Sidestepping the SXSW
The annual music
industry hustle-fest that is Austin's South by Southwest came
to a climax this past weekend, with most hangers-on busy trying
to snag a spot at the Fader Fort, madly spamming the RSVP
e-mail for Perez Hilton's secret party, or Twittering their
thumbs off to figure out who knew who wherever there was any
Not everyone, though.
While SXSW scene-stealers were busy bagging swag at events
sponsored by companies from Scion to Levi's to Dell, a
group of volunteers was hard at work decorating a stage that
stretched across two huge dusty backyards in east Austin, miles
away from the hubbub. The daylong counterfest, affectionately
called GayBiGayGay, is now in its fourth year. It has become a
community hub for Austin queers and their visiting friends
looking to escape the largely hetero commotion on the final
Sunday of SXSW.
"It's done our
style, in our place, with our kindness and our talent,"
said event host and Austin drag icon Rebecca Havemeyer.
"We have corporate gays, we have the fairy unicorn queers,
we have the diesel dykes, we have the drag queens, we have
kids. It's all underneath an umbrella of the most friendly
environment you could possibly wish for."
Acts came from as far
away as Philadelphia and Olympia, Wash., to play the festival.
This year's headliner was New Orleans's Big Freedia,
doing her best to underscore the bounce in "sissy
bounce," a genre of bayou-flavored, drag-inspired hip-hop.
Other notable acts included Portland, Ore.'s Purple
Rhinestone Eagle, San Francisco's Excuses for Skipping, and
Austin mainstay Gretchen Phillips, formerly of the
groundbreaking queer rock band Two Nice Girls.
People were quick to
point out that there is no hierarchy here: no guest list, no
flashbulbs, and no jockeying for entrée into the VIP
area (there isn't one). "Everyone's just so nice
and huggy," explained Chivonn Anderson, a programmer at
Austin's iconic Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
Austin filmmaker PJ
Raval, who shot this year's Oscar-nominated documentary
Trouble the Water,
said, "It's something I look forward to every year. It's
one of the most amazing experiences, where you have a group of
people coming together to celebrate a lot of artistic work. I
think it really captures the spirit of Austin, and that's
what South by Southwest is all about."
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