Why Do We Say That? – Terms We Learned From “Paris Is Burning”

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It has been over a quarter of a century since the documentary Paris Is Burning was first released. For many people, this movie was their first (and possibly only) look into the lifestyle of New York City’s ballroom culture. It displays a side of our LGBT+ history that is often overlooked or simply attributed to another person or show. Ninety percent of the witty one-liners and catchphrases that are heard over and over again on RuPaul’s Drag Race and other LGBT+ centric shows have their origins in this culture. Performers such as RuPaul herself, Bob The Drag Queen, and Azelia Banks have even sampled audio clips from this documentary into their current-day music. This movie; these people; this art form have all played a major role in shaping our community, and even our everyday vocabulary.

Here are some of the terms that became so commonplace through the years and their definitions:

SHADE

I think Dorian Corey put it best. “Shade is I don’t tell you you’re ugly but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly … and that’s shade.”

 

READING

As Corey also taught us, shade comes from reading. And never forget that reading is (what?) fundamental. “Reading is the real art form of insults.” Reading is to insult someone imaginatively. It was (and still is) the LGBT+ community’s way of opposing blunt gay-bashing and hurtful insults from outsiders. It is, at its core, insulting someone without hurting them.

 

Voguing

Voguing is throwing shade through dance. It is a direct competition and a way to settle problems between different individuals and “houses”. The name “Voguing” came from the fashion magazine, because a lot of the poses and body movements used are reminiscent of high fashion model poses. Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza and Luis Xtravaganza introduced voguing to Madonna at the Sound Factory Club in New York City, and that is how it reached mainstream culture and became what it is today.

 

House

A House is a family. It is a “gay street gang.” Many members of these makeshift families were disowned by their own. This is probably one of the strongest bonds in the community. There are always House parents (a “Mother” and “Father” respectively) and everyone in each House looks out for each other. Like RuPaul says, “We as gay people get to choose our family and the people we’re around.”

 

Realness

Realness is the ability to pose convincingly. It is the ability to completely pass yourself off as the person you are impersonating and blend in. This term originated from members of the community wanting to present themselves as members of another community that would never accept them, whether it is because of their race, gender, or orientation. Realness is the basis of the phrase “Fake it ’till you make it.”

whitegirl

 

Mopping

 

  • 00:49:58 Just look for… look for whatever you want to see,
  • 00:50:01 look for whatever.
  • 00:50:03 Mopping is stealing.
  • 00:50:05 General stealing.
  • 00:50:07 However it’s done, it’s stealing.

 

Thank you for reading, and I leave you with this

arrow

 

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Let’s Have A Kiki… At 4 AM

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Scene opens: It’s 3:25 AM and you’re on the dance floor at Voyeur with some guy whose name you forgot about 15 seconds after he told you dancing to a Robyn song. You’ve sweated out the majority of that Trashcan you ordered from the bar at 2:45 to avoid the mad dash of last call and you’re least favorite tank top is hanging out of your back pocket because “it’s too hot to wear a shirt.” The ugly lights come on and your realize that what’s his name is definitely not as cute as the strobe lights made him out to be. You still give him a sympathy kiss because that’s the polite thing to do and he asks you what you’re doing after this. You make up a story about how one of your friends is staying at your place and you have to let him in and you have work early the next morning etc etc (you know how it goes). He gives you his number and you save it as “Dance Floor. Voyeur. Friday.” and make your escape into the beautiful scenery that is the St. James alley, standing by the dumpsters in hopes that he won’t see you when he finally stumbles out on his way to CBC and wait for your friends. After the 35 minutes of wonderful alleyway conversation someone mumbles the words “Who wants to go to the diner?” You agree because you’re “not ready to go home yet”, not because you want to eat… And this is how the 4 AM Kiki session starts. The walk to Midtown II is quiet, as everyone recaps what happened that night in their heads and decides which details they want to keep hidden forever.You all stumble in in your short shorts and cut-up tanks, stained with the sweaty remnants of your MAC foundation, but this is a judgement -free zone. You’re not even close to the worst they’ve seen that night. The waitress drops off your water, which is gone in about 2 minutes, thanks to the dehydration of 5 hours of dancing and heavy drinking. Now that you’re all seated, the iPhones come out and the pings of Grindr start, although if you haven’t found a boy by this time, chances are that the Voyeur leftovers aren’t going to do it for you. The waitress comes to take your orders and the amount of carbs that your table is about to consume could feed a small African tribe for 2 weeks. One of your friends doesn’t order anything, claiming that he’s “trying to save money”, which you all know means he doesn’t eat more than 500 calories a day, but no one cares because they are all thinking about their own wonderful meal of grease and empty calories. The conversation starts, recapping the night’s “accidental make-out sessions”, drug offers, and awkward bathroom encounters. Jokes are made at a friend’s expense, who is either too drunk to care or just drunk enough to get offended. At least one of your friends starts drunk texting their ex, at which point their phone is confiscated and sneakily hidden under a napkin, where they will not find it all night. Life goals, hopes, and dreams are revealed, but no one pays much mind to that guy because they know he’s going to be a server at a center city restaurant for the rest of his life. At least 15 minutes of this crucial meal time is spent telling one of your friends how pretty he is and that he won’t die alone. Tears are shed, water glasses knocked over, jokes made, and then the bill comes. Cards are whipped out and the girl at the cash register begrudgingly splits the bill for you. As you all walk out to catch your cabs in separate directions, plans are made for the next night. “I never eat like that!” “OMG! I’m soooo full. I’m not eating anything for the next 2 days.” The meal is forgotten and never talked about again, but the stories shared might end up on Gossip Gay Philly the next day. Then the walk/cab ride of shame happens, where you tell yourself that you need to find a boyfriend so that you stop eating your feelings at diners, but you know that the nights would have been nothing if you hadn’t had the shameful stories to tell your friends over a giant pile of cheese fries.

Gay Club Etiquette (It’s Not That Hard…)

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Okay, so it’s officially Monday and the weekend is over. I’m home from my regular Sunday night at Sinful Sundays at Tabu early so I decided why not write another blog? After being in NYC last weekend for Pride and going back out in Philly this weekend, the topic for this new post was slightly obvious… GAY CLUB ETIQUETTE. There are a lot of things that you should and probably should not do while out in the scene, especially on the weekends, so I just wanted to take some of my time and make a list. These are just MY opinions and you might not agree, but here goes:

1. “Sandals are not shoes!” -Blair Waldorf

I get it, trust me. It’s hot. You don’t want to wear shoes, but you’re going out. FLIP FLOPS ARE NOT OKAY, unless you are on the beach. 1. You are, without a doubt, going to get stepped on, a lot. 2. You’re at a bar! There are broken glass bottles everywhere. Do you want to risk that? 3. THEY DON’T LOOK CUTE! Ever. On anyone. I’m not sorry….

2. Please go somewhere else with your super branded t-shirts.

I know that Abercrombie, Hollister, and Aeropostale might have been okay at some point when you were in the 12-17-year-old range, but you are an adult now. Please portray yourself as such. You don’t have to wear expensive clothes, no need to rush out and buy an Italian made suit or anything, but try to avoid having large words, of any kind, written across your t-shirt. It’s just tacky.

3. The words “excuse me” will get you very far.

If you simply try to push past me at a club, I do not care how big or strong you are, I will purposefully not move out of your way. It really isn’t too hard to simply say “excuse me” and I will move. No need to be rude and pushy!

4. This one’s for the ladies – If you can’t walk and dance all night in your shoes, do not leave the house in them.

You leave your house, looking really cute, in your brand new 8″ Jeffrey Campbells. GET IT GIRL! But please, think about your night in advance, you are probably going to spend the majority of it dancing, standing, drinking, and walking to other bars. If you can’t make it through all of that in those shoes, take them off and put some cute ballet flats on. And NEVER take your shoes off at the club. You’re better than that…

5. Do not beg for the men who take your money to let you in for free

If you are not on a guest list and do not have a free admission ticket by the time you are supposed to be paying, just pay. No one is going to give you a break, especially if they do not know you. They have all been doing their jobs for a very long time and have heard your exact story 25 other times that night. All you are doing is holding everyone else up from getting inside and having a good time.

6. Please be able to handle your liquor and know your limits

You are in public! Chances are, if you’re at a gay club, it is not your first time drinking. You should know by this time when to say no. No one looks cute barfing in the Voyeur bathroom or getting escorted out of Woody’s because they fell down the steps. NO ONE!

7. Tip your bartenders no matter what

If you do not have enough cash to tip, don’t get a drink in the first place. They work hard all night serving you messes and deserve a little appreciation. Also, keep in mind that the more you tip, the more the bartender likes you, and when bartenders around here like people, they make their drinks stronger and stronger. So, if you want a good drink, keep tipping.

8.If you are not a drag queen, do not get on the stage during a drag show

No one paid $5-7 to see you perform anything! And if you’re drunk enough to jump on stage, you probably have no idea how to dance.Β  Just saying, leave the performing to the performers, please!

9. DO NOT EAT THE VOYEUR HOTDOGS

I don’t care if you haven’t eaten in the past 3 days or if your boyfriend just broke up with you and is blowing someone else in the bathroom, Voyeur hotdogs are never okay. 1. They’re bulk hot dogs on a machine in the dark corner of a smoke-filled gay club 2. Voyeur only has them out to abide by the law (have to serve food to serve alcohol after hours) 3.You’re breath is gonna be nasty! For the rest of the night…

10. If you find yourself at an event, get photographed, by someone else.

iPhone pictures in Instagram don’t count. Philly is a small town, but when you’re out in the Gayborhood, usually people are drunk. They won’t remember you’re name the next morning, I promise. You want to make it known that you were out, without being obnoxious. Get in a FameLust picture. You know it’s going to end up on Facebook. You also know that those people you met last night are going to look at them to remember who you were. Always look presentable and people will start to remember you.

These are just a few of the tips I wanted to give, and I’m sure there will be a follow-up post at some point that will list some more. Keep reading and maybe post some comments! Thanks!