La B. Fujiko has been the mother of the house of Ninja since 2012 and is one of the Italian pioneers of Voguing. We spoke with her to find out more about voguing and the culture surrounding it.
We all saw Ryan Murphy’s project “Pose” so now, first of all, we are very curious to know what Voguing is and what does being a “mother” mean in this culture?
Voguing is the dance part of a big world that we call the Ballroom scene. The scene works around Houses and Balls. The Balls are our competitions, where people battle for trophies and fame in the community. Every Ball has a theme and a lot of categories, some are about dance that in general we call Voguing: like “New Way”, “Old Way”, “Vogue Fem”; others are about fashion like : “Best Dressed”, “Designers Delight” or “Labels”. We have categories like “Body”, “Face”, “Sex Siren” and also “Realness” categories.
Most of the people of the ballroom community are in a House, if not we call them “007”. A House works like a real family with parents and kids. Being the Mother of a House is first of all an honor but also has a lot of work and responsibilities.
It is known that this art is born and grown in the black LGBTQ+ comunity, has being a white heterosexual woman ever compromised you in a context like this?
First of all , who told you I’m straight? *laughing* When I started in NY it was difficult for a lot of people to accept white foreign women coming into this world. I understand the reasons and I always tried to be respectful as much as I could. But after the surprise the NY community understood that the power of this culture is too strong and big, and it really gives space and voice to everyone who is oppressed or unaccepted and they not only accepted us but they created a new category: “Women Performance”.
Unfortunately women are still a minority and in the ballroom scene they can find a kind of freedom that is usually not allowed in the real world.
How did this passion (and now job) start? We all know you started as former Hip-Hop dancer but how did you find yourself pumping the beat?
Yes I was a hip-hop and house dancer when I met Voguing. At first I loved it because it was very challenging for me, no one ever taught me or asked me to really take out my femininity and express it in my personal way. Then, when I understood this magic world, I felt in the right place, without judgments or stereotypes but a lot of ways for expressing who I really am. I didn’t plan at all to start doing this as a career and a job.
When I started no one knew about it in Italy so I just seemed crazy in the eyes of the regular dancers.
It became a job when Voguing arrived in Italy as a popular thing, everyone wanted to learn and I was the right person at the right moment. This is how it started. I’ve never stopped traveling since my NY trip in 2008. I saw all the process of the birth of the Ballroom scene in Europe in different ways and different countries and that’s way I’m so close to the other pioneers in Europe.
I’m still traveling now for teaching and judging but mostly for experience and learning, because it is an endless journey in the scene just like in life.
But let’s talk about Milan, Milan is well-known for being always a step forward, how has Milan embraced your reality? Was it ready?…and is it actually ready now?
I love Milan and I think it is the perfect city for developing and spreading the ballroom scene. We have fashion, art, dancers, so many artists, open minds and the Lgbtq+ community is huge, active and respected. With my project BBallroom we did a lot in the last few years.
Now we have a lot of Balls and also parties, performances, collaborations, workshops and regular classes.
I believe more and more people will get involved in our ballroom world because nowadays we constantly live buried under stereotypes, appearances and judgements, so a place where you can show the real you with all the aspects of your personality and just be proud of yourself and share this with the others is a very precious space.
My last event was the Scandalous Ball on the 24th of November. It’s the fifth edition and we had a lot of guests, teachers and contestants from all over the world. On Saturday 23rd we had voguing classes with the judges and on Sundays there was the Ball…if you’re curious you can’t miss next event! I’m sure it’s going to blow your mind!
As written before, “Pose” and programs like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” gave more visibility to this art, but visibility often leads to populism. Aren’t you afraid of the possibility of having a “Voguing 2.0” where everything and everyone is allowed?
We talk about this very often in the community. Of course we are scared but at the same time more attention gives the chance for new people to approach us. In every situation we have a bad and a good side. I’m having a lot of attention right now, because of “Pose” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race”.
People are curious, they want to know about us, about the dance or sometimes they just want to have some fresh and appealing stories to tell.
Anyway I’m trying to “use this power” to communicate who we are, what we do, what’s the story behind it, from how everything started and how amazing this community is and how big and powerful the message of acceptance is and the equality that is spreading. Not everyone will understand us but I honestly don’t care, it’s good that people talk and hear about it and about the lgbtq+ community. I always say that everyone is welcome at my Balls but this is not completely true. I only allow all the people who respect the community, this scene and our rules. This is not the right space for anyone who doesn’t understand or share our values.
Reconnecting to our previous question, have you ever thought to start theoretical lessons about the history and the progress of Voguing aside your weekly practical lessons here in Milan? It could be a very interesting situation!
Honestly, yes, I thought to organize some talks about the Voguing and our scene and probably I’ll do that in the near future. I did my thesis at the University about the origins and the history of Voguing and now I’m used to talking about it in my dance classes or in interviews like this one (Thank You <3) but I see the interest is growing very quickly so maybe it could be good and useful for the young and new people to have a space where they can get authentic information about the scene. Thanks for the inspiration I’ll think about it 🙂