The ‘Venus Envy’ Village Voice Article

By the time I was in the late 80’s I was becoming more cognizant of the fact that I wasn’t happy not living as my true self, I was starting to come to the conclusion I was trans, and being in the frustrating position of not having the info readily available to make informed decisions on how to transition was becoming a heavy psychic burden on my soul

So because this was the pre-Internet days, news about trans issues and people was hard to find and come by, and when i stumbled across an article about a trans person openly living their life, it was like a a life preserver being thrown to a person drowning in misery.  Seeing those articles also gave me hope that it would one day happen for me.

I was perusing magazines at a newsstand one day back in May 1988 and noted that month’s issue of the Village Voice had an article about the New York ballroom community that featured Carmen Xtravaganza.

The article was entitled ‘Venus Envy: The Drag Balls Of Harlem’ by Donald Snuggs.  It was the first mainstream publication article about the Harlem based ballroom community and featured Carmen in the interview.   It was also several years before the Paris Is Burning documentary would take movie theaters by storm and become an iconic film for our community.

I was fascinated by Sylvia Plachy’s photo’s of my trans sisters and the ballroom action, and bought it.

I was now 13 months into my airline career and had the ability to jet off anywhere in the US at that time. Fascinated by what I’d just read in that Village voice article, I resolved to go see a ball and meet Carmen one day.

After several moves I lost the magazine and the manila folder that had my trans news story clippings, so I’m happy to see this article in digital form.

While one part of that resolution came true in terms of meeting Carmen, doing a TransGriot Ten Questions interview with her and getting to chat with her from time to time, still have yet to see a New York ball.

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