Faced with the mounting uncertainty of what’s still to become of nightlife, the offbeat drag group Toxic Waste Face will host an online symposium in partnership with SOMArts to address queer artistry amid COVID-19 — and help envision a pathway forward.

Long gone are the days when we could all take to the dancefloors of San Francisco’s LGBTQ bars, tipping on-stage queens with flung dollar bills. But COVID-19 has effectively shuttered these venues for the foreseeable future. The internet has proven to be a fun and sometimes lucrative outlet for nightlife entertainers, allowing for new ways to generate both income and community.  

Jader, Pseuda, and Scam Likely, the three members of Toxic Waste Face (TWF) — a trio of radically queer, multi-disciplinary artists who navigate the human condition via over-the-top theater and music — have built their careers from endeavors in the art world and queer nightlife circuit.

For example: TWF produced Mega Mall, which was a theater piece, circa 2017, centered around a post-apocalyptic tomorrow that forced humans to inhabit "mall-like shelters," baited by consumerism and required people to survive in a world of growing scarcity. Almost two years ago, as KQED noted, TWF partnered with The Stud to throw Teens With Fever, a drag show that also featured notable local queens like Florida Man and Nicki Jizz.

And both productions garnered praise and attention across the internet.

Digital Witness: Performance in the Era of Online-only will be moderated by TWF’s Jader, with other panelists including Digital Drag co-founders Biqtch Puddin and Meg Chase, the duo behind the first live stream dedicated to supporting drag performers, as well as other prominent figures like The Stud co-owner Mica Sigourney, a.k.a. VivvyAnne ForeverMore.

The discussion will further explain and expand on the unique prospects and opportunities that come from moving performance art online, as well as offer advice for those interested in doing just that: creating an online space that can buoy your artistry and bank account through these stormy times.

Presented by SOMArts, Digital Witness: Performance in the Era of Online-only is free by registering on Eventbrite and will be held over May 13th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Zoom; participants will receive additional streaming information 48 hours prior to the day of the event.

SOMArts Cultural Center and TWF, too, will also be hosting an online youth workshop on Saturday, May 30, which will serve as an introductory course on performance with a focus on serving queer youth; more details will be available as the date for the workshop approaches.

For more information on the symposium, as well as Toxic Waste Face, visit somarts.org/events/digitalwitness.

Related: The Stud and Oasis Put Drag Shows Online

This Is Giving Me Life Today: Drag Queens and Musical Theater Artists Performing From Their Living Rooms

SF Queer Nightlife Fund Raises $160K, Starts Distributing Grants to Eligible Applicants

Image: Courtesy of SOMArts