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In conversation with Leiomy Maldonado | The Trans Latina behind the New Vogue Movement

When it comes to the Ballroom scene, It seems everyone has jumped on the moving train and capitalism has taken its toll on one of the oldest queer culture movements. The Voguing scene now spearheaded by Transgender Puerto Rican choreographer, dancer, and voguer Leiomy Maldonado looks to keep it authentic, especially since its gone mainstream via shows such as Pose on FX, that really sees the world open its eyes to this New York subcultures of the ’80s.

Pose see’s, Leiomy Maldonado choreograph and help showcase authentic movement and true to form categories that not only champion transgender identities and visibility but also a powerful people of colour cast.

Images are shot by Andy Long Hoang and assisted by Alexis Belhumeur in an Exclusive for FGUK Magazine, Styled by Kyo Jino & Tahi Guy who also bag creative direction credits. Hair by Kimmylikeparis with MU by La Glow Digger




Firstly, Tell us about your introduction to the Vogue Ball culture and its meaning to you? 

I was introduced to ballroom culture through voguing. I used to attend a Boys and Girls Club when I was a young teen. I then met my first trans mentor who introduced me to voguing. After that, I attended an LGBT after-school program called Hetrick Martin Institute in which I met other ballroom individuals whom I became friends with. Eventually, I ended at a ball and joined a house, this was around 2003. Finding out about the Ballroom Community meant everything to me especially back then when there wasn’t much visibility when it came to LGBT people. It was a place where I found myself and met people who were like me. I was able to meet trans individuals and I realized I could live how I’ve always felt.

They call you ‘Wonder Women’ how did that name come about?

I was given the name by Jack Mizrahi. He gave me the name not only because of my athleticism and talent on the floor but also because I can basically do anything I put my mind to. As the years went by I realized that I’m a true Wonder Woman, I stand for love, unity, and strength. Now I have a house of my own “The House of Amazon” inspired by Wonder Woman.

The voguing culture has gone widespread into the mainstream, but is there anything good or bad with this?

I believe it’s very good! It’s about time that the world is open to seeing what Ballroom can offer. The only bad thing I would say is when clients seek out voguers but do not know where to seek them. A lot of people are jumping on the vogue dance style but tend to forget that’s it’s not only a dance style but it’s apart of the culture. I love seeing vogue taking over the world especially when it’s done properly.

You’ve featured and choreographed Fox’s Pose, how does it feel to be a part of such a revolutionary depiction of characters, and how did this come about?

I was contacted for POSE directly since I do not have an agent or manager and I couldn’t believe it. Pose has been life changing not only for me for the world and the people who helped put it all together. It has helped lots of people see what it is that the LGBT community go through. It’s beautiful to see so many trans women of color being celebrated and given a chance to shine. It’s also so important to see our stories being told by our own people. 

It’s so great to see a wide diaspora of Coloured but also Trans faces, how important is this for you as part of both communities?

It’s extremely important to me. I believe the generations to come will be inspired by our visibility and they’ll be able to celebrate what we have fought for. Although we still have lots of work to do, it gives us all hope for better days to come. I commend anyone who’s out there breaking grounds and being visible for the better of our community and the generations to come. 

How would you label your style of vogue?

I would label my style as gravity-defying, artistic, and very entertaining. Every time I Vogue it’s a different feeling and execution.

How have you seen vogue develop since the ’80s?

I came into the scene in the early 2000s and from then alone the style has changed immensely. I can say vogue has become more athletic and intricate.

What causes do you support? 

Anything HIV related, LGBT issues, and homelessness. 

Where can readers find you? 

I can be found on Instagram (@wond3rwoman1) Twitter (@Leiomy) or FB (Leiomy Maldonado)

Fashion thanks to Celia Kritharioti, Parosh, 91ppm, On aura tout vu, Monarch Tokyo, Off-white, Marc Deloche, Balmain, Mugler, savagexfenty, Nicolas Theil, Vivienne Westwood, and Christain Louboutin. 

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