Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Darryl L. Brown, publisher of the New York based Ballroom Rockstar Magazine. The magazine’s third issue is currently on newsstands, on the cover is sexy Jensen Atwood from Noah’s Arc.
This marks my very first interview ever on my blog. Darryl fondly joked that he was“breaking my blogger virginity”. Thanks Darryl, I’m glad you were my first!
During our conversation Darryl and I spoke about everything from the history of the ballroom scene, the creation of the magazine, to Janet and Beyonce and his reasons for not having a myspace profile.
Darian: How long have you been involved with Ballroom Rockstar?
Darryl: I’m actually the founder. Prior to Rockstar I was a creative director and fashion consultant to a couple of magazines , and I was a founding staff member of Giant Magazine .After having success at Giant I decided to branch out on my own and create Ballroom RockStar.
Darian: How can people get a copy of the magazine?
Darryl: They can go online and subscribe and there’s also a listing of all the store’s where our magazine can be purchased.
Darian: Why do you think the ballroom scene is often overlooked by the mainstream gay community?
Darryl: This is the funniest thing...everything has changed, nothing has been consistent in the gay community except for the ballroom scene. You can walk away for 10 years and reunite with people you haven’t seen for years. You just can’t consider it a subculture anymore. It began in the 80’s, people were having balls in N.Y. and then it branched out to Philadelphia, L.A., and San Francisco. To consider something that has been going on this long subculture is ludicrous.
Darian: I agree.
Darryl: The ballroom scene is apart of pop culture and it has been for over 6 DECADES. I just can’t imagine anyone that’s LGBT, who doesn’t have a connection with the ballroom scene, we all know someone who has walked a ball or have the desire to do so.
Darian: How does a person become a member of a house?
Darryl: Each house has it’s own set of rules so I can’t really speak specifically. Some houses require you to be a “free agent”, which basically means you’re not in a house prior to joining our house. Many houses are extremely strict about their members either being employed or in school, and you have to provide proof before you attend any house meetings, and if you’re in a position where you’re transitioning between jobs or school you’re placed on probation.
Darian: I think it’s really important that people know that these kids have jobs and real lives outside of the ballroom. I can recall watching Paris is Burning and hearing the kids talk about shoplifting for the balls and the famous stunt they pulled in the Roy Rogers restaurant. The old stigmas that were attached to the ballroom culture don’t apply to the kids who walk balls today.
Darryl: Absolutely not.
Darian:Can you take me through an average day for Darryl Brown?
Darryl: I don’t have average days (laughter).
Darian: I heard that!
Darryl: I have to attend editorial meetings, plan photo shoots, go over layouts with the designers, and meet with the writers. I don’t do it all by myself, but me being the brainchild I have to make sure that everything is running smoothly.
Darian: I have to ask you why you guys decided to change the cover photo of Jensen’s “Sexiest Man Alive” shot to the current photo on newsstands?
Darryl: Well we never intended for that picture to be the cover, it was a promo shot. Normally we don’t release the actual cover first, just a promo shot. That photo was great as a promotional item, but when your magazine is on a newsstand next to 500 other magazines it’s our job to choose the one that pops. I guess I did my job since you asked me that question.
Darian: Yes you did. I have a good friend who wanted me to ask you that question because we both loved the promo shot.
Totally off the subject: I would love to know your thoughts about Janet’s new album 20 Y.O. ?
Darryl: I haven’t heard her album yet? I’m not a big Janet fan.
Darian: This conversation is taking a turn for the worst.(laughter)
Darryl: You’re devastated (Laughter) !
Darian: Are you one of those Beyonce supporters?
Darryl: Yes, her birthday is the day before mine.
Darian: Ok...I’ve heard enough! (more laughter)
Darryl: I’m not really feeling B, right now. She’s just done too many catty things, the whole iTunes situation with Letoya, putting her father on the back burner, her Brittney Spears and Janet Jackson rip-off at the VMA’s was a bit much. I love Beyonce, she still my girl, she’s a Virgo.
Darian: I agree with every word. One last question for you Darryl. Tell me 4 things that you just cannot live without?
2)I love fragrances...especially vintage fragrances.
3)Darian’s blog(I love this answer!)
4)Vacationing in St. Barts
I have to say conversing with Darryl was truly a pleasure. I couldn't have asked for a more engaging person to interview for the first time. I'd like to publicly thank Darryl and his marketing and advertising director Dynelle Skinner for making this interview possible.
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