In the early '80s, Hughes became part of the Women’s One World Café, also known as the WOW Café, an arts cooperative in the East Village established by an international group of women artists. As the Village gradually became a magnet for the avant-garde art world, WOW served as an incubator for a generation of artists.
Hughes has performed at venues across North America, Great Britain and Australia including the Walker Art Center, the Wexner Center, the Guggenheim Museum, the Yale Repertory, the Drill Hall in London, and numerous universities. She has published two books: Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler and O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance, co-edited with Dr. David Roman. In addition, her work has been widely anthologized and has served as foundational material for performance studies, queer studies and feminist performance studies.
Hughes has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council, the Ford Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. She is the recipient of two Village Voice Obie awards, a Lambda Book Award, a GLAAD media award, and a Distinguished Alumni Award.
In addition to teaching at the University of Michigan, Hughes is co-editing Memories of the Revolution: The First Ten Years of the WOW Café, with Alina Troyano for the University of Michigan Press, and is creating a new solo piece entitled The Dog and Pony Show (Bring Your Own Pony). She has also been commissioned by the U-M Institute for Research on Women and Gender to create a new performance piece in celebration of the organization’s tenth anniversary.