Can I Get 1?…Can I Get 2?…How about 20? That’s the number of years GMHC and the House of Latex has been transcending house and category. Representing in the name of health, wellness and safer sex. For years they have been offering support, workshops, testings, mini-balls, and of course their historical annual Latex balls. On Saturday night the Roseland Ballroom was filled with legends, icons, and revolutionaries; all gathering for one cause, to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and how to prevent/fight it.
The event included a HIV testing area and free educational materials provided by GMHC and other community-based organizations. Fashion Revolution was this year’s theme.
The stage was dazzled with lights that streamed down the runway and back up to a glittered red and white judging table which read “LATEX BALL”. The sounds of “the beats” played by DJ Vjuan Allure resonated throughout the venue. You had no choice but to tap your big toe, swing your hair, move your body, and be a Latex even for just a moment. Supporting their community they held a pre-show to showcase upcoming artists making their mark in the Industry. Harmonica Sunbeam a drag performer hosted the segment coming out in a hot flamed body suit, with luxurious blond hair.
Performers included Baron, Nikki Exotika, Step Team For Social Justice and from Rupaul’s Drag Race Sahara Davenport (Season 2). Also making a special guest appearance was Bajan R&B/Pop singer-songwriter Shontelle; who hosted and judged a special vouging competition. 5 contestants battled it out to her remixed song “Licky” (Saul Ruiz Club Mix) for a chance to win prizes courtesy of Universal Motown. She tweeted ” So I rocked Hernan Lander shoes & jacket, Max Azria top, Rachel Roy shorts & Chrissy L jewelry. STILL can’t compete with the kids @ LatexBall!” Shontelle album entitled “No Gravity” will be in stores Sept. 21st.
“Ladies and Gentleman the show is about to begin.” An anxious crowd rushed to get to a seat as commenters Jack Mizrahi, Selvin Khan & Vouge Evolution’s Dashaun Evisu took the stage. Hyping the crowd with their fierce personalities and comedic comments they acknowledged some of the greats that were in the room. The crowd cheered and applauded as each Icon graced the stage almost seeming star struck. Right when you thought it couldn’t get any better recording artist Chrisette Michele came out and strutted her stuff in some red pumps. Seeming shy at first she went for a 2nd go and ripped the runway. The event included categories for competition in exuberant expressions of dance, vogueing and modeling of fashion designs. Some of the categories were OTA (Open-To-All) Best Dressed, Female Figure Runway, and Grand Prize Designer’s Delight: The Fashion Show. One of my favorite moments though was when Diva Davanna took the stage. She is the youngest model to had ever hit the Latex stage with her signature fierce walk, back in 2007 when she was 7.
The night was getting late and I was ready to go, but right before I did they announced a surprise guest performance from Rupaul’s Drag Race winner BeBe Zahara Benet (Season 1). She came out in her signature afro curled hair and a leopard skin outfit. With 2 male dancers and energetic choreography she performed her new single “Cameroon”. The ball was no where near finished (at 2am) and I had to leave. Overall it was an entertaining and informative night. It was amazing to see the love and pride everyone shared in the room even though it was a competition. Contestants still hugged after each round, judges still applauded, and everyone supported the importance of HIV/AIDS awareness.