Dream Ball: Vogueing at Capitale

Giselle Xtravaganza’s Dream Ball would have been a nightmare had it not been for the courage of the fearless crew who made the most of it. The brave, the fabulous, and the few that did attend were treated to a marvelous time, as all who gathered at Capitale for this event know you really only need two people to have a party. It seemed like 200 actually came, but they were expecting 500. Maybe the $40 ticket price was a bit too ambitious. The little magnet on my refrigerator asks and explains, “If Size Doesn’t Matter, Why Aren’t There 4-Inch Dildos?” This is a valid point, but quality and enthusiasm are also incredibly important. There was no shortage of either at Giselle’s Dream Ball, and she should be proud.

The Dream Ball is what some call a Vogueing Ball. The dozen Vogueing categories had eager and seriously brilliant enthusiasts “walking,” and the crowd was screaming and carrying on. A good time was had by all. Participants from the various Vogueing Houses competed for fun, love, and, of course, cash prizes. Houses, often named after fashion icons like Mugler, Mizrahi, and our very dear Patricia Fields, are governed by mothers and fathers, and in Xtravaganza’s case, a grandfather (Hector). The Xtravaganzas were made famous when Madonna justified their love with their favorite track, Vogue. Soon, everyone was doing it. Movies like Paris is Burning, starring the legendary Willie Ninja, also helped popularize this sublime subculture, where genders are bent like so many trees in the Queens tornado last week. In fact, “Twisters” are queens as well. Wiki describes them as having the “ability to blend in with heterosexuals, then come back and vogue fem.”

There was indeed a Twister category. This is not a strictly gay affair, as lines and definitions of sexuality are manipulated, confused, obscured, and definitely redefined. The “women” competing in the Female Figure Performance competition were “flawless” and “passable.” That means if these ladies (who are often only recently officially ladies, if at all) were to, say, stroll past a construction site, rivets and jaws would surely drop. Indeed, many a participant in this gala has walked a runway for a fashion week show or two — without being judged for anything more or less than what they are. It’s a concept that seems hard to grasp by a society that, on one hand, celebrates its modernism, but on the other, judges people’s sexuality in 1955 terms. I demand you attend the next ball, and laugh and scream and enjoy the celebration

The Sex Siren competition, with its oiled up beef and slinky seductive gals, had my normally talkative date speechless. The Labels competition was won by a stunning brunette, who peeled off layer after layer of a stupendous ensemble. At each baring moment, an MC would ask, “Who is this by,” and she would say “Alexander McQueen” until she got down to what God and some nameless surgeon blessed her with. The Androgynous versus Exotic Face competition was all that it could be, and the Vogue Fem battle was unreal. I congratulate Giselle Xtravaganza for completely captivating me, both with her enchanting charms and the brilliant production of The Dream Ball.

Capitale, which hosted the Dream Ball, was formerly the Bowery Savings Bank. This iconic space was designed by Stanford White, who was murdered in 1906 at the age of 52. Stanford would have loved this use of his timeless space. His other works are passed by daily as New Yorkers bustle around town or walk their dogs. The main post office building on 8th Avenue, the arch in Washington Square Park, the Players Club in Gramercy Park, and the Municipal Building at 1 Centre Street are just a few of his remaining works of art and design. His untimely death was at the hands of millionaire Henry Kendall Thaw over White’s “ruining” of actress/model Evelyn Nesbit. It was the stuff movies are made of. The Girl In the Red Velvet Swing is based on the affair. It seems old Stanford had a room in his house where the ceiling and walls were mirrored and a velvet swing hung from the middle. He would entice young and beautiful women to this lair and watch them swing, ply them with sticky liquids, and then seduce them. Evelyn Nesbit visited as a virginal 16-year-old girl and left the next day a woman. Years later, her husband had this eating up his craw when he fired three shots into the face of Mr. White. He shouted, “You ruined my life!” Some say he said “wife.” After a couple of trials, he was acquitted, as the murder was deemed a justifiable passionate response. The Hearst papers sensationalized the whole shindig as the crime of the century. It was 1906, and the century was very young.

Capitale was created by David Marvisi. I was there, and sat through the negotiations and redesign schemes. I even named it “Capital” after a sign on the façade while driving with him past the building in one of his Bentleys. Marvisi europeonized it to Capitale. They had celebrity chef Franklin Becker (Abe and Arthur’s) and employed the usual suspects to promote it, but it never made it as a restaurant. The decision to leave the main floor available for corporate events ruined any chance it had to be a great restaurant. The restaurant was placed in the foyer, which always seemed to me like an afterthought. The grandiose main room still functions under Seth Greenberg’s guiding hand, and is the premiere corporate space in town. Capitale honcho Claudia Baricevic made sure me and mine were comfortable. The staff were just superb in handling this delicate event, which, of course, went on 2 hours late. The old bank was not intended to host such soirees, but as all things brilliantly done, it can adapt to the times.

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