“Do I look gay? I’m going for a ‘straight’ look tonight,” says Chicago it boy Jimmy Virtual Brat, assessing his multicolored, so-not-“straight” look for a night at the club. His face is painted clown white and he’s wearing a transparent PVC harness by local fetish designer GNAT, paired with towering platforms. Looking in the mirror, Virtual Brat decides it’s not enough. “I need more lashes,” he announces, disappearing into the bathroom.
Virtual Brat plays a pivotal part in Chicago’s nightlife circuit, co-curating a number of queer parties throughout the city and making midwestern clubs actually interesting. Tonight, he’s prepping for a pansexual dance party called, “Soft Leather,” and streaming Chicago DJ Different Sleep’s remix of, “Baby It’s U,” to set the mood.
He’s a bit fussy when it comes to his look for the night, paying close attention to every last detail. “Can someone please fix my eyebrows?” he asks, sipping casually on a mixed drink. “They look like step sisters, right now.” A voice from the kitchen responds. “Stop, you’re crushing the look.”
On the side, Virtual Brat dabbles in music, slowly populating a Soundcloud page with nightcore remixes of pop songs, including Fifth Harmony’s, “Sledgehammer,” and Charli XCX’s, “Doing It,” which can be streamed below. We caught up with Virtual Brat to talk about changes in Chicago nightlife, his love for Tokyo and the ever-important disco nap.
On picking the best party look:
To be honest, I’m not the best at making decisions—I’m sort of scatterbrained. I don’t always plan my looks and just let them happen more naturally. I may have an idea that day and just run with it, so it’s not forced. Tonight, I’m having a kinky cyber club kid moment. You’ll almost never see me in flat shoes—I have about 20 pairs of platforms, but they’re all breaking because I wear them every day. I love a crazy, dramatic, bubbly clown shoe.
On changes in Chicago nightlife:
“Chicago nightlife has changed a lot, especially throughout the past four years. When Zain [Curtis] first started throwing parties, nobody would dress up. All we wanted was for people to come and dress up. Recently, however, we’ve seen so many people coming to parties in thought-out looks. There have always been drag queens in Chicago, but now there’s way more of that. Maybe that has something to do with ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ There’s something about the Midwest—people are just so uptight with sticks up their ass. Everyone just needs to have fun.”
On his style inspiration:
“I’m attracted to anything nostalgic—colors that are soft and comfortable. Everyday, I’m looking at pictures of Tokyo and the streets of Harajuku—shit like that. I love the Japanese Street Style magazine, ‘FRUiTS.’ I’m constantly inspired.”
On his monthly party Total Therapy:
“We came up with the name, ‘Total Therapy,’ by all putting words that we liked into a hat, pulling them out and making names. The party was almost called, ‘Stranger Baby 5000,’ but we decided that would be the after-Total Therapy name. Like, ‘Whoa this is so Stranger Baby.’ The vibe we all ended up agreeing on for the party was a more therapeutic atmosphere—the serene, natural feel. We mixed these spa videos with classic rave elements like lasers, lighting and fog, but at its core, Total Therapy is a Zen, comfortable space to be you.”
On his average party routine:
“I’m usually working ten-to-five, but when I get home, I fit in that disco nap because I cannot be yawning on the dance floor. Then, I eat carbs, something very basic to layer my stomach—no garlic or anything with consequences. Then, it’s about the look. I don’t normally do a lot of makeup, but everything still takes a few hours. I always Uber to the club because riding a bus in a look like mine is just asking to be featured on, ‘People of the CTA.’ I’m always one of the first to a party and the last to leave—showing up late means missing something, and I prefer to ease into the night.”
Photo by Teen Witch Fan Club.