RuPaul Pays Tribute to NYC's Queen of the Night in 'Susanne Bartsch: On Top' Trailer (Exclusive)

If you don't know who Susanne Bartsch is, then you haven't been to a good party yet.

New York City's Queen of the Night has been throwing lavish, Club Kid-filled fêtes since the late '80s, but she's so much more than that: She's an artist, an activist, a LGBT+ icon with an incredible legacy that's reflected on in the documentary, Susanne Bartsch: On Top. ET has the exclusive trailer, which includes an interview with one of the stars that Bartsch helped launch: RuPaul.

"Susanne Bartsch was the one who championed me and said, 'You have got a future. You are something special,'" RuPaul, who serves as an executive producer on the doc, explains over vintage footage of the two onstage. "More than any other time in my life, that's when I needed to hear that."

The trailer is also packed with glitter and wigs, voguing and cameos from some of Hollywood's biggst celebs. (Plus, you can peep Drag Race season 10 winner Aquaria at the 25-second mark!) Susanne Bartsch: On Top opens in L.A. on Sept. 7 and is available on VOD on Sept. 11.

Here is the movie's official synopsis:

"People have flocked to New York City to break free from the oppressive shackles of social norms and find themselves for decades; Susanne Bartsch has dedicated her life to creating a safe haven for just those people. The mother of avant-garde self-expression, Susanne creates imaginative spaces where people can live out their wildest fantasies night after night.

SUSANNE BARTSCH: ON TOP explores Susanne’s life and impact through never-before-seen archival footage, verité cinematography, personal testimonials, and highly stylized imagery. From quiet moments at home to the creation of deliciously debaucherous spectacles, Susanne juggles family life with the overwhelming stress of being a one-woman industry. At an age when most of her peers have slowed down, Susanne moves forward more determined than ever."


Bartschland Follies at the McKittrick Hotel Is an Evolution of NYC Cabaret

It’s just past 11 p.m. on a perfect June night in New York City. Nightlife queen Susanne Bartsch is holed up in her suite at the Hotel Chelsea, slinking into a sequined emerald catsuit and six-inch black patent platforms heels, preparing for her outrageous midnight encounter Bartschland Follies at the McKittrick Hotel.

Hosted every Friday at the McKittrick’s Heath venue, a cozy top floor performance space, Bartschland Follies is in many ways a traditional New York cabaret -- low cafe tables, candlelight, bespoke mixologists, singing, dancing, naughty bits, and generally the kinds of performers and experiences singular to New York City. A melange of performances from a cast of both nightlife stalwarts and up-and-coming showstoppers has Susanne’s smartly dressed patrons lining the cobbled sidewalk down below some three hours early. Once admitted, a wood-paneled elevator operated by a gorgeous young attendant takes one up and inside the Heath’s softly lit lounge and bar, where lilac colored mixed drinks and perfectly chilled champagne are offered aplenty along with a beautiful array of personalities and thrillseekers like model and activist Yasmine Petty and artistic muse Kyle Farmery.

Created in conjunction with producer (and Follies performance artist) DeeDee Luxe, Susanne chooses a new MC every week to assist her; drag king comedian Murray Hill often has the honor, as does the operatic drag queen Shequida Hall. One of the many delights at Follies is witnessing live the twisted, jovial banter between Susanne and her many guests and co-hosts.

“May I smell your bush?” Susanne asks Shequida in her famous Swiss-inflected dulcet tone, as the two well-heeled broads join each other on stage to begin the show.

“Bitch, my bush is a penis, bitch!” Shequida fires back, nonplussed.

“Well I’m down either way, my darling,” Susanne replies nonchalantly to roaring applause.

Backstage, the talent are putting the final touches on their makeup, fluffing their feather boas, pasting on pasties. “Talented, diverse, and sexy with a twist is what I look for,” Susanne says as she cheerfully peruses the lewks for the night. The Follies roster rotates each week and includes acts like clown-ensemble Fou York, contortionist and part-time mermaid Topher Bousquet, burlesque wunderkind Perle Noir., drag legend Sherry Vine, jazz singer Julia Rose, ballerina Lea McGowen, Russian acrobatist and exotic dancer Leonid the Magnificent, drag superstar Aquaria, break dancer and Mr. Rogers impersonator Invertebrate, and Peter Peter, who yoyos with his penis.

Because of its ever-changing cast of characters, it is almost impossible to know what you’re in for at each Follies; on one occasion, Albert Cadabra, a magician of sympathique dimensions, delighted and entranced his audience by setting torches ablaze using only the static electricity built up from his ass cheeks and nipples. On another, Sean Blue the juggler juggled dozens of glowing balls while simultaneously putting on a full strip-tease, complete with a lesbian audience member’s full-hearted participation.

“Susanne's a legend and a friend and we are over the moon with excitement with the reception that Bartschland Follies has received so far!" says McKittrick Hotel special envoy Cesar Hawas.

Kyle Farmery, a Susanne stan, offers support and encouragement to any creative human who needs it at Follies.

“I think Susanne does an incredible job of finding new and fresh talent, and putting on shows that no one has ever seen before,” Kyle commented. “Follies is a twisted cabaret circus full of incredibly talented performers who are trailblazing their own paths, and Susanne gives them the space and the opportunity to do that.”

Joey Arias, who brings their signature smoky cabaret crooning and sexy heckling to Follies each week, waxes poetic about the show.

“Susanne has an eye for the bizarre, the beautiful, the different. What makes Follies at the gorgeous McKittrick Hotel different is that when you come here on this night, it’s an exposure. You're exposing yourself to these elements that are like falling rocks from outer space. You're getting slammed over and over by all this beauty and glamour and fun and wit and bodies all types. You’ll see cock sucking a microphone or vaginas on fire… it’s hysterical what goes on here! But what's important is: exposure to the exposed.”

Gender-bending burlesque duo and real life couple Kitten & Lou, who’ve been making waves in the international burlesque scene for the past number of years and joined the cast of Follies recently, credit Susanne as the driving force behind the continued success of New York City nightlife.

“Susanne was one of the first show producers we worked within New York and we’ve always been dazzled and gagged by the incredible universe of gorgeous art weirdos she’s built around her. There’s definitely something special about Follies. It’s all the queer, over-the-top glamour and spectacle you’d expect from a Susanne event, but presented in an intimate, sexy venue with a cool underground vibe. You never know what you’re going to see!”

Amanda Lepore, who performs regularly at Follies and has known Susanne for years, points out the superior taste level of this cabaret.

“Susanne has always hired eclectic performers with different styles, and the taste level at Follies is so over the top, extravagant, and decadent,” she explains as she parts her painted scarlet lips to show her immaculate smile. “So come see us at the McKittrick Hotel, I promise you won’t believe it.”



The Orchard Acquires RuPaul-Produced Doc ‘Susanne Bartsch: On Top’

EXCLUSIVEThe Orchard has picked up the US distribution rights to Susanna Bartsch: On Top, an eponymous documentary about the Swiss-born party promoter and well-known figure of New York City’s gay and downtown nightlife.  RuPaul is on board as an exec producer along with Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato of World of Wonder, the production company behind RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Anthony Caronna and Alexander Smith, the filmmaking duo who go by Anthony&Alex,  wrote and directed the documentary, which was produced by Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker. It world premiered at Toronto’s Hot Docs.

Bartsch is recognized for contribution in 1989, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, where she organized the first Love Ball, which raised over a million dollars for AIDS research while also putting the Harlem vogue balls on the radar of both high fashion and Madonna.

“We’ve known Susanne personally for many years, so we’re thrilled to champion the release of this incredible documentary,” said World of Wonder co-founders Barbato and Bailey. “We believe ‘The Queen of the Night’ will resonate with our tribe and is a perfect fit within World of Wonder’s catalog of programming.”

RuPaul is also featured in the film along with Amanda Lepore, Michael Musto, and her husband David Barton.

Susanne Bartsch: On Top will hit theaters on September 7 followed by a digital release on September 11.


The Vogue Edit: What We're Loving This Week

I am all about the night life really, and I’m looking no further than Queens of the Night Susanne Bartsch and Amanda Lepore to get my fix. Every Tuesday Le Bain hosts their legendary night, ‘On Top’ which is located on the picturesque rooftop of The Standard High Line. What’s even more impressive, Le Bain also boasts a plunge pool on the dance floor and a crêperie on the “grass”-covered rooftop. To say I’m excited is an understatement unworthy of the city that never sleeps…


TIMEOUT.COM 15 wonderful things to do in NYC this weekend

Fri 18

The Bartschland Follies McKittrick Hotel; 11:30pm; $25–$75
When the clock strikes midnight at the McKittrick on Fridays, the club kids take over. Enter the sublime nightlife fantasy of downtown icon Susanne Bartsch at her weekly summer residency, at which she welcomes circus performers, drag divas, burlesque stars and beyond to unleash their most avant-garde creations onstage. She's joined by a rotating cast that includes Dee Dee Luxe, Shequida, Aquaria, Joey Arias, Amanda Lepore, Sherry Vine, Fou York and Dirty Martini for this wild experiment.



BARTSCHLAND FOLLIES Extends at the McKittrick

The McKittrick Hotel (530 West 27th Street, NYC), home of Sleep No More, and Queen of Nightlife Susanne Bartsch are expanding their Bartschland Follies collaboration with new dates and a larger venue. Bartschland Follies will return on four Fridays, May 18 - June 8, at midnight.

The McKittrick combined forces with Bartsch to create the Bartschland Follies - an eclectic and eccentric cabaret extravaganza - where a night at the opera collides with a burlesque circus for a high fashion, madcap and unforgettable entertainment experience.

The doyenne of downtown herself hosts each week with Ziegfeld babe Dee Dee Luxe, drag super star Shequida, and a roster of thrilling performances by NYC club kids and nightlife fixtures Joey AriasAmanda LeporeSherry Vine, Aquaria, Fou York, Dirty Martini and many more. Acts range from musical numbers, strip tease and circus feats to art installations, comedy and contortionists - all presented like you've never seen before.

"It's such an honor be The McKittrick Hotel's newest resident. There is always something outrageous and unexpected at Bartschland Follies," says Bartsch.

Following a sold-out engagement at the hotel's jewel box speakeasy Manderley Bar in March and April, the weekly midnight residency is moving to a larger space with afull-service bar, state-of-the-art staging and capacity to accommodate extra revelers.

Tickets range from $25 for General Admission to $75 for Reserved Seating, and are available at Doors open at 11pm and all guests must be at least 21 to enter.

The McKittrick Hotel is located at 530 West 27th Street, New York, NY 10001. For tickets, reservations and additional information, visit or call the Box Office at 212-904-1880.

For a full schedule of Sleep No More performances and events, visit



5 Films to See at the BFI Flare

Fashion, art, nightlife and the queer scene - all of these territories have been touched and remade by Susanne Bartsch's far-reaching tendrils. The club scene curator has quietly been nurturing artistic talent since throwing her first party, Savage in New York, thirty years ago. Legendary doesn't cut it - we need a new word to describe the queen of club kids, and it's high time she was given this homage to her unique and enduring career.


Nightlife Icon Susanne Bartsch Is Launching A Cabaret Show

The weird and wonderful Susanne Bartsch has been shaping underground nightlife in New York for decades. Her parties are legendary, and now she's inviting you to experience one.

This weekend she's launching a month-long residency at the McKittrick Hotel, the home of Sleep No More and a slew of whimsical watering holes. Taking over the spot's sexy, velvet-draped jazz club, The Manderley Bar, with her limit-pushing brand of debauchery, Bartsch, in collaboration with Dee Dee Luxe, presents The Bartschland Follies.

A perfect nod to the 1920s and the famed performers of the Ziegfeld, the eccentric midnight show will feature a rotating cast of after-dark characters from Joey Arias to Amanda Lepore, resulting in a cabaret extravaganza that falls somewhere between madcap burlesque and a full-on circus.

Guests can sip one of the Manderley's classic gimlets (or go the extra mile with a Pernod Absinthe cocktail) to truly set the mood.

Performances will run every Friday through April 13th. Get tickets HERE!


BARTSCHLAND FOLLIES Will Open At McKittrick's Manderley Bar

The McKittrick Hotel (530 West 27th Street, NYC), home of Sleep No More, and Susanne Bartsch in collaboration with Dee Dee Luxe, announce the Bartschland Follies, a weekly midnight residency in the hotel's jazz age-inspired speakeasy Manderley Bar. The Bartschland Follies will take place on Fridays from March 16 - April 13.

The McKittrick Hotel is combining forces with Bartsch to create the Bartschland Follies - an eclectic and eccentric cabaret extravaganza, where a night at the opera collides with a burlesque circus for a high fashion, madcap and unforgettable entertainment experience.

Doyenne of downtown Susanne Bartsch herself will host each show and feature a rotating roster of performances by nightlife fixtures including Joey AriasAmanda Lepore, Shequida, Aquaria, Fou York, Dirty Martini and many more.

"I am so excited to have a new home at The McKittrick Hotel," says Bartsch.

Manderley Bar, the jazz-inspired concert hall and speakeasy in the heart of adult playground The McKittrick Hotel, welcomes guests for drinks and live music nightly during Sleep No More performances, and after-hours often with no cover.

The venue's classic cocktail list includes a McKittrick Gimlet, Champagne Cocktail, daily Bartender's Choice Punch and a Pernod Absinthe concoction called The Green Beast. Bubbly and wine by the bottle are also available, as is an expansive spirit list highlighting bourbon, rye and single malt Scotch whiskies, to enjoy during performances.

Tickets range from $25 for General Admission to $75 for Reserved Seating, and are available at Doors open at 11pm and all guests must be at least 21 to enter.

Manderley Bar is located in The McKittrick Hotel at 532 West 27th Street, New York, NY 10001. For tickets, reservations and additional information, visit or call the Box Office at 212-904-1880.

For a full schedule of Sleep No More performances and events at The McKittrick Hotel, visit

Susanne Bartsch (@Bartschland) is New York City's patron saint of transformation and inclusion. The parties she's thrown for three decades-from Paris to Tokyo-have provided a venue for countless creative souls and "creatures" to express themselves, come together and forget the hum-drum of the everyday. Since 1987, Susanne has become notorious for the beautiful, strange, and outlandishly dressed people who flock to her events, at venues like The Soho Grand Hotel, Le Bain & The Top of The Standard. The colorful crowd has followed her for 3 decades and still gather at her current weekly bashes in New York and special events around the world.

For additional information, visit

The McKittrick Hotel (@TheMcKittrick) is home of the immersive theater spectacle Sleep No More, year-round rooftop bar Gallow Green, jazz age-inspired speakeasy Manderley Bar and The Heath, a full-service restaurant and performance venue - currently home of the new storytelling experience Flight. The McKittrick is also renowned for elaborate costume parties and one-of-a-kind events, including The McKittrick Masquerades, and regularly hosts intimate live concerts and music festivals.

For additional information, visit


Susanne Bartsch's Doing a Weekly Party at the McKittrick Now

For the next five Fridays, NYC nightlife icon Susanne Bartsch will be hosting a weekly party at The McKittrick Hotel's jazz-age speakeasy, Manderley Bar. It's called the Bartschland Follies—and seeing as this week's event sold out in under a day, you should probably secure your tickets to next week's sooner than later.

The event has been heralded as an eclectic and eccentric cabaret, where a night at the opera meets a burlesque circus. A rotating crew of nightlife fixtures including Amanda Lepore, Joey Arias, Aquaria and more will be making appearances.

Mar 16—Apr 13, 11pm, $25—$75, Manderley Bar at The McKittrick Hotel, 532 W 27th St (between 10th and 11th), 212-904-1880, tickets here



Bartschland Follies Cabaret Set for the McKittrick Hotel

The Bartschland Follies, a weekly midnight residency is set to play at the McKittrick Hotel, home of Sleep No More, at the venue's jazz age-inspired speakeasy Manderley Bar. The show will take place on Fridays, March 16-April 13.

The Bartschland Follies is described as "an eclectic and eccentric cabaret extravaganza, where a night at the opera collides with a burlesque circus for a high fashion." Susanne Bartsch will host each show, which will feature a rotating roster of performances by nightlife fixtures including Joey Arias, Amanda Lepore, Shequida, Aquaria, Fou York, Dirty Martini, and more.

Bartsch's parties, which she's thrown for three decades are described as having "provided a venue for countless creative souls and 'creatures' to express themselves, come together and forget the hum-drum of the everyday. Since 1987, Susanne has become notorious for the beautiful, strange, and outlandishly dressed people who flock to her events."

For tickets and more information, click here.


W Fort Lauderdale hotel debuts $55 million renovation with party

The W Fort Lauderdale hotel threw a grand-reveal party to show off its $55 million makeover on March 8.

The evening included a concert from breakout neo-soul singer Sabrina Claudio and a pop-up fashion display by nightlife event producer Susanne Bartsch.

The renovation, which started in the summer of 2016, includes all the hotel’s rooms and residential suites, as well as the pool area, meeting spaces and what the W calls the Living Room, its version of a hotel lobby/lounge.

Nightlife impresaria Susanne Bartsch presented a pop-up fashion display at the grand-reveal party for the renovation of the W Fort Lauderdale hotel on Fort Lauderdale beach. (Rod Stafford Hagwood /

Partygoers also got a sneak peek of El Vez, the oceanfront restaurant from James Beard Award winner Stephen Starr, which is set to debut soon. Starr already has a popular eatery on the property with Steak 954.

New also is Sushi Bar, with its menu designed by sushi chef Shuji Hiyakawa, a protégé of Masaharu Morimoto, the star of “Iron Chef” and “Iron Chef America.” Next up will be Mingle, a 4,000-square-foot ballroom.

On the WET Deck pool area of the W Fort Lauderdale hotel during the grand-reveal party for the renovation of the Fort Lauderdale beach resort property. (Rod Stafford Hagwood /

The oceanfront hotel on Fort Lauderdale beach also announced the launching of a weekly lineup of events, including:

Mondays: “Mondays Are a B@#&%!,” with hand and arm massages offered by Bliss Spa technicians and a bar for attendees to create their own organic body scrub.

Tuesdays: “Bollywood Night,” where the hotel will offer cocktails and complimentary henna designs.

Wednesdays: “The Studio,” which will feature live art demonstrations.

Thursdays: “Off the Wall,” which will allow guests to pick out their own songs for the DJ to play.

Fridays: “Heat Wave,” when visitors can start the weekend with Latin music, free cigars and specials on mojitos and rum.

Saturdays: “Neon Lounge,” which will have a retro ’80s vibe with a live DJ spinning.

Sundays: “Saxxxy Sundays,” featuring live jazz.

For more information, go to


RuPaul Praises “Queen Of The Night” Susanne Bartsch: “You Gave Me My Big Break”

Susanne Bartsch: On Top screened Thursday night at NewFest, New York’s LGBT film festival, where RuPaul was on hand—well, on video—to fete the empress of nightlife.

“Susanne, you gave me my big break at the Copacabana back in the ’80s, and today you continue to inspire all of us,” Ru said in a taped message. 

“You provided a platform, and safe spaces, where LGBT artists can express themselves,” Ru gushed. “You brought our tribe together.”

Born in Switzerland, Bartsch has been a force to be reckoned with since the early 1980s, bringing together uptown and downtown at unforgettable parties, store openings, product launches, and more. (Her Love Ball raised millions for AIDS research.) 

You’re just as likely to bump into a Grammy winner or top designer at a Susanne Bartsch event as you are a drag queen or streetwalker.

Anthony&Alex’s new documentary chronicles Bartsch’s impact on nightlife, celebrity and New York itself, with interviews with Ru, Michael Musto, Amanda Lepore, and of course, Bartsch.

“You were really the one who championed me in New York—and really got me propelled to a place where I could pay my bills,” Ru told Susanne in a 2014 episode of RuPaul Drives.

“We were a good team,” the nightlife icon replied. “You were just such an addition to what I was doing. I started out with just me dressing up and eventually I wanted hookers and looks and god knows what and in the end it was Lady Hennessy. You were somewhere in between.”

Below, check out some of Susanne’s show-stopping moments with Marc Jacobs, Joey Arias, Cyndi Lauper, Pat Fields, Donna Karen, and, yes, Cher.


RuPaul gushes over Susanne Bartsch at LGBT film fest

 Rupaul “condrag-ulated” nightlife queen Susanne Bartsch on a new film about her life via video at NewFest.

“Susanne, you gave me my big break at the Copacabana back in the ’80s, and today you continue to inspire all of us,” the drag icon said at the “Queen of the Night” screening.

“You provided a platform, and safe spaces, where LGBT artists can express themselves . . . You brought our tribe together.”

Afterward, Amanda Lepore performed at Top of the Standard.



Tampa Museum of Art's Susanne Bartsch exhibit lights up New York fashion


When you enter the "Susanne Bartsch: Art-a-Porter" exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art, you've stepped into the fabulous world of New York City's "Queen of the Night." 

The exhibition of fashion icon and event producer Susanne Bartsch's wardrobe is a visual timeline of her influence on New York's art, fashion and nightclub scene, and fashion's top designers, spanning from the early 1980s through today. While the designs are all incredible works of art, the notion of self-expression as an art form is what's truly being celebrated here.

You're instantly greeted by a mannequin of Bartsch in a slinky, sparkly dress by Zaldy, paired with a military jacket from Jean Paul Gaultier, backed by a graffiti wall holding a long scroll, meant to be a guest list. The tone has been set: a mix of high fashion, whimsy and fearless personal style, with a lifestyle to match. 

Swiss-born Bartsch came to New York in 1981 from London, bringing with her punk fashions from up-and-coming designers, which she sold at a boutique in SoHo. A few of these early looks are on display, and are a precursor to the full-on theater into which Bartsch's looks evolve. A papier-mache skull mask is perched atop Leigh Bowery's punk take on the classic trench coat. 

After moving her shop to a larger space on West Broadway, Bartsch's boutique was one of a few to carry designs by Vivienne Westwood, the so-called "mother of punk." Included in the collection is Westwood's Mini Crini Dress, circa 1985, which resembles a maid's dress, very reminiscent of something from the The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Bartsch began throwing her legendary parties at nightclubs in 1987. The vibes created in these parties gave way to the Club Kids, who came to the forefront in the early 1990s with their DIY, outrageous costumes. Through the parties, Bartsch forged friendships with designers Thierry Mugler and Mathu and Zaldy, of whom she was a muse. Many of their pieces are included in the show.

During this period, the theatrical element of Bartsch's style ramped up. The corsetier Mr. Pearl began dressing her in his elaborate creations, bejeweled and nearly architectural in structure. Bartsch has the figure of a human Barbie doll, so the tiny waists on these are a sight to behold.

One point of departure comes in the form of a dress by John Galliano, whom Bartsch met when he was an emerging designer in the mid-1990s. The blue velvet evening gown, one of Galliano's first gowns ever made, is exquisite, but seems almost demure for Bartsch in comparison to the rest of the exhibit. 

Another standout is Alexander McQueen's sublime Leaves Dress, with black leather leaves intricately cut out. The exhibition label says the dress was made in 2010, so this may have been one of his last designs before his death.

Bartsch clearly has an affinity for bodysuits, as a number are featured in the show. Many are made by Mathu and Zaldy, including a spectacular, mirrored suit with attached boots. Another recent bodysuit, from designers the Blonds, features hand-cut paillette scales and a chromed fiberglass bust. 

It's not all about the clothes, of course. Makeup and hair are vital elements of Bartsch's look. Elaborate wigs and headpieces, masks and jewelry are also crucial. Feathers, tulle and mesh, actual crowns fit for royalty (she is the Queen, after all) and even cages for the face take each look to the next level. Strangely, the exhibit is devoid of shoes.

And it wouldn't be a respectable fashion event without the wedding element. As you can imagine, Bartsch's would be over the top, from the ceremony to the outfit. She married David Barton, the founder of a successful chain of gyms in New York, on the runway after one of her fashion shows. She wore a nude leather bodysuit made by Abel Villarreal, topped by a giant egg-shaped veil made by Thierry Mugler. Her new husband wore a leather thong.


If you need something naughty

Soon lucky us will get what’s called “adult entertainment” from what’s called “The Queen of the Night” in what’s called the McKittrick Hotel in what’s called their speak-easy Manderley Bar.

Midnight on Fridays, Susanne Bartsch soon presents “Bartschland Follies” starring highlights like Dirty Martini and Amanda Lepore.


Newfest Review: ‘Susanne Bartsch: On Top’

She is the host with the most

Susanne Bartsch is a name within NYC that does not need any introduction.  She is the hostess with the mostest, known for throwing some of the most extravagant parties NYC has ever seen.  Susanne is also known to be a mother of sorts to many of the queer people living in NYC.  She has an eye for talent, and when she takes you under her wing then you know you have what it takes to succeed.  And it is about time that a documentary about her has come to be.

Susanne Bartsch: On Top is a documentary that really tells the story of who Susanne is.  The documentary focuses on a night on the town with Susanne.  This documentary shows parts of Susanne that people don’t really get to see such as how she gets ready, the planning and detail she uses when putting on her look, and what it is like to be an underground legend.

Some fun parts of the documentary include moments where legends such as Amanda Lepore and Rupaul describe the impact that Susanne has had on them as far as helping their careers start and grow.  Another interesting thing that the documentary talks about is how Susanne has impacted the LGBTQ community as a whole.  Susanne was one of the people who brought attention to the AIDS crisis in the 80s, throwing the Love Ball which garnered the attention of many celebrities.

Overall, this documentary does a great job in really conveying how important Susanne Bartsch is.  Not only is she a legend in NYC, but she is someone who can be considered an icon all across the country, maybe even the world.

We screened the film at NewFest 2017.


LETTERBOXD Reviews Susanne Bartsch: On Top

The debut feature from filmmaking duo Anthony&Alex tells the outrageous true story of Susanne Bartsch. As a nightlife maven and fashion icon, her life is unlike anything you've ever seen before.

The Swiss native has, for the past 30 years, been known as the "Queen of the Night." She changed the nightclub scene in New York in 1986 with her own special events. As drag icon RuPaul says in the film, "Suzanne picked up where Warhol left off." Kicking off a post-Studio 54 era, she emphasized fashion and uniqueness at all times, often going for a full-scale theatrical experience.

Her home in the infamous Chelsea Hotel is a never-ending archive of her achievements. This film attempts to tell these stories by using the curation of an exhibition of her party outfits for the Fashion Institute of Technology as an anchor. Her explicit attention to detail and copious amounts of photographs and video footage illustrate her unquestionable influence.

Bartsch's life was at least temporarily sidelined by her passion and empathy for others as the AIDS epidemic ravaged her circle of friends in New York. Referring to it as a "cultural holocaust," Bartsch never wavered in her commitment to helping her friends and, in 1989, she hosted an event called the Love Ball at Roseland Ballroom that raised millions for AIDS research through major corporate sponsors while first putting the spotlight on the Harlem drag balls that inspired Madonna's "Vogue."

While never exactly going down a normal path, Bartsch still got married to a bodybuilder and had a child named Bailey who praises his parents' unconventional lifestyles.

Before the film ends, it devotes time to interviews with many gay and gender non-conforming people who have attended Barsch's events over the years who express their gratitude. One man notes that when you went to one of her parties, you "didn't have to hide, at least for one night.