Mj Rodriguez Explains Underground Ballroom Culture

Mj Rodriguez Explains Underground Ballroom Culture

-How are you, Mj?
-I am good. I’m good, I’m good.
-I’m so happy you’re here. -I’m happy I’m here, too. -This is a fantastic show
created by Ryan Murphy, and it’s sort of —
Oh, it’s about the underground ball culture in
New York in the ’80s and ’90s. And for those who don’t know
what that is, lay it out. -Okay. Well, I mean, the
ball culture, ballroom culture that really started in
New York City, underground ballroom culture —
it’s a place where a lot of LGBT community members —
they go to. They find refuge. They find comfort. They get to be
who they truly want to be. And they just get to live
their lives completely and find the people that they
feel most comfortable with to raise them,
lift them up in ways that they never thought before. -And you’re from Newark?
-Yes, I am. -And did you find your way —
Did you come into the city? Did you find your way
into this culture? -Yeah. It was kind of crazy. I mean, I was 14 years old,
in high school. I went to a school called
Arts High in Newark, New Jersey. And that’s actually where
my housefather at the time found me. I was walking, I think, one of
his fashion shows or just a fashion show in
general at school, and he saw me. He was like,
“That’s my daughter.” And I actually met him through
a couple of my friends before I had even seen him. They were immersed in
the ballroom scene before I had even gotten
hip to it. And it just sprawled out
from there. -So, for those
who don’t the terminology, explain what a
housefather or a housemother is. -Okay, so, a housefather
or housemother — those are the people
that upkeep the house that they’ve created. So, for example,
the House of LaBeija — they’ll have a housefather
and a housemother to be the kind of,
like, matriarch and the monarch of the house and make sure
that everything is okay, the kids are learning. They’ll teach
some voguing lessons. They’ll give them
everything that they need that their other parents
wouldn’t give them. -What is the first lesson
of voguing? What is the first thing
you learn? -Um…hmm. I mean, there’s so many things
that you can learn. You can learn duck-walking. But we’re not gonna
do that right now ’cause I got some heels on. -Okay, great. -But there’s, like,
hand performance and there’s many elements to it that you have to incorporate
in order to do it all. -And it seems like precision is
a very important part of it? -Yes. You can’t sloppy. I remember, when I was younger,
my housefather at the time — I snuck out and I went
to a rehearsal at Ripley-Grier. And he said,
“Let’s see what you got.” And I got up there and I did —
It was called fem voguing. And I got up there and I did
a complete messy job. And he was like, “What is that?”
He’s like, “What is that?” And I said,
“It was voguing, right?” He said, “No.” Neno, who was
one of his housesons — he was like,
“Show her what it’s all about.” And I was like,
“All right, cool.” -It seems like the
underground ball culture — pretty open with
their feedback, yes? -Yes. very much so. -Nobody, like, ever keeps their
opinion to themselves. -No, but you have to have that.
It’s a space of honesty. It’s a space of comfort. So they all let you have it
right then and there. They will read you down, and you’re like,
“Mm-hmm, thank you.” -And you play
a housemother on the show. -I do, I do. -Who did you
draw inspiration from? Was there anyone in your life
that you were — -My mama.
-Yeah? -My mama. She comes with me
every single place I go. And she was always that pillar
for me to look up to, alongside many LGBT members that
were very, very strong in my life, but she was that one
that kept me sturdy and kept me sane. And she just made sure
I kept on the right path. -You got to bring your mom to
the Golden Globes last year. -I did!
-How was it? Was she excited?
Did you have a great time? -Oh, yeah.
We were very excited. We were in the bathroom doing,
like, a movie number, singing in the mirror
and everything. It was epic. It was epic. -Were there any people you were
particularly excited to see? -So many people. But I remember seeing
Bradley Cooper sitting, like, right across from me,
and I was like, “Oh, my God! That’s Bradley Cooper! Is he gonna see me?” -You also went to the Met Ball for the first time this year,
looking like a million dollars. -Yeah. Yes, I did. -And that is another incredible
night for people-watching. -Did you get your —
Did you get the full experience? Did you get see the people
you wanted to see that night, as well? -I got to see every single
last person I wanted to see. And, more so than anything,
I felt so included and accepted. I walked up and shook
Anna Wintour’s hand and I was like,
“You’re Anna Wintour. Oh, okay.” And then the next person
was Lady Gaga, and she just grabbed me
and she said some really, really, wonderful,
like, encouraging words, and I cried a lot. -That’s alright. It’s a very good pla–
They always say, “If you need a good cry,
go to the Met Ball.” -Go to the Met Ball,
and you will cry your eyes out. -Hey, thank you so much
for being here and congratulations
on everything. Mj Rodriguez, everybody.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

100 thoughts on “Mj Rodriguez Explains Underground Ballroom Culture

  1. To those that DON'T KNOW what she's talking about…. check out MADONNA'S VOGUE video, it's not the deep deep but it will give you an IDEA of what the scene is about. There's also FISH & CHICKS dance troop , that was not too too long ago featured on a national T.V. show about Dance Competition (SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE) , one more is … ANDRE MIZRAHI on SHOW TIME AT THE APOLLO.

  2. When I first heard of the show, I thought I wasn't gonna like it because the time period is late 80's or early 90's. But it is very good. It would be nice to have a version of pose time period of late 90s

  3. i absolutely love her on pose. she better win all the awards…blanca's whitney houston lip sync in the season finale almost made me cry. :')

  4. She is perfect. Not to be funny or ignorant. You wouldn’t know she was a trans person unless she told you, because I don’t see it.

  5. MJ, Dominique, Indya, Angelica, Hailie. Pose has finally allowed us to see so many talented female actresses and I couldn't be happier.

  6. It’s not a woman it’s guy dressed as a woman just keep it 100. Don’t mean she can’t dress or act that way but Real is real and dress up and dress up

  7. Its not a woman its a chameleon pretendending to be one because she/he cant have any children cant be called a woman . Definition of a Female (♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, that produces non-mobile ova (egg cells).

  8. i really like her. blanca as a character is so wholesome and wholehearted. its nice to see blanca is not just a character but also somewhat her real self.

  9. No shades but she still a man? No transition? No hormones what so ever? Cause i don't see nothing, maybe im wrong, or maybe thats not even what she wants to do and thats fine.

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