MEET ME AT THE MET: As an Upper East Sider, the drag entertainer CT Hedden was doubly disappointed by the postponement of this year’s Met Gala, due to the pandemic.
To help keep the fashion quota up, he and the photographer Alexy Kim, who is known as “Sidewalk Killa,” staged faux arrivals outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday morning. Dubbed the “QuarantQueen” Met Gala, seven drag queens were photographed and were asked “why fashion and the Met Gala are still important to us,” Hedden said.
That was an easy question for the organizer. Hedden said, “The Met Gala is like the fashion Oscars for us. I always love seeing what celebrities rip off from our looks. Nightlife and drag influencers are really big on celebrities and fashion.”
Sad that there would be no red carpet extravaganza. Hedden first broached the idea with Kim, a fellow drag bartender at Indochine. The casting included Jasmine Rice, Digna, The Suburbia, Queen Glow Job, Nikki Exotica, Kandy Muse and Hedden, all of whom were shot by Sidewalk Killa.
”Even though there is no Met Gala, it is still our job as entertainers to spread love and happiness. That is what we do. We decided to make our own Met Gala to really use fashion and beauty to get through this time,” Hedden said. “Having the community come together, especially in these times, and doing this for the whole purpose of art and expression is important.”
To ensure social distancing and to adhere to CDC guidelines, each participant wore a mask and was shot one at a time to avoid any overlap. “We were very strict with the guidelines. One person would be shot, they would leave and the next person would come. One — we didn’t want to draw attention and crowds. If you see a bunch of drag queens, the first thing you’re going to do is congregate and see what is going on,” Hedden said. “The Met security was amazing to us. We were very respectful. We didn’t break any rules. The police were there patrolling, but we discussed with them what we were doing beforehand. They were very kind to us.”
Unlike the Met Gala, which scores of brands try to capitalize on through their endorsement deals with celebrities, the QuarantQueen project had no commercial ties. Initially wary about how the “cancel culture” could lead to a swift backlash, Hedden said everyone he discussed the idea with was supportive. That included photographer Steven Klein, with whom Hedden and Susanne Bartsch helped celebrate a Saturday night party via Zoom., according to Hedden.
Unable to participate in a streetfront runway show that was held last spring as an offshoot of the Costume Institute’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion” exhibition outside the Met due to another commitment, Hedden seems to have come full circle.
”I’m never going to stop doing what I’m doing even if I have to spend every penny that I own to express my art. This is why I do it,” Hedden said.