Steven Canals' Pose, powered by Ryan Murphy, turned a spotlight on the ballroom scene. Though the culture and community have long influenced all things popular, the FX show’s first and second seasons brought the members of a bustling, international community to the forefront, finally naming these sometimes completely unknown cultural arbiters, and bringing them center stage. But, even with their work on and off the set, many of these powerbrokers are at work organizing and fortifying the community from which they’ve emerged.
Take Icon Gorgeous Jack Mizrahi Gucci. You no doubt recognize his face as one of the Masters of Ceremony Council on Pose, where he makes wisecracks (that he writes himself). But you’ve also felt his influence in the character of Pray Tell, since he coached Billy Porter on finding a vocal inflection authentic to the ballroom scene. Offscreen, though, he recently debuted his new house, Gorgeous Gucci, and commentated over 42 balls around the world this year alone, touching down in Russia, Italy, France, Mexico, and Sweden. “We’re not going to burn out,” says Gucci, who joined the Writers Guild of America East off the back of his work on Pose. “The idea behind [ballroom] is immortal; we’re only getting bigger and we’re going to get more organized.”
A part of that organizing has been done by the Legendary Twiggy Pucci Garçon. Though her role on the show saw her contributing to casting and runway choreography, helping scenes move in ways that felt organic to the flow of a real-life event, she’s also been running the House of Comme des Garçon. That international family is now a decade old and this year, Garcon worked hard in coralling and creating a Parisian chapter to debut in ballroom's European mecca. This work was initially done alongside Garçon's son, Willow Garçon until his untimely death. “I will continue to work on [this chapter] to continue his legacy and actualize his vision for it,” Twiggy Pucci Garçon says. The chapter made its debut in October.
As for the Icon Amazon Leiomy Maldonado, who plays Florida Ferocity on Pose, this year was also about giving back to her community. Though she started the House of Amazon in 2015 in an effort to return to ballroom’s initial principle of chosen family, she amplified that work through her long-term partnership with Nike. She helped advise the athletic brand on their annual BeTrue campaign, and took a turn on the catwalk for a collaboration between The Blonds and Moulin Rouge during New York Fashion Week. “The ballroom scene is becoming mainstream now, and I hope we remember our roots,” she says. “We need to remember where we started and not get lost in the mainstream success of it all.” It’s unlikely that these three will ever let that happen.
This piece was originally published in this year’s Out100 issue, out on newstands 12/10. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, or Nook beginning 11/21.