Wise & Young

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ballroom Interview: Winston Prodigy

The first time I saw Winston Prodigy, it was at a barbershop across the street from Howard University on Georgia Ave, the Saturday before the Evisu Ball. I was there getting ready to go to my first ball, and of course going to any gay event one must have the cleanest cut, and freshest line up. Winston didn’t really stand out to me, the only reason I remembered him was that he was in front of me for the barber I was waiting on. Then while standing in line to get into the Evisu Ball, as my female cousin Bookie, was over there trying to flirt with whom we would find out was Icon Dray Ebony, I saw the same guy from the barbershop. Thinking to myself what a coincidence, then after the ball was underway I remember his performance for the All-American Runway category, he possessed a poise and a stature that seemed oddly out of place for one who appeared so young.

To describe Winston Prodigy is to describe a generation of young African-American gay and bisexual men, he accepts his sexuality but his acceptance does not compromise his masculinity, not out of fear of appearing effeminate but so that he may accept all parts of who he is. One only needs to look at his choice of category. All-American Runway, is one of few performance categories in the ballroom scene that celebrates masculinity. Winston’s ballroom career started in 2004 after being introduced to the scene via a friend who would, watch DVD’s and attend balls. From there Winston became Winston Balenciaga, who was urged to walk Schoolboy Realness. “Being new you don’t know everything…Gray Aga, talked to me about the All American Runway category… Kai Aga, was the first person for him to see walk the category, from there I fell in love with the category, and everything else is history.” History is right, in his short tenure Winston has made a name for himself as becoming a formidable competitor for heavyweights in the category, like newly dubbed Legend Derrick Allure. When speaking about Derrick, Winston answers “honestly I look towards Derrick for inspiration, when thinking about an effect I think what would Derrick do to make it creative and stand out.” But at the same time Winston uses his own aesthetic when making an effect “how can I make this stand out, how can I make it be different, how can I make it be me, how can I make it be Winston.” Most notably would be Winston’s 2006 Latex Ball, “[for the] first time I put my own effect together without anyone's help. People were shocked, and proud of me…. that in turn made me proud of myself. I got a lot of attention.”

“All American Runway is three categories in one. Realness you have to masculine, two is Best Dressed. You have to best dressed be nice and clean cut, and last of course runway, which must be crisp have a masculine stride.”
After attending a few balls there was a noticeable trend that, when All-American Runway and European Runway battle for the grand prize, often times it seems that not only the judges but the crowd were far more interested in European Runway. A noticeable exception is when Derrick Allure battled for Grand Prize at the Inauguration Ball, but his win could also be attributed to the fact that in the final battle, he went from All-American to European back to All-American. I posed this question to Winston asking him does All-American Runway gets shaded, “I don't think it gets shaded, but more looked over, if its an American vs. a European, just pumping with a feminine walk, I think the judges forget what is American really is, the European runway is more exciting.” When asked what was the draw for him to do All-American Runway Winston responds with “I like the masculinity of the category, I enjoy watching European, and like the creativity of all American, I admire to keep some masculinity into the ballroom.” The ballroom scene is one of the few avenues that celebrate both the masculine and the feminine aesthetic inherent in every person. But one only needs to look at the ball’s category list, most categories have a feminine ethos. Part of this may be attributed to in the gay community, and the larger Western Culture’s pre-occupation with celebrating the masculine ideal, and the ballroom is reacting against that providing men with a “cunty” outlet to express and celebrate the inherent feminine nature that resides in everyone to varying degrees.

Going to balls, turning your category, and achieving goals outside of the ballroom seems that it would be a hard balancing act, one that many people would find themselves having to make pivotal decisions as to where to devote their attention to fully. Do they devote it to a scene or the real world, and which one in the end will have the greatest reward for the amount of effort put in. Winston admits that its very hard, at times and they at times conflict, "the best way is I try to create ballroom time, and real life time, real life come first always.” To further re-iterate this point, when asked what are his plans for himself in the next five years “Ballroom I want to be one top runners for American Runway, possibly a statement on the road to legendary status. [Having] acquired BS from College Park at least in my field, working in HR, being successful making my family proud.” When, not if, Winston achieves these goals not only will he be breaking various stereotypes of young African-American men, and those of ballroom participants, as well. Too often the stereotypes of both are the same, pre-occupation with consumer goods, too focused on short term gratification and not the long term. Turning it in the ballroom scene is one thing, but turning it in life is another matter entirely, and Winston is set to do both.

Word Association

Derrick Allure................My Hero for American Runway

Preparation...................Time consuming



True Icon.......................Eric Christian Bizarre

Knot...............................someone DESPERATELY Wanting to fit in

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  • This guy is really handsome, I think I've seen him before.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:29 PM  

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