
“We also cohosted an event in the summer with the White Plains LOFT and offered free [STD] testing and information for everyone,” says Faulkner. “Given the location of the establishment and the predominantly Irish neighborhood, we would never have thought that almost a year later, we would still be going strong, with the majority of the neighborhood behind us.”
For more information, follow @Gagged_Thursdays on Instagram or visit Ireland 32’s Facebook page.