In celebration of the end of NYFW F/W 2016, we bring you the queen of After Dark, Ladyfag, photographed as she got ready for Diesel's blowout last week.
“I live in Brooklyn and I throw parties all over the world, but mainly in Manhattan and in Brooklyn. I’ve always been someone who loved nightlife and I’ve always been a part of nightlife, even in Toronto, which is where I’m from. And I never thought of it as a career, like ‘I’m going to be in nightlife.’ Then I came to New York for a few months—I had a business selling vintage clothes and antiques—and I started go-go dancing at parties. One night I did this impromptu floor show, and Kenny Kenny came up and he’s like, ‘You! Come dance for me at Happy Valley,’ which was the party of the time. And so they stuck me in a cage, and I remember thinking, who cares? I’m never going to see any of these people again. And I did this crazy show and he came up, and he’s like, ‘OK, that’s it. You’re hired. Come do this every week. And come downstairs, they all want to know who you are.’ And then it just kind of started happening, and I started go-go dancing at every party, and I started hosting. At one point, my record was 17 or 19 days in a row that I‘d been working a party. And then it evolved into my own parties and then into producing events and then producing fashion events and after-parties.
I’ve probably met everyone I know in a nightclub. That’s how I met Nicola [Formichetti, Artistic Director of Diesel], at a nightclub. He’s always got his finger on the pulse so I’ve developed this love for him and what he’s doing with the brand. They let me run crazy in the store to pick out what I was going to wear, which is very Diesel, too. Some people think of [after-parties] as going to a nightclub and getting drunk and that’s for some people, but that’s not what it is for me. It’s this platform for you to express yourself, it’s a space to enjoy some of the arts that I find the most exciting, be it fashion and dance and music and lighting design…there’s so many elements. But then on top of that, you know, for people especially in the queer community, it becomes this place where you network and you make friends and you find lovers and you connect with people. I guess that’s what church is, right?
My style of hosting is making everybody feel like it’s their party, because it’s theirs. And the minute you stop thinking that it’s theirs and you start thinking that it’s your party, you’re probably a really shitty host. We always say everyone’s welcome. No douchebags allowed. And I mean girls in flip-flops probably shouldn’t come either, but you know, I don’t want to be snobby about things. You’ve got to have some rules. No flip-flops, people! When it comes to fashion, my style would be schizophrenic more than anything. Obviously there’s a few certain kinds of things that I like, and I think everyone has their beauty habits, be it makeup or clothing. You have your fallbacks, and then you’re like, ‘Wait a minute. I’ve got to stop wearing those boots I’ve worn too many times. I’ve got to stop wearing my eyeliner that way…’ Get inspired and change things up. Sometimes I feel bad for my friends. Maybe not at parties, but, you know, you invite me out for dinner, and you have no idea if I’m going to come looking like some John Waters character or I’m going to look like Leave It To Beaver, or I’m going to come having a Jerry Hall moment in a long fur coat and a bathing suit, you just don’t know. I have my goth moments, I’ve got my Cry Baby/Rockabilly girl moments, I’ve got my Mad Max futuristic look… And then during the day a lot of times I look like either some kind of Russian Dr. Zhivago kind of moment or something kind of Cabaret. So it really just depends on, I wouldn’t even say the day, but the hour…
At home, I have this 6-foot long dresser and on top, I’ve stacked all of my wigs—30 or 40 of them. I wear them quite a bit! And so then today, the Bumble and bumble team came and they restyled this one for me. At first, we thought let’s do a snatchback and do braids, and then it just seemed too obvious. The thing is, it’s one of my fallbacks. I’ve been doing it for years. So this hair is to play to the high/low of the look—because high/low can mean so many things. If you’re going to do everything all chic then you should do something to fuck it up a little but, you know, and give it a little twist. Otherwise it’s just a costume as opposed to something that you’re living in.
It can be really hard to do your own hair! One time, Danilo was doing my hair and I asked if he could do just a ponytail and he was like, ‘Just a ponytail!? Ponytails are one of the most difficult things to actually master.’ Girls just throw their hair in ponytails. That’s not a ponytail, you know? And I will say the ponytail he did on me was the ponytail of life. Down to my butt.
On days when I do my own hair, the Bumble and bumble Surf Spray is a really good cheat without having to do too much. Then I have this Aesop Violet Leaf Hair Balm that’s like a hair mask to make it shiny. Then lots of hairspray, also from Bumble. Of course, there are days I can’t do my own hair—that’s when I like to wear a really big turban. Well, we call them headwraps because turban could imply a cute little thing from the ‘30s. I will take a tablecloth off and I will suddenly be in this humongous headwrap. That’s usually when I didn’t have time to do my hair—that’s the honest truth.
My makeup routine is great for nighttime because it’s dramatic and it looks good in the dark, but it only takes 15 minutes. Like an old lady, I use the YSL Touche Éclat under my eyes, and then MAC Studio Fix on the rest of my face. One of the things I use the most is liquid eyeliner. I go back and forth on brand—there’s one from Faces Cosmetics and I like the way that the pen is because I’ve gotten used to it. And then I’ll take the MAC one because it’s a softer brush and I fill it in with that. I’ll rim my eyes with a black kohl always. I don’t like that it gets smudgy, but it’s a good look at first. Actually, one of my go-to looks is when I make the cat eye kind of Cleopatra all the way into my hairline. I was talking to a makeup artist about it—he works with Pat McGrath—so I said, ‘I hope Pat never copies that, because if one day she does that then it’s over for me!’ I’ve done it for years.
Mascara is another one of those things I go back and forth on. I have the classic Maybelline Great Lash that everyone uses, and then I use the MAC Opulash. I have tons of lashes on the top and then no lashes on the bottom. Usually I try to do nothing to them on the bottom because otherwise it shows how much less I have. It’s better to focus on the top and ignore the bottom. That’s actually an analogy for my sex life! [Laughs] Sorry! And I don’t use fake lashes because people already think I’m a drag queen, which is not a bad thing! I’m proud that people think I’m a drag queen.
For my lips, I use a Chanel clear lipgloss a lot or MAC Russian Red the most. I use Nars Blush for contour—I do it way too much, like full drag cheekbones. Sometimes when I bleach my eyebrows I use the yellow MAC concealer. I can’t imagine it's for skin, but I use it around my eyebrows. One time, I actually threaded my eyebrows completely off. It’s one of the most painful things to take your entire eyebrow off—but I do it for fashion! It’s a good look. Or sometimes I’ll glue things to them, like biker jacket studs… There’s this stuff called Pros-Aide and it’s what they use for films when they are doing special effects, so my makeup artist will glue things to my face with it. I can look at anything and be like, ‘I’m gonna glue this to my face!’ It comes off with oils, but when you do it in your eyebrows it gets all balled up so for days I’ll have it in my eyebrows and I’ll be wearing a hat.
Naomi Yasuda does my nails a lot–I do them pointy and I’ve done it for years. They’re gel extensions. I went to the bank and the lady there was like, ‘Did you see that Rihanna has those nails now? She copied you!’ I was like, ‘I don’t know if she copied me, but yeah.’ I’ve always had my nails in sharp little claws and they’re a natural or a blood red. Today they’re green, which is different and a little ugly, but I like it.
Everything I do in terms of beauty is an occupational hazard of nightlife. I destroy my face basically. You put on too much makeup, and then you’re scrubbing it all off every night. Sometimes I get a little drunk and then wake up in the morning and my makeup is still on and that’s not good for me. As you get older you need to remember to take your makeup off. I use Dr. Jart’s Dermaclear Micro Water. It’s literally water and I’m paying a lot for it, but it works. Then I’ll use a moist towelette and Aesop toner, followed by the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery. It’s like the macaroni and cheese of facial products because it’s like comfort food. You put it on your face and it eats it up. I’m also obsessed with exfoliating—I probably do it too much. The Geranium Leaf Body Scrub from Aesop smells so good. I eat it practically! It’s like, ‘Oh, the tube is empty…again!’ When I have time, I use those white sheet masks from Shiseido. They really work and if you look tired you can do it right before an event or if you’re hungover, but then I started using it as a crutch, like, ‘Oh, I’ll be fine, I’ll just use that Shiseido thing!’ It works, but it’s not a miracle—possibly a placebo? I’m OK with that, too.”
—as told to ITG
Ladyfag photographed by Tom Newton in New York on February 13, 2016.
More nighttime advice from people who go out for a living: The Dolls instruct on how to turn a pack of silver bobby pins into “disco ball hair,” Amanda Lepore talks the best pin-up shade of red lipstick, and Matthew Mazur shares his de facto hangover remedy in the Top Shelf After Dark.