Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pop culture references to the "Ball" community

On a forum that was pointed out to me, I saw an interesting post by Mizz Nicky LaLa, in which Mizz Nicky wrote that there are references to the "Ball" community (or "Ball" culture) in some of the songs performed by RuPaul.
Another intresting fact is the inspiration for RuPaul's "Supermodel of the World" album was a statement that Legendary Mother Octavia Laurent (Manolo-Blahnik) made in which she wanted to be the "supermodel of the world."

Mizz Nicky claims to have another source, which is based on the "Ball" community, for another one of RuPaul's songs.

RuPaul also cut a track called "Superbitch" for the South Park movie soundtrack a while back, in which she "summoned" the spirit of Venus Xtravaganza (who was featured in Paris is Burning) by reciting her midnight pier shadyness: "Touch this soft skin honey, Touch all of this skin dahhhhhling."

Classic... I love that if you scratch beneath the surface just a little bit, you find all these great historic moments of ballroom roots.

I will promise to continue my search for more references to the "Ball" community in our pop culture.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dance on the Runway on Technorati

Over on Technorati, you can now read the Dance on the Runway blog. Inspired by the film How Do I Look, this blog will focus on the cultural trends created by the "Ball" community in dance, fashion, music, and runway.

You can learn more about me by reading my Technorati Profile.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Willi Ninja: Grandfather of Vogue

Although it wasn't a line that was used in my favorite movie, "Desk Set," I immediately thought to myself, "When in doubt, check The New York Times." I looked up the obituary published by the NYTimes following the passing of Willi Ninja. Willi was a star in the "Ball" community. In fact, The New York Times referred to Willi as the "Grandfather of Vogue" . Here is some more information from that same obituary:

Vogueing had been around for years, but Willi Ninja brought it to a level of visibility and perfection in performance that no one had ever reached before, said Sally Sommer, a professor of dance at Florida State University (See NYTimes obituary tribute for Willi Ninja).

From what I know about Willi from the documentary How Do I Look, I know that he was an inspiration to a lot of people. And it was no doubt through connecting with so many people (including celebrities and personalities) that Willi helped popularize "Vogue" as a dance form. I promise to keep looking for more references to how "Vogue" was popularized.

Some quick Wikipedia information about "Vogue" dancing

I did a quicky search on Wikipedia (27-Nov-2007), and I saw that there was a music video for the song "Deep In Vogue" by Malcolm McLaren, and on a page dedicated to dancing fads, here is what I read:

Vogue (dance), a popular style in New York gay discos in the late '80s, evolved from a much earlier style known as "performance". In this flowing freestyle mode, dancers punctuate their movements with an improvised series of static poses which, as the name implies, are meant to evoke the poses seen in classic fashion photos in publications like Vogue magazine. This style was first popularised/exploited internationally by entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren, whose single and music video for the song "Deep In Vogue" was the first to namecheck the style in the mass market. Vogue enjoyed its widest recognition in 1990 with the hugely successful single and music video "Vogue" by Madonna (See Novelty and fad dances).

The interesting thing for me was that when I then looked up the singer, Malcolm McLaren, I found no reference to his vogue dance hit on his personal Wikipedia page:

In 1989, he returned with the album Waltz Darling, a funk/disco/vogueing inspired album. Waltz Darling incorporated elements of his former albums, ie spoken verses, string arrangements and eclectic mix of genres but featured such prominent musicians like Bootsy Collins or Jeff Beck with a glitzy, LA-style production aimed at the US market. The singles, "Waltz Darling," "Something's Jumpin' in Your Shirt" became top-20 radio hits in Europe. While for once McLaren's instincts failed him (there was no sudden interest in waltz music) it still helped to spread the news about the previously underground practice of vogueing (See the Wikipedia page on Malcolm McLaren).

How odd. I guess Lady Bunny is right when she wrote that there is some confusion about who popularized "Vogue" as a dance form. I promise to keep doing some more research.

Madonna's music video for 'Vogue'

"Beauty's where you find it"

Of course, there is this video, which was responsible for bringing the "Vogue" style of dance from the runways of "Ball" competitions and onto the dance floors around the world:

According to Wikipedia (as of 27-Nov-2007), with the release of the music video for "Vogue:"

Madonna brought the hitherto underground "vogueing" culture into the mainstream with the release of her song (See Vogue_(song).

Meanwhile, Lady Bunny, a New York City night life personality, claims that it is not entirely clear who should be credited with bringing "Vogue" the dance form to the masses:

There are disputes over who first brought vogueing to the mainstream, but Willi definitely played a large part in it (See Lady Bunny's blog post about the Willi Ninja Benefit).

1989: A critical year for 'Voguing'

Update (20-Jan-2008): I have assembled an early history of voguing, as reported across newspaper and magazine articles in 1989.

History of 'Vogue' dance style in American pop music videos

Using the commentary by Willi Ninja in the documentary How Do I Look, I have assembled the history of how voguing progressed through mainstream American pop music on the Squidoo page for the 'How Do I Look' documentary.

Where are Madonna's vogue dancers?

Who were Madonna's vogue dancers? One of the men who dances in the music video for "Vogue" is Jose Xtravaganza, who also appears in the documentary, How Do I Look.

History of 'Vogue' according to How Do I Look documentary

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A perfect example of what it means to, "Dance On The Runway"

The "Dip" by Nino Mizrahi

In this YouTube video, Nino "Boots" Mizrahi dances in a highly stylized fashion that is typical of dancing among "Ball" dancers. In Voguing, there is a spectacularly dramatic move called the "dip," which, from what I know about "voguing," is a standard, yet dramatic, dance move. The challenge that comes from it being a move that many people can do is that you got to make your performance unique. In this video, Nino Mizrahi performs a "dip" that is fearless.

How "Voguing" still inspires some dancers today

I was on YouTube this morning, and I found this great video of a guy who calls this a "virgin Vogue." In spite of his humility, it is a very good dance sequence. The song to which he is dancing has got a marked rhythmic beat, and it is augmented by the chant (or "commentary") by the commentator. It includes some profanity, but that is keeping with the tradition of some of the commentary that is used at Balls.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The 12th Annual Dorian Corey Awards Ball

Earlier this year, Philadelphia Weekly wrote an article which covered the 12th Annual Dorian Corey Awards Ball. The article also provides some historical references to the roots of earlier Ball scenes, including information about the Ball scene in Philadelphia.

The article in Philadelphia Weekly mentions these "houses" from the Ball community: the House of Prodigy, the House of Blahnik, the House of Ultra Omni, the House of Ungaro, the House of St. Clair, and the House of Ebony. Other houses and many of the performing artists and dancers are also mention. This article also touches upon many of the health, social, and economic issues, which are facing the Ball community. Overall, it's a very informative article. I invite you to please read the article about the 12th Annual Dorian Corey Awards Ball.

There is also some interesting video footage about the Dorian Corey Awards Ball, which Philadephia Weekly posted on its website.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Greatest Ball on Earth!

Michael, Tim, and Terrence PRINCESS present:

The Greatest Ball on Earth!

To be held on August 2, 2008, in New York City, The Greatest Ball on Earth! "is an actual grand ball produced jointly by Michael, Tim and Terrence Princess. We have met several times this past year and agree an event produced by the three of us is the perfect way to pay cross-generational homage to our ballroom heritage. It is also an appropriate tribute to our pioneers, icons, legends, stars and new statements. This is a ball for ALL GENERATIONS. So put on your best FACE and bring it to THE GREATEST BALL ON EARTH!"

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Listen to a podcast interview with Kevin Ultra Omni, one of the artists featured in "How Do I Look"

Podcast of Pink Mafia Radio Episode No. 72, May 22, 2007, dedicated to the documentary, How Do I Look.

Coverage of the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival begins with our guest Kevin Ultra Omni founding father of the House of Ultra Omni and Co-Director of How Do I Look. His film is the answer to the questions left by the classic Ball Scene documentary Paris Is Burning. Kevin with Wolfgang Bush and Luna Khan directed this new film with much more input from the people active in the NYC Ball community. To find out more about the film please go to

Listen to the Pink Mafia Radio Interview with Kevin Ultra Omni.

Click on this link to listen to the podcast interview with Kevin Ultra Omni