Twerkin' for the Weekend
Ezra Edwards' alter-ego is GirlFriend, a promoter, DJ, and an event planner. Edwards is not, however, a twerker. In fact, Edwards is certain there isn't enough alcohol in the world to get those feet (and that azz) hitting some of Big Fredia's most notorious moves.
"I love dancing, I've even been told I'm great at it," exclaims Edwards. "But twerking – I'll leave that to Miley. Or better yet, DJ Divorcée. He's the king of twerk in this town."
And twerk Divorcée shall, as he leads the pack in a Twerk Off competition at this weekend's third annual gAyCL. But that's not the only awesomeness that gAyCL has to offer. After scads of emails passed back and forth between Austin and London, Edwards has booked Nomi Ruiz of Jessica 6 to headline the festival of otherwise local acts.
"I zeroed in on Nomi," says Edwards. "I mean, she's trans, and got her start in the mostly queer band, Hercules and Love Affair. I knew I wanted her – she's amazing." After all, this is the queer, independent alternative to ACL. To make it happen, Edwards sent out a bombardment of emails to Ruiz's agent in London. "The whole process was a bit drug out. With the six-hour time difference, every back and forth took 24 hours." But finally, after many a hits to the "send" button, it was settled – Nomi Ruiz would play gAyCL at Cheer Up Charlies.
Between Nomi Ruiz, the Twerk Off, and local bands Girls 4 Girls, Gender Infinity, Mom Jeans, and Whiite Walls, Edwards is sure this will be the best gAyCL yet. "I love all of these bands, and with Nomi in this year we're taking it to the next level."
Unlike Shakespeare suggested, sometimes there's a lot in a name. Several years before the birth of GirlFriend the name "gAyCL" popped into Edwards' brain. "I wasn't even DJing at the time, I just thought it was such a great name for a queer music festival." Then GirlFriend hatched in 2011 with Girls with Gunz, an all-female arm-wrestling competition. "We made a big wave, had a huge turnout, and got a lot of positive feedback from the community. ACL was a few weeks away and suddenly it seemed like the right time and right place to make it happen."
Tickets range from $8 presale to $10 at the door, and the money will go towards possible future queer party promoters: Specifically, donations will be made to OutYouth, an organization near and dear to born-and-rasied-Austinite, Edwards. "I went to their drop-in during high school. I'd go hang out there and just talk about stuff. It meant a lot to me, having a safe space where I could connect with people who felt like I did. Like a lot of youth, I wasn't out to my family. This is where kids start building their community."
Talk about your full circles. Edwards, who brought a girl to queer prom 10 years ago, was asked to DJ this year's OutYouth prom. "I had a great time. I got so many requests for 'Gangnam Style' - every kid in the world loves that song, even the first graders." Coincidentally, Edward's moonlights as an after-school instructor to seven-year-olds. But back to gAyCL and full circle number two: Edwards worked with Cheer Up Charlie's to lower the age limit for the festival from 21 to 18, so that some of the OutYouth kids could join in on the fun. "It's a first for us, but I'm excited to offer Austin's youth something they might not normally be able to attend."
So what makes gAyCL the magical, unicorn that it is? The community that comes out to support it, clearly. "This event isn't about money or advertising or over-priced beers and crowds. It's about community and fundraising for a good cause. It's also about having an amazing time with friends and seeing some really important artists." The event's Facebook page has only been live for two weeks, and it already has nearly 200 RSVPs. Edwards says online tickets are going fast.
Whether you're sitting out the twerking competition with Edwards, or giving it your best booty pop, count on an outrageous 10 hours of sweating, dancing, singing, and eye-candying. Besides, rumor has it, Edwards – a DJ of only two years – is contemplating throwing a party to DJ blindfolded. With just a little bit of prompting who knows what could happen? "DJing feels like second nature. I could definitely do it [blindfolded] – but do it well? That's a different question."
gAyCL: Sat., Oct. 5, 4pm. Cheer Up Charlie's, 1104 E. Sixth, 512/431-2133. $10, $8 advance. gaycl-eorg.eventbrite.com.