Showing posts with label ball scene. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ball scene. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How is Rich Mugler healthy?

I consider myself a socialite in the community I live in, so there are a few things that I do that involved my health that are important FOR ME.

There are important things that I do make sure I look up to par when wining, dinning, networking and mingling in such a big city like Philadelphia.

I stay healthy by taking good care of my facial skin, teeth, and body.

First, I believe that taking good care of your facial skin is essential part of staying healthy. It is a very simple thing to do and everyone can benefit, even those who have facial skin issues. A disciplined skin care routine keeps you looking and feeling your best.

Everyone should use a professional facial cleaner and a moisturizer. I also use a toner in-between facial cleaner and moisturizer. The toner is uses to help shrink the appearance of pores and it brings your skin back to an optimal pH level. A scrub is great to use once or twice a week and will keep your facial skin looking smoothed and polished.

Along with taking good care of my facial skin, I believe that taking good care of your teeth is just as important for your health. Your teeth are the first thing that most people notice when engaging in conversations and being social so making sure they are clean and sparkling is critical. That’s why I brush my teeth twice a day, floss, visit the dentist regularly, and I also use a teeth whitening system when needed. This keeps my teeth looking great and paparazzi ready (lol).

Lastly, my body is my temple, so I treat it as so.

I stay healthy by hitting up the gym 3 to 4 times a week. I do about hour of cardio twice a week and lift weights the other 2 days. Exercising allows me to fit into the clothes I want to wear. I dress to impress when heading out to an exclusive lounge bar or restaurant. Being red carpet ready is a must (lol)! Although this is my least favorite routine of all, it is probably my most important because exercising keeps my mind, body and spirit feeling great!

These are just a few things that I do to keep myself healthy. It’s what makes me unique. For those who consider themselves socialite like me, you should try it and see what kind of response you get. It really works FOR ME and maybe it will for you.

--Rich Mugler

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Ballroom Life (we love this site)

My Ballrooom Life is a microsite (created by GMHC) designed to bring the safer sex message to young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth (primarily black and Latino) in the house and ball scene.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tales from a Twink - A Family Thing

... sometimes families aren't united by blood
but by common values, and are committed to each other.

You can pick your nose.......

by Barbieboy07

[Barbie's bio
visit Barbie's World]

...but you can't pick your family.

We've heard this before, but now I want to expound a bit. Would most of us want to change our family?

Well I know that there are some of us that had no other choice.. It isn't easy coming out to your family, most of us know first hand. Thankfully many of today's parents are past the “shame” of having gay or lesbian kids, mainly because being gay is more socially accepted especially depending on where your parents are from. But what about those parents who are still stuck in the stone ages? The parents that instead of trying to understand their son or daughter, just want to hide them away or worse disown them completely. What happens to those kids?

I am very thankful for the mentoring programs here in Chicago for gay kids and teens, but I think we need to make these programs more accessible to the kids who are in schools all over Chicago and not just select neighborhoods.

Parents, are not always easy to get along with, especially in the years of adolescence. I'm 19 and my mother and I are just starting to try to understand each other. She started a few months ago by asking me why I think I'm bisexual. She had that funny way of putting it, why I “think” I'm bisexual, I then went on to tell her that it's something I've been struggling with a long time (being Catholic didn't help) and bouncing back to all these different labels didn't change the fact that I like girls and boys.

In my earlier years talking about my sexuality was totally out of the question, she ignored the makeup in my book bag and the bra's I hid in my room, or maybe she told herself that they were from my girlfriends (which I definitely had plenty of). Trying to prove to myself that I wasn't “bi” I was just going through a phase and that I still liked girls so maybe I was straight. Nuh huh, definitely bi - especially when I fell In love with an older gentleman, and he showed me the wonders of gay sex, and that there is nothing wrong with being bisexual!

Thankfully she never threatened to kick me out or send me away, not all parents are so understanding. Think of openly gay kids who want nothing more than the acceptance from their families and never receive it.

I looked up the word “Family” on and found a lot of different entries on what a family is defined as. This is my favorite one, “Two or more people who share goals and values, have long term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place.” Family is just that, sometimes families aren't united by blood but by common values, and are committed to each other.

The 1990 documentary “Paris is Burning” describes the lives of several drag queens from New York during the AIDS crisis. Pepper LaBeija, “The Legendary mother of the House of LaBeija” said it best:
“When someone has rejection from their mother, their father, their family. When they get out in the world they search, they search for someone to fill that void. I know this from experience because I've had kids come to me and latch hold to me like I'm their mother, or like I'm their father. Because they can talk to me, and I'm gay and their gay.”
I don't think we have “Houses” in Chicago but if we did, homeless gay youth would be a lot better off. When kids leave their homes many of them first go live with a friend or another family member. If and when those resources have been tapped and their friends parents can't keep them any longer, they are left to the streets with the pimps and the gangs. Most of us have seen or heard of the gay male prostitutes that hangout in Lakeview and other north side areas. Most of those guys are my age and possibly younger. There is still hope for these kids to change their risky sexual behavior and become responsible citizens, and it really starts with us.

Most people want to change their life for the better. Especially when they are young, most know that they can do better and feel they are just going through a rough patch. I think the answer lies within the services that some community organizations already offer. Mentoring is extremely important for teens, everyone at one point feels lost or helpless or just needs someone to talk to. I think more of our older LGBT community members should volunteer for youth advocacy programs all around the city.
Teenagers don't need to be babied, we don't need to be forced out in the world without support either, what we need most of all is guidance.

Teenagers don't need to be babied, we don't need to be forced out in the world without support either, what we need most of all is guidance. With guidance we can make our own decisions the right way. I think that mentors should also help kids who are thinking of coming out to their families, the scariest thing I've ever done was to tell my mom. With someone in your corner not only rooting for you, but helping you tell your family in the most effective and non threatening way, I think there will be less gay teenage runaways.

I'm always saying good things about the Center On Halsted, but we need more locations, more spread out in different neighborhoods around Chicago. With more locations we can help kids who really are in need, it isn't fair that the best mentoring programs for youth are only in a select areas in the city. It does however make sense that Chicago's historically gay village has holds the best programs for gay youth, but what about the 16 year old twink living on 147
th and S. Halsted who doesn't have any way to get to Lakeview? Or the 13 year old lesbian living in Cicero? Not only do we need more programs, but we need them to be dispersed evenly throughout the city.

Like I said earlier, in life, you can pick your nose but not your family, what you can pick are the right people to help you along the way.

Read more of Barbieboy07's Tales from a Twink here.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Gay "houses" are hitting their stride

via The Seattle Times

NEWARK, N.J. — When the House of Jourdan's gala fundraiser showed up on the 6 o'clock news seven years ago, anchormen smirked at footage of strutting drag queens and gay men "voguing," a dance popularized by Madonna.

There were voter-registration tables and an array of HIV-prevention information at the ball. But the cameras ignored those things.

"They just showed us as wild freaks dancing," recalls Bernard McAllister, CEO of the house.

These days, the House of Jourdan and seven other gay "houses" in Newark are finally getting respect.

The city's gay ball subculture — in which people compete in rituals of posing and runway-walking, sometimes as the opposite gender — is earning a place for itself in civic life, with outreach efforts and charity drives.

And nowhere is that more surprising than in Newark, a city with no openly gay nightlife.

The houses, which have a combined membership of more than 100, are now touted by politicians as a significant force in the fight against AIDS and discrimination.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Having A Ball

A Look at an Underground Youth Community That Has Taken HIV Prevention and Awareness Into Its Own Hands

by Keith R. Green

[This great piece was originally published in the July/August 2006 edition of Positively Aware. The bimonthly magazine is a publication of Test Positive Aware Network in Chicago. TPAN will be hosting a gay men's health summit called Man Alive November 3, 2007 at the new Center on Halsted.]

In a world where the influence of hip-hop dictates one’s sense of style, speech and masculinity, many Black gay youth have a difficult time finding their way. Safe spaces where they can explore their gender and sexuality are few, far and in between, likely contributing to the extremely high prevalence of HIV and STDs among this marginalized group of young people. Hundreds, if not thousands, turn (or are pushed away) from their traditional families and are forced to fend for themselves in order to survive.

Many, however, find refuge in a small community that celebrates self-expression and encourages them to explore and define who they are for themselves. Here, they are given the tools they need to create their own realities and to live fully inside of their own truths.


The ball scene dates back to as early as the 1920’s. The first balls were basically drag pageants, organized and thrown inside of grand ballrooms in Harlem. They were competitive in nature, with structures similar to other events in the Black cultural tradition—such as cotillions, step shows, and carnivals.

Balls as we know them today are centered around several aesthetic categories, including Face, Body, Realness (which is often a play on Black masculinity), Fashion and Vogue (made popular by the classic Madonna hit by the same name). Cash prizes and trophies are the most common rewards. However, any ball kid (as members of this community refer to themselves) will tell you that the ultimate goal of competition is community recognition and status.


In order to understand this concept, one must first become familiar with the ball community—which is slightly different from the ball scene. While New York CityChicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. is still recognized as its epicenter, there are sizeable ball communities in several major cities across the country, including

Though it is derived from a highly competitive institution, the ball community is more about social networking than it is about competition. It is made up of more than 35-50 nationally recognized and active houses, each named after a different fashion designer extraordinaire (House of Chanel, House of Escada, etc.).

Houses serve as makeshift families for many GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) youth who would otherwise do without the support and nourishment provided from “traditional family households.”

A True Home

Each house consists of a house mother and a house father, usually both male and not necessarily defined by degrees of masculinity (or the lack thereof). The roles of house parents are similar to those of “traditional family households,” where the mother lays down the laws and the father enforces them. Both exist to ensure that their “children” have everything they need to grow and develop into healthy, productive human beings.

“Belonging to a house really entails membership, and is, in and of itself, about belonging,” says ball kid and scholar Frank Leon Roberts. Roberts, also known as Frank Mizrahi of the House of Mizrahi, has been actively involved in the ball community and scene since early 2002. At 23 years old, he is a doctoral candidate at New York University, in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Tisch School of the Arts.

“Houses are basically social networks similar to fraternities or sororities,” he explains. “People network within their houses for jobs and resources that they are often otherwise refused.”

Roberts goes on to explain that many of the kids actually live with their house parents, because they have been ostracized by their biological families for being gay or transgender (or sometimes simply for questioning) and have no place else to go.

“You will often find very young kids—12, 13, 14 years old—who are questioning their sexuality or their gender,” he tells me with wisdom way beyond his years. “It is often the only place where transgenders can celebrate their gender transition free of judgment.”

While many social service agencies make attempts at outreach to the ball community, its underground nature and transient population make efforts done out of good intention oftentimes unfruitful. Roberts describes it as a marginalized community within a marginalized community that many people, including other Black gay men, just don’t get.

“The scene comes out of the community. Therefore, you can’t just do the work at the balls, you have to do the work within the community,” Roberts says matter-of-factly. “You have to be connected to the ballroom community. It has to be hand in hand.

“The work that the ballroom scene does, in and of itself, is that it provides a self-affirming space for Black gay men to be themselves and to play with gender, and to affirm their gender ideas and sexual identities. It provides a recreational space that truly is intervention on the ground level. It is the only place where these types of gender performances are celebrated.”

While he believes that traditional outreach is necessary and that people should be encouraged to practice safer sex and use condoms, Roberts also stresses that outreach to this population has got to be considerably more involved. “The problem with telling people to put on a condom and protect themselves is that you assume that they have a positive sense of self worth and identity,” he says. “But if you have been systematically taught to devalue your life and your body, then why the hell are you going to protect yourself?”

Chi-town Home

The agenda of a Sunday evening family meeting at the Chicago chapter of the House of Omni absolutely supports this theory.

House father Kenny Omni has been involved in the ball community since 1989. He has seen firsthand the devastation that HIV and AIDS has inflicted on Black gay men, both young and old. Having only recently been able to have any type of productive dialogue with his own mother regarding his sexuality, he does not take his role as house father lightly. He understands that his influence is oftentimes the only parental guidance that many of his “kids” will ever know.

“This house is different from most other houses in the ball community,” he says seriously. “I don’t push the balls on my kids. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the balls and love for my house to be recognized within the community,” he explains. “But more important than that, to me, is seeing to it that my kids succeed in life and realize their potential to be whatever they want to be.” And, based on the level of success that many of Omni’s members have attained thus far, Father Kenny Omni is achieving his goal.

Darren Omni recently produced remixes for the Kanye West and Brandy hit Talk About Our Love, and Natalie Cole’s Tell Me All About It. While he refuses to share his real age with anyone in the group, Darren has been a member of the House of Omni for more than eight years. He says that he got involved strictly for the social aspect of it, not necessarily for the balls. “I enjoy the camaraderie that I have with my brothers and sisters,” he says. “I have never really been interested in walking in the balls.”

The exact opposite is true for 20-year old Bambi Omni, who is a professional dancer with Deeply Rooted Productions (a dance troop based out of New YorkChicago). “I don’t live for the balls,” he says. “But the balls live for me.” His animated remarks cause his house brothers to burst into laughter as he demonstrates the unique way in which he works the runway. “I give it to the children.” and

Though he fully enjoys being a part of the ball scene, Bambi’s life is a perfect example of what it means to not get caught up in it. He walked into today’s meeting with news that he has been selected from thousands of dancers to perform in the opening and closing ceremonies for the Gay Games, to be held in Chicago in July. He is also an honor student at the American Intercontinental University, where he majors in business administration.

He moved out of his parents’ home at the age of 16 and has never looked back. “When I came out to my family, they called a family meeting and folks I hadn’t seen in years [came] from all over the country… to exorcise the ‘demon’ from me,” he shares. “I sat there with my Louisville Slugger clutched under my arm and dared those girls to try it. From then on, this community became my family.”

Growing Up

Sex and sexuality are discussions that are constantly on the table for the House of Omni. Father Kenny Omni is a member of the Friend-to-Friend Network (see November/December 2005), and requires that his “kids” not only participate in educational sessions about safer sex practices and HIV, but also has an unspoken rule that they be involved with community events to raise awareness and money to support the efforts of AIDS service organizations in the GLBT community.

“We had 12 members participate in the AIDS Walk last year,” says Fred Omni, who is a prevention case manager for a local HIV/AIDS organization in Chicago. “Not that we were resistant, but we weren’t given much of a choice in the matter,” he jokingly explains.

“In other words,” Bambi chimes in. “Kenny was going to put us out of the house if we didn’t show up.” The entire room bursts into laughter again, but Kenny Omni doesn’t crack a smile.

“I take this very seriously,” he says. “This is such a serious issue that affects all of our community. If we don’t do something about it, who will?”

The House of Omni also takes a serious stand as it relates to underage drinking and substance use/abuse among its members, another hot topic that draws lots of negative attention to the ball scene. “We have a zero tolerance policy on matters such as these,” he says sternly. “There is no place for any of that in this house.”

When asked his perspective on the substance abuse issue that exists within the ball scene, Frank Leon Roberts had this to say: “I don’t know if substance abuse is any more of a problem within the ballroom scene than it is in any other queer recreational space.

“Whether it’s the club scene or the sex party scene or whatever recreational scene it is, drug use is a problem in the gay community in general,” he adds. “But because no one is doing that work and doing that research and doing those surveys with the ballroom community, the entire scene gets stigmatized. Regardless of the situation, however, it is still no excuse for resources to be denied, which is often what happens.”

Keith's bio

Keith is the Associate Editor of Positively Aware, a leader in Chicago's Black Gay Men's Caucus and one helluva fantastic advocate for a host of issues.

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