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February 06, 2008 Slideshows » News

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Gay & Transgender Divas Battle for Stardom in Bay Area's Ballroom Scene 

A slideshow from the catwalk. Read the full story. By Eartha Goodwin
No, this is not the try-outs for the San Francisco Ballet. The Fusion of Time Ball at Sweets Historic Ballroom in Oakland was the Bay Areas coming out on the national ballroom circuit a subculture in which young gay and transgender people of color compete in various categories including competitions for the hottest body or face, best runway walk, and best vogue dancer.
Why the Ballroom Scene Can Get Addictive 101: Note spectators yelling an Ah! of adulation for this voguers dip. A dip is the climactic dance move of voguing, the ballroom scenes dance style that has moved far, far beyond the hand-sliding-around-face-in-a-box moves presented by Madonna.
Big dreams: Starr wants to become a ballroom mega-celebrity known as a legendary icon and open her own house, a fraternity-like club with regional chapters that serves both as a team for ballroom kids to compete in balls with, and many times an alternative LGBT family.
This Oakland boy works a fierce tutu in the virgin vogue category. Virgin meaning for first time competitors or folks whove never won at a ball before.
Starr ran away from her mothers house in Virginia after coming out as gay five years ago at age 13. Now having come out as transgender, she recently started estrogen hormone treatments to develop breasts and hips. Here, she sits in a BART station on the way to an interview for the House of Richmond, scrambling to find a house just three days before the ball.
Sashay, sashay: A runway walker in the virgin runway category that called for slaying the runway in a futuristic neon effect.
The virgin runway walker who eventually won. And with good reason -- who in the world could compete with a balloon tutu?
Why the inflated condom headdress? All the virgin categories participants had to incorporate a HIV prevention message into their outfit. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has ravaged the ballroom community, and many balls now hand out condoms and educate about safe sex.
Starr practices her virgin vogue moves. Mad that the judges eliminated her at the Oakland ball, she plans on moving back to New York and continuing to compete.
Its highly probable the term pretty boy was created just for Donovan Infiniti from the House of Infiniti. He ruled the runway during the Star, Statements, and Legends, a role call of the people whove earned a status in the ballroom scene at the balls beginning. He would later get yelled at by the MC Kool-Aid Mizrahi for blowing powder in the face of his competitor in the runway category.
Starr.
Some hip action. The current form of a ball goes back to the 1970s, when well-known drag queens and pre-op transgender women in New York City formed the first houses to compete in drag balls. Some estimate theres some 3,000 people nation-wide in the ballroom scene.
Starr auditions his voguing in front of Nikki Richmond, the House of Richmond West Coast Chapter mother, in Nikkis Hayward apartment
More voguing by Starr.
Starr now lives at a housing program for LGBT kids in the Castro.
Starrs friend, Jojo, competed in the virgin runway category at the recent ball. It was her first ball, having recently moved to the Bay Area from Houston.
Gerrick Malicdem, 19, from Vallejo (on the right) was one of two finalists in the virgin runway category. He walked in some spandex pants, stiletto heels, and trippy make-up.
Legendary Kool-Aid Mizrahi is one of the most well-known commentators in the ballroom scene, and having him in the Bay Area for the first time lent national cachet to the ball.
Kool-Aid and Jack Mizrahi (in the background) chant peoples names during the Stars, Statements, and Legends. The ball went with few hitches until a Chanel house member tried to snatch off the wig of an Oakland competitor during a vogue competition, ripping her down with it. A fight erupted up on the runway, and Jack announced the ball was over, We are constantly labeled a subculture community because of things like this. Get your trashy asses out!
Captions by Lauren Smiley.
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No, this is not the try-outs for the San Francisco Ballet. The Fusion of Time Ball at Sweets Historic Ballroom in Oakland was the Bay Areas coming out on the national ballroom circuit a subculture in which young gay and transgender people of color compete in various categories including competitions for the hottest body or face, best runway walk, and best vogue dancer.
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