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Watch: Ocasio-Cortez Makes a Splash at NYC Drag Show

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Jul 9, 2019
Drag performer Murray Hill and freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasoi-Cortez at the Bartschland Follies in NYC
Drag performer Murray Hill and freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasoi-Cortez at the Bartschland Follies in NYC  (Source:Murray Hill / Instagram)

Those on the anti-everything hard political right have watched freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez like a hawk, seeking fodder for criticism and vitriol in her every move. But AOC's appearance at a drag show at the McKittrick Hotel in New York City just might cause a few conservative heads to explode. Her words to the crowd? "You are beautiful," Ocasio-Cortez reportedly said from the stage. "You are accepted."

NBC News reported on the lawmaker's surprise appearance, which took place at the Susanne Bartsch-produced Bartschland Follies, which accounts described as "a drag and burlesque show."

The NBC article quoted drag performer Murray Hill as noting that the show's cast were not "feeling too patriotic this July 4 weekend, but her presence alone gave us all a much needed dose of hope."

Ocasio-Cortez's surprise victory in the midterm elections is widely seen as a rebuke to the Trump administration, under which America's LGBTQ community — especially trans people — have been targeted for everything from legal erasure to renewed discrimination.

Saying that Ocasio-Cortez "reignited the fire that's burning in all of us," Hill told NBC how the freshman lawmaker, who represents New York's 14th congressional district, "stayed and watched the entire show," which Hill characterized as "starring New York's finest misfits, nightlife creatures, rebel rousers, queer icons."

Hill shared his recollection of how Ocasio-Cortez "got on stage and said, 'Be who you are. You are beautiful. You are accepted.' "

The show's appreciative attendees broke into a chant of her name, reported CNN.

That enthusiastic chant was also mentioned in a post by Joey Arias, an acclaimed star of the drag world. Arias took to Instagram to share video of himself with Ocasio-Cortez on stage, reported political news outlet The Hill.

"Alexandria O.Cortez and myself at BARTSCHLAND FOLLIES!" Arias posted in text that accompanied the video. "I was gagging ! She's Amaxing ! The place went wild ! Chanting her name.!"

Ocasio-Cortez, a fan of "RuPaul's Drag Race," has posted to social media about her favorite contestants, media reports recalled. CNN noted that the congresswoman had a meeting last April with the cast of the Netflix series "Queer Eye," a hit style and fashion reality program that is about to premiere its fourth season. (A new trailer for the show's upcoming season just dropped.)

Ocasio-Cortez has been the target of trolling and online hate speech, including doctored images and mocking commentary reportedly posted by a secret Facebook group comprised of agents from the United States Customs and Border Patrol. The posts - which also included degrading comments and imagery attacking migrants, minorities, and U.S. lawmakers of Hispanic heritage - included a manipulated image that depicted Ocasio-Cortez seemingly being forced into oral sex by President Trump.

Ocasio-Cortez framed the online hate as being part and parcel of the conditions she witnessed at a facility in Texas where she saw migrant children living in degrading conditions. "It's just indicative of the violent culture that we saw," the lawmaker said of the posts that targeted her and others.

Ocasio-Cortez is in the vanguard of a younger, more progressive stripe of Democrats. The youngest member of the U.S. House of Representatives at age 29, Ocasio-Cortez is a champion of the "Green New Deal."

NBC quoted Hill as saying that Ocasiuo-Cortez is "genuine, authentic, fearless, and outspoken."

Added Hill: "She's the real deal."

View the video shared on Instagram by Joey Arias below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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