Aaron Korch is the Creative Director of Provincetown’s weeklong Carnival extravaganza – this year themed to the queer flora and fauna of an Enchanted Forest. He’s also one of the founding minds behind the costumed nightlife revelry, Fagbash. As Provincetown hits peak season, Aaron explains the ideation process for the town’s most attended event, why fire-breathing dragons are not the best fits for Commercial Street, and shares his quintessential P’town itinerary for the summer weeks ahead.
How does one land the Creative Director role for Provincetown’s Carnival Week? Aaron: I have been hosting and producing a party on Provincetown called Fagbash for the past 12 years. It involves weekly themes, decor, and costuming. My reputation as a “community creative” and ability to get a lot done got me the job. Plus, I came cheap.
This year P’town is infusing an element of magic with its “Enchanted Forest” theme. What is the process for deciding on the theme? What does “magic” mean to you? Aaron: Each year is different. Last year, there was a Facebook poll to decide what the theme should be. We tallied the suggestions. There was a lot of flora and fauna, fairy-type suggestions so we landed on Enchanted Forest. Magic is about making the impossible possible.
Is Fagbash an instance of making the impossible possible or at least proving your resourcefulness? Aaron: Fagbash has an element of witchiness. It’s a safe queer space where people are free to explore themselves through costume, music, and dance. We cast a few spells over the years.
It’s one week till the launch of Carnival and FOMO has kicked in. How can I quickly throw together a nice enough float for the parade? Where in town can one find a hot glue gun? Aaron: Amazon and Shindigz.com would be your best friends. It takes a lot of planning to put together a float. We are encouraging smaller vehicles such as bikes, golf carts, and shopping carriages [to participate].
What were some of the most memorable floats of the past few years? Aaron: Vegas Zombies during Viva Las Vegas. The spaceship from the Marc Jacobs store during the space-themed year. The bubble wrapped queen from last year. Sometimes the best part of the parade is on Commercial Street before the parade. The costumes can be wild and fun. Commercial Street at its widest is maybe 30 ft. and for the most, much narrower. Getting a parade with 80 different participants and over 100,000 spectators is a logistical nightmare.
What are other elements of Commercial Street one should consider when designing floats and costumes? Is a fire-breathing dragon that hovers ten feet in the air out of the question? Aaron: No fire ever! [laughs] We are a small town that is primarily two streets wide with houses built out of 200-year-old wood. No fire. That is rule Number One. Your float has to survive the parade without falling apart. As long as you stay within the guidelines, anything is possible. We have seen queens in heels who think they are going to be able to walk the 2.5-mile parade route and be fine. They never are. Float height is important because of banners, flags, and wires that cross the street. It’s Carnival! Make it bright, have fun, and stay on theme!
What’s the playbook for finding a partner at Carnival? Aaron: It is the busiest time of the year for anyone living and working here. Open your door and walk out onto the street.
How do single year-rounders treat the prospect of love? Is there a sense of resignation in pairing up with part-time residents or visitors? Aaron: Year-rounders treat the prospect of love like anyone else. It’s a long desolate winter. Who doesn’t love a summer fling? Holiday boyfriends are here for the week and then leave. The boat is always bringing in new people. It is hard for people in the winter. The weekends bring in people, but it’s slow. No one who stays the winter in Provincetown is staying to look for love. They know what they are in for.
Has the housing situation for full and part time workers changed with the increased attention of the past year? Aaron: It gets worse every year. It gets harder and harder for people to move here and work for the summer. Year round is almost impossible. Especially for the younger kids. When you are able to make it work, you have to work harder and longer to cover the cost of living here. This is a major problem with producing a large Carnival parade during the busiest time of the year. Workers and businesses are stretched thin during the short 8–9 week peak season. It is difficult to get businesses to contribute to the parade as they previously have done. Part of my job is generating ways to reinvigorate community excitement and ownership of the parade.
Is it that expensive or cumbersome to participate? Aaron: It can be. The cost of a large float — a good one with a chance to win “Best Float” — can be over $2000. Not to mention finding a place to park and build it. We have very limited resources out here especially time. In a town with a peak season of 8–9 weeks, time is expensive.
Mark Louque did an impressive job with this year’s Carnival poster. It’s almost nostalgic. Where are you hanging yours? Aaron: Above my couch in my Brooklyn living room next to my collection of Fagbash posters that local artist Paul Rizzo did for us some years back. Mark Louque is one of my partners in Fagbash.
How should one strategize when planning one’s Carnival party itinerary? Aaron: Eat, nap, clean up, and go out to the A-House? The town is small. You can bounce around to all the bigger clubs. Nothing is more than a five-minute walk. There’s Porch Bar of course. It’s the gathering place before one heads down to the A-House aka the Atlantic House. Unless it’s Sunday, then it’s all about the Grotta Bar and Church. It’s a great party that takes place in a tiny space and so it spills out onto the restaurant’s outside patio. Everyone is there chatting and making plans for the week. I also recommend the Grotta Bar on Friday nights for Scream Along with Billy. Once the season hits, I am really too busy to do much else than work and plan Carnival. It’s important to take care of yourself during the season, and occasionally get up early and go to the beach.
Complete the sentence. “I’m at the edge of _______.” Aaron: The world. We’re at Land’s End. It’s the first thing that came to mind.