In a landscape that is rapidly redeveloping, Atlanta’s queer culture continues to take root despite the harsh political climate burdened upon us both nationally and locally. From Midtown’s baby steps in representation and approaches to art, to the growth of prime underground queer event organizers like Morph and Southern Fried Queer Pride, queer ATL continues to show that opposition only motivates communities towards transformative change. In theory, we could have a list for each category or career, but also evolving is the fact that Atlanta’s queers no longer tend to specialize in one medium.
For now, here are 10 individuals and groups worth watching in 2018 that are adding their craft, dialogue and creativity to our ever changing Southeastern Emerald City.
Blammo began as a simple idea between friends hanging outside a Lumpy show. With a mutual love for cool contemporaries like Palberta and Grass Widow, members Sarah (bass+vox), Mariam (drums) and Tyler (guitarist, also frontperson of Mutual Jerk) solidified themselves as “a real band” after stuffy neighbors complained and they acquired a practice space. “It is a hat trick: a Repo Man reference, a Ren and Stimpy reference (it's Log!), and a reference to a zine,” Mariam says of their name. “A Slacker reference too!”, Tyler includes. Sarah describes the band as “bass-driven slacker booty-punk with hyena vocals”, but everyone agrees their influences heavily lean on lady-fronted post-punk of the past such as Delta 5, Kleenex, Suburban Lawns, and The Slits. Having played two shows thus far, Blammo will be performing February 3rd at 529 and later that month for a special WUSSY event TBA. With plans to play lots of rad shows with friends, make new songs and demos, and be revivalist P.U.N.K. badasses (while Mariam finishes up their PhD!), Blammo are predicted to be the DIY darlings the ATL music scene definitely needs.
In the rich roarious comedy scene, ATL’s first all-queer improv team, Queeriety, officially formed in summer 2017 when founder Nick DeGroote met with fellow Village Theatre volunteer Anna Jones to hash out an idea he’d been brewing. Now more classified as a variety comedy group, Assistant Director Jones affirms, “We've expanded into being so much more. What remains the same is that our talent all identify as LGBTQ+. When I've talked to folks about us, I've received similar responses of surprise that this hasn't happened in Atlanta before! We're honored to be a part of the changing, vibrant landscape here, and to provide a safe outlet for queer performers and the community at large.” Recently collaborating with WUSSY for another sold out Queer Drunk History, playing on Freddie Mercury, Sylvia Rivera and Lady Chablis, the next edition in June 2018 is in the planning. You can also find Queeriety regularly performing at Dad's Garage monthly Melting Pot which includes an all-Latinx and an all-Black comedy troupe.
Crowned Miss Glitz! 2017, the brash buxom bearded Molly Rimswell has kept busy between AMEN!, Pride weekend and hosting packed-TF-out Glitz events every third Thursday at Mary’s. Sparked by pure inspiration after becoming mesmerized by Evah Destruction and Brigitte Bidet’s combination of beauty, wit, and humor at The Other Show, with the aid of two drag sisters, the crass and kooky Molly Rimswell was created. “I started with tulle....a lot of tulle, but I love all things flowy and that have a natural movement. I don't have fashion sense. I just want to be visually assaulting to the audience,” a modest Miss Molly fondly recalls. “Chyna White taught me how to use the thing they call makeup in her dirty bathroom while she chain smoked. Taylor Alxndr taught me how to work for what I wanted in this career, that sometimes you have to make your own way.” Seamlessly deviating between divine bitch, batshit crazy, endearingly goofy, and Fairy Godmother matron, Molly’s animated insanity has branded her with a certain star quality within the art drag community you’ll definitely be seeing a lot of in the upcoming year.
OYE Fest was founded by Terminal West veteran Margarita Rios, Living Wall’s founder Monica Campana and DJ/producer Randall Ruiz to “promote and celebrate the rich diversity present in our Latinx community through music and the arts…. connecting arts to social awareness... honor the history and culture that is shaping the creative, visionary, and resilient identity of the Latinx community today”. Margarita and Randall’s friendship growing up OTP was a bonding experience that strengthened their aim to create stronger spaces. “Gwinnett went from being one of the whitest counties in Georgia to one of the most diverse in what seemed like overnight. You can now find mosques, Hindu temples, Dominican barber shops, and Korean karaokes all over. This growth in demographics led to the Underground Peachtree Latino Festival, which was the first of its kind in Atlanta”, Margarita explains. When Randall and Monica came together as original members of La Choloteca and were further inspired by Chicago’s Ruido festival, the trio were driven to organize a larger format event space that combined their past achievements and create more opportunities for community connection. With three events under their belt in 2017, their last featuring LA’s Cuco, queer punk band Bitter and DJ Esme (check the video recap), the organization’s robust plans for 2018 include many upcoming events. Keep up with announcements via their Facebook page.
There aren’t many ATL queers under the age of 25 that have accomplished as much as Devyn Springer has. A multidisciplinary artist, Devyn is a performer, a photographer, and a curator, who presented a powerful prose and print installation series at Wonderroot mid-2017. Devyn’s incredibly strong suit in writing and curating, as Editor In Chief of the badass social justice blog, Offtharecord, which publishes personal accounts of unequal access to essays on feminist theory, is just a small part of this independent spirit’s curricula vitae. A regular contributor to Afropunk and Wear Your Voice, Devyn’s frequent and authentic content, whether it be political, historical, educational, prose or all of the above, never skips a beat. "My identity is almost inextricable from my work, whether by choice or inherently. When I create, I create from the context of what I know: Blackness, queerness, my Muslim identity, and my relation to class,” Devyn states. “I'm working on starting my own digital publication in 2018 that caters to Black, PoC, Indigenous, TLGBQ, and immigrant voices.” Be on the lookout for Devyn’s next step in journalism and in the meantime, check out Devyn’s writings on abuse in queer relationships; Black-Palestinian solidarity; aesthetics, culture and identity; and order Devyn’s print collection, Grayish-Black, on Amazon.
Like so many, “nue creative” Curtis Bryant had an intense 2017. Perhaps it was his Saturn return, or being barraged by the same faces, or having lived in the same apartment in NY all his life… until now. For whatever reason, the urge that propulsed him to ATL found him sitting in a city that unfolded in unexpected ways, altering his approach to creating: “Funny enough, I use to be inspired by others and even though that still happens, recently I’ve been way more inspired by myself. Becoming my own muse is new for me but super liberating at the same time.” Known for his crisp visuals, photographing everything from street fashion to underground musicians and designing innovative graphics or short films examining race, Curtis’ new path brought forward by a small network in ATL has led him to discovering family and a fresh outlook on opportunities in the short two months he has been here. Curtis’ collaboration with Phillip-Michael and Pow Jones can be found in Wussy’s Queer Sex issue debuting at ATL Contemporary January 25th. Be sure to follow his Instagram and blog for more content.
Lifestyle blogging is often assumed a hetero ladies’ game of carefully curated fashion, beauty, self-care, and so on, but listen up, blogger bitches! Rigel Gemini is a strong contender, bringing a queer eye of streamlined LA looks and SF tech savvy to the American blogosphere. Though no longer on the West Coast after careful consideration of many other warmer-climate destinations, super sweet Rigel and artist hubby Cameron Lee are new ATLiens and instantly fell in love with the city’s offerings. Even with a background of growing up in a solar and wind-milled powered house in rural NH, My Little Pony lunch box in tow, at first glance Georgia didn’t seem to be the move. “Coming from New England, I had a limited concept of The South, and Atlanta struck me as cosmopolitan and exciting. It has an authentic, raw spirit,” Rigel says of his first visits. With 66.9K followers on Instagram, Rigel’s strong passion for design ranges from fashion to technological has strengthened him into a full-time Influencer, Blogger, and Digital Strategist, a welcome addition to the young creative circuit in Atlanta and definitely worthy of a subscribe.
As singer, songwriter and guitarist for Chick Wallace, Melanie Paulos’ slight leaning toward 90’s grunge with a 70’s country twang surfs a most wistful wave of garage hooks. Releasing a solid EP in November, Paulos and partner-in-crime drummer Max Boydston consistently deliver live either as a two-piece or with the accompaniment of Josh Pringle and Alex Glick, and will be playing next at SFQP’s Sweet Tea January 20th. Paulos’ zest for non-stop creation also includes thought-provoking visual art often inspired by philosophical texts. Paulos’ connects the personal to the political demonstrated via installation (her real jam) at the upcoming Served Soft opening alongside the works of Xan Violet, a day before Sweet Tea. “I created ‘Beware of Bearing Gifts’ after I had been fired or taken off jobs in the creative field for not wanting to pursue romantic involvement with the folks who hired or were managing me. It made me feel like I had no protection, no say because I was predominately freelancing,” says Paulos. “I made the piece for anyone who has ever felt outside pressures to have intimate (whether they be sexual or emotional) relations with someone else based on a ‘Trojan horse’ that the receiving party has put forward, whether it's someone dating a 28 year old at 17 or Trans folk experiencing fetishization.”
La Rico Potts is an androgynous vixen who puts performer standards regarding presentation both in performance and dress in the crosshairs. Noting that one of his favorite standouts of 2017 was ICON: A Celebration of Beyonce, LaRico is not lying when he says “entertaining is what I love”. The ICON events are just one of many Midtown soirees in which the trained dancer and choreographer has risen the vibrations of the room to transcendent triumphal heights. Past events include leading the high-heeled high-octane SugarBoyz, Powder Room with RuGirl Peppermint, Gawd Save the Queen with Pearl, Glitz and Mighty Real to name a few. ATL audiences beware and be ready to get amped! The delightful unstoppable energy of LaRico will be glorious in 2018 as LaRico never fails to produce propelling performances, sometimes resulting in injury, a labor of love for this magickal maven of movement. We’d be surprised if promoters aren’t fighting for bookings over the next year.
In 2016, Brian Rojas had no idea he would become a DJ. After approaching Vicki Powell for mentorship on a whim, Rojas was quickly learning the ropes under Powell’s wing who happily inducted him into the Deep South DJ family. As both a queer and Latinx DJ, Rojas’ growth process in becoming established in a short period of time has been a personally liberating journey. “Being a new QPOC DJ to the scene, I was floored with emotion at the reception and opportunities provided for involvement and participation,” Rojas explains. “Anytime I go out, I want to represent myself and my roots with pride. I hope other people like myself (Latinx/Latin American) are inspired when they see brown people doing their thing, throwing and hosting queer parties.” Ringing in the New Year at Perreo Changa: Cholo-Wussy-teca and releasing his first official mix on Soundcloud shortly thereafter, the upcoming Deep South Horse Meat Disco at Heretic February 17th is a guaranteed good time.
Sunni Johnson is a writer, zinester, and musician based in Atlanta, GA.