All photos and flyer courtesy of Airick Redwolf
We talked with the Airick Redwolf, the organizer of Portland, Oregon’s popular queer event, Blow Pony. Redwolf’s intention in founding and sustaining Blow Pony is to create an “event series inclusive to the entire community”. Read on for our conversation with Redwolf, and don’t miss out on their annual “CHRIST-MESS” party, happening this Saturday, December 23rd.
Clone-a-Willy: What was the initial catalyst to begin Blow Pony?
Airick Redwolf: Growing up in Colorado with roots in the punk, industrial and death rock subcultures, I started (at a young age) to come in terms with who I was/am as an individual and started to sexual liberate myself. I noticed when I came to age that there wasn't a place for the Queer underdogs/outcast among our TLGBQ community bars/spaces. When I moved to the PNW I didn't care for most the music being played in the Gay clubs and they were at the time very male dominated. I wanted to create a safer space for a wider range of folk in our communities, a place where Trans and Queer artist could have a stage to explore and do their thing!
Clone-a-Willy: Can you name a few of the clubs that were around when you were first here?
Redwolf: I'm assuming you mean in Denver Colorado? Club LA, Club Max, Rock Island, Ground Zero and PoGo's (Basically what ground zero turned into.)
Clone-a-Willy: How have the punk, industrial and death rock subcultures in Colorado specifically shaped your sexual liberation and generally, the person you are now? Was it a supportive community?
Redwolf: Well I'm an older member of what was TOPY (The Temple of Psychic Youth). I'd say the network of individuals I found along with the Punk scene of the late 80's early 90's helped lay bricks for who I am this day. Though to be honest, within even the Punk scene there was a shit ton of homophobia. I found a lot of people exploring sexual liberation within TOPY/Psychic TV/ Throbbing Gristle.
Clone-a-Willy: Aside from being male dominated and wanting to create a safe place for more folks, what other aspects did you want to improve upon these existing spaces?
Redwolf: The ability for one to express themselves, to somehow erase or smooth out the hyper masculine tone, and to reach further musically.
Clone-a-Willy: How has the event evolved since the beginning?
Redwolf: The numbers in attendance have gone beyond what any of us would have ever thought possible, we have a bit more of a budget to bring international Artist in and also still book local or maybe not so in the spotlight talent. We've kept our radical visibility, without selling ourselves out. We've never accepted sponsorships (we've had offers from a few big corps so they could sell their product to our attendees and splash their name all over our space and bodies).
Clone-a-Willy: How has the event evolved since leaving Euphoria?
Redwolf: Leaving Rotture, Branx, Euphoria (whatever they call themselves?) was explosive for our survival. While I do miss the dirty feel of being in a warehouse, none of us miss the toxic relationship we should have ended ages ago with the owner of that space. Watching someone make thousands on one night and not ever be one bit thankful or appreciate the work you done is hella bad on oneself.
Clone-a-Willy: Where are the parties hosted now?
Redwolf: Currently we're at the Bossanova Ballroom in Portland Oregon and occasionally at TRADE in Denver Colorado.
Clone-a-Willy: How long do you think you'll be able to sustain Blow Pony without corporate sponsorship?
Redwolf: Oh, I would end the event before I would take any money from a corporation!
Clone-a-Willy: How important is it to keep the parties sponsor-free?
Redwolf: Personally I think it's really important to ask ourselves as TLGBQ people, what do these corporations do for us?! Sure they appear when they wanna sell us their product, but where are they when the shit hits the fan and politicians attack our bit of freedom? Where are they the rest of the year when it's not gay pride and they look to gain millions from us?! and do they promote our community the rest of the year in their adverts? I feel sometimes people become to complacent and feel powerless, when in fact we hold a lot of power, we just need to use it!
Clone-a-Willy: Can you talk on some of the guest collaborators who have been involved with Blow Pony and how you chose them?
Redwolf: Well, first we always book Trans, Queer, Bi identifying people. The act/art needs to somehow fit within the night. While I do search out people, we also have a number of people hitting us up to perform. Some of those artist are a good fit and some are not.
Clone-a-Willy: What have been your favorite parts of cultivating events for the queer community so far?
Redwolf: I've enjoyed learning. I've enjoyed it when people reach out and thank us for having a space for them when they couldn't find one in the past, that is something I understand. After living through so much shame, hate, and bullying, having that place where you feel like a star, a person, a human, someone who's appreciated and you can finally let your hair down, it means so much to our survival as a culture and a people! I also love seeing what the crowd brings each month! So exciting!!!
Clone-a-Willy: Can you name your favorite local and international artists that you've had featured in a party?
Redwolf: It might be a bit long? RAJA GEMINI, LESLIE and the LYS, KIZMET, TT the Artist, Dae Burger, Zebra Katz, Jackie Hell, Cucci Binaca, Angelica D'Vil, Man UP (drag king troupe), Katey Red, SSION, and HI Fashion to name a "few". lol
Clone-a-Willy: Upcoming events/projects?
Redwolf: Until my Friend Gen (from Psychic TV/Throbbing Gristle) was diagnosed with Leukemia, I was planning to do a 2-3 day TLGBQ festival (Queer Mutiny Fest NW) with workshops. I really wanted Gen to speak (which may still happen when they get better). So for now it's on the stove at a slow cook. Other than that we have our monthly events. Our 11yr anniversary is coming up in March 2018, the artist we're in negotiations with for that event is amazing, and we hope to have Leslie and the Lys come out of hiding sometime soon!
More on Blow Pony: