Summer Offerings Sizzle

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From Queer @ HERE to Coney Island’s SirenFest, culture and fun awaits

Though the annual gay and lesbian film festival NewFest has come and gone, those seeking summer fun need only to look toward the horizon.

Whether you find yourself in the city, in the Hamptons, or in Westchester or elsewhere upstate, summer arts and music festivals are popping up like brightly colored beach umbrellas.

Here in the city, start the season off on June 19, with the “3 Farms” outdoor music festival, the conclusion of a festival of free music downtown intended to “galvanize and revitalize the Lower East Side community.” On June 6, the stage rocked with, among others, David Johansen, former front man for legendary 70s NYC-punk icons the New York Dolls. On June 19, enjoy the music of Clem Snide, Martha Wainwright, Matty Charles and The Valentines, and Jason Anderson,

Organizers say these artists, featured regularly at Lower East side music venues, personify the spirit of the music scene there. 3 Farms takes place from 1 to 8 p.m. on June 19 at the Lower East Side Amphitheater, Grand Street at the East River.

In addition to music, enjoy food, non-alcoholic beverages, and merchandise from local establishments. For more information, visit

As festivals go, you can’t get much gayer than Queerfest, the newly incarnated combination of three popular summer festivals, Queer @ HERE, the HOT! Festival, and Fresh Fruit Festival 2004. Together they are presenting more than 60 shows and 300 artists of various genres and mediums.

“Because it’s all about unity, baby,” commented festival veteran and one of the current Queer @ HERE curators, James Ferguson, who will host a burlesque queer wedding at the festival’s opening party on June 18.

Through June 26, the Queer @ HERE festival presents 17 works of theater, readings, and dance. Highlights include the new work “Cardiac Arrest or Venus on a Half Clam,” by Taylor Mac, described as “art cabaret about gay marriage, morning masturbation sessions, hanky codes, and his failing relationship with Dick Cheney.”

On June 17, catch “Descendants of Freedom by Andre Lancaster: A Futuristic Queer Hip-Hop Odyssey,” a triumphant story of how HIV-positive lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth of color live with hope and risk.

Don’t miss the puppetry of Ariel Golberger and Jenni Werner on June 22 and 23. On June 26, the final evening, Heather Ács, Carolyn Connelly, Laura Reyna, and Beth Smulyan, in “Foursome: 4 solo artists getting’ it on together,” tell fabulous stories about being queer, Chicana, femme, trans, and fat.

From July 6 through 28, Dixon Place hosts the Hot Festival, presenting works in puppetry, burlesque, drag, circus, performance, music, theater, dance, spoken word, and video. The festival opens on July 6 with a free preview party and opening night performance of John Fleck in “CockaDoodleDandy: A Weapon of Mass Construction.”

Performances after that seem non-stop. Among the highlights are comedy by the legendary Reno on July 7 and 21, “Attitude,” by Susana Cook running July 8 though 24, the Isle of Klezbos klezmer band on July 8, and Scotty the Blue Bunny hosting a burlesque talent show on July 10. Other hits are the Homotext literary series on July 13, and “Emergency Exits” and “Naked Femmes on Crutches,” featuring Jess Dobkin and Felice Shays, on July 14.

Based on the teaser, “Some boys are lonely; others horny, most are serving more than just their country,” men are sure to love two works-in-progress presented on July 23—”Blue Discharges” by Glenn Kessler and Michael C. Jackson and Michael Whistler’s “The Faggot Museum: An Evening of Gay Men Who Talk Too Much.” Ladies will get a kick out of Sara Moore’s “Hook & Ladder,” a screwball comedy about an all-woman firehouse, on July 27.

And everyone will enjoy kicking up their heels at the Big Apple Ranch Festival Benefit Hoe-down, on July 24. The theme is “The Rhinestone Cowboy.” Arrive early for free dance lessons.

The festival closes with a double bill featuring works by Jeff McMahon and Greg Walloch. Many events benefit Dixon Place’s Capital Campaign.

Before you’re even done getting Hot, the Fresh Fruit Festival 2004 starts its deliveries. Every day for two weeks, from July 11-25, you can find art, music, performance, dance, and parties on the Lower East Side.

On July 11, cute gay boy rocker Justin Tranter curates “Tangy, Tasty, Fruity Tunes: An Evening of Queer Music,” at Sidewalk Cafe. The following night, see new art at the Fresh Fruit Gala Art Opening, with readings by Carol Pocovar and food by the Taste of the Lower East Side vendors. Sign up to read your own poetry on July 13, or catch a night of women’s poetry on July 14 with “Fast Girls, Goddesses and Kumquats,” curated by Susan Sherman, followed by a women’s party and open mike with talented rocker Jenn Lindsay.

On July 16, catch the “Homo Hip-Hop Poetry Jam,” or five days later, on July 21, “Exotic Fruits: A Hot Night of Latin Performance,” curated by innovative performer Jade Esteban Estrada.

Fresh Fruit’s lineup is overwhelming, culminating on July 25 with the Celebrate Fruits Party.

You can mark your calendar now for the Eighth Annual New York International Fringe Festival, from August 13 through 19. Each year, the festival presents programming by artists from nearly 200 of the world’s best emerging theater troupes and dance companies at assorted downtown venues. The festival has been the launching pad for numerous Off Broadway and Broadway transfers, including the Tony Award-winning “Urinetown,” “Debbie Does Dallas,” and “Matt & Ben.”

Among the many worthwhile offerings this year are “Big Trouble in Little Hazzard,” a trip down television’s memory lane with Bo and Luke as they battle Boss Hogg, and “The First Step,” the true story of a gay sex addict and his bumpy journey to recovery. And don’t miss “Dixie’s Tupperware Party,” the outrageous life and tales of Alabama’s own Dixie Longate, America’s #1 selling Tupperware “lady” as she demonstrates a million and one alternative uses for Americas favorite “burpable” plastic.

Drag aficionados will be glad to hear that Lady Bunny and her ragtag crew of queens will again stage Wigstock in Tompkins Square Park this year. Head to Tompkins Square Park on August 21 for the show, part of HOWL!, the second annual festival of East Village Arts. This expansive festival seeks to “honor the historic role of the East Village as the cradle of the city’s, if not the world’s, counterculture.”

To that end, the festival’s offerings are diverse. After the Avenue A processional of papier-mâché heads and a brass band marches from St. Mark’s into Tompkins Square Park, the East Side explodes into a colorful panoply of performance, art, and music. The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Festival celebrates the spoken word, Viva Charas offers merengue and salsa music by local musicians, the Charlie Parker festival gives it up for the Bird, and a Bluegrass fest takes place as well.

Forgoing the red carpet, the 2003 East Village Film Festival screened 75 films, and attracted local celebrities like Brooklyn’s own Steve Buscemi. In addition, Howl! junior. offers arts and crafts, rides, puppet shows, and even scholarships for the kiddies, and Art Around the Park gives a showcase to local artists. There is even a Midway, with food, vendors, drum circles, and a scavenger hunt.

And, of course, there are men in pantyhose galore at Wigstock.

For a one-day festival that you’ll remember for a long time, don’t miss the Fourth Annual Coney Island Siren Music Fest, sponsored by The Village Voice. On July 17, 150,000 hipsters, music lovers, and kids of all ages will descend on Brooklyn’s fabled beach for free music and art in a very festive setting. This year’s line-up, performing on two beachfront stages, includes And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Mission Of Burma, Electric Six, Vue and The Thermals, plus Death Cab For Cutie, Blonde Redhead, Har Mar Superstar, TV On The Radio, Constantines, The Fiery Furnaces, The Fever, The Ponys, and Your Enemies Friends.

Ride the Cyclone, see a band, dip your piggies in the sea—what more can you ask from a festival?

Further out on the horizon, Ladyfest*East will be held September 30 and October 1 in Brooklyn, the culmination of several creative fundraisers to support the autumn event held throughout the summer. On June 20, head to Southpaw for Dudefest, in Park Slope, a rock show benefit featuring The Debutantes, Fort Ancient, and the Mountain Men. On July 31, catch another rock show at Trash in Williamsburg featuring The Dead Betties, The Assault, and more. To be a part of the action building toward women-empowering Ladyfest*East, look for updates on

Major out of town summer events within striking distance of Gotham include the summer-long Caramoor Festival that begins in late June, the Hamptons Shakespeare Festival, and Bard Summerscape, the latter two which run from July through August.

The Caramoor International Musical Festival in Katonah launches on June 26 with an opening night gala celebration, “Night in the Garden of Spain,” a celebration of Spanish-inspired music by Rimsky-Korsakov, Falla, Sarasate, and Ginastera. A month and a half of music follows, with concerts taking place in two outdoor theaters—the large, acoustically superb Venetian Theater and the more intimate Spanish Courtyard. In addition, the festival features museum tours, teas, and other cultural events. A high point of the festival is “From the French Court to the Cajun Kitchen,” a concert tracing the course of Cajun music from its roots in the 18th century court of Versailles to the Louisiana delta.

Other highlights include concerts of Bernstein and Comden and Green, and a performers’ showcase featuring music by Beethoven. Caramoor International Music Festival runs June 26 through August 14. Buses leave from the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Upper West Side and East Side locations, and access is also available via Metro-North. Tickets are available at 914 232 1252 or online at

This year, the Hamptons Shakespeare Festival presents “The Comedy of Errors” at Theodore Roosevelt County Park in Montauk July 28 through August 20 and then in Agawam Park in Southampton, August 25 through 29, with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. The outdoor amphitheater in Montauk is as elite as the Hamptonites that populate the audience. For complete information, visit or call 631 267 0105.

From July 8 through August 22, enjoy theater including “The Inspector General,” “The Nose,” “Petersburg Tales” and more, plus music, performance, and a Russian film fest at the two-week Bard Summerscape, at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Annandale-on-Hudson. Picnic overlooking the Hudson River and enjoy some top-quality entertainment. For full information, call 845 758 7900 or visit

As mom would say, it’s a beautiful day. Go outside and play!

HERE Arts Center

145 Sixth Ave.

Jun. 15-26

$15, 212 868 4444 or


Various downtown venues

All tickets are $15

For complete information, call 212279-4488

or visit

Dixon Place

258 Bowery

For complete information, call 212 219 0736

Or visit

Milagro Theater

107 Suffolk Street

Arlene’s Grocery

99 Stanton St.

Sidewalk Cafe

94 Avenue A, Jul. 11-25

For complete information, visit

Coney Island

Jul. 17 noon-9 p.m.

For complete information, visit

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