For over 20 years I have attended balls. The balls I attend aren’t the ones seen in old movies, with rich white ladies in gowns and rich white gentlemen in tuxes, sipping champagne and listening to the unlistenable. That’s not really me and I’m never really invited to those except when some misguided publicist thinks I might cover their charity soirèe. The balls I attend are the balls thrown by the houses sometimes referred to as the voguing houses. I was honored to be a judge at an Xtravaganza Ball a couple years back. This culture became popularized by Madonna with her song "Vogue." The world learned to pop, dip, and spin, and the balls were never the same. In reality, balls and this culture have been around for a century. I am a regular at the annual Latex Ball which is now turning 21. This ball is presented by the GMHC, now in its 30th year of helping educate and support people with AIDS. Education helps with prevention. Despite a very relaxed attitude by the general public regarding this scourge, HIV and AIDS are still killing people.
As I left the subway yesterday afternoon, I wondered if the rain had stopped. I approached the stairway to heaven and all things Meatpacking District when a man who looked like he had just seen Godzilla turned to me and said "It’s fucking Noah’s Arc shit out there.” Armed with a $4 umbrella, I went toward the rain, which seemed more like a portend to an Al Gore "I told you so" monologue than a midsummer relief. As I bravely entered the maelstrom, tourists huddled under awnings, looking like scared wet puppies. They looked at me like I was a fireman entering the burning tenement. I decided to sing and skip through the puddles and had the most fun. I entered my meeting at the Soho House with wet feet and a youthful grin. There, I kissed cheeks and shook hands with fabulous friends who told me secrets that I swore I’d wait on.
Someone asked me if I had been to Jon B’s new restaurant, punctuating the remarks with "air quotation marks and ending with wink, wink." I said, "No, I haven’t gone to RSVP yet and I don’t think I will.” They asked me if he was going to run it like a restaurant or if he would it do that for a while and then let it devolve into just another Juliet Supper Club. I said something like, "A leopard can’t change his stripes,” or “A horse is a horse of course of course," and the dude thought I wasn’t making sense. They put booze in those drinks at Soho House.
Another chatty fellow told me he heard from a lawyer that works with another lawyer that’s getting the liquor license that Jon B was going to reopen Juliet, which has been shuttered because of doing everything badly. This fellow swears that Jon will open there again as a restaurant. "OMG!" I offered while trying to escape. “It will be Deja Vu, Bang ,Bang, Bang all over again!” While the suits chuckled at my escape quip, I ran to the couch to take my meeting, waving to beautiful, wonderful, fabulous people at the bar. Soho House is all things to some people. I’m considering hanging there constantly for inside “wink, wink” scoops.
This Saturday night I am heading to Le Poisson Rouge to catch DJ/producer/old friend Frankie Knuckles. I chatted with him about the gig and the state of dance music yesterday. Le Poisson is really an important spot and has been since day one. It was good to catch up after too many years. Frankie will be joined by Miguel Migs, Sleepy & Boo, Mikey G, and Dan Fisher. It will be nice to hear some good ol’ house music. Electronic dance music is like a mosquito to my ears. I seek some vocals and the company of adults.
Last but not least, and the subject of tomorrow’s post, is this Sunday’s Xtravaganza Ball at XL. It will be everything. Tivo True Blood, On Demand The Newsroom, put your seriously chic outfit on, and head to this ball. I cannot recommend an event more strongly. This is the realest of deals. Please come done-up as that is the requirement at balls such as this. But be warned: there are few balls such as this. I must leave right now for my fitting, as I have been honored to be a judge and must look fierce. Tell you more tomorrow!
It is time to get serious as FATHER JOSE XTRAVAGANZA & THE ICONIC HOUSE OF XTRAVAGANZA celebrate their 30th anniversary with the XTRAVAGANZA “WRATH OF THE GODS & GODDESSES” BALL. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you have two choices: 1) go on with your mundane, unenlightened life and leave this post immediately, or 2) clear your calendar, dress up, and prepare to witness. This monumental event will be at XL NIGHTCLUB, 512 WEST 42ND STREET, this SUNDAY, JULY 22ND 2012. DOORS OPEN AT 8PM and the BALL BEGINS AT 11PM. There are ADVANCE TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLINE AT http://www.showclix.com/event/XBALL for $20, or at the door for $30.
I can’t spend this morning explaining to you what Ball Culture is, but you can go on line and learn about a universe that has its beginnings over a century ago. The modern "Houses" often named after fashion icons became popularized by the movie Paris is Burning, a Jennie Livingston documentary which featured legends such as Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, Anji Xtravaganza, and Willi Ninja. Madonna woke up the planet with the video "Vogue," featuring Jose and Luis Xtravaganza of the “House of Extravaganza.” I can go on and on but it’s best you come and see the real, the wonderful, the exciting, the style, the drama that this Ball will bring. An Xtravaganza Ball doesn’t happen all too often and I advise in the strongest possible way that you attend this event.
I have been asked by Grandfather Hector Xtravaganza and Father Jose Xtravaganza to be a judge at the Ball. For me, this is one of the greatest honors of my life. I am gushing. What to wear? I judged a ‘Ganza Ball once before and wore head-to-toe Yves Saint Laurent. This year I wanted to go the bespoke clothing route that all the bon vivants around town are embracing. My dear friend Caitlin Kinirons contacted me randomly about SEW Bespoke Clothing, 229A Mott Street, and we were off to the tailors.
From their release:
"SEW opened November of 2007, a boutique for high-end custom-made menswear in the Nolita neighborhood. A unique line of bespoke jackets, funky blazers, dress shirts, ties and pocket squares, SEW brings the distinctive look of Downtown New York City infused with Old World custom tailoring" to lower Manhattan. All meticulously hand sewn by local artisans in NYC, reflective of where our customers are going and where we see men’s fashion evolving to."
Omg,OMG,OMG! They have nice clothes. I became best friends immediately with SEW founder and designer Scott Evan Wasserberger (SEW). We talked of gin and beer and clubs and folks of lore while he and Caitlin made me look like a gentleman. Scott is a third generation tailor. Him and his family know how to dress people for success, and he decked me out. I’m not going to tell you what I’m wearing; I’ll let you see the ensemble Monday when I put up pictures from the Ball. SEW has these unreal fabrics from such companies as Loro Piana and Dormeuil and says boldly, "If you can dream it, SEW can make it.” Everything is made in NYC and, come Sunday, I am going to flaunt it.