New York is hands-down the voguing mecca for houses to host the most fierce dance offs, drag runway battles and unorthodox beauty pageants the world has ever seen. Without vogue, NY would lose its trademark, its edge, its diva spirit. Measuring the vogue pulse, the energy is just rocket-high and studios are continuing to draw crowds from all corners of the city. Vogue is in more than ever and the grandpas of voguing have been reincarnated in Swedish artist/filmmaker Sara Jordenö and Kiki founder Twiggy Pucci Garçon forthcoming doc ‘Kiki’ covering NY’s new generation of jaw-dropping Kiki enthusiasts.
For decades the culture has been run by LGBTQ-communities of color keeping their arms wide open for dangerously fierce voguers to celebrate themselves and enter a world free of stiff-upper-lip-judgment and to succumb to over-the-top fun, in-your-face pride and self expression — the ultimate place to be empowered, accepted and recognized.
When thinking of vogue – ‘Paris Is Burning’ (directed by Jennie Livingston in 1990) is the movie that first comes to mind, revealing the behind-the-scenes challenges that NY-voguers are being faced with on a daily basis while ‘having a ball’ in their preparation for fierce competitive dance-offs.
The scene has continued to flourish since by cultivating its own cult following and still thrives underground reminding us that Paris Never Did Stop Burning. ‘Kiki’ (planned for release in 2015) examines the 21-century version of the Kiki scene, a ballroom subculture for LGBTQ youth of color celebrating vogue’s cultural reemergence where “femininity and flamboyance are celebrated and family and community leadership re-imagined”. In ‘Kiki’ the members (kikis) are instead ‘having a kiki’ (having fun) and dusting off what ‘Paris is Burning’ left of.
One of the key differences is that the Kiki scene is a more socially conscious community and serves as a pro-social force for its young members (predominantly African American and Latino LGBTQ youth between the ages of 14 – 25) who are often rejected by their own communities. Where other doors are closed – clouded by homophobia or lack of acceptance – the Kiki community embraces society’s (misunderstood) rejects, teaching them the value of self-worth and self-love by providing services like; HIV/AIDS awareness, free HIV testing and support groups, consulting and education, but nevertheless – organising an estimate of 25 fierce Kiki balls yearly and cherishing the badass queen within.
The new vogueing stars are in town, and they’re giving the art world a little slice of their talents by rediscovering the scene, kiki-style.
All characters featured in the film have been victims of rejection, violence and ignorance because of ‘their femininity is expressed in a biologically born male body’ and share remarkable stories of survival and resilience through art and kinship, painting a collective portrait of the thriving community.
To them competing in the Kiki balls isn’t about being excluded from the mainstream world – its about being recognized and celebrated for who you truly are, for surviving, being resilient and standing strong.
Check the trailer above and keep an eye out for the soon to drop film release.
Find out more at Story AB
All images courtesy of Marcus Ohlsson
Directed by: Sara Jordenö
Written by: Sara Jordenö and Twiggy Pucci Garcon
Produced by: Annika Rogell and Tobias Janson for Story AB // Co-produced by: Hard Working Movies // Creative Consultant: Göran Hugo Olsson // Cinematography by: Naiti Gámez // Soundtrack by: DJ MikeQ // Supported by: The Swedish Film Institute, Swedish Television, Film i Västerbotten and the Art Matters Foundation