In anticipation of the release of our second issue, we partnered with Les Fabian Brathwaite at OUT Magazine to publish an exclusive selection from our "Realness" issue.
Laurel Lynn Leake's illustrated essay on the history of "realness" was published on OUT alongside an interview with Sasha Velour about the magazine.
When asked about the future of drag, Sasha replied, "The future of drag is more diverse representation. It's drag infiltrating every realm of art, it's all different types and shapes and bodies of drag showcasing their unique styles and beauties."
Read the whole piece here!
We are proud to announce the release of VELOUR: The Drag Magazine's second issue, "Realness". We will celebrate the issue with a release party and drag show at Bizarre Bushwick on October 21st, 10pm.
The evening will be hosted by artistic director Sasha Velour and will feature a stunning group of guest artists who were featured in the issue.
Chris of Hur (*Natch), Goldie Peacock (*Natch), Lady Quesa'Dilla (Boop!), Lee VaLone (*Natch), Merrie Cherry (*Natch), Miss Malice (Boop!), Nyx Nocturne (Boop!), and Pearl Harbor (*Natch, Boop!, poetry editor)
Suggested donation is $10 and copies of both issues will be for sale at the event.
Facebook event page here.
Have you heard of STACK? It is an amazing indie magazine subscription service based in the UK where a subscription brings you the best independent titles each month! What a beautiful idea! It is a wonderful way to find new magazines and for small magazines, like VYM, to build an audience.
Our Editorial Director, Johnny Velour, spoke to Stine Fantoft Berg at STACK last month and discussed all of our favorite things: Drag, Queerness, and indie publishing!
"I think the heart of Vym is talking about drag in a way that’s beautiful, thoughtful, artistic and theoretical ... In such a highly gendered world with strict rules about what is male and what is female, the art of drag really serves a great purpose in breaking down those boundaries." - Johnny Velour
Read the whole interview here!
Bushwick Daily is a Brooklyn blog covering arts and culture in Bushwick, the neighborhood where Sasha Velour's NIGHTGOWNS takes place every month.
Our Artistic Director spoke with Daniel Kessel about art, theory, and the cultural necessity that is drag! Read the piece here!
With her new monthly show, NIGHTGOWNS, Artistic Director Sasha Velour is bringing the vision of VYM to life on stage. NIGHTGOWNS is dedicated to smart, artistic, and queer-positive performance.
"Of course drag is fabulous, edgy, and fun.... But can it also help us build clever queer communities, ones equipped to stand up to power, resist whitewashing, scream "go home clones!", and then stay up all night rejoicing our own sassiness? HELL YES." - Sasha Velour
Join the us at Sasha Velour's NIGHTGOWNS. Every second Thursday of the Month at Bizarre in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
"The Talmud didn’t make Sasha Steinberg a drag queen. But it did help inspire VYM, the 'drag culture' glossy he launched in July as Sasha Velour, his alter-ego."
The Forward, the country's leading Progressive Jewish newspaper recently published a beautiful profile on VYM's Artistic Director and co-founder, Sasha Velour.
The fantastic piece by Michael Kaminer explores Sasha's work through the lens of Jewish philosophy.
“Identity for Jews like us was shaped by cultural practices and family traditions rather than allegiances of place or language or class, because those things continued to be redefined for us,” Steinberg said. “Drag operates along similar lines. As a drag performer, my identity exists in music, art and fashion, not in any one ‘language’ of gender or ‘appearance.’”
To read the whole piece, click on the photo above!
One of our favorite comics reviewers, Rob Kirby, wrote a great review of VYM on PanelPatter.com. He speaks about all the wonderful features before concluding,
"All this and more is wrapped up in Brooklyn illustrator John Lisle’s absolutely eye-popping covers and endpapers. All in all, it’s a striking, fiercely fabulous debut to dress yourself up in, while anticipating the emergence of the already-in-the-works second issue."
Sounds good to us! Thanks Rob for the love. Read the full piece here.
We at VYM are thrilled to have worked with a so many talented photographers on our first issue. One of those photographers, Yuki Matsumura was at the Brooklyn launch at Bizarre on June 11th to capture all the excitement. Yuki specializes in photographing live performance and hers was the lens behind amazing images of Donald C. Shorter, Jr. found in his essay Genderosity which was featured in our first issue. We hope you enjoy some of Yuki's amazing photos from the party!
Immediately following VYM's Champaign-Urbana, IL launch, local reporter Melissa Merli of The News-Gazette asked if she could stop by for a "studio visit". The following afternoon, she sat down with Johnny and Sasha at Sasha's childhood home to speak with them about everything from their inspirations and backgrounds to Caitlyn Jenner.
When asked about the power of drag, Sasha said, "I guess at its heart, drag kind of laughs in the face of identity, specifically the limitations of gender. So just in the act of changing the way you look, in terms of gender, there is a questioning of the rules."
"And of the validity of the construct of gender," said Johnny.
"And there is a kind of radical freedom in designing your own identity in drag," said Sasha, "and that's something that inspires people again and again."
Find the whole interview here.
Earlier this month, VYM launched its inaugural issue in New York City! On Thursday, June 11th, VYM hosted a drag show at Bizarre in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Many of the contributors to the first issue were there to perform and show support. Among the performers were K.James (featured in Masha Bogushevsky's Metamorph), Pearl Harbor (aka Wo Chan, Sonnets), Crimson Kitty (The First Drag), Didi Panache (featured in Jesus Ward and Ritsu Hirayama's Make-A-Face), and Editors Johnny and Sasha Velour. Members of the Brooklyn drag collective, Switch N Play, made a special appearance (Ri Zen, Oliver Fist, and Lee VaLone). Also, Laurel Lynn Leake, the artist behind many of the illustrations found in the issue, was on hand to lead a group reading of her VYMifesto, Defining Drag. DJ Andy Morris from Providence spun the after-party.
The following evening, VYM hosted a reading at Manhattan's only remaining queer bookstore, The Bureau of General Services - Queer Division, at the LGBT Center on W. 13th street. K.James and Didi Panache were back for more performances, and Wo Chan read their Sonnets with art projections by Sasha Velour. Donald C. Shorter Jr., author of Genderosity, read a portion of his essay about his one-person show of the same name. Laurel Lynn Leake read Kitten LaRue's essay from The FIrst Drag, and photographer Kinzie Ferguson read excerpts from Ben Bascom's interview of Veronica Bleaus (who she photographed for VYM), Anything Bleaus. Johnny and Sasha Velour both performed as well. Joe Jeffries of Drag Show Video Verite filmed portions of the evening and writers and photographers from NEXT Magazine were on hand to capture the launch as well.
VYM is not just an artful periodical, it is a place for community building. All three launch events (Champaign-Urbana, Brooklyn, and Manhattan) served different purposes that reflect the goals of the magazine. The events introduced drag to new audiences, featured talented drag artists creating breathtaking art within their performances, and created an environment for all kinds of artists to come together and speak about the meaning and philosophy of drag and queerness.
Johnny and Sasha would like to express their thanks to Bizarre, The Bureau of General Services - Queer Division, and all the artists whose work appears in VYM for their work in making these events a success.
While we are preparing the files for the first issue to go press, we want to share some exciting news! Our Editorial Director, Johnny Velour, has won an Artistic Fellowship to fund the second issue of VYM Magazine!
Johnny Velour day jobs as an event coordinator with Great Performances caterers in New York City. Great Performances was founded as a staffing company for artists to make a living while pursuing their dreams (and is now one of the largest caterers in New York). In keeping with that vision, GP has been granting Artistic Fellowships every other year for the past 30 years to employees who are pursuing their artistic goals. This year, Johnny Velour was among them, receiving a fellowship for VYM! This generous gift from Great Performances will almost single-handedly cover the cost of printing the second issue this fall!
Johnny was joined by coworkers Hayet Moufti, who will present a dance piece that will introduce the audience to a broad perspective on Islam and femininity, and Chris Corporandy, who is pursuing certification as a dialect coach. Other applicants included actors, cabaret artists, clothing designers, comedians, and musicians. A full list of this years applicants (and past fellows) can be found on the GP Blog.
This years fellows were chosen by an outside group of business leaders including:
- Scott Berrie, Emmy Award winning producer and CEO/Founder of Impulse Creative Productions
- Susan Henshaw Jones, The Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum of the City of New York
- Tangie Murray, Executive Director at Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation
- Kerry Steib, Director of Social Impact at Spotify
- Richard Zinman, Managing Director at Credit Suisse
Congrats to Johnny and the VYM team for this Fellowship that ensures a future for VYM Magazine!
Thank you to everyone who backed the VYM kickstarter project and helped us raise nearly $8,000 dollars! We are overwhelmed and at a loss for words. So we would like to express our thanks in the best way we know how.
Two artists from Brooklyn bring their “drag magazine” project to Kickstarter.
What exactly is drag? What is its history…what is its future? What makes good drag, and why should we care? VYM Magazine explores these questions and more with comics, essays, interviews, and photography from today’s most interesting independent creators (both inside and outside of the drag world). This unique and beautiful magazine is the creation of a couple living in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn: Sasha Steinberg (an art editor and drag queen) and John Jacob Lee (a dancer and coordinator).
“Drag is exciting…it’s easy to fall in love with,” says editorial director Lee. “But it’s harder to find ways to talk about it…why it matters and what it means. It’s always deeply personal…but it can be more. People need to see the depth behind drag that you can’t necessarily talk about in a club or on TV.” Lee, a life-long magazine-lover, was the first to come up with the idea of a “Drag Magazine.” Steinberg, who works as the head of the art department for TOON Books, (under the direction of The New Yorker and RAW Magazine’s Françoise Mouly), came up with the magazine’s unique look. “Drag can be glamorously superficial and profoundly world-changing all at the same time,” Steinberg says. We wanted to reflect that. A magazine is a perfect way to do that because it’s a mixture of design and writing; it’s easy to read and rich in ideas. VYM magazine is our love-letter to the kind of drag that inspires us and also the kind of publications that have changed our lives.”
The magazine is designed for readers of all backgrounds—from fans of drag to professional performers; from university professors to curious grandparents. “We wanted to create something that is mobile but also can be cherished. You should be able to read this on the train or in the bath, and then archive it with your favorite books or lend it to your friends,” Lee explains. “It was important for us to get it beautifully-printed, which is why we began looking into offset printing, woodfree paper, and library-quality binding,” Steinberg says. The two have turned to Kickstarter to raise $6,000 in 30 days. These funds will support the printing and distribution of the first issue.
Kickstarter campaigns operate under an “all-or-nothing” funding model so if the magazine doesn’t reach its goal at the end of 30 days then it won’t proceed to print. To follow this project, be sure to find the magazine on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr and spread the word to your social media networks. Consider donating any amount to help the project come to life. Rewards include digital copies, printed copies of the first two issues, art prints, and even personalized drag portraits or videos from VYM artists.
The first issue of VYM Magazine features art from a diverse group of artists and performers including: Eric Kostiuk Williams (Toronto), Jennifer Camper (Brooklyn), Jon Chad (Northampton, MA), Francesca (NYC), Veronica Bleaus (Champaign-Urbana, IL) Kitten n’ Lou (Seattle), and Fausto Fernos (Chicago).