Category Archives: Books & Writing
Pose is a fictional television series depicting the New York ball community in late 80s (season 1) and early 90s (season 2). The show has real life trans and gender non-conforming actors and several of the behind the scenes crew – directors, writers, consultants, choreographers etc are from within the lgbtq community. Several of stories lines were inspired by the documentary Paris Is Burning. In fact, on IMDB the director of Paris is Burning, Jennie Livingston, is listed as a consulting producer on the show.
It felt like the first season was for the community. To give people a chance to see black/brown gay and trans people on screen as fully formed three dimensional characters with dreams, hopes and desires. The characters experienced pain, disappointment and drama but the harsher possibilities – physical violence and death – weren’t weaved into the story lines. As a viewer, I got nervous whenever one of the girls went to work on the piers or had an argument with a boyfriend.
Season two felt a little grittier. Madonna’s Vogue hit the charts and suddenly middle class white women – who had no idea this world existed – want to learning how to dance like the ball kids. Scouts are now showing up to balls looking to snag dancers for auditions. Community-wise the feeling is “finally the world will see us and give us the respect (and $$) we are worth.” Opportunity is in the air, but so is violence and death this time around.
I guess the writers felt it would be unrealistic if another season went by without showing violence and its impact on the community.
What I found interesting about the second season was the emphasis on Vogue as the sole reason that members of the community thought they would finally be embraced by the mainstream. In reality, many members of the ballroom community thought they were on the verge of stardom because a filmmaker – Jenny Livingston – was making a documentary about them. Many people featured in Paris Is Burning thought that they were going to receive money from the film. The film, which was released a year after Vogue, was a success that received plenty of acclaim and criticism. Unfortunately, the financial success did not trickle down, leaving many disappointed.
Imagine if in season one of Pose a character or two had mentioned an outsider to the community coming in to record their stories and film the balls…
One of the performers in Paris Is Burning, Pepper Labeija, offered this criticism of the film: “I do think that Jennie missed the point that there is life after the ball. She didn’t let people know that this is a hobby, not a whole life. We don’t all stand on the pier and vogue all night.”
Though it is fiction, Pose does what Paris Is Burning does not: shows there is life outside of the ball. This is what happens when people from within the community have some input and control over the media depicting it.
I wonder what direction the third season of Pose is going to take. Secretly, I hope that they pull a Bobby Ewing with Candy – but that’s unlikely.
An Excerpt from my story: No Exchanges – No Returns
Victor stood off to the side as Sabrina approached the strange man and his table of curiosities. The dealer swept his dreadlocks to the side and turned on the full force of his freckles and wide smile. “Good afternoon, miss. My name is Henri.” He waved his hands over the goods. “See anything you like?”
A phony French accent and olive skin, Victor thought as he picked at his nails. That’s all it takes to impress college girls.
“What do you have?” Sabrina asked.
Henri pointed to a trio of thick red candles with gold symbols carved into them. “These are from Marrakesh. You light one as you meditate, and it will help you focus your energy on healing.” He drew her attention to a gold chalice. “I acquired this in Madrid. It’s rumored to be from the treasures hoarded by the Knights Templar. And this,” he picked up a crystal spray bottle full of amber fluid, “is perfume from Cairo.”
She picked up a faceless ragdoll. “Let me guess. From Berlin? Or a nomadic tribe on the outskirts of Algeria?”
“No.” Henri’s coal black eyes sparkled. “That’s from Pennsylvania Dutch Country.” They shared a laugh. “I’m a traveling man who picks up things here and there. No one can give you a better deal.”
Victor tuned out the conversation. Passing off dollar store junk as valuable trinkets. Got to give him credit though, he’s obviously wearing every stitch of clothing he owns and isn’t breaking a sweat. Dude is wearing three or four layers.
In the middle of a story about Stonehenge, Henri raised his arms and a brief flash of gold came from inside of his coat. Now, Victor was interested.
Sabrina stepped back and wagged a finger at the dealer. “Oh no, I don’t mess with anything from Stonehenge; I’ve seen Halloween III.” Her gaze shifted back to the red candles. “I have a friend who I think will be interested in these. Is it okay if I take a picture?”
“Sure, but understand I don’t put items on hold. If someone else comes to me with cash in hand…”
“Do you have a card? If my friend is interested, I’d want to call to make sure the item was still available.”
Victor was dumbfounded. She’s getting his phone number? She’s seriously making a play for this dude, this wannabe pirate?
“What’s your name, miss?”
Henri snapped his fingers and appeared to pluck a business card from the air. When he held it out to her, she caught a glimpse of his tattoos. “Sabrina, feel free to call about the candles or anything else you may be interested in.” He smiled slyly and winked at her.
Blushing, Sabrina turned to Victor. “I’ve got to get back. Are you coming?”
Victor shook his head. “No, I’ll be along in a few minutes.” He waited until she rounded the corner to take her place in front of the table.
What will Victor buy? How will it change his life?
Get your copy of Deadly Bargain to find out!