This Friday, June 8, we kick Pride Weekend off with the official opening party:
Capital Pride & BYT present Earth, Wind, GLITTER, and Fire at Echostage. It’s an epic venue for an epic party that features performances by Allie X, Naomi Smalls (RuPaul’s Drag Race), music by PAPA Party Resident DJ Alex Lo (Mexico City) and DJ Kitty Glitter (Sydney) and more).
Part of our epic night is a special joint performance by four of Washington’s most aggressive drag queens: Pu$$y Noir, Salvadora Dali, JaxKnife Complex, and Donna Slash. Three queens (Noir, Complex, and Dali) have become crowd favorites at our past pride parties – performing with artists like Cupkakke, Ultra Naté, Tiffany, and Big Freedia. One (Slash) makes her first opening party appearance. All four have developed a cult following in DC, and – if you’ve never seen them – they’re certain to convert you as fans during their set on the Echostage mainstage. We talked with each of these queens ahead of their performance this Friday at Earth, Wind, GLITTER, and Fire.
REMINDER: Before you settle-in for a read, snag the last batch of our dwindling discount tickets now because WE ALWAYS SELL OUT.
Brightest Young Things: Each of your drag personas are known as a bit more aggressive, having all started performing at alternative parties and underground events. However, each of you now are well established and highly followed in mainstream DC LGBT nightlife. What has that transition been like – especially as each of you continue to push creative boundaries even while your audiences grow more broad?
Donna Slash: Am I well-known? I feel like I’m always having to prove myself to new crowds. But that’s exhilarating – getting up there and doing whatever the hell I want and having people respond positively. But I had to grow, it wasn’t always so comfortable. I took some time to myself, away from the parties and the bars, and really focused. And came back swinging. I was in a very dark place, emotionally, and had somewhat of a breakthrough. I knew that this is what I really wanted to do and I had been half-assing it for a long time.
I think that saved me, in a way. I finally had that creative outlet I knew I needed but wasn’t confident I could achieve. And once I harnessed that confidence, and knew what I was giving was genuine, I stopped doubting myself as much and went for it. No regrets.
Pu$$y Noir: I just continue to push myself and my work, but I’ve become more aware of position. I take that more seriously, aiming to be a positive and open person as much as I can to everyone in the scene.
Salvadora Dali: It’s been interesting being a more provocative entertainer with a crowd that continues to be more and more mainstream. I just try and remember where my love for performing comes from. It’s not from shock value. It’s just a longing to be on stage,. That lets me bring more easily digestible material while staying true to my artistic vision. It’s just compromising and finding a middle ground that feels honest and exciting.
JaxKnife Complex: I honestly never thought that being in the underground queer communities of DC would ever really push me into the forefront. However, I’m happy that it did because it’s offered me the opportunity to showcase my artwork to people who either would never get to see it or don’t normally see the stranger side of drag.
BYT: The four of you will be performing together at “Earth, Wind, GLITTER, and Fire“. MGM has commissioned you to do a tribute to Cher, Brittney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Jill Scott ahead of their upcoming residencies. When I first heard this, I thought “these four queens are directly opposite of that“. However, everyone involved seems really excited about that fact. We can’t wait to see what you do. How are you approaching interpreting those artists?
Donna Slash: Hold on. Fiirst off, 1980’s Cher is absolutely untouchable. The costumes, the hair, the glitter, the big, glossy power ballads. She’s one of my biggest inspirations, as a queen. She’s also one of my favorite singers to perform, and there was no question about who I’d do when I saw that list.
JaxKnife Complex: The fact that I have been given the opportunity to perform the music of a gay icon like Britney is soooo cool to me. She was one of the first pop stars that really helped gay- 90’s babiess all over the world come out. Life’s hard when you have a spotlight on you for days on end. So, I can definitely feel for her now that I know what she was going thru in back in 2007.
JaxKnife Complex at the BYT/Capital Pride ‘Flashback’ Opening Party and Salvadora Dali (below) in a photo preview for that same year.
Salvadora Dali: I think we are all gonna bring the style of performance we do to the stage just the same way we would during our usual shows. We are all natural stage presences, no matter the track that’s playing.
Pu$$y Noir: I loved Jill Scott since the late 90’s . I’ve also worked with the MGM Grand with Salvadora for the Cher concert hosting the official after party. Jill from me is all soul and heat and I bringing that as the element of fire charging the crowd with a DC gogo beat.
JaxKnife Complex Performing at the BYT/Captial Pride ‘Blast Off’ Opening Party
BYT: Do any of you have a particular favorite memory of Pride?
Pu$$y Noir: My favorite memory would have to be performing with my former glamazons at the BYT party at Dock 5 the first time. The show was incredible and powerful. It was like performing in a stadium show.
BYT: You’re being a bit demure. It was incredible. That’s when Big Freedia shot a video at our party and I remember your performance became a feature in it. But, yeah. That night was wonderfully wild.
Salvadora Dali: Well, the first experience I had of pride was the BYT kick off party five years ago. I believe it was the superheroes-themed night. I had turned 18 the week before and it was my very first time out in queer nightlife and it was absolutely magical.
Donna Slash: I got to open for Christeene last year, that was absolutely wild! I’m a huge fan, obviously.
Pu$$y Noir Performing at the BYT/Capital Pride ‘Rainbow Resistance’ Party
JaxKnife Complex: I worked a rooftop pool party a couple years back for Capital Pride and I had a blast just being a host at the party making sure that everyone was having a great time. However, it wasn’t until the Brightest Young Things/Capital Pride superhero-themed Spandex party at the Wonderbread Factory that I really understood what it meant to perform for a pride crowd.You feel everyone in the room, just living for the moment, and it’s still something that is indescribable.
Donna Slash at Trade (Photo by Katherine Gaines / AmbientEye.com)
BYT: This party seems to be a night where attendees love to dress up – trying new looks, or costumes, or even throwing on a wig. Any style tips along the lines of “Earth, Wind, Glitter, and Fire” that you’d like to give?
Donna Slash: There’s no such thing as too much twinkle, hunny.
JaxKnife Complex: Always go all out with your costume choices. The flashier, the brighter, the sexier, the skimpier, the better. Also, this year’s venue is the perfect spot for something a little more risque because we’re actually inside at a music venue that is huge. Echostage has really blessed us with a space this year. So, you children can come and get all of that creative energy out.
Pu$$y Noir & Salvadora Dali in a preview shoot for the BYT/Capital Pride ‘Hex’ Opening Party
Salvadora Dali: Have fun with it! Wear anything that makes you feel rad as hell. Go with the theme or go against it – so long as you feel confident and proud.
Pu$$y Noir: Do a Google Image search of Vogue Italia looks once you buy your tickets. I want to see fashion, DC !
Pu$$y Noir Performs at the BYT/Capital Pride ‘Wildlife’ Opening Party
BYT: You’re opening for Allie X. She’s a noted and enthusiastic fan of drag. I’m sure she’ll be gagging over each of you when you meet. Just between us girls, when the five of you are backstage, how do you think it will go down? What do you imagine you’d talk about?
Salvadora Dali: Allie X is seriously so cool. I doubt she will be nearly as struck by us as we are by her. So it’ll probably just be a lot of “OMG! I love you!”s and laughing. I’ve noticed doing this party the past few years all the awesome entertainers we’ve been able to meet backstage are not only so talented, but so happy to be apart of the night.
JaxKnife Complex: I’m a huge fan of her music. So, the fact that she is a fan of drag is just another reason why she is so cool. Hopefully, she drinks because we need to throw down some shots.
Pu$$y Noir: I hope Allie X is prepared for the glam and grime (laughs). Pride is a time to celebrate and I come to have a glamorous time.
Donna Slash and Salvadora Dali posein front of an image of Naomi Smalls projected onto the LED DJ booth at Echostage. The RuPaul’s Drag Race alumn will join “Earth, Wind, GLITTER, and Fire” on Friday for a headline performance.
BYT: Could each of you tell me a little bit about the projects you are working on in DC?
Salvadora Dali: Currently, you can see me along with the other Gay/Bash girls at Trade Bar every third Saturday of the month. I have also recently started my own quarterly show DADA ISSUES. It is a surreal cabaret show also at Trade, and the next installment will be June 27th. You can also check me out featured on Tatianna’s current single Try on iTunes now and watch our music video now on YouTube.
Salvadora Dali featured in the just released single by Tatianna
Donna Slash: The GAY/BASH party is my big baby and it’s grown into into quite the monster once we relocated to Trade (the third Saturday of each month). My band Homosuperior is playing some fun shows throughout the summer. We just finished our recent album. I’ve also been in the studio with some friends working on some solo stuff. It’s got kind of an Atari Teenage Riot-meets-Peaches vibe so far. We released the first issue of our locally-sourced queerdo art mag, Trash Rag, back in April. We’ll have another issue out mid-summer, so send us your submissions.
I also just wrapped shooting on the punk rock horror musical Kill Dolly Kill: Dolly Deadly 2 which was shot on location Las Vegas and Indiana. That will be released sometime in the fall by Troma Team Entertainment.
JaxKnife Complex: Some queens are the mothers of drag families. I myself am the leader of the DragCult, the collective drag underbelly of the nation’s capital. As such, I only have one thing to promote and that’s debauchery on all levels. You can see what I mean at Gay/Bash at Trade (the third Saturday of each month).
Pu$$y Noir poses alongside hooper Bobby DeCanio in front of an image of DJ Kitty Glitter projected onto the LED DJ booth at Echostage. The Sydney-based Australian drag DJ will join “Earth, Wind, GLITTER, and Fire” on Friday.
Pu$$y Noir, Salvadora Dali, & JaxKnife Complex at the BYT/Capital Pride ‘Hex’ Opening Party
JaxKnife Complex: I agree with staying hydrated. Stick with your friends, have a good time, don’t let anybody throw harsh vibes at you, and always – always – always be proud of who you are. Oh, and tip your queens.
Salvadora Dali: Have fun, feel the love and community around you, be safe, drink water! And hug and kiss your friends. Pride is such a wonderful weekend. Celebrate. Soak in the joy so that after the weekend is over we can get back to being activists and allies with the love of our family in our hearts and minds.
Pu$$y Noir: Be open, be fearless, make love, make mistakes.
June 8th // 9:00pm-3:30am
2135 Queens Chapel Rd NE, WDC, 20018
This is a 21+ Event!
Naomi Smalls (RuPaul’s Drag Race)
+ MGM Presents: Pu$$y Noir, Salvadora Dali, JaxKnife Complex, and Donna Slash
Marquis Clanton & His Baltimore Vogue Ballroom Dancers
Live Visuals by Robin Bell (the Trump Hotel Poop Emoji guy)
Maddelynn Hatter, Mundy, & Motherknuckle
+ Electric Hoopers, Gogo Dancers, Aerialists
& we even got a Mermaid
Enjoy this video our new intern made!
Supported by our friends:
Look how much fun we had last time at Rainbow Resistance: