The main floor of the Vault, an event space in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, was nearly empty. Four people chatted quietly in the corner, the bartender had stepped outside and a person wearing what appeared to be a vintage wedding dress and glitter eye shadow waited for the bathroom to free up. The only hint of what was happening that Monday evening in August was a chalkboard sign outside: “Tonight: MTV’s ‘Are You the One?’”
If upstairs was the calm before the storm, downstairs was the tempest. Dozens of people crowded two rooms, the hallway connecting them and the stairs, trying to catch a glimpse of Basit Shittu, 26, a star of the dating show’s current season. Enacting their alter ego, Dionne Slay, in a studded leotard and heels, Shittu offered a running commentary on the latest episode.