Photography by Kamil Kustosz

Behind the scenes at NYC Downlow

Stella Meltdown, Cassandra, Hairy Rose, and Mahatma Candy spill the tea on Glastonbury’s most debauched corner.

If you haven’t been to NYC Down­low, you’ll sure as hell have heard of it. Infa­mous for its riotous rep­u­ta­tion – and the law­less activ­i­ty it whole­heart­ed­ly encour­ages – it’s no secret that it’s the most antic­i­pat­ed part of Glas­ton­bury and has been ever since its arrival on the site over 12 years ago.

Locat­ed with­in Block9 (a maze of indoor and out­door music sta­tions thought up by Gideon Berg­er and Stephen Gal­lagher), NYC Down­low is Glastonbury’s orig­i­nal LGBTQ+ club, char­ac­terised by its any­thing goes” atti­tude, OTT per­form­ers, and pump­ing line-up of house and tech­no DJs who play from sun­set to well past sunrise.

Nes­tled inside a set that mir­rors the archi­tec­ture of New York’s Meat­pack­ing dis­trict in the ear­ly 80s, the bath­house-cum-meat­pack­ing ware­house counts go-go dancers, drag queens and scant­i­ly clad butch­ers as its res­i­dents, along­side any­one else who dares head into its dark, debauched, depths. Per­form­ers Stel­la Melt­down, Cas­san­dra, Hairy Rose, and Mahat­ma Can­dy spill the tea…

Hairy Rose’s advice? Be ” extra, extra, extra!”


How long have you been involved with NYC Downlow?

This is my fifth one. On my first, I was actu­al­ly work­ing on the bar next door so I spent my nights off in Down­low. Back then some of the orig­i­nal core crew were here turn­ing it out and caus­ing utter mayhem. 

How do you go about pre­serv­ing what you saw back then?

It’s just about being absolute­ly extra, extra, extra. You’re here to just com­plete­ly blow their minds. They do not know what to expect and you just con­vey­or belt bol­locks into their faces. It’s almost like poet­ry because you just have to motor it out and not even con­sid­er what you’re say­ing, just bring joy and ener­gy. There is a lot of pas­sion in what we do in the front of house section. 

What’s the most out­ra­geous thing you’ve ever seen here?

My best mem­o­ry is, of course, the leg­end that is Jack­ie Pota­to hang­ing from the rafters of Maceos in a jock strap above the ful­ly crowd­ed bar. 

What’s the sound­track to your Glasto?

Hol­ly­wood Sev­en it’s a fab­u­lous dis­co track I love hear­ing when I’m here.

What’s going to go down tonight? 

Car­nage, chaos and glitter. 

Stella Meltdown: Paris Hilton’s biggest fan


How long have you been involved with NYC Down­low?

I’ve nev­er done it before, this is my first year. I’ve hit hys­te­ria now – peak hysteria. 

So how are you find­ing it?

I love it. It’s insane. Glas­ton­bury is worlds away from the world. The peo­ple here are mad, insane – it’s just insan­i­ty. Down­low is incred­i­ble, the DJs are wicked, the vibe is amaz­ing, it’s such a nice group this year.

What’s stood out?

The heat has made it pret­ty fuck­ing intense. It’s def­i­nite­ly added to the insan­i­ty of it. I was expect­ing to get more kip but I’ve just not fuck­ing man­aged. I would say that has been the shock­er. You just don’t expect to go to a fes­ti­val in Eng­land and not have to bring wellies. 

What song should be play­ing every time you enter the club? 

Any­thing by Paris Hilton. High Off Your Love. That’s the one. 

What’s your most dan­ger­ous trait? 

Drink­ing too much. Par­ty­ing too hard. 

What’s in store for tonight?

We’re doing the biggest drag per­for­mance tonight in the small­est go-go out­fits. Skimpy out­fits, big hair, big eye­lash­es – just total­ly mad drag. And of course lots of sexy boys, prob­a­bly with their dicks out. Actu­al­ly, one of the biggest eye open­ers for me was being in here and see­ing some­one get sucked off in the cor­ner quite open­ly. I was like, Oh, this is what Glas­ton­bury is”.

Why is this such an impor­tant space for you? 

It brings togeth­er all kinds of peo­ple. It’s very queer but it’s also such an open space. Any­one can come in, any­one can have a good time. There’s no pre­ten­tious­ness or ego, just a par­ty. And it’s one of the best par­ties I’ve ever been to, so I’m hap­py to be a part of it. 

Who’s been the best per­son you’ve seen? 

Jon Hop­kins, it was fuck­ing spiritual.

Cassandra is all for debauchery, glamour, pleasure, and razzmatazz


How did you first become involved with NYC Downlow?

It was fol­low­ing an open mic per­for­mance at The Glo­ry. The night was called Sing for your Sup­per. I sang a lit­tle song and won some noodles.

What did you sing? 

One of my own songs. I think it was called Fast Pussy­cat, Kill Kill. That’s how I got to know every­body in the scene.

How are you find­ing your first Glas­ton­bury experience?

Oh my god. It’s psy­che­del­ic – lots of colours, hippies. 

What song should be play­ing when you enter the club? 

Touch Me by Saman­tha Fox. Or Boys, Boys, Boys by Sab­ri­na, because it’s political. 

What’s your most dan­ger­ous trait? 

My diplo­ma­cy. When deal­ing with riff-raff, I’m very like Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe in the way she’s kind of a bim­bo but she knows what’s going on. She’s one step ahead. 

What’s the most out­ra­geous thing you’ve seen so far? 

At the nud­ist camp today there was a man with pierc­ings through his balls. There was a fat ring hang­ing just below them. 

What’s on the agen­da for tonight?

From me? Debauch­ery, glam­our, plea­sure, sen­su­al­i­ty and razzmatazz. 

Mahatma Candy, future land lady of the Meat Locker


What made you get involved with NYC Downlow?

This is the first time I’ve been involved but I’d heard sto­ries about it before and I’d always been like What the fuck is that?”. It sound­ed real­ly sex­u­al and I was so down. 

How are you find­ing your first Glas­ton­bury experience?

It’s a mad­house. But it’s real­ly inter­est­ing. It’s a fuck­ing city. It’s basi­cal­ly our ver­sion of the Vat­i­can. I just love look­ing at the installations.

What song should be play­ing when you enter the club? 

Wait­ing For Tonight by Jen­nifer Lopez, the remix! 

What’s been the most out­ra­geous thing you’ve seen the past few nights?

Besides hav­ing sex in the dark room myself? That was great.

What would you rate it out of 10?

I’d give it a 710. The guy said he had nev­er done this before but he sucked by dick and I was like Urm, you’ve so done this before”. I’ve seen loads of peo­ple get­ting blow jobs – every­where. And a woman naked hav­ing a dance around in the fields. 

How does the atmos­phere down here com­pare to London? 

It’s non-stop – not that Lon­don isn’t a non-stop city, but this is actu­al­ly non-stop. So it just feels like there’s nev­er room to breathe. You can’t sleep because there’s too much to do. They should real­ly make sure there’s a swim­ming pool next year. I also think that NYC Down­low should have a leather bar called the Meat Lock­er and that I should run it.

What’s going to go down tonight? 

There’s going to be a lot of sweat – so much sweat. It will be salty, I’m not going to say what the salti­ness is going to be, it could be sweat, it could be cum, it could be the peo­ple. Expect big looks, expect small looks. Amaz­ing music and just a non-stop party. 

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