NEW YORK - New York City is world-famous for its thriving nightlife, complete with bars, restaurants and cabaret shows. But what happens when there is nowhere, or no one to perform to?
Marti Gould Cummings is a popular New York City drag artist who makes a living performing in bars and clubs around the city. But work has dried up because of the COVID-19 shutdown - and there’s no cash coming in.
- LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus in New York City
- LIVES LOST: Remembering Victims of the Coronavirus
- What to Do If You Test Positive for COVID-19
- CDC Coronavirus Page
- WHO Coronavirus Page
"I'm very scared about money. How the rent is going to get paid, come May? When you're a drag queen, you're a 1099, so you get paid when you show up for the gig. And when there's no gigs there's no income. So I think that's where a lot of the anxiety comes from,” Cummings said.
To help make ends meet, Cummings has been performing online routines with a Venmo account on screen so virtual audiences can transfer over some tips. Cummings also sees this crisis as a time to help fellow New Yorkers. The performer is actually running for City Council in the 7th District, and is raising money for charities like the Ali Forney Center - an organization that supports LGBTQ homeless youth.
"The homeless shelters don't close down in this time, you know, they're still open and, and they need help. Now more than than ever,” Cummings said.
Cummings is just one of countless New Yorkers who can use help during this time, and one new platform is providing just that. Solidarity 4 Service assists people like Marti who work in the nightlife and service industry. It was co-founded by Jenice Acosta and Carlyn Cowen. The two met seven years ago working at a restaurant.
"If you want to help someone out, it takes you to a database of people that have lost jobs due to COVID-19 whether in the restaurant industry, gig work, artists, freelancers, and you can donate to them directly,” said Cowen.
And the co-founders say it’s just as easy to make a list asking for help yourself; be it financial assistance or even a temporary job. No questions asked.
"There is no verification process. We trust that individuals who are taking the time to go out there and fill this out, are actually in need of support. Donors can directly go in and read the stories and donate to who they choose to,” said Acosta.
Since its creation a couple of weeks ago, Solidarity 4 Service has raised more than sixteen thousand dollars for New Yorkers.
“[People have] been able to fill their prescriptions that they urgently needed, they’ve been able to buy groceries that they needed, they were able to pay bills that were past due,” Cowen said.
To donate or even post that you need help, you can visit the website s4s.nyc.