Photography by Claire Horvath
I found myself running through New York at night. Thunderstorms played between skyscrapers in Times Square as old Vietnamese men drew caricatures of tourists under the bright lights of an illuminated Dark Knight advertisement. I was not running alone, I was followed by Claire, a West Philly photographer, and Ozzie, a fire-spinning Lost Boy from Charlotte.
This was our first Freakkshow together, but we have a history with the five boroughs. Ozzie was born in New York and hadn’t been there since the ’90s. Claire’s family were Italian-Korean bakers from Queens. A decade ago I was a resident of a closed-down porn theater, in the throes of addiction.
Ozzie kisses the ground, Claire is full of anticipation and my eyes are focused on the prize, purposefully ignoring Bryant Park while running toward our goal. Fighting trains, traffic and time we finally see a host of costumed freaks eager to breach the velvet-roped bullpen.
The Liberty Theater is a tower of balconies and lights. I believe the original founders of the majestic theater could never have envisioned a beautiful, 10-foot tall, clown-nosed Godzilla dominating the deco with its huge grin. The Kostume Kult and Reformata power-duo took over the space and made it all their own. A dominatrix in garters whips her dancing Manimal from the balcony as tag team DJs Boris and Alex drop an amazing beat to a screaming crowd. A motley Kostume Kontest degrades into laughing and gyrating, as Kostume Kult kitchen leads, Madeline and Noodle take the gold. The cheering and music is cut in two by the crack of a bullwhip, wielded by a stunning trans beauty covered in gold, glitter and little else. Three-breasted superheroes, two-headed freaks and body-painted splendors mob the dance floor, screaming into Tiger and Static’s light-born Shangri-La.
Photography by Will Tanksley
Between the sheer walls of electricity that dominate Times Square and the tidal wave of music and light in the Liberty Theater, the Dark Carnival swept us away. The love amplified in that room spilled out into the street, throwing back the curtain of heat. Everyone was smiling ear-to-ear. Hands were raised and hearts exalted, all riding the feverish anticipation of the Burn. If this is what happens in a club in NYC, then the playa will be simply out of control. Part of the beauty of the Burn are these out-of-desert moments where we can play in the magic radiating from that special place in all of us. Don’t forget to catch our Kostume Kult/ Reformata tribe on the Esplanade.