São Paulo, Brazil
My trip to São Paulo, Brasil with Pony Zion in January to begin shooting every were alien’s inaugural project, the House of Zion narrative documentary was/is phenomenal in every regard. Too much to tell—not enough words or space or time. I will focus, however, on thanking a few of the beings that made the trip itself possible and the journey a special joy.
Flip Couto and Félix Pimenta are a force of boundless art activism and love. The amount of care they took in planning two weeks of programming for Vera Verão 2019 and ensuring that myself and Pony were welcomed and that provision was made for us to share our respective gifts literally blows my mind.
These two brothers are leaders visionaries and innovators. How they move with what would appear to be such ease, patience, and grace even as they move mountains and shake foundations with their art and collaborative approach toward community building is an ingenious spectacle to witness. Thank you for being brothers from across the sea. Thank you both for being as special now as the day I first met you at the #houselivesmatter convening in New York City. It is stunning to see you all live and move and breathe in your São Paulo fauna and continue to build so ably the House of Zion and Festa Amem into global organizations affecting transformation and change in Brasil and throughout the world.
Cláudio and João, fantastic partners in the revolution of love and art, poked a hole in space-time with their 2016 EXPLODE residency in São Paulo’s periphery.
Their visioning it seems to me seeded the ground for what has become a fertile and popping organic scene of individual artists and artist collectives that now comprise the vibrant São Paulo cultural and activist landscape. So many of the individual artists and creatives I met in São Paulo cite their original connection back to Cláudio and João’s two-week 2016 EXPLODE residency which convened radical black brown queer creatives and activists at Claudio’s childhood home in the periphery to interrogate art and how a city can be re-occupied at the intersection of race gender and sexuality. If it were not for EXPLODE Pony might never have encountered São Paulo in a way intimate and vulnerable enough to make the connections he did with the hearts of fellow scholars and creatives. The EXPLODE residency gave occasion to the ATAQUE Ball—the first ball in Brasil and among other things now the birthplace of the House of Zion in Brasil. Thank you Cláudio and João for your joy and love and support. And yes you both shine equally as bright in São Paulo as you do/did in New York City at #houselivesmatter and Ballroom Freedom School Convening at Union Theological Seminary where I first met you in 2017.
Emerson thank you for inviting me to lecture and perform for your inaugural Slam Class at the São Paulo Escola de Teatro. It was a huge honor to be received in this way and to witness the joy and hunger of your students for writing poetry and slam. Simply put the work you do is invaluable. Black poetics has always been about resistance and the articulation of what glory and courage and genius and power might otherwise go unseen in systems that do not privilege black bodies except for the capital they can produce. Your leadership and shepherding of this contemporary movement to create and speak and tell the stories of the periphery is courageous and moving beyond words. Camila I could not thank you enough for being willing to translate my work in a days notice. My time with you felt like a mirror trembling in our hands as I could feel our mutual and blinding love for words and language refracted in our exchange of gifts and smiles and stories. You are a gift. Thank you.
Todd thank you. The multi-stakeholder work you have done globally speaks for itself. The role that Lanchonete has played in supporting the work of artists and activists in São Paulo and elsewhere is beautiful to witness firsthand. Thank you for Queer City and for your organizing prowess. Thank you for making Pony’s trip back to Brasil and my first journey to São Paulo possible. Thank you for your vision and for all the ways in which you continue to support and shape and nurture the São Paulo queer arts and activist community. Thank you for understanding why House of Zion and the House Ballroom Scene in Brasil is important. Thank you for linking us with Luis Knihs and Esponja—our stay was intimate and fabulous. How the Esponja space makes room for such global, diverse, and meaningful queer programming is groundbreaking. Thank you for your humanity—Luv ‘til it Hurts Queer City and Lanchonete are measures of your immense mind and your dimensional (and to use your words) messy heart.
Toni Baptise and Flavio Carmargo Seres you brothers are genius incarnate. Thank you for being the unchartable multi-genre multi-dimensional artists activists scholars and technicians that you are. Thank you for remaining rooted in the periphery as your center. Thank you for having the keen eye and obvious talents to capture on video Pony’s legacy and work and that of the House of Zion. Coletivo Colotores you are an inter-galactic outpost for the transformation and projection of poor marginalized oppressed narratives into agents of global urban development, re-development, and change. Toni in you I meet myself—every where alien. Thank you and I am sure our global work is only just beginning.
Thanks Udney for your light and support!
I will save my thanks to the House of Zion and Pony Zion for last stay tuned…
If I call you each by name I will cry. You each are astonishing in your open honest pursuit of excellence and community. I love you. I am inspired by your grit, and passion, and love for connection and performance. You each are genuine stars. Watching your light make its journey through time and space will inspire me forever. Whatever you all do #KEEPGOING.
Félix Father Pimenta Zion I have already thanked you! You are as beautiful as you are brilliant. You and the House of Zion are the vanguard of Ballroom. You carry your leadership with such un-assumed magnificence, power, and love and grace. Keep being you.
Kona Mother Zion you are a force of nature. Your breathless talent and inter-dimensional energy take my breath away. You are the walking performance of excellence and leadership. Your energy occupies time that belongs to our futures. Thank you for being every portion of who you are and leading the way.
Jessy Thunder Zion your body and spirit traverse history and dimension. Thank you for your willingness to journey with me in the performance of poem 1986 to open 2019 Vera Verão Ball. I am honored to have worked with you. Your openness and precision and light are astonishing, astonishing things. Thank you!
Pony I will be brief. Pony you and the Iconic International House of Zion are examples of the divine. Look how the Universe makes itself known in the bowels of your gift. I can’t thank you enough for this honor to bear witness and work with you and the House of Zion in Brasil and in New York City. As your father and Icon Michael Roberson Maison-Margiela [who introduced me to you, and through whom myself and my gifts have been offered entrée to the House Ballroom Community, and through whose invite and leadership and work you were asked to come to São Paulo for the EXPLODE Residency] would lovingly say:
Remain a Blessing.
Pony Zion how I have witnessed the epic scope of your heart and vision and leadership makes me weep with joy. Love always brother our journey has just begun.