Only in West Philly does a sinkhole kickstart a summer block party and revue – in full drag

A sinkhole that opened up across from Clark Park on Baltimore Ave. was a summer sanctuary for the neighborhood’s residents.It’s been covered heavily since it first appeared at the beginning of June — but it certainly hasn’t been forgotten since.

A sinkhole that opened up across from Clark Park on Baltimore Ave. was a summer sanctuary for the neighborhood’s residents.

It’s been covered heavily since it first appeared at the beginning of June — but it certainly hasn’t been forgotten since.

The sinkhole has become beloved by a neighborhood enraptured by the length of time it took the city to fix it. This particular hole in the ground spawned an all-ages drag revue called “Summer Sinkhole: The Drag Jawn” on July 3. 

Joy Taney — who also goes by her drag name Henlo Bullfrog — and Swan Flambe are some of the producers of the event and will also serve as its hosts for the evening. 

The duo, along with the rest of the producers, are no strangers to creating kooky drag events. They were also involved in the recent “Steel Furnace Drag Show,” inspired by the crazy, cryptic letter of an old Brewerytown man in February.

“I like these sort of hyperlocal meme moments that just bring neighbors together to bond over stuff,” Flambe said.

Despite the group organizing plenty of events in the LGBTQ community, this is the first that they have all produced together, Taney said.

Flambe, Taney and the rest of their team began planning for this event as soon as they realized how significant the sinkhole was to the community. People were leaving offerings around the hole, and a fence was built around it so nobody would be able to throw items inside, Taney said.

“Now that the sinkhole is gone, we’re going to memorialize and eulogize it,” she said.

Clarkville, a pizza place on 43rd and Baltimore, makes for the perfect venue as Taney noted the unobstructed view of the hole from the second story window. Taney herself is a visual artist who specializes in bodypainting and has her own artistic project called Nastykake. She also created commemorative Baltimore Ave. sinkhole buttons for purchase at the event.

Fran Zea, Hannibal Lickher, moon baby, Icon Ebony Fierce and more are all on the lineup to perform. Guests will be treated to a diverse range of entertainment, from performers aged 12-69 to fit the all-ages crowd, including a 12-year-old drag contortionist.

“We have a number of people with truly world-class skills in this very eclectic, kind of ridiculous show,” Taney said.

Both Flambe and Taney agreed that it’s a rarity for any drag show — let alone an all-ages drag show — to be hosted in West Philly. This has made them all the more grateful to have Ebony Fierce as a part of the lineup, who they said is a pioneer of the all-ages drag performance.

Everyone involved with the show is a West Philly resident, member of the trans community or a person of color, Flambe said.

“Our performers pretty much cover the spectrum of drag gender presentation, so it’s not just going to be queens,” Taney said. “You’re going to see queens, kings, things, monsters, genderless drag performers, hyperqueens and hyperkings.”

Although ultimately a night of fun and jokes, the event will give the West Philly sinkhole a semi-sincere, proper funeral. Its eulogy message? One that’s plain and simple:  

Gone, but never forgotten.

Summer Sinkhole: The Drag Jawn | July 3, 6pm.  $10. Clarkville Pizza, 4301 Baltimore Ave. bitl.y/summer-sinkhole 

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  • Alex Nag's headshot

    Alex is a reporter most passionate about arts and entertainment writing. She has been working for PW since March 2019, where she has been lucky enough to learn more about Philadelphia’s vibrant culture and interview some of her favorite artists, such as The Black Keys.