➤ DEEP IN VOGUE, from p.15
like Rikki does when he’s emceeing
the ball in the UK. Having the
archive footage showing where it
came from was really important
to us as fi lmmakers. To show that
they are doing something different
here in Manchester, but they are
paying proper homage to the original
scene in New York.
KRAMER: I like that the fi lm
isn’t a competition documentary,
that it is immersive. Were you
afraid to root for one House over
another? Did you have favorites?
KEIGHRON-FOSTER: We started
fi lming it thinking that the
competition element would have to
be involved, but we realized it’s not
necessary to show who the winner
is or the competitive vibe. We give
viewers insight to how fi erce they
are. We showcase the two Manchester
Houses the most. To show
the winner would not have done
the whole Ballroom scene any justice.
It would have made it about
that one moment in time.
WATSON: We didn’t want to do
that fakey reality TV contest thing.
People have seen that so much —
you can see the producers saying,
“Say something bitchy,” or setting
up competitiony tropes. It’s the
taking part that counts.
KEIGHRON-FOSTER: It’s being
in that room strutting your stuff
and everybody clapping for you.
That’s the prize.
KRAMER: There are discussions
about gender roles, as well as
race, about being poor, and about
being gay and Black, and about
being invisible as a woman. What
observations do you have about inclusion,
exclusion, developing community
WATSON: That’s what’s unique
about the Manchester scene. It’s
very inclusive and it has moved
away from the roots of vogue culture,
which it catches fl ack for —
it’s not completely true to a 1980s
New York Ball set-up. There’s choreography,
there are more cisgender
women involved, but everyone
in the fi lm does a pretty good job
of explaining why they need vogue
just as much as anyone else.
House of Ghetto is an all-female
house, and the reasons behind
Darren Suarez, from the Liverpool Ballroom scene.
that are really strong. The House
Mother, Darren Pritchard, said,
“We’ve had austerity measures
and a conservative government
for a long time and women of color
are impacted the most.” He created
House of Ghetto as an artistic
statement about that to promote
the dignity of that demographic
and raising people up who are being
stepped on by our government.
aren’t many places for women
to strut their stuff without being
sexually objectifi ed by men. And
there are no good spaces for women
to celebrate themselves and be
celebrated in the same way.
KRAMER: I appreciate the Manchester
scene is more theatrical.
What do you think is key to this
culture that appropriates, imitates,
KEIGHRON-FOSTE: I think
each individual House has its own
aesthetic and reasons for getting
into it. Decay has a very melted,
imperfect look that takes a lot of
time and effort. Ghetto — they
go for a cleaner, sassier look. It’s
about their backgrounds. Grace
and Joshua are doing extreme performance
art in queer clubs. The
girls of Ghetto are from an area of
Manchester that could be called a
ghetto. In Liverpool, there is more
dance training and leadership
from Darren Suarez. They bring
own individuality and that what
makes it so explosive.
WATSON: To zoom out a bit,
Manchester — and how many
years of conservative government
have we had — it’s not culturally,
politically, or historically New York
in the 1980s. We made the fi lm to
ask, “Why is this Black and Hispanic
origin 1980s New York thing
happening in Manchester in the
20-aughts? There are similarities
— push from the right wing, Brexit,
the rise of homophobia and racist
attacks. There is a lot in common
with 1980s New York.
for women, for people of color and
members of the LGBT community.
In the 1970s in Manchester there
were signs that read “No gays, no
blacks, no Irish, and no dogs.”
Maybe we need to start an Irish
KRAMER: Doing Ballroom,
your participants show off and express
themselves, feel acceptance
that they may not get otherwise,
and have a sense of confi dence.
In that regard, what can you say
about the aspirational qualities of
KEIGHRON-FOSTER: What I
loved it that everyone who comes
on stage, you want to be the person
on stage. I want to dance like
that and to win that category and
to wear that outfi t. It rubs off. I’ve
become more fl amboyant since
making this fi lm. I wear makeup
now. I’ll go out in more outrageous
clothes. Vogue and Ballroom culture
helps you self-actualize.
WATSON: I remember talking
to Rennae in House of Ghetto.
She’d been to dance school and
they didn’t even make tights that
a person of color could wear. There
was a feeling of exclusion from
the mainstream. All of that anger
about that situation gets transformed
into something positive in
the vogue ball. I don’t need to conform
to this way of being. I’m going
to create my own channel my own
way of being because the mainstream
can be so disappointing.
DEEP IN VOGUE | Directed by
Dennis Keighron-Foster and Amy
Watson| FilmRise | Available Dec.
8 on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video,
and other platforms.
GayCityNews.com | December 3- December 16, 2020 19