All photos: Katherine Gaines
The twenty-third annual Night of a Thousand Stevies – the largest and most beloved Stevie Nicks fan event in the world – returns to New York City’s Highline Ballroom this Friday, May 3. It is a massive party featuring thousands of people (both men and women) who either come to dance dressed as Stevie Nicks, or who simply come in normal wear to dance to Stevie Nicks. But, more than just a fan event, it has become a New York cultural institution – attracting celebrities, a documentary, and even an independent feature film (Gypsy 83 featuring a young Sara Rue).
To preview the party, we sat down with performance artist Pussy Noir and DJ RAD, who will both be performing a piece together at the event this Friday. While both are based in Washington, D.C., this Night of a Thousand Stevies (NOTS) marks a transition for DJ RAD who moves to New York the same week. Since both Pussy Noir and DJ RAD are looking to use their performance to bridge the creative worlds of DC and NYC, we talked with them about what NOTS means for the creative communities of both cities.
BYT: How did you first get enchanted with Stevie Nicks?
DJ RAD: If you’re asking when I first heard one of Stevie Nick’s songs, it’s almost impossible to say. It’s like asking, when did I first taste chicken? When did I first hear Dreams? When did I first hear Landslide? When did I first hear Silver Springs? These songs are classics of American music culture. But when did I first become enchanted with Stevie Nicks? Well, it was probably when I first watched her concert DVD “Live at Red Rocks” from 1986. Stevie sings and performs with such intense raw energy, and her glittery fringe costumes and out of control teased 80s hair are everything. The concert is edited in such a way that it feels like Stevie is literally singing the songs right to you. It’s bewitching. And once Stevie gets a hold of you, she never lets go.
Stevie Nicks Live at Red Rocks First Inspired a Young DJ RAD
Pussy Noir: It while watching the fabulously witchy movie Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Stevie had both “Crystal” and “If You Ever Did Believe” as featured songs in the film. Hearing her voice, and that witchy aesthetic within it, totally sold me.
BYT: How did you first get involved with Night of A Thousand Stevies?
DJ RAD: So there’s this cute, gay movie called “Gypsy 83” from 2001 in which the main characters travel from Ohio to New York in hopes of performing at this Night of 1000 Stevies party. After I watched it, I immediately checked the Internet to see if this party was real, and was ecstatic to discover that indeed it was and that it was going strong. I knew that I had to go to this party, and four years ago I attended my first NOTS, and it was everything I ever dreamed it to be.
Everyone dressed in Gothic glamor and their own versions of Stevie gypsy realness – just dancing and partying to Stevie’s classic songs all night. And then added throughout the evening, there are these amazing performances and interpretations of Stevie’s songs by incredibly talented performance artists, dancers, and singer/songwriters. It’s such an enchanting evening and has the best energy of any party I’ve ever been to. It’s literally better than Christmas and so creatively inspiring.
Every year I dreamed of someday being on the Highline Ballroom stage and performing my own interpretation of a Stevie classic. Since I was planning on moving to NYC this May, I decided that this would be the perfect year to try to make it happen. I came up with an idea for a performance and reached out to Pussy Noir to see if she would be interested in joining. We basically had to prove that we have performance experience and a vision to bring to the stage. Well, Pussy Noir obviously has lots of performance experience, and I have thrown and DJ’d many incredible events, but we needed evidence that we can perform together. So the opportunity came when I threw my Pink Sock: Twerk Thursday event at the D.C. bar Number 9. Pussy and I put together a dance performance to Stevie’s “Edge of Seventeen” and bled it into Destiny’s Child‘s “Bootylicious” which, of course, famously samples “Edge of Seventeen”. We filmed that, put together our application, and we were accepted.
BYT: What is it about Stevie that inspires you two?
DJ RAD: I’ve always been in love with the gypsy lifestyle. From its bohemian fashions, to its vagabond independent way of living, it’s just something that I’ve always been drawn to and inspired by. And Stevie Nicks embodies this completely. She’s like the ultimate gypsy woman. Stevie is also an extremely creative and passionate woman and it’s easy to connect to and be inspired by that. She’s 100% authentic and like a good wine, gets finer with age. She also always seems to seduce all the men around her, and well, that’s also something I’ve tried to learn from her.
Pussy Noir: She is modern romantic; like someone from the 1800’s. When people talk about the lace and magic of Stevie Nicks, they’re talking about romanticism at its maxim. I love her for that. She loves a full experience, which is something that I myself aim to achieve in performance and in life.
BYT: You’ll probably bring out fans of yours to NOTS who might not be that familiar with the event. What should they expect?
DJ RAD: A truly magical evening, filled with lots of love, music, and incredible performances. You can also expect to see some amazing costumes, awesome video visuals, beautiful decorations, and even a few NYC nightlife icons – I have a friend who accidentally spilled his drink on Debbie Harry from Blondie at one NOTS party. She wasn’t pleased.
Pussy Noir: This is my first time, so really I don’t fully know myself. But from videos and photos it’s safe to say it will be an extravagant homage to Stevie Nicks complete with feathers, crystals, and what looks like six inches of glitter on the floor at the end of the night.
BYT: What do you hope to teach them about Stevie?
DJ RAD: How cool Stevie is! Nobody does what she does. She’s a living icon, who’s been at the top of her game for decades. I hope they learn some Stevie history and are inspired to find their own passion and channel that creativity into something positive, as Stevie does.
Pussy Noir: The one thing that Ryan (DJ RAD) taught me. He said “Look, Stevie speaks to everyone,” and she really does. The more and more I listen to and watch her, the more I’m hooked on the words and her voice. She takes me.
BYT: For first timers, what are some things you suggest they wear to NOTS as an homage to Stevie?
DJ RAD: The theme this year is Crystal, inspired by the classic Buckingham Nicks (and later Fleetwood Mac) song of the same name. It has themes of water and sea: “Through the crystal like and clear water fountain/ Drove me like a magnet, to the sea…”.
From the NOTS website:
SUGGESTED DRESS: Crystals and Crystal Balls, The Mermaid Nicks, Lady of the Lake Inspired, Enchanted Eveningwear, Nautical Top Hats, Best Pre-Raphaelite Hair in Rock and Roll, Stevie’s Blue Period, Victorian Mirrors, Lindsey or John McVie Pirate Effects, Silver Shawls, Shipwrecked Stevie, Annabel Lee Gothic Glamour or your own Total Stevie Realness (all eras).
Pussy Noir: If they’re anything like me, then see-through lace, in creams and whites. Stack on the bijoux! Pile on the baubles, and frost yourself with crystals, ladies and gents! Oh, and for the dark hearts buy yards and yards of black chiffon and drape yourself in it. Paint on eyes that can see into the future.
BYT: Your participation in NOTS is introducing much of New York to the talent of DC. What’s something about DC, or its creative community that you hope to convey in your performance?
Pussy Noir: That artists are born and bred in the District! We have the roots and the name, but I think people – even in DC – take our art world for granted.
BYT: DJ RAD, you are moving to New York the same weekend of NOTS. Can you tell us a little bit about what you are hoping to pursue there from a creative standpoint?
DJ RAD: I’m so excited to be making New York my new home, however DC has been wonderful to me. My years spent in DC were very formative personally, professionally, and creatively. This is where I first became DJ RAD, dropped my first track on a turntable (it was Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”) and threw my first Pink Sock party. I am now leaving with a much clearer understanding of who I am and how I want to live my life.
Like Stevie, I dream of living in a world of magic and beauty, and exuding positivity and constantly challenging myself creatively. In New York, I hope to have even more opportunities to pursue these dreams. In doing so, I’m so excited to be working with Brightest Young Things in developing awesome events and parties in New York, as well as writing about my experiences and discoveries within the city’s gay nightlife. I also plan to grow my DJ RAD and Pink Sock brands, and will be reaching out to select bars and nightclubs to hopefully begin throwing, promoting, and DJing events in Brooklyn and Manhattan. And when that happens, you can expect that I’ll be bringing all my incredibly talented and inspiring DC friends and creative family (including Pussy Noir) to help me party and show New York how fierce and fabulous our District can be.
BYT: Pussy, what do you hope to bring back to DC from your experience at NOTS?
Pussy Noir: Great memories and good connections. While my co-star is setting new roots in New York, I want to use this opportunity to help keep that creative connectivity between the New York queens and DC queens going.
Night of a Thousand Stevies
Friday, May 03 – 9:00pm to 4:00am
Highline Ballroom (431 W. 16th Street, New York)
$25 Advance and at the door (if available)
For tickets, and more information: www.mothernyc.com/stevie/