Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    The privileged, elite, well-to-do, or even middle class may not be able to relate to this entry ...

    I grew up in immense poverty and there are no greater symbols of poverty than food stamps, government cheese and roaches... all three have been in my life at some point -- food stamps (now I see the card, which is probably a lil' less shameful than those huge, colorful stamps that were OBVIOUSLY not money -- at least you can use the card at an angle and hopefully the person behind you won't think you are a lazy, shiftless welfare recipient) and government cheese are no longer around, but roaches aren't going anywhere! Roaches are simply part of the urban poor community.

    It was the 9th grade, I was in my first period music class and a stream of roaches crawled out of somebody's book bag. The entire class of thugged out boys and gangsta' girls SCREAMED, ran to the corner of the classroom like there was an axe murderer in our room. Don't ask me why we screamed...we all had roaches at home and there were several roaches at school, but just seeing those grimy insects crawling around on the floor was too much for our ninth grade spirits.

    There was one girl ... she had an atrocious perm and always wore Christian conservative clothing that her mother would force on her, however, by the time she made it to first period her skirt was hiked up and three layers of clothing stuffed in her bag. She was drenched in hot coochie red and blue make-up, looking like a heat-seeking tramp with her ass cheeks out and bosoms jiggling -- of course if I saw this now I would be mortified and probably pull her to the side demanding counseling, but as a young 14 year-old gay boy she was the saucy minx at our school and the closest thing to a drag queen -- so, I loved her!

    Anyway, I will never forget when she said she had so many roaches at home that she had to shake the roaches out of her panties each and every single morning. All I could see were little roaches clinging to dear life on her panties as they feel back into the drawer with their vile insects bodies gripping to another undergarment. I never looked at her panties the same way again, especially considering the whole class could get a peak once or twice a day with her trashy clothing!

    I remember when my favorite cousin used to take a shower over my grandfather's house and she would always bring a pair of flip-flops with her to bathroom. One time I asked why she always brought flip-flops -- she said when the water released from the faucet roaches would storm the tub and scurry around her feet... I never took a shower there.

    The most legendary roach memory I have is when I was about 15 and my father dropped me off at the neighbor's house for a barbecue. I was starving and in the heavy mood for some potato salad, ribs, mac and cheese and everything else on the "die by the time your 50" soul food diet.

    The minute I got there everybody told me to go in the kitchen and get something to eat. I looked into the kitchen from the backyard and saw plates, bowls, and aluminum pans all filled with food and I'm like, "Hot damn!" With "Superstitious" by Stevie Wonder blasting through the house (whenever I hear that song I think of this story), I made my way to the kitchen ... and what I saw nearly made me vomit on myself.

    There were a tsunami of roaches colonizing the entire kitchen! On the tables, on the floor, on the walls - there were so many damn roaches on the ceiling that they were falling to the floor! I couldn't comprehend why they just didn't leave the food outside ... was I the only one who saw these roaches? Somebody dashed by me, scooped up a plate of food, shook a roach off her hand and dashed back out -- Oh, hell no!

    Anyone that has been to a black family barbecue knows that if you don't EAT it is highly disrespectful ... but in my teenage mind I had to take a revolutionary stand and NOT eat at the barbecue. I called my father and begged him to pick me up -- he took hours to get there while everyone at the barbecue stared at me like I was a spoiled brat because I was so "shooken" by the roaches. When my father finally arrived he proceeded to cuss me the hell out - but I didn't care! I just knew one of those roaches were baked into the mac and cheese and I was not going to be eating it!

    Nowadays, especially in New York City, you have roaches in high-rise, expensive buildings ... however, being that I've been socialized and raised with them damn ghetto bugs you will NOT see roaches in my apartment. I still LIVE like I have roaches ... I still rinse off all dishware before using it, when I throw little scraps of food in the garbage I wrap it in a plastic bag first, I take out my garbage once maybe twice a day, I NEVER leave food sitting on the stove, I wash my dishes immediately ... the list goes on. Roaches are a part of the poor urban community, but that is one thing I don't miss.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:32 AM :: 21 comments

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    Monday, August 28, 2006


    music: "Not Ready To Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks "How in the world can the words that I said send somebody so over the edge!?"

    EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO OFF FOR A MINUTE ...

    Let me begin with this ... all of these stupid rants that I am not supporting black films is one of the most insane things I have ever heard. Are Outkast, Tyler Perry, 50 Cent (Get Rich or Die Tryin' -- another film I wore out) the pillars of black filmmaking in the modern era? Most of the people who said this have not seen any of Lee Daniels movies, have no plans on seeing Maurice Jamal's or Rodney Evans', films, never heard of Quincy LeNear and Deondray Gossett -- or countless other black independent filmmakers who I can name in alphabeltical order.

    Outkast and 50 Cent had NO problems getting their films funded because they are marketable and rich -- their films are not a staple in black culture. Who cares if 40 million dollars was spent on this film and black folks starred in it? As the legendary Alfre Woodward once said in MY interview with her, "If you spend more than 20 million dollars on a movie then it ain't going to be about nothing ." So, is Alfre not supporting black films??? There is nothing groundbreaking making a film about killing, guns, drugs and Christ -- one placed in the '90's and one placed in the '30's (yes, Idlewild was also about dealing drugs). Not liking these films have nothing to do with black filmmaking - it has to do with when something is awful - regardless if the stereotypes are dumbed down - we should be able to analyze it. Now that I got that out ...

    After my review of Idlewild some people's coochies snapped into twos and threes. You can also check out my review on Blackplanet.com - Idle Wild: Both Idle and Mild. Idlewild is getting bad reviews across the board and the review from Manohla Dargis at The New York Times is the most scathing, who said Andre 3000's acting was like a "wet blanket" and"It's disconcerting that Ms. Patton, by far the most glamorized female lead, also has the palest skin." Dargis touched on some things I wanted to get into, but I cut out of the final version -- GO OFF DARGIS!

    Some people are going mad about my comments on the movie -- especially on Blackplanet.com -- and I have a few (not as many from a Beyonce or Janet post) angry emails and pissed off comments ... one of the funny things that wears me out is when people argue, "Why can't YOU support a black movie!" Really? So, just because a movie has mainstream black folks in it not only MUST we support it, but we also have to love it? We cannot critique or examine the obvious faults simply because RICH black folks directed and starred in it (white folks still funded it)? This is one of the most uncreative, docile and flavorless comments I have ever heard in life. I will never forget when Chris Rock said, "Just because n*gg*s ain't shootin', killin' and dealin' drugs does not mean it's a great black movie!" Although that is exactly what they were doing in Idlewild ... I've gotten several emails saying, "Why can't you support Beyonce - she is an African-American who made it!" Really??????? I didn't know just being black and having money -- regardless of what you say, do, or your social irresponsibility -- gives you immunity to criticism, or even good ole' fashion comedy?

    It never fails to amaze me how people get so plucked over a product, which will not put any money into their pocket. Art should be examined and while we will not all have the same opinion there is room for ALL to expressed ... if there isn't then we are living in a fascist state. If people want to talk about support it boggles me that some black folks will argue to support Beyonce because she "made it", but not Meshell N'Dgeochello, Tracy Chapman, Tamar Kali, Cody Chestnutt and so many others because they can't really "sing", or -- my favorite comment -- "they sound white." Or how about going to see Shadowboxer by Lee Daniels? There are enough hypocrites out there to start a new religion!

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 10:37 AM :: 22 comments

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    Friday, August 25, 2006

    music: "So Excited" by Janet Jackson


    We all have high expectations for the legendary hip-hop group Outkast. Their music has been virtually flawless from Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. André 3000’s avant-garde musical sensibility and Big Boi’s mainstream, but yet interesting sound, has garnered millions of album sold worldwide, countless awards and a dedicated fan base. Needless to say – the winning streak is over. Idlewild is the worst hip-hop musical since the debacle of a film Carmen: A Hip-Hopera. The film is far from “wild” and more like a “mild”, less entertaining version of Harlem Nights meets Life.

    Written and directed by hip-hop video director, Bryan Barber, Idlewild follows the yawn-fest life and times of the shy, sexy, geek Percy (André 3000) and the ambitious, family-oriented, hustler Rooster (Big Boi). The movie starts off tolerable with Rooster pushing Percy along to terrorize and rule the town of Idlewild. In addition, it is clear each of the characters has a passion for music and this will be the bonding force in their friendship. For a moment the audience is invested in the characters, but after ten minutes of Percy and Rooster as adults the audience loses all emotional interest, wishing they would stick to being André 3000 and Big Boi.

    Rooster is the headlining act of the saucy nightclub “Church”, where all of the sinners and tramps go out to drink, party and have sex. Percy is the piano player of the club who is shunned by the crowd, dancers and management, but remains at Rooster’s adamant requests. After a shoot out with the owner of the club, Rooster becomes the owner, but is violently controlled by Trumpy, played by the constant light-skinned villain with bad hair in a hip-hop movie, Terrence Howard. Chaos ensues as Rooster tries to gain control of the club and Percy falls in love with club singer Angel Davenport, making her a local star with his dynamic piano playing. Idlewild is a painfully predictable story line that would’ve worked better as a TNT movie rather than an over two-hour long feature film.

    The biggest flaw, to put in plainly, is … André 3000 cannot act. His performance in Idlewild is the equivalent of Prince in the horrid film Graffiti Bridge. No connection with his audience, mumbling his words, head bowed and rarely making eye contact with other actors. The shy, sexy, reclusive, misunderstood nerd may come off well in music videos, but not in a snoozer of a film like Idlewild – I’m sure the guy who was snoring two aisles behind me would agree. Mr. 3000 is a complete disappointment and should avoid all acting unless he receives serious training.

    Big Boi was more impressive as an actor, and in comparison to André 3000 he could’ve been Denzel Washington. Big Boi seemed natural, relaxed and understanding his under developed character. Rooster had no depth, passion, or any redepemptive qualities to care about his well-being. Even with Big Boi’s mild acting skills he still does not have the stamina to carry a full length film. Big Boi would be more enjoyable as a co-star behind the co-star in an urban role, closer to himself.

    The visuals in Idlewild are striking, but having pretty special effects is not enough to carry a film, especially when mixed with a grating and historically incorrect soundtrack. The film is placed in the 1930’s and while I understand Big Boi and André are hip-hop artists, placing hip-hop in the 1930’s with dancing that resembled voguing meets The Wiz was taking the suspension of disbelief way too far.

    Musically, the movie was a complete bore letting the audience know Outkast took too much of an ambitious leap trying to mix the 1930s with modern day hip-hop. If you are going to place a movie in the ‘30s stay true to the time and if you need to morph modern day music into ninety percent of the film then why not just place the film in the modern day? Also,
    performing songs from Speakerboxxx/The Love Below completely snatched the audience out of Idlewild and tossed them into their living room watching BET in 2004. Deeply disappointing, irritating and not enjoyable – no amount of aesthetics could make up for these atrocious flaws.

    Idlewild is a “musical” of sorts, but felt more like an ornamental collection of Outkast’s worst music videos. The beginning of the film does not start off like a music video montage, but as the film went along and they didn’t seem to know what to do with the plot, each scene turned into an overproduced, bizarre video. For example, André’s character waking up to a collection of coo-coo clocks and breaking out into song, or Big Boi’s character in a shoot out as he’s driving down a dirt road and talking to a rooster on his liquor bottle. Nothing fit, linked together, or made sense – it was like watching Beyonce’s “Déjà Vu” video for two hours!

    The comical cameos were mildly interesting and made the audience want to see more from the people who were actors. For example, Cicely Tyson was incredible, but it was sad to see how her superb acting skills are minimized to Idlewild and Tyler Perry films. Ving Rhames, who is always brilliant, was a needed presence, but disappears shortly after the film starts. The shocker of the film was Macy Gray, who was hilarious as the loud mouth, blues drinking mama. Her scenes were one of the few scenes that had people in the audience laughing when they were supposed to laugh.

    It is obvious that millions of dollars were invested into Idlewild to make it a box office smash. However, the film ends up being a dragged out exercise in narcissism with two artists who seem to have lost touched with what their audience wants to see, hear and enjoy. Over the top special effects, expensive cameos, elaborate costumes and extravagant salaries are suppose to equal success, but will more than likely equal box office poison for Outkast and the creators of Idlewild.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 1:10 PM :: 18 comments

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    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    I am a huge fan of independent films -- although very few independent films exist anymore. It is basically a movie on a 10 million dollar budget versus a 20 million dollar budget. Anyway, one of the most interesting independent films out there is Heading South, which you may have heard of due to its story in The New York Times. Heading South is about three trashy, tawdry, post-menopause, North American tramps who are looking for big, black Haitian men to splash up inside their pink coochies -- honestly, that really is the plot! Placed in a 1970s tourist resort, before Haiti was gutted out in the 80's, the film follows the lives of these rich white women who are lonely, desperate, privileged and more than anything ... horny.

    The Haitian men are prostitutes and prance on the screen in Speedos with their package flopping between their legs like a fish out of water. Full frontal nudity scenes, lustful kissing and more sex than a
    Porky's film, the movie sometimes morphs into soft porn. The three women are emotionally unstable (this is pre-Prozac), who get NO attention from their white male counterparts, and use these "bucks" to make them feel loved. However, each of the women comes to learn that life in Haiti is not love dust and shugah plums when the "savages" of the island actually enter the resort and mildly taint their privileged lives.

    Heading South is a complex film and borderline offensive for the full ninety minutes. Being "almost offended" in every scene takes away from the over sexualization of the black men. One minute you are hearing a graphic story of how a white woman molested a teenager and fucked him like an animal, and then you are completely mortified with a racial slur. Obviously this was the director's (Laurent Cantet) intention to offend you and pull the mask off of these delusional women who feel they are doing nothing wrong on their vacation. In one scene one of the male prostitutes are mildly dressed up and not parading around in a skimpy bathing suit when one of the women says in disgust, "He looks like a black man from Harlem!" Yes, it was offensive, but it was real, honest and bold.

    The exchange of money and sex is continuously uncomfortable not because of the sex, but due to the way the men are "serving" the women in every way ... in one of the first scenes all of these half-naked Haitian men are surrounding the white women like they are on a plantation with a beach. Not only do you witness economic exploitation, but you are seeing black male sexual exploitation that has never been presented this ferocious on screen. The very first scene opens with a Haitian woman trying to give away her daughter to a random man because she knows her daughter will eventually be raped and killed. Laurent Cantet holds nothing back in the suffering of Haiti and presents life on the island through gender, race and disturbing sexual exploitation.

    The film has been widely attacked for the way that hot, horny, heat-seeking white women are portrayed -- which is exactly why I sent to see it! The women go through powerful monologues detailing all of their success in North America, but more importantly, their constant loneliness. Haiti is where they feel appreciated, loved, admired and beautiful -- even if it is only a Mandingo fantasy. When the white women are broken-hearted you barely have any sympathy or respect for them ... they are tourists ... pimps ... and the equivalent to white male tourists traveling to Asia searching for the "best prostitutes in the world."

    Heading South definitely speaks volumes of untold truth. White women (mainly European) hunting down big, strapping black men is still a huge phenomenon that takes places in Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and many other places across the Caribbean. The movie and topic is something I have never seen before on film. While there are some definite plots holes, scenes that could've been developed and moments that left me saying, "Why the hell did that happen?" there were countless redemptive qualities that left me moved. The acting was nearly flawless and I believed every character.

    I give this film 3.5 out of 5 stars, which is pretty good considering every movie I have seen in the past year I would give no more than two stars!

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 10:50 AM :: 9 comments

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    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    AUGUST BALLROOM FEATURE: GISELLE XTRAVA

    music: "Bad Girl" by Madonna

    Giselle Xtravaganza has been gracing the ballroom floor since 1998, making a statement for herself in categories like runway, face and realness. In 2002 she became Mother of the legendary House of Xtravaganza. However, Giselle is not only a ballroom statement, but she has made a name for herself in the rigid gender roles of the fickle fashion industry. Giselle has an impressive resume having appeared in Iceberg ads, Flaunt Magazine, One World Magazine, The New York Times fashion section and much more. In addition, she has worked in several runway shows for fashion names like Vidal Sasson, Gaelyn & Cianfarini and Nico & Adrian. I sat down with Giselle in a candid interview where she discusses being a transsexual woman in the fashion industry, racial tension in the ballroom scene (yes, people just because we are LGBT doesn't mean we all get along!), escorting in the LGBT community and a reoccurring topic that has come up in previous interviews, which is the constant presence of .... SHADE.


    How would you describe the ballroom scene?
    Giselle: I would describe the ballroom scene as something I do for fun. It's competition and … SHADE. Very shady, it's gotten shadier actually.

    How did you get involved in the scene?
    Giselle: I got involved in the scene through my cousin. He brought me to a mini-ball at the old Clubhouse here in New York, that's the first place I ever went to … I was just in the audience and Al Allure came up to me and said, "Why don't you walk?" I walked, but I was so nervous because I didn’t even know how to walk – I’d never been to a ball before that.

    Were you already transgender when you walked and how did it make you feel walking that first time?
    Giselle: I was already a femme queen and it made me feel good because I got a lot of life, but in the beginning I only walked mini-balls because I really wasn't into it. Al use to call me and I would tell him I don't want to go because I really didn't have too many friends in the ballroom scene.

    How did you become the Mother of the House of Xtravaganza?
    Giselle: I became the Mother through walking a lot, having a lot of people know me and winning trophies. It was also through Carmen and Jose Xtravanganza - they saw that I was the best one for the position at that time.

    What does it take to be a Mother of a house?
    Giselle: To be a Mother of a house is taking the role of an actual Mother. You have to Mother your kids -- I have kids that are older than me and I have to baby them. They come to me and say, "Oh mom, I can't believe this happened." I've had tons of problems with the old school and new school house members because of me getting the position of Mother -- mostly the old school Xtravaganza kids, including those who aren't Xtravas anymore. In the end I've grown from these experiences and it has made me a stronger person. So, shade is only given to those who deserve it!

    I’ve heard from some people that when you joined the House of Xtrava you put the fire back into it - do you think there is any truth to that?
    Giselle: I think the House of Xtravaganza always had its fire -- it is one of the first houses. I do think that I kept the fire going because a lot of kids didn't walk. For example, we would be at our table at a ball and the only person they would call, or recognize, would be me. I don’t know why because there are a lot of beautiful girls in the house that were there before me. That's how I also became the Mother because they saw I was getting respect from the ball kids.

    The House of Xtravaganza is predominately Latino-- do you think people have a judgment about the house because it has been around for so long and has always been predominately Latino?
    Giselle: Yes, of course -- I hear this all the time! (laughs) That we're racist --- listen, if I was racist, or they were racist, we wouldn't walk a ball because the scene is predominately black. The only time people thought I was racist was when I became an Xtravaganza. Before that I never used to get that. But, I'm not going to lie -- a lot of the kids do say racial things, however, I think it goes both ways. I've heard a lot of other houses say, "These cha-cha bitches “ or, ”These Latin bitches." If an Xtravaganza gets mad they might say, "Oh, you stupid black bitch" - but it’s the same thing. They might do it more because we (Latins) are very little in the ballroom scene, especially Xtravaganzas. The Latin kids don't like us for whatever reason, I don't know, maybe they’re trying to prove to the other kids that they don't see us to try and fit in with others.

    Do you think it is harder for the Latin kids to make a statement in the scene, or do you think it's more the Xtravaganzas?
    Giselle: I think it's more Xtravaganzas. I don’t think it's because you're Latin, there are plenty of Latin kids who get their life. Being an Xtravaganza really is a lot harder to win anything in the ballroom scene, or to get any respect. I'm over it ... I can only take but so much.

    How do you feel about judging balls and you being that statement as Mother Xtravaganza judging?
    Giselle: Well, a lot of people think when I'm on the judge’s panel that I don't like them for whatever reason, and I don't even know them. Of course I see them, but I'm a person that I interact with so many different people that I really don't pay attention. Someone can come up to me and say hello three times and I still won't remember them because I deal with a lot of people. Not only am I involved in the ballroom scene, but I'm also involved in modeling so I see different people all the time. The last incident I had was supposedly because I didn't like the person.... I don't even know who the hell that person was. I found out later that he was a Milan and some things started and I was like, let me just get out of here. I really don't want to deal with that -- I go to balls to have fun and enjoy myself. Now, if I'm judging I'm going to be very fair and very honest.

    Has the ballroom scene helped your modeling career?
    Giselle: Actually, I can't complain - yes it has. It has in one way and it hasn't in another because a lot of times they see me at a ball and they'll say, I want you to come do a photo shoot, but … don't say you’re an Xtravaganza. Some of the magazines, like gay magazines, will advertise that I am an Xtravaganza. In straight magazines they don't want me to even bring up Xtravaganza. I was with a designer who met me in the ballroom scene and he invited me to a fashion party. I asked if I could bring some friends and he said, "I hope they are not Xtravaganzas, or anybody in the ballroom scene." They don't want you to associate with the ballroom scene.

    It just has a negative connotation to them?
    Giselle: Yes, it has a very negative statement. Even being an Xtravaganza has a negative statement. A lot of people say it's based on drugs, and as the history goes many of them died of AIDS and things like that. Actually, I was at a ball and a girl who I won over came off the runway and said, "She looks fierce" and then she got into an argument with Jose. I don't care if somebody says I look fierce -- so I was telling Jose not to worry about it. She says, "You and Jose got one T -cell left" I'm HIV negative, I don't have AIDS -- but I would never put down someone who has HIV. I did it once in my life, I was 15 years-old and nobody had to tell me anything. After hearing myself, I said -- wait a minute, I could never say that again, that's fucked up. No one can ever say Giselle puts down anyone for having AIDS. I've had friends of mine that I love dearly who have died of AIDS, and I'm sure the person that said that does too. Not only the House of Xtravaganza, but all the houses have their history with AIDS. However, they put more on the Xtravaganzas because it’s been more in the media. I’m a very nice person when I’m interacting with people, but people have labeled me shady because I am the Mother of the House of Xtravaganza.

    Before you were an Xtrava you didn't feel the shade like that?
    Giselle: No, I didn't -- everybody was very nice to me, they lived and people wanted me in their houses. I really didn’t know what any houses were back then that is why I choose the House of Allure -- I do adore that house because Al was always very nice to me.

    What has been your journey with being transgender as far as your family, friends and yourself?
    Giselle: I was pretty blessed with a family and I think the reason why I am comfortable is because of my mother, father, grandfather and everyone who has always accepted me. There is not one person in my family who are against what I'm doing -- people who are not in my family like friends of the family had a few comments, but my family shut that up right away. I was so blessed - I started transitioning at the age of 17 and I'm 26 now.

    Do you ever say to yourself "Why wasn't I born a girl," or just feel cheated out of life?
    Giselle: I used to, not anymore. I used to feel like I was cheated -- I never wanted to be a femme queen, I always wanted to be a woman, but you're stuck. You have to cope with it and I've learned to accept it, and actually praise it. So, I'm happy with the way that I am because I have a beautiful family, a boyfriend for four-years - what else do I really want? I model, I have my fun, I work at clubs, and I dance. I've done my bad things, I’ve done my good things, you know -- like everybody else.

    What’s your take on escorting in the transgender community?
    Giselle: Escorting ... you have to do what you have to do. For a lot of those girls, and boys, escorting is part of the history of being gay in a way. It’s part of the history because society is not going to accept a transsexual working at a business firm that's going through her changes -- maybe afterwards. If she is doing her changes she is going to have problems in school with the boys, or even with the teachers. I think a lot of people don't want to deal with it -- many go to escorting because that is their only way out. I've seen it so many times and I've been through my own little thing that I know this life is really hard for us with jobs and things like that, especially if they don't finish school. A lot of them, like me, want to transition so fast. I said fuck it; I made my changes right away. You have to pay for surgery, it’s so much money -- how else can you get it? Even if you have a job these girls spend so much money on surgery -- I have friends that have spent $20,000 a month on surgery then sometimes they get addicted and start ruining themselves.

    You can make that much money off escorting?
    Giselle: Yes, you can make a lot of money -- I know girls that make $2,000 a week, or more and within two months they get surgery.

    Do you feel pressure to get more surgery?
    Giselle: Never. Actually I have more people telling me - don't do this, don't do that. I see where other girls get pressured into it. I had two girls a long time ago that said, you can get your body done and your nose done. I was like, no, sweetie. Why would I take their advice if I didn't like the way they looked? They looked horrible to me -- why would I go out of my way to get myself what you want me to do when I don’t even like your look? A lot of it is psychological too and if somebody tells you, oh you should do this, and you should do that -- you start looking at yourself. Let’s say you get spooked one day on the street and you think, “Maybe it is because of what they told me so I'm going to get it done.”

    Who are some of your favorites in the scene?
    Giselle: I like DaShawn, Ashley Icon, Whitney Mugler ... God, I really don't have that many favorites. I used to have so many, but I after I got to know them -- I was really turned off.

    Who are some of the people you looked up to when you first starting walking balls?
    Giselle: Jose Xtravaganza, Carmen Xtravaganza - basically that is one of the reasons why I am an Xtravaganza and I have stayed … it's only because of Carmen. I really used to look up to models ... not really people in the ball scene.

    As far as modeling do they know you are transgender?
    Giselle: Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t - it depends. When I used to get sent out to castings the booker might know, but they just tell me not to say anything. It was really hard at times because I am not a sex change so it would be a little bit harder to wear certain things. I could do it, but if they give me a see through thing I can't wear it - what am I going to say, I'm not wearing it? You can say that but they would be pissed ... thank God that never happened.

    How do you transcend who does or doesn’t know when you model?
    Giselle: I deal with it, but sometimes I feel very uncomfortable. When I’m out, especially at an after show because during the show I feel like, I'm going to do my thing, I'm going to walk. Then after the show with all the girl models, all the guy models and were all associating it's like, I am a part of their world … but then I’m not. That's one of the reasons why I started cutting down on the modeling a little bit. I wouldn’t mind modeling as transgender, but nothing to make fun of . Like Claudia, I see it on the Janice Dickinson Show, but Janice Dickinson made a little spectacle out of her. I would've done it, but what came off of that I didn’t like -- calling Claudia a "him" on camera ... Tyra Banks did a good job when she had the transgender contest on her talk show, she kept it very respectful. However, that's going to happen, people are just not aware of how to treat people ... especially Janice Dickinson, but she's hot though. (laughs)

    If you weren’t an Xtrava what house would you be in?
    Giselle: Oh God ... this is going to cause controversy. (laughs) I like Andre Mizrahi a lot so I would be a Mizrahi.

    Is the House of Xtrava having a house a ball anytime soon?
    Giselle: We're planning on one, but we're having lots of problems with certain people ... so when we have it, we want it to be very nice and well planned. We're going to wait a little longer, like six months or something, but we're going to have our ball.

    Are there any balls you're looking to walk?
    Giselle: I'm going to the Latex Ball, but I'm not interested in walking. I just want to wait for the big balls to come maybe like an Ebony Ball, or another P.O.C.C. ball.

    What's the biggest misconception people have about you being transgender?
    Giselle: There are many things ... my sexuality alone. Guys are different, if they think I'm a girl they treat me a million times better and when they know I'm a transsexual they just want sex. Some guys are different, but mainly it's just thinking you are more sexual than what you are. Also, that you are flamboyant and I guess we are naturally, but not how people think.

    And you identify as transsexual versus a straight woman?
    Giselle: I don't live in a fantasy world - I'm a transgender woman. I know a lot of femme queens and transsexuals that identify as a straight woman. I think that’s fine and that's beautiful, but I consider myself transgender.

    Pasted below is a clip of Giselle Xtravaganza! If you can't see the clip please CLICK HERE.


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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 14 comments

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