If a Pose is Struck in a Forest…

The vogue-ing gay holds a locked archetypal position in the world fashion scape.

That spot can often look like:

  1.  The homosexual accomplice constructing straight white women into striking towers of fierceness.
  2. The slave.
  3. The black man gliding in and out of vision, nonchalantly extracting the music’s soul and dancing a translation.
  4. Those pushed to society’s fringes, the same place the non-marginalized swoop in to harvest earth’s greatest art happenings, straight from the source.

I remember when “Vogue” came out. My mother was in the bathroom getting ready and she and her friend Reggie were talking about how that leach Madonna went and lifted gay stuff right out of the club and plopped it into America’s living room. “Trixie,” he would call her, “do you see what this heifer is doin?!”  I got the feeling from their conversation that maybe most of America didn’t exactly deserve or get such a present?… and that some awesome secretness goes down in the club. As an adult I later learned that there’s no sex in the champagne room.  Oh, I also figured out that gay, when fully unleashed, is a magical commodity. I think Gaga has it tapped.

Gaga’s new song “Black Jesus + Amen Fashion” talks about wearing identity and the now inverted image of awesome circulating the culture. Pride and talent are becoming the standard.

Not everyone in the “Paparazzi” image above is necessarily gay, but it’s about the appropriation of typically gay mannerisms. It’s Gay dress, which, with the white gloves and pristine look of pending service, is the same as the slave motif I mentioned above. When the “Paparazzi” video came out, I remember friends thinking this shot inappropriate. But I think any sort of conversation about discrimination can be boiled down to power inequity.  For me, the eye goes directly to the men in the back, Gaga (here at least) is disabled and flat, and the men are pantomiming up a vicious storm of angles. They win. Someone get me a purple cumberbund.

Attention grabbing.

I don't know about you, but I never hesitate to get a good look at a pop singer.

They were Vogueing back then too?!

Prior to this time Madonna had been a ripped fish net. Enter the Fairies and she is proper lighting, Hollywood lineage, diamond drips and ringlets. It honestly takes a village. Aside from that, what I truly marvel at is the narrative propping all of this up. Which do I mean? Well, the one that says you’ll always be rewarded for being your marvelous self. A brief History:

I’m beautiful dammit.

Vogue culture started out most prominently in Harlem in the 80’s with a large group of gays broken into groups called “Houses” (fashioned after fashion houses). These groups would meet in warehouses and have a “Ball” or competitions aimed at seeing who could dance most hyper stylistically, or vogue the best. These art centric displays (many made their own costumes) served as an ultra constructive safe haven for these lower economic, marginalized gay youth.

The documentary, Paris Is Burning, follows the original voguers working their gay magic. You better work.

At the top of this chain was Willi Ninja of “House of Ninja”, Vogueing extraordinaire. He helped choreograph Madonna’s Vogue, and subsequently taught runway models how to runway model.

Queen Willi Ninja. Famous for the body collapse, and turning his hand into a compact and then turning it around to show you exactly how ugly you are. Incredible. RIP

Get it.

Okay, backless button up and wide belt? He is double types of genius.

Further evidence.

My point is, the unadulterated talent of one set of oppressed individuals has a monetary return. Wait no, my point is that letting your inner light shine can ignite a spotlight. There we go. More:

Where are the gay men in this one? Open your eyes!

So hot, but not a ladylike pose. Obviously choreographed by men, Frank Gatson and JaQuel Knight; but inspired by Fosse (not gay in sex terms).

The new Beyoncé video has these shaky shoulder moves that put me in the mindset of Willi Ninja. Her shoulders are rather hunched like a suffering model, but also at sharp angles that suggest acute amounts of sass. There’s something Arabian Nights about it too, as if castanets should be playing.

btw, the new album is all Africa and Babyface. It works.

Essentially, there is a symbiotic nature between the pop singer and gay everything. It fascinates me endlessly. More than anything, I think it important to celebrate both sides of the same animal. So, when the next “Single Ladies” or “Paparazzi” pops up, be sure to wiki the choreographer.

About Ricky Tucker

Fashionably set above and below the mason Dixon for cocktail hour. I once owned a black sweat shirt with a singular gash of black puff paint across the front. I called it my nihilist sweater. Like it, my hope is to negate or accentuate the self through attire, basically light up a room.

2 comments

  1. SD

    Watch a short made BY Willie Ninja about Voguing right here – http://youtu.be/DSFKZwyPwyI

  2. Work it at a ball in NYC circa 1980’s. I think my favorite category is leisure. Paris Is Burning is one of my favorite doc out there. I believe there is a vogue-ing dance class in SF now that I have been meaning to try.

    Vogue and Tone with Jocquese Whitfield (aka: JoQ) at Dance Mission Theater.
    Tuesdays, 8-9:30

    I am sure it is fierce!

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