Enjoying the July pop-up at Dave’s Lesbian Bar, who will be running the Queer Cafe tomorrow.
Photo: Amanda DiMartino
For the past year, Kristin “Dave” Dausch has been running Dave’s Lesbian Bar pop-up in Astoria for more than a decade. During that time, more volunteer-led street festivals, a Valentine’s Day dance-style dance, bar takeovers, Zoom parties and more monthly events are also planned in Queens. And tomorrow, August 13, Dausch will help organize what’s being called New York’s first queer food festival, Queer Cafeteria, which will land at Socrates Sculpture Park.
Ahead of the event, we spoke with Dausch about the inspiration behind a food-centric day-long event and why this festival is so important to the queer community.
Where did you get the idea of doing a queer food festival? I’ve always loved Smorgasburg and all those water festivals. Nothing brings people together like a meal, how nice it is when we get together and talk about our lives and our problems and our happiness. So why not highlight queer chefs and food education?
Who will be there? The Yes Dawg vegan comes with hand-rolled plant-based hot dogs and beer cheese made with Dyke Beer. It’ll feature Slutty Sammys, Fresco’s Cantina, queer-owned Astoria Sandwiches and the Kinky Taco Truck. Puttana is run by local Astoria lesbians who make their own pasta; they will serve fresh tonnarelli with pistachio pesto and cherry tomatoes, plus cannoli. There will be some changes throughout the day. Babetown’s Alex Koones will grill three types of burgers, such as chicken with baba ghanoush and caramelized onions, in Paul Ramírez Jonas’ Eternal Flame sculpture.
It’s crazy to call jewelers and say, Oh, you have a small business, and it’s all gone in the first half hour. This is our first time doing it, so we hope everyone makes money and leaves everyone satisfied.
How did you find them all? We’re doing this in partnership with the Queer Food Foundation, which already had some vendors. BIPOC vendors were prioritized, but we didn’t have to turn anyone away. That was the goal. In the application, we stated that this is for queer sellers. We weren’t saying, Leave if you’re not queer, but we’re trying to prioritize black and brown queer and trans people. It’s very important because America doesn’t really give queers a chance, let alone black and brown queers. We feel so lucky to have a platform that we can share with all queers, regardless of color, and we prioritize giving money to black and brown people. The jewelry must go together.
Selling food at a festival can be expensive. Is cost a concern? We let all sellers keep 100 percent of what they earn. There is never a table fee; we want all the queers who feed and feed us to not have to worry about paying the table fee. That’s so silly. It’s free. We have helped some people to get the things they needed if they asked for help. Some vendors are even making a pay-as-you-go model. We also reached out to about 50 restaurants in Astoria to see if they would serve meals to people who can’t afford to eat. We don’t want money to be a barrier here. If someone comes and is hungry, we want to make a meal for them.
So is this an anti-capitalist food festival? Of course, we want queers to make money making and selling food to keep the jewelry in circulation, but if you don’t have money, we want you to eat anyway. We’re hoping to get more people on board, but so far Bareburger, Sugar Freak, Comfortland, Compton’s and Between the Bagel have confirmed they’ll be giving away 10 to 20 prepackaged meals. Our goal is to get 100 to 150 meals.
Donations from ticket sales will go to Herria Bodega, which provides PPE, snacks and fuel to protesters. Some funds will go to the QFF. We’ll also have a free shop for mutual aid and donations, a food drive for people to donate non-perishables, and a Rolling Library with free food-themed romance books.
What less traditional vendors will be at the Queer Cafe? Big Reuse comes to make compositing demos. Hellgate Farms will have a farm stand. A dietitian from Practicing Eros Nutrition, queer and queer, will come and provide nutrition education. Veggie Mijas, environmental group BIPOC, will be there. Jeanette Pineda will teach plant healing, and Blissville will share shameless sexuality education. Chateau Le Woof, dog cafe, Dyke Beer, Nueva Yolk, Treats by Trent will be at the market. There are so many things!
We also have six bands, House of Babylon, and a new interpretive movement piece by Micca that will explore his experiences with humans and citrus-using times. It’s a real celebration. I’m fed up. It feels like a summer blast.