“I mean, where even are we?” Pissy Miles, industry-celebrated comedy drag queen asked the crowd that was crammed into the Pot o’ Paint gallery on Merrick Road near Grand Avenue for an exhibition of his husband, David Ayllon’s photograpy. Miles, who is more accustomed to performing in Brooklyn drag clubs than Long Island galleries, joked, “Has anything of consequence ever happened in Baldwin?”
Ayllon, who grew up in neighboring Freeport, said that when his old friend Dawn Maison, who co-owns the Pot o’ Paint – which opened last September –, asked him to show his work there, he thought, “It would be awesome to bring my work back to my roots.”
Growing up as a queer kid in Freeport, Ayllon said, “I never experienced any type of community where I felt comfortable enough to come out [as gay]. If something like this ever happened while I was living here, it would have made a world of difference.” He added, “I probably would have gone to prom with a guy instead of my ‘girlfriend.’”
Ayllon’s efforts to bring LGBT representation to the area match up with Maison’s efforts to foster a space where culture is available to people of color, like her. “I can’t tell you how many times I see young kids of color get off that bus,” she said, pointing to the bus stop at the corner. “They look like they don’t think they have permission to come in.” So, she said, the gallery has a policy of sending a staff member outside to invite curious window-gazers into the space. “I want them to feel like they have permission,” Mansion said. “Like something that’s beautiful is accessible to them.”
The “narrative portraits” of a number of well-known drag queens – friends of Ayllon and Miles – hung on the wall, though their dramatic poses and vibrant colors seemed to explode from the canvas. The drag show began about 15 minutes after it was scheduled to start. “Drag queens are always late,” one attendee observed.
The show included performances by Miles, Sherry Pie, Kari Kerning, and Jiggly Caliente.
Sherry Pie – dressed in a homemade plastic bag dress – performed a mashup of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” which leaned heavily on a sampled portion that said, “Do you ever feel/like a plastic bag.” Miles quipped, “Some queens get their clothes at Fendi, Sherry pie gets hers at Hefty.”
Kerning – sporting a taxidermy pidgeon on her head, and white streaks representing the it’s excrement running down her face – performed a medley of songs related to birds, including Nelly Furtado’s “I’m like a Bird,” and Nicki Minaj’s “Did It On Em 2010,” featuring the repeated lyric, “Put your number two’s in the air.”