St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Ball with the House of Avant Garde

This video contains footage from the runway of a voguing ball in the tradition of the Ballroom Scene, hosted by the House of Avant Garde, a Chicago-based space highlighting Black and queer performers.

0:00Copy video clip URL Performers walk the runway at the House of Avant Garde, accompanied by commentary from Cordell Avant-Garde.

6:31Copy video clip URL Cordell Avant-Garde reads aloud the names and categories of the evening’s event, announcing that videotapes will be available for sale. He introduces the judges for the night, as well as the first category for the evening, “Hair: Processed vs. Fingerwaves.” Two contestants, Homan Zandella and Mr. Zandella Himself, walk the runway and are given numbered scores by the judges.

18:44Copy video clip URL Cordell Avant-Garde introduces the next category of the night: “Face.” Jimmy H. Simpson and Andre both walk the runway.

23:16Copy video clip URL The next category, “Body,” begins. A singular contestant walks, receiving a perfect score from the judges.

26:57Copy video clip URL Cordell Avant-Garde announces the next category: “Banjee Realness.” Homan Zandella walks again.

30:33Copy video clip URL The next category begins, described by Cordell Avant-Garde as “nineteen-nineties fashion with nineteen-twenties flair.” Michael Cole walks the runway.

33:43Copy video clip URL The “Mobster Madness” category is postponed so Cole has the chance to change his outfit. The program proceeds instead with “Butch Queen Femme Realness.” Multiple contestants walk the runway. The category ends in a tiebreaker.

46:03Copy video clip URL Cordell Avant-Garde urges audience members to compete if they want to before introducing “Mobster Madness.” Michael Cole, the only contestant of the category, walks.

48:29Copy video clip URL Though there are no formal contestants for the “Hair” category, Cordell Avant-Garde encourages audience members to walk the category. Several drag queens compete. 

52:34Copy video clip URL Cordell Avant-Garde lays down rules for joining categories, encouraging timeliness, before the next “Face” category, reserved only for drag queens.

59:40Copy video clip URL The next category, “Body for Femme Queens,” also centers drag queens. Karen Alexander, the only contestant, receives a perfect score.

1:01:32Copy video clip URL No contestants compete for the category, “Qua-Baker,” modeled after Josephine Baker. The program moves to the next, “Model Effect.” Cordell Avant-Garde walks the runway, exemplifying the effect, followed by several queens.

1:07:54Copy video clip URL “Jessica Rabbit vs. Natasha” receives several audience contestants.

1:11:22Copy video clip URL The “Sisters in the Light: Butch Realness” category opens up the stage to women and lesbians. 

1:15:20Copy video clip URL The next category, “Bonnie and Clyde,” is for butch/femme lesbian couples only. One couple, Tony and Frankie, walk the runway.

1:18:24Copy video clip URL Cordell Avant-Garde encourages audience members to walk in future categories, then introduces the next category, “The Androgynous Zone,” which is open to all. Despite the occasional dispute over the definition of “androgynous,” multiple contestants walk the runway, including Frankie, Claude, Robin, and TJ.

1:30:54Copy video clip URL The event proceeds with “Best Dressed Male” and “Best Dressed Female.” Reevis Royality, Jodie Zandella, Tommy, Craig, Darrell, and Thomas walk for the Best Dressed Man category, while Cherie, Tony, and Frankie compete for Best Dressed Female. The MC applauds all the contestants for coming onto the runway. 

1:47:56Copy video clip URL “Charleston vs. Black Bottom” receives two contestants, one of them Michael Cole.

1:49:23Copy video clip URL The tape cuts to footage of two men voguing on the runway. “This is an art form,” says Cordell Avant-Garde. “Voguing is an art form and you should treat it as such.” The next category, “Vogue Performance,” is skipped as the performer is not yet ready. Cordell Avant-Garde begins to announce the next category, but the tape cuts out.



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