Since her early days hosting parties at the storied Pyramid Club, alongside such icons as Lady Bunny and RuPaul, Simpson was rarely without her point-and-shoot camera as she shot her drag queen contemporaries and friends at nightclubs, Pride parades and intimate gatherings. Simpson’s photo collection spans 1987–1997 and is an informal queer archive that documents drag as it garnered mainstream success.
Selected from Simpson’s archive of hundreds of photographs, the images that comprise Where Love Lives provide a glimpse into the drag subculture that dominated NYC nightlife during the 90s.The show is titled after Alison Limerick’s 90s dance hit of the same name. Set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis, the ‘90s culture wars, and NYC mayor Giuliani’s crackdown on nightlife, Simpson’s images depict queer joy as a radical act of defiance in the face of loss and oppression. Community and chosen family are recurring themes throughout the work. Often dismissed as frivolous, nightlife offers the queer community a place of belonging and a place to escape bigotry.
Simpson’s exhibition juxtaposes portraits of drag queens performing hyper femininity with images of go-go boys acting out masculine cliches. In these photographs, the trappings of gender are a construct meant to be subverted, poked fun at, and celebrated. Camp is deployed as a survival strategy.
Since emerging from the East Village drag scene in the late 1980s, Linda Simpson has racked up a long list of creative endeavors, including nightlife work galore as a hostess and party promoter; publisher of the underground gay magazine My Comrade; writer and star of four different plays; and extensive work as a journalist. Her acclaimed narrated slideshow presentation “The Drag Explosion,” has been shown in theaters, art spaces and colleges in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Copenhagen. Extensive press coverage for her work includes The New York Times, New York Magazine and The Huffington Post.
The first book to emerge from her project is PAGES (Peradam, 2013), which features photos of her captivating friend Page. Photos from the book were exhibited as a solo exhibit at NYC’s ClampArt Gallery in 2014. Her work has been included in various exhibitions including “Gay Gotham” at the Museum of the City of New York (2016), “Perpetual Revolution: Image and Social Change” at the International Center of Photography” (2017), and “Queer City,” a CNN sponsored event in honor of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall (2019). Linda’s photos are featured extensively in the HBO documentary WIG, (2019) about NYC’s Long-running drag festival Wigstock.
In 2021, a coffee-table book of Linda’s work is scheduled to be published by Domain publishing company.