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Meet Princess Magnifique, one of the early New York ball scene voguers

He once appeared in British Vogue Magazine

Meet Princess Magnifique, one of the early New York ball scene voguers
Princess Magnifique

Princess Magnifique has been voguing for almost 40 years and lived through the iconic early years of this stunning art form.

In fact, he was friends with the iconic Willi Ninja, made famous by the 1990 cult classic film Paris is Burning.

Princess came out as gay when he was just 14 years old in 1977 and by 1978, he was ‘really connected with Willi.’

Willi Ninja, Paris is BurningWikipedia

Willi Ninja, Paris is Burning

They would vogue together at the LGBT Center in New York City, as well as up and down 13th street.

Ballroom culture was born more than 50 years ago, originating in Harlem and then rapidly expanding to other major cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

For many, Vogue is synonymous with the Madonna song, but it existed long before that. She just brought it into the mainstream.

‘They search for someone to fill that void’

The ballroom scene was a place for black and latino LGBTI youth to express themselves. It was also an opportunity to find family in an inclusive community.

Pepper LeBeija, Mother of House LeBeija, famously stated in Paris is Burning: ‘When someone has rejection from their mother and father, their family… When they get out into the world, they search. They search for someone to fill that void.

‘I know this from experience because I’ve had kids come to me and latch hold to me like I’m their mother or their father. They can talk to me and I’m gay and they’re gay and that’s where a lot of that ball mother business comes in,’ she said.

Princess shares the same sentiment.

The beginning of Magnifique

When he joined the original House of Magnifique in 1987, he felt a real sense of family. It was founded by PunkRock Freddie Xtravaganza Magnifique, who became the father of the house.

But people complained he was a part of two houses so he closed the House of Magnifique down and went back to Xtravaganza.

Just before PunkRock Freddie passed away, he gave his blessing for Princess Magnifique to re-open the House.

Over the years, Princess met many of the stars featured in Paris is Burning, including Venus Xtravaganza. Princess was even featured in British Vogue Magazine and Dazed, as well as collaborated with Grace Jones and Bjork.

In the early days, Princess also hung out with trans activists from the original Stonewall riots in 1969, including Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

Marsha P Johnson was a pioneer on the Stonewall riots

Marsha P Johnson was a pioneer on the Stonewall riots

On Sylvia Rivera, Princess said: ‘I knew her from day one. She used to glue jewels to her ears instead of earrings.

‘That’s my girl,’ he said.

Watch Princess recount some of his favorite memories over his years on the voguing scene.


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