There's a light (over at the Frankenstein Place) ...
It's been nearly a year since we've heard from the glam punk priestesses at RowdyDowdy, a DIY party, performance, and living space located in Southwest Atlanta. The Athens-to-Atlanta transplants made a huge splash last year, hosting original productions and local music shows with WUSSY favorites like LONER and Coco & Clair Clair.
The Dowdy Gurls are a drag family. Not unlike Savannah's House of Gunt or Warhol's Factory, they create art together, swap makeup tips, and make their own rules. When you enter the paint-spattered venue, you are also entering their home.
Since last year, life at RowdyDowdy hasn't been all garbage and glam. The Dowdy Gurls experienced some pushback in 2017 after "The Big Thing" music festival pulled out of working with the venue, citing allegations that they were supportive of abusers.
Now the team is back, on the heels of premiering their new drag space odyssey, BOYMAN: The Musical. We spoke to the crew to hear more about their new production, the ImmersiveAtlanta controversy, and a whole new era of RowdyDowdy.
Who or what is RowdyDowdy? Describe yourselves for people who might not know you yet.
Rowdy Dowdy is an eclectically decorated ATL lifestyle event space featuring art and entertainment events of all kinds. We are a mixed bag of mid-20s broke ass queens living in a garage and striving to untuck the gender-f***-movement while also searching for true love. Our goals: Provide an entirely unique DIY experience in our beloved city, and look FIERCE while we do it. Bottom line, we’re just trying to launch our careers as weirdos.
You all started out in Athens, correct?
Rowdy Dowdy started out as a homo with a dream, a dream to get into some guy's jeans. It has evolved since its secluded farm days hosting house shows and making art, and is now a thriving creative collective producing original content. Also, we got college degrees. Except Trey.
Tell us about your new show!
The Assventure of Boyman: THE MUSICAL is Dowdy's premier foray into producing a classic Hollywood cash grab. Set in a world where Hillary Duff is President of a utopic Moon Society on the moon, where everyone is a superhero, and synthetic cum is a mass produced cure-all commodity; its magic gathering of cosmic characters and original interpretation of intergalactic planetary space couture will provide cheap laughs and make you say...."but, why?" Just imagine Infinity War, but make it fashion.
Y'all are known for being SUPER queeny -- can you tell us what it is about drag that is so vital to your art and space?
Oh! Who us? OMG, thanksssss!!! Well, like all burgeoning queens, drag was something we started doing in the middle of the night, in our parents closets, in the Marshall’s rejected beauty product section, in that Value Village half price sequin prom dress...but eventually we started bringing out the drag personas at parties, and people loved it! It quickly became an integral and WOMANDATORTY part of the entire Dowdy experience, and we just happened to love doing it. Drag is at the core of Dowdy's identity because it is multidisciplinary by nature, and we feel that it liberates us from reality; whoop, there goes gravity.
The Dowdy crew is a mix of gender expression, with straight and queer folks on the team. What do you say to people who believe straight folx shouldn't be doing drag?
We love straight queens and bioqueens and drag kings and trans queens and all the cream in between! To us modern drag is an art form that invites one to turn themselves into anyone or anything they want to explore, express, or embody. At Dowdy, drag is for everyone regardless of sexuality, gender identity, persona, race, age, creed - with arms wide open! The important thing is to embrace and share your truth, hotness, and friendship love with others...we don't have $100,000 to judge you with, so come as ya damn please Brenda!
We haven't heard much from y'all since "The Big Thing" show pulled out of your venue after the allegations of Rowdy booking and supporting abusers. What have you been up to since then and do you have anything else you'd like to address about that situation?
You’ll be pleased to hear that this incident became a hugely positive turning point in the history of the Dowdy oeuvre! We took the allegations very seriously and as a direct result, did not allow the band in question to play. Obviously we have always aimed to make our space as fun and safe as possible. It’s not just a venue; it’s our home- we literally live in this warehouse, so a threat to anyone’s safety in the space is a threat to all. When those allegations were published, it made us take a step back and ask what, what, WHAT were we doing hosting band shows and being misinterpreted as a concert venue when ultimately, we just wanted to MAKE ART and DO DRAG. The band shows were, at their core, a glorified way to throw a big party as an excuse to DO DRAG and MAKE ART! We collectively decided to take a hiatus to refine our goals and better curate our future events to support and showcase what we truly love.
Will y'all be changing the way you book and host events?
Absolutely. It’s a whole new era of Dowdy. Going forward, you’ll see much more original content from The Dowdy Girls, more drag and queer events hosted and curated in the space, and more themed events featuring artists and musicians within our community who are near and dear to our hearts.
What can we expect from the Rowdy crew in the coming year?
Boyman: The Musical will be our Grand Re-re-re-opening at the end of June, and we have other original productions currently in the works. We are very excited to be partnering with WUSSY and other artists and organizations to host and participate in future events! We are very willing to collaborate, so if you have an event or project that you would like to bring to Dowdy, don't be a stranger! ;D
BOYMAN: The Musical premieres on June 29th, with follow-up performances on June 30 and July 2nd. Doors at 8pm, show at 9pm. Cost is $5-10 donations (Pick your price!)
Photography by Jon Dean