The Stones and Warhol both had their factory girls, and now the Gayborhood does, too. The all-girl, gender-queer party Factory Girls has evolved over the years to become a staple of the Philadelphia nightlife scene. The next party is the femme-licious Galentine’s Day rager starring rapper Kid Sister.
In anticipation of the evening, I had a chat with Factory Girls “madam” Katie K Rex. We chatted Factory Girls history, favorite headliners and about her rumored plans to take the party to New York City.
Take me back. How did Factory Girls get started?
At one point it was just a weird idea about how to play music. I had just started DJing, and obviously no one would book me because I had nothing to show for myself. So I decided to make my own gigs. My girlfriends and I were able to create a space for us to dress-up, drink champagne, act a fool, and play music in a city that is dominated by the male gaze and musical “boys clubs.” I hit up Xavier B. of FNGR BNGR, who forwarded me to Oronde of South Street’s late, great Fluid Nightclub, where we were graciously given a Thursday night in October of 2011.
What happened when Fluid closed?
From there we moved to The Barbary, where we really went from a party to an interactive-variety-freak-show. Having a stage available to us was a whole different beautiful monster. The owner, John Redden, encouraged creativity in the events, which gave us the chance to have burlesque and musical guests each month. After a year our vision had outgrown the space, which is when we moved to Voyeur, where we’ve been for the past year. The Barbary was such a great place for us to grow as artists and really learn about who we are as a group. It was DIY, so we were allowed to have some trial and error. Now that we’re at such a giant club, every event has to be the best party we’ve ever been to.
Who are the Factory Girls?
We are still riding with the original group of girls who started this: Ariel Leon-Coeur and Maureen McCloskey as our hosts, Rena as our in-house entertainment, DJ Suga Shay, and photographer Marie Alyse. I’m recently brought on Philly-based “bad bitch” Regina (Gun$ Garcia) as my partner. And we’ve added DJ Yolo Ono (Marissa Le), photographer Shadowscene (Ellei Johndro), and hosts Luna Lavey and Ann Artist.
What is the core philosophy behind Factory Girls?
Factory Girls didn’t start with any clear message aside from some cliché, “Girls just want to have fun” attitude. Now I can proudly say we are all visceral activists. Factory Girls is a celebration of femininity, regardless of gender or sexuality. It’s a testament to the wild feminine spirit, exhibited through music, dance, visual art, fashion, and radical participation.
Name-drop some of your favorite headliners headliners.
Gladly! Lady Bunny, Maluca, Ana Matronic [of Scissor Sisters], Leonie Pernet [of Yuksek], Porcelain, Slutever, Patty Crash, and we had this one guest who was so crazy she stood on the bar at the Barbary and started pole dancing. I think her name was Tammy Faymous.
She sounds like a mess. Can you talk about the gay presence at your parties?
We have incorporated a slew of gender-bending into our event — from Rena performing burlesque as the heartbreaking stud Oscar Wildchilde, to hosting a number of drag performers. We have really broken a threshold on what it means to be feminine, and its underlying taboos. We have been able to expose our culture and lifestyles to people who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to experience it. This has blessed us with a supportive gay crowd of boys, girls, and gender-queer individuals, as well as many new peers and allies
Kid Sister's headlining your Galentine's Day party. Why'd you pick her?
Kid Sister is a female rap icon. I first saw her in Philly, actually, at Voyeur with A-Trak two years ago and have been dying to bring her back. She’s a feminine powerhouse and pretty much everything Factory Girls is about: big talent, great style, and nails for days. [She calls herself Kid Sister] because she’s the younger sister of Josh from Flosstradamus, so you know she has killer tunes in her blood.
What else is in store for Galentine's Day?
We are joining forces with two of our favorite female-fronted parties and opening up all three floors of Voyeur. Queer duo Nolita Selector & Precolumbian, of Bike Stop’s CUTN PASTE, will be on the mezzanine. They are easily our favorite party in Philly right now. In the lounge we have our sisters Avalon Claire and Ally Toal of NEW RADIO playing riot-girl anthems all night. We also have San Francisco nail polish entrepreneurs Flossgloss coming out. Honestly, there is just so much … cotton candy, bubbles, nails, a photo booth, video art by Carolina Leis-Usher, awesome vendors, event footage captured by Harry Paris, and lots more.
After February 13, what else can we expect from the Factory Girls? Maybe a party in NYC?
Our next scheduled event will be mid- to late-April in conjunction with an exhibition at Vox Populi curated by Pussy Division. This summer you can look for an extra-special outdoors event, and, yes, definitely a party in NYC.
Factory Girls' Galentine's Day party takes place Thu., Feb. 13 at Voyeur. For more information, go here.