Growing up gay in a traditional Chinese family in Los Angeles, I didn’t have a lot of role models. My family and friends were mostly straight, and the gay culture I was exposed to through magazines and movies didn’t embrace alternative and non-traditional types of beauty.
At fifteen, I discovered an all-ages club in Los Angeles called ABC, Arena’s Boys Club. It introduced me to a community I didn’t know I had been longing for. Drag shows were the epicenter of the night. I remember being so excited to see this one performer named Asia who did some numbers that are memorable still today. Drag was the epitome of freedom and fantasy — everything a closeted teen could dream of. This place became a home for me every Tuesday and Friday from 1990 to 1993. I brought dozens of friends, many of whom also feel that it turned on a light for them.
For our NYFW show this season, we teamed up with Sasha Velour, artist and visionary winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9. I’ve long been an admirer from afar, and invited Sasha to the opening gala of New York’s Performance Space this spring. Surrounded by icons of queer and outlier art — the East Village space incubated everyone from Penny Arcade to Keith Haring — we hatched the idea that would become today’s show.
“The Gift of Showz” is a co-creation of Opening Ceremony and New York’s drag community. Starring a cast selected by Sasha, its spiritual mother is Nightgowns, her perennially sold-out Brooklyn performance series. Our performers aren’t models but collaborators. They wear custom looks designed using our Spring 2019 fabrics.
Sasha’s work reminds me of my own journey. What drew me to drag shows as a teenager is the same thing that propelled Carol and I to start Opening Ceremony: a celebration of individuality, freedom of expression, and the idea that realizing your dreams is only a fabulous outfit away.