The cast of TV drama Pose: "Without us, Madonna would be nothing" | Television and radio


BThe culture of guest rooms has melded into the mainstream for a while, but last year it was inescapable. There was voguing in the award-winning The Favorite by Yorgos Lanthimos and in the video by Calvin Harris and Sam Smith's Promises; He even appears in a recent Boots ad. These glimpses of a displaced New York subculture are cute, but Ryan Murphy's new program on BBC Two, Pose, takes you back to the source.

Contrary to popular belief, Madonna did not invent voguing. Its 1990 success, Vogue, was a euphoric celebration / appropriation of a dance form that emerged from the Harlem ballroom scene in the 1980s. "The balls are part of a larger story of queer performance and performance dating back "says Madison Moore, assistant professor of gender, sexuality, and women's studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. "I'm thinking of the Hamilton Lodge Ball, the so-called Fagots Ball of the early 1900s, where up to 1,500 spectators watched the best black queer actors, drag queens, female and male mimics. Poet and playwright Langston Hughes described these balls in his 1940 autobiography, The Big Sea, as "colored glasses."

The world of balls is as complex as it is fabulous. It has its own language: "shadow", "reading" and "kiki" come from ball culture. Then there are houses. Houses are teams of participants who have come together to form an almost familiar unit. Children (not minors) from various houses compete for trophies in track, reality, face, body, and fashion battles, where the goal is to present simulations of catwalk models, going to school boys, street thieves, or business executives ; to revel in her mature physical beauty; and, of course, fashion. The original voguing style recreated in Pose, now known as Old Way, is performed with graceful movements inspired by model poses, ancient Hollywood, kung fu and Egyptian hieroglyphics, while the Vogue Femme features a frantic combination of moves – duck walking, walking work, manual labor and rounds and dives.

"The first time I went to a ball was phenomenal," recalls Dominique Jackson, the actor, model and activist who plays Pose's formidable mother, Elektra Abundance. "I was like a kid at an amusement park. I've seen people like me. I saw joy. "Jackson won the first time she walked, snatching the trophy in the expensive category. The following week, she won the track category. "I kept winning," he says matter-of-factly, "until February 2016, they called me an iconic & # 39;

Actor Billy Porter, Pose's MC Pray Tell, jokes that he is the adjoining ballroom. "When I was in New York in 1991, I was in the original Miss Saigon cast, so I went to dances, but I never took part – I was doing eight shows a week. I had a job. "Not that Porter is sloppy when it comes to performing. "Oh, I know the moves, honey – I do not drop death or anything, but Daddy can vogue."

Mj Rodriguez as Blanca Rodriguez.

Mj Rodriguez as Blanca Rodriguez. Photo: BBC / FX / Pari Dukovic

Glee and American Horror Story Ryan Murphy has been giving LGBT viewers with generations-defining TV since his underappreciated popular high school program, but Pose Goes Beyond: This is a queer show (most of its creators, writers, directors, cast and crew). characters). are gay and trans) that heterosexual people can, and should, enjoy, not the other way around. He tells the story of two houses, both equally dignified, but led by an icy cow, Elektra Abundance (Jackson), living his fantasies of Alexis Carrington with a steel peplum. The other is presided over by the newly formed Blanca Evangelista (Mj Rodriguez). It's soapy but elegant. You immediately fall in love with Angel (Indya Moore), a quixotic sex pro, but Pray Tell, Porter's scalpel MC, is the heart of the show, shifting from bravado to tenderness in the blink of an eye. While Pose is flashy fun with a wonderful, endless soundtrack of malicious jokes and museum-quality (cut) museum costumes, it also speaks of prejudice, poverty and the devastation of AIDS. While you watch with one finger on Shazam, the rest are reaching the tissues.

Jackson insists that Pose is more than a TV show. "It is innovative, it is to educate those who have been around or not understood us, all: LGBTQIA, heterosexual and transsexual gender must watch so they know our history."

Someone who is already prepared for the show is LeBron James. The most successful basketball player in the world celebrated Pose on the Instagram, thanking several women of color for being inspirational, including the cast of Pose. "This was one of the happiest days of my life," confesses Jackson, "I literally cried because someone like LeBron James commented on us – a man who is seen by communities of color as a model – for him to include us, meanings to me, the world. "

Considering the impact that Madonna's Vogue and the Paris ballroom documentary, Paris Is Burning, had at the time, you may wonder why the mainstream has not caught the dance culture before. "Part of the reason is that hall members practiced and participated in that community clandestinely for survival," said Marlon Bailey, associate professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University. He says there are good reasons to protect the culture. "Becoming mainstream will subject you not only to more vigilance but also to appropriation."

Indya Moore as Angel.

Indya Moore as Angel. Photo: BBC / FX / JoJo Whilden

This subject of appropriation is close to the heart of Billy Porter. "We are a culture from which you rape and enrich, but literally close the door to. Without us Madonna would be nothing, Beyoncé would be nothing, Lady Gaga would be nothing. Culture has been influenced by us from the beginning of time and now we can reclaim that space. "

The fact that the ballroom is having a moment is exciting, but Madison Moore insists the scene does not depend on the general public for vitality. "Pose is a phenomenal breakthrough," he says, "but once the media stops paying attention, the culture of the ballroom will still be bursting. It's not about Madonna, it's about Kiddy Smile, the French popstar and the catwalk diva. Voguing is about Sinia, icon Jack Mizrahi, Vjuan Allure and MikeQ, Lasseindra Ninja and Leiomy, DJ and vocalist Shaun J Wright, mother Steffie Mizrahi, Jay Jay Revlon and all the strange and trans people who drive culture. "

Pose was nominated for the best Golden Globe television series, won the AFI TV show of the year and his second season in the United States on June 9. "I'm going to be 50 this year, I came out in 1985, and I'm still gagged every time I think about the fact that this story is being told," says Porter. "I'm so grateful to have lived long enough to see this. Visibility is essential for growth, understanding and love because you can not love something you do not understand. And the only way this world can be fixed is by discovering how to love ourselves through our differences. "

Pose's house is on the ball and everyone is invited.

Pose is on Thursday, April 25, 9PM, BBC Two


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