"AND THE CATEGORY IS...!"
That phrase may be something you've heard while watching either Pose on FX or Legendary on HBO Max but what does it mean? What IS Ballroom? What is the background context and history for this community?
If you've wondered all these things and more then we have the perfect episode in store for you today!
Author Ricky Tucker joins the show today to discuss his new book "And the Category Is..." we cover his motivation to write this book, what it means for the Ballroom community and the world at large.
Ricky Tucker is a writer, educator, art critic, and North Carolina native based in Brooklyn. His work explores the imprints of art and memory on narrative, and the absurdity of most fleeting moments. He has written for the Paris Review, the Tenth Magazine, and Public Seminar, among others, and has performed for reading series including the Moth Grand SLAM, Sister Spit, Born: Free, and Spark London. He was chosen as a 2017 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Fellow for creative nonfiction, a 2021 Writers House Pittsburgh Resident, and a 2022 Virginia Center for The Creative Arts resident. Tucker received his Writer/Teacher MA at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a B.A. in fiction at The New School where he later served as Senior Writer for marketing, and now teaches Reading for Writers at Eugene Lang, its college of liberal arts. His debut book, And the Category Is…Inside New York’s Vogue, House, and Ballroom Community (Beacon Press) is available online and in stores
What is Ballroom? Not a song, a documentary, a catchphrase, a TV show, or an individual pop star. It is an underground subculture founded over a century ago by LGBTQ African American and Latino men and women of Harlem. Arts-based and intersectional, it transcends identity, acting as a fearless response to the systemic marginalization of minority populations.
Ricky Tucker pulls from his years as a close friend of the community to reveal the complex cultural makeup and ongoing relevance of house and Ballroom, a space where trans lives are respected and applauded, and queer youth are able to find family and acceptance. With each chapter framed as a “category” (Vogue, Realness, Body, et al.), And the Category Is . . . offers an impressionistic point of entry into this subculture, its deeply integrated history, and how it’s been appropriated for mainstream audiences. Each category features an exclusive interview with fierce LGBTQ/POC Ballroom members—Lee Soulja, Benjamin Ninja, Twiggy Pucci Garçon, and more—whose lives, work, and activism drive home that very category.
At the height of public intrigue and awareness about Ballroom, thanks to TV shows like FX’s Pose, Tucker’s compelling narratives help us understand its relevance in pop culture, dance, public policy with regard to queer communities, and so much more. Welcome to the norm-defying realness of Ballroom.
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Thanks to Snuffy for this episode of the podcast!
Snuffy is a clothing brand about empowering you to show your weird - unapologetically, with bravery and confidence. 10% of profit goes to LGBTQ+ organizations led by Trans* people of color. Shop online now at snuffy.co
Also, thanks to Empire Toys for this episode of the podcast!