Friday, October 26, 2007


Interviewing Garry Gaines was like listening to Marvin
Gaye’s classic hit album “What’s Going On.” It helped
me open my eyes and mind to things that are occurring
in the world and how we can better ourselves and
community. Born in Brooklyn and currently residing in
Harlem, Gaines a graduate of Pace University, who
resembles the legendary Prince of Soul is becoming one
of many community activist, who’s using their talents
as a form of education and self-empowerment and by
following the lead Gaye did with his classic concept
album; Garry is using his talents and activism in his
latest documentary “Legends, Statement & Stars, which
documents the Gay Ball room scene as well as tackles
political/social issues; such as LGBT hate crimes,
homophobia and HIV/AIDS awareness.
I had the opportunity to meet with Gaines in Central
Park last week, where he spoke about his documentary,
working with choreographer Pony Zion and Social

RC: Tell the readers a few things about yourself.
GG: Well. Born and raised in Brooklyn. I consider
myself a community activist. Especially when it comes
to the Gay community, but I’m hoping to not only focus
on the Gay issues, but humanity issues as a whole.
For me my through line at the moment is Democracy now;
so I’m trying to remind people about democratic
morality and values that was implemented in the
Constitution by the so-called founders of the new
Americas. We’re straying away from Democratic
principles. Our Democracy needs to be revamped to a
Social Democracy. The government needs to fund public
sectors as opposed to private sectors. Funding of
public sector started to deteriorate in 1974 and from
then on things have gotten a lot worse for poor people
in this country. So my work's intention is to
propagandize Social Democracy indirectly without being
too didactic.

RC: What else do you do besides activism?
GG: Well at the moment, I’m working on my documentary
series “Legends, Statement & Stars.” I’m documenting
the New York underground ballroom scene, but at the
same time, I’m incorporating issues we as Queer folk
of color deal with in present day society. It’s a
three part series; the first episode “Rejoice in the
Madness” introduces viewers to the ballroom scene and
at the same time, projects the Rashawn Brazell vigil,
which is a consequence of the increase of LGBT hate
crimes in urban areas across the Americas as well as,
the world. Rashawn Brazell was this gay kid who was
killed and mutilated, because of his sexuality. I Also,
interviewed Duane Prince who is another survivor of
a LGBT hate crime. I admire and I'm grateful for his
courage to speak out about that horrendous experience.
I also interviewed the Legendary Father of the House
of Zion; Pion Zion, for the "Pony One and only
Episode" as well as other Legends from the scene
during the Ballroom Coalition Conference that was held
at GMHC in 2006 and they discussed their take on the
Various Houses and their dysfunctions and possible
intervention strrategies to enhance the Houses in the
ballroom scene.

RC: What made you decide to document Pony?
GG: The first time I saw Pony perform was at a POCC
ball in 2004. POCC sponsered this Great ball in Fort
Green Park in 2004. Pony performed and I was like this
young man is so talented. When he performs, he
perfroms for the people; he's doin it for the people.
When you watch him perform it elates your spirit just
for that moment and that a great gift to have. Fast
forward to the year 2006, I was in midtown and I saw
Pony walking in the neighborhood and I said ‘hey Pony
how ya doing? I’m Garry (and) I’m a big fan and I’m
working on a documentary and I would love for you to
be one of my subjects and he was gracious enough to
let me document his life, which was cool. He’s young,
but he has this old soul. I think that great artists
such as Pony, are true spiritual beings, because
they’re a lot more aware of the moment; they know how
to work a moment, create a miracle in the moment as
opposed to someone who looks at the world through
their evil eye creating judgment and misery. He has
this old soul that I respect and admire.

RC: What misconceptions do people have about the Gay
Ballroom scene?
GG: It's ignorance concerning sexuality and gender
issues as a whole; don't you think. The religious
right; unfortunately, is propagandizing this
ignorance. Jesus Christ is gagging right now at how
the religious right is spewing this ignorance in his
name. If you read or do your research on the "Gospel
of Thomas, which was discovered in 1945 or 46 in
northern Egypt, the same year Hiroshima was
nuclearized, Jesus's philosophy embraces the feminine
qualities of kingdom consciousness. Also, the ballroom
scene has a large influence in popular culture; which
for me is a blessing; progressives are beginning to
understand and accept; so thats cool.

RC: When will the documentaries be completed and what
future projects are you working on?
GG: The first and second episode are completed; as far
as post production. When I create something I work at
my own pace, when its a routine for me, it lacks
creativity. Sometimes I have to put it away and
rethink my strategy and vision; then go back and make
revisions. The third episode is a Homage to Willie
Ninja. I have all this great footage of Willie Ninja.
I’m working with Anthony Ninja; the executive producer
of that particular episode. He gave me all of this
great exclusive footage of Willie Ninja and I hope and
pray to create an illuminating sequence that Willie
Ninja and the House of Ninja will be pleased with. I’m
not looking for any monetary gains; my intention for
this project is to battle homophobia and to create a
sense of pride in our community. That’s my intention
and if that’s accomplished, I’m happy.

RC: What other projects are you working on?
GG: I do post production and edit/produce segments
for the Show, "Out at the Center," which airs on MNN or
you can watch the series on Gaycenter.org. I’m writing
some things. I spoke to a brother by the name of
Michael. He’s a journalist/reporter and we were
talking about creating a social political documentary
which deals with unions. I have some things in the air
I’m creating.

RC: What do you want viewers to get from this
GG: A sense of pride, and when they see these young
kids in this documentary, I want them to say ‘he’s
Gay, but it’s ok because he’s talented and creative.
It’s not like these kids are robbing people or selling
drugs. They’re in this space having church in their
own way. It’s OK to be Gay; it’s not a bad thing. I
wish my kid was that creative and talented. I’m hoping
to create some allies in the Gay community and if
you’re Gay, I’m hoping to create a sense of pride and
inspire people to embrace all types of people. That’s
what I’m hoping the project will do.

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